No worse time to be in Missouri

The riots in Ferguson City, MO are dying down, according to Reuters. The people have probably gone back and looked at the footage police released about the fateful day when Michael Brown was shot by the city policeman.

The flames of rage might be dying down but that’s not the same for me. I am separated by 5 hours, 300 miles from my family and they are in some county out there in Missouri.

I have been assured they are safe; they are not in the same neighborhood as the riots and they probably do not even know what’s going on there. Where they are, they are not watching TV and listening to strange talking heads on TV spewing all this gibberish.

But the whole thing has brought me full center. I can do nothing much, couldn’t really have done much if they were smack in the center of that theater. The rage we saw on the screens as Ferguson’s young men and women went to war with the National Guard was frightening. It brought back memories of some disturbing happenings back home, especially when politicians decide to tussle it out in the public, destroying the peace.

What do you do when you are new to the place and are only trying to fit in?

Immigrants from Africa are mostly clueless about the issues at play in the race relations of America. Because they have come from countries where oppression is a constant in their lives, they many times do not understand what the natives of the land mean when they fight the system.

Ferguson was the same script and a different cast. This play has been staged before in so many other theaters. Everything is at once familiar and at the same time strange. Ugandans in the USA never come to the fore when these things are happening, probably because they have seen it played so many times in their lives back home.

Here, a young black man is shot and the whole city is brought to its knees. Voices that must be heard are heard and the tough questions are asked. There are those who will say the system is rigged in favor of those who control the airwaves but anyone who has seen the video of the events that led to the death of Brown will have to stop and think.

This is a great learning opportunity. Human rights are fought for all over the world, not only in Uganda where I come from. There are people who wield power n their truncheons and nightsticks and then pack the rest of that power in their heavy guns on their hips.

it is also a time to realize that the narrative can be stolen very easily. Even when a case should be open-and shut, you need to wait  a bit because just as you turn your eyes away, everything might change.

America is always going to be a strange place to live in. From the different requirements one needs to survive to the different ways one can cope in this cruel, cruel country, the learning curve continues to rise, not ye even close to the apex.

Welcome to reality.

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Randomsies

The first time you have to do anything is always unsettling. It takes steel balls to walk into a new situation without your armor on. So when new resolutions are made after a history of broken promises to self, it is normal to be a little doubtful about what to say and what to keep mum about.

In a year when everything that was on the books failed to materialize due to a number of factors, one is not keen to be heard making daring promises. One does not tell it on the mountain when everyone knows one’s a non-starter.

But there’s no time to waste anymore.

You can wait for the tide to turn forever. As you wait, events will pass you by. It is true time and tide wait for no one.

It is time, therefore, to get a new code to live by. It is time to realize even though there are more resources on earth than anyone can ever need, as it is so simply put in The Master Key, there are always going to be those who cannot see those resources.

Sometimes we cannot see the resources with which to make our lives better through the design of others. We cannot change the nature of evil but we cannot allow evil to control the way we live our lives.
So what do you have in your hand? A staff?

Throw that staff down and see the world of things you can do. Yes, puny little you!

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First day at work

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Yesterday was the first day of the rest of my life. Big words, I know but still they sound a mite true. Today, I started out at the Garden City Telegram. It wasn’t a big story; rather they were different stories and I had to do the all in one afternoon. But I think I am going to like it here.

In the end, I got the front page; my boss, while giving me a lift home, said my cancer story was good. And there’s going to be more like this. One thing I like about my new job is that I have to be eclectic. There’s no wo ways about that it is becoming obvious. One day I will be covering patients and the next day I am interviewing a senator-hopeful who wants to take on Pat Roberts. Good luck with that.

I am being re-introduced to court reporting and police work, stuff I did back when I was just starting out as a journalist. I did a small stint of this when I walked into the New Vision and told Barbara Kaija that I was fresh out of Form 6 and I wanted to write for the Vision.

She asked me to send her some samples and the next thing I knew, I was being sent to Buganda Road court and then covering broken roads and stuff. Those were days to never forget.

The rush was unmistakable. I had long forgotten what it feels like to write. After years sitting behind a desk to edit other people, I was losing it. When my people at home saw the toll on me, they concluded that I was probably a washout. That I needed to do something else with my life.

But I came over and started at this nice little paper (little because it serves a city of just about 30,000 compared to Kampala’s Daily Monitor which serves 3,000,000. Go figure).

I am missing some of Kampala’s aspects, I admit but I know some of it is because my family is still out in Missouri. Once they are here with me, all these feelings will dissipate.

 

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So after the lots…its Kansas

We have had to make and remake our decisions on where we are to start our American journey in the last two weeks. At last though, I believe we have come to a final choice. Garden City.

It is not as dramatic as Dorothy leaving Kansas in that Flying House of hers – we are reversing the tide. We just landed on some poor witch with our hopes…in Garden City, Kansas.

I tried my hand at warehouse management and even did a stint in a seasoning factory.

This can be fun after all

This can be fun after all

But I realized I don’t want to leave journalism just yet.

When the chips fall into place, I don’t want to be the one left with egg on the face. I am going down this well-travelled road and I know we are going to like it here.

This morning, I am sitting at my new desk. If everything goes according to pan, this will be my station for the next few year and those years should be prosperous years for us.

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Rain … and it’s not just any rain

Never thought I’d be commenting about rain. But in America, the America I have lived in for the last few weeks, something as banal as rain seems amazing.

I was out playing with three little girls, swinging on the swing set and laughing into the summer heat when it became apparent that we were going to have rain.

Usually, at least so far, summer has been characterized by long day light and hot days at that. So it is just 4.30 pm and the sky is growing dark. What do we have here?

We had to run to the front yard and throw our hands in the air and scream our hearts out. You cannot resist that when you are playing with three little girls all below 7.

The rain came down. Beautiful glorious rain.

“The flag, the flag,” one little girl was screaming as we ran into the house, escaping from the heavy drops. “The storm’s going to break the flag.”

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And right there was a lesson for me. Back home, we have politicians trying to posture as though they have the country at heart. They have been telling everyone that patriotism has to be taught in school. How do you teach a person to love their country?

Anyway, Maggie’s main goal was to save the flag. We were being pelted by large rain drops but we needed to save the flag. I got it off the hook and rolled it up respectfully and then handed it over to her.

Couldn’t have missed the contented look on that little face when the entered the house and took the precious item to the garage.

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Amer-azed

A lot can happen in a year. Scratch that; A LOT can happen in a space of three months. Since May, this year, it has been a roller coaster ride for my family and I. We went from being your regular Ugandan small town residents to fully-fledged Americans with so much going on, our heads are still spinning.

How did we get here?

Well, the Green Card happened to us. Unlike many Ugandans I know, we decided to chase flimsy dreams. We knew about the Electronic Diversity Visa Lottery and we wished we could win it, especially since we had started on building a family. We went a step farther than many Ugandans though when we started applying.

It helped that the visa application process is free. From the deluge of spam mail that inundates most Ugandans’ mail boxes with offers to help them win the lottery, it is perhaps understandable that many are cynical about it.

“You are chasing the wind,” I was told so many times. “Eventually down the road, you are going to be asked for money and you are going to realize it is all a hoax.”

But all that is history. We went through the whole nine yards – waited out the process and what a wait that was!

It was ‘free’ in as far as being asked to pay any fees to faceless entities is concerned. Eventually of course, we had to pay some money. It was basically to pay for documents that everyone should have normally but we kept on putting off. Documents like birth certificates, passports … you get the drift.

We won, we won!

After a journey of more than 20 hours, we were finally here

Arrival in Kansas City, MO

Anyway in the end, when we leant that we had been selected, it was the beginning of the long wait but at last we were on the bus to Nairobi to do medicals, then we got to stay at this swanky hotel that NMG pays for the whole year round.

nd for its crème de la crème to do stints of training. I was not part of that set but I got lucky that I had rubbed shoulders with one of them. One thing led to the other…

We went for the visa interview, which lasted the whole of two minutes. And we were through.

More on this later. Maybe.

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Water Board

They say the torture technique called water boarding is so inhumane; it should never be used on even your worst enemies. The Americans, in the wake of being attacked in 2001, went mad hitting out at any one and anything perceived as the enemy. Their leader famously told the world: “You are either with us, or you are against us!”

In the process, a person, victim, really, is placed face up and held firmly. A smooth surface, like a piece of fabric is placed on their face as a blind fold and something is used to cover their mouth. Water is then poured on this cloth. Psychologically, the victim has the same sensation as that of a drowning person.

The Americans used this method over and over again because they realized it was getting them the information they wanted to go out and hit back against their enemies.

But this method got out into the wider world. Even when the justice system cried out and tried to assure the world that this process would not be used again, it is in fact alive in homes around the world. People are water boarding others even when they are supposed to be their friends. It probably has a strong hypnotic effect because they don’t seem to have the power to stop.

A man is drowning because everything he believed in a decade ago has been wind-blown. A new dispensation rules and the word out is ‘either shape up, or ship out.’ But he has nowhere to go; there’s no shipping out on this.

There’s no shipping out when you have made a promise to yourself that you will stand for as long as it takes. You could make promises to many people; to the government, to the clan elders and to the friends you grew up with. But the promises to yourself are the most sacred.

So when you are already over the bridge and all those bridges have been burnt down, there’s no going back. There’s no easy way back when the lines are showing in brows once smooth as silk. There’s no repentance from starting a whole new life and cutting off the old.

It does get hard. It becomes painful when you have no one to talk to. When no one will understand the language you use nowadays, it could become as inconvenient as waterboarding.

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