Footnotes from the British Underground

This blog began as venue for my stories as I traveled in Africa. 18 months later, I return to it as I travel to study as a Marshall Scholar in the United Kingdom. My hope is that this blog can be a conduit for you - my family, friends and secret/strange admirers - to track my movements, see a photo or two and get a glimpse of my days in the UK. Apologies once again to Dostoevsky for the blog's name...

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Location: Bradford, United Kingdom

After graduating from Notre Dame, I'm off to England for graduate study. I'll be studying for a M.A. in International Politics and Security Studies. When not studying, I'm continuing to coordinate Uganda-CAN's efforts to end the 20-year war in northern Uganda!

3.3.05

A Day in the Life of a Muzungu

Cheers from the pearl of Africa. Someone in an email asked me about my daily life here, so I thought I might give a quick look at such. By the way, muzungu means white person. As we walk the streets here, people are not bashful to call us muzungus. In some remote areas, people have never seen white people before, so they are shocked at our skin color. Skin color is something that is openly talked about and used as a descriptive tool here. It is quite a contrast from our post-race "colorblind" America, where we shy away from racial talk because we fear being labeled racist. Of course, Africa does not have the dark racial history that we have in the states.

Well, I wake up at 6:30 to take my morning bath (scooping with my hands from a bucket of water). My brothers and our houseboy (many middle or upper class Ugandan families have house help from rural communities who are paid to help with cooking, cleaning, etc. - in our house, Geoffrey works with the chickens) feed the chickens in the morning. The chickens usually start making noise at 6:30, so getting up is never too difficult. Then, breakfast for me consists of tea (coffee if I am lucky) with lots of sugar, a piece or two of bread and maybe some groundnuts.

And then I make a walk down to the main road in Kansanga (the district of Kampala proper in which I live) to catch a taxi (these big white-and-blue vans that hold 15-20 people and drive like crazy). The taxi ride to Old Taxi Park in Central Kampala takes about 50 minutes with the morning traffic, which is always gridlocked between 730 and 830. The taxi park is quite a sight as I have written about in past postings. I always buy a copy of The Monitor, one of the two main newspapers in Uganda at the taxi park, and then its on my way to Makerere University.

Makerere is the prized university of East Africa, drawing scholars from many countries. Uganda itself is actually a very educated country that puts a high priority on education. I have also found people to be highly politically engaged and conscious here. For lunch, I have rice, posho (this white corn stuff), maybe some beans, maybe some chicken, hopefully bread, and water. After classes finish, I usually go do work on planning my independent study project, visit an Internet cafe and/or hang out with the other people in the program.

I head to Old Taxi Park around 7ish and get a taxi home. Rush hour home is always quite a rush. At home, we only have power every-other night, so some nights find us sitting around torches, talking and playing Go-Fish (my contribution to the family). We normally eat around 10:00 pm (yes, quite late). Dinner usually consists of matokye (plantines), rice, some meat perhaps and some sauce (groundnut sauce is the best) and then amazing mango juice. At first I struggled with the food here, but now I am enjoying it. Most of it that is. And as I mentioned before, my family is awesome. I really love spending time and living with them. I usually go to bed around 12 after reading and studying a bit. So, I crawl under my mosquito net and fight the heat for a bit of sleep.

I am getting a bit worried now because I think I may have lost a long mass email I just wrote. I hate these cafes - so slow and never reliable. Well, so it goes in Uganda - power goes on and off, but life goes on. Cheers again.

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