To All The People Afraid To Share Their Feelings

I’m terrible at watching movies. I can watch one movie for a week, or if it’s a good one, two days. I’ll watch for twenty minutes or more, then sleep off. But when it comes to series, I don’t do anything else until I’ve finished the entire season. On Monday, in preparation for the public holiday, I watched To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before. Most times, I keenly observe the complexities of characters but with this movie, I lost track and just enjoyed the story.

In the movie, Lara Jean writes letters to guys she likes but does not send them out. Her kid sister sends them and the drama begins. It’s so much easier to deal with people and yourself when you don’t have feelings bottled up. I write letters all the time. If I like you, you’ll see my handwriting every so often because it’s through writing that I process my feelings; whether negative or positive.

Growing up, I remember writing to my parents when I felt unfairly treated. Alex, my big brother go out whenever with or without permission and they’d never let me go anywhere even when I asked for permission. It was not easy writing because while I meant to write about the most recent incident, previous moments came to the front of my mind and I broke down. But I wrote anyway. And I personally delivered my letter. I didn’t get a reply, I got a response. They sat me down and explained their strictness and though it didn’t make sense then, I didn’t have to deal with all the baggage of all those feelings.

In high school I wrote more letters than notes. That’s an exaggeration. But the point is, a day didn’t end without me writing a letter; however short it was. We’d exchange pieces of paper at the end of prep. That’s how we avoided quarrels and confrontations. We talked about things with each other.

Things change when you grow up. There’s more complicated stuff to deal with. And I know how scary it is letting people know how you feel. You tell yourself they won’t care, that nothing’s going to change. You worry about how they’ll react, if they’ll feel the same way or even understand. But I also know how freeing it is when the feelings are out there. Do it for yourself. Just let it all out. If someone does something that annoys you, tell them how it makes you feel so they don’t do it again. If they do it again knowing it upsets you, well… I don’t want to tell you what to do in your life.๐Ÿ˜ Irony much? If you like someone, tell them. They could like you too. And even if they don’t, at least you won’t have to deal with all the what-ifs.

Set yourself free. Tell people how you feel. Talk to people. Don’t talk at them. It doesn’t matter how long you’ve held on to those feelings, you can let them out now. It’s never too late to redeem yourself.

Write that letter today, you don’t even have to send it. (I know I’m going to write mine tonight. Let me know how it goes.)

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Let’s ALL Die a little.

Initially, I couldn’t bring myself to take part in the #UgBlogWeek (I have witnesses.) With all that’s going on; deaths, arrests, torturings, demonstrations, it is overwhelming. But thinking of Joel(Nevender), I know he’d say I had to give it a go, even if it was just one out of the seven days. First of all, I miss Joel, I miss him pushing me to write. But now I have Pearl, Pius and Grace. Still, I miss him.

Last night, after the Writivism award ceremony which was really beautiful, we decided to head back to the hotel. We were packing stuff into the car when Derrick arrived. He was obviously late for the ceremony so we decided to head back together. Derrick has been in the media a lot lately, he’s been arrested, detained and even suspended for staging demonstrations against women murders, the age limit bill, the bad policies our government and institutions continue, among other things. We worry about him. It’s hard not to given the things we’ve seen happen to anyone who won’t fall in line, regardless of whether the line leads to raping of the constitution or denying the people their basic human rights.

In the car, Derrick brings out a camera and instantly we decide we’re doing a night shoot; him, Grace and I. We’re dropped off at City Oil near Acacia Mall where we order two submarines at the Savers’ OnTheGo truck. While we wait, and chat away, we hear glass hit the ground. A car window had been smashed. Then two men in black t-shirts run off. A man in a green t-shirt, jumps out of the taxi (whose window has been smashed) and runs after them. We don’t know what’s happening. But we suspect the first two men have done something wrong. The man in green finally grabs one of them. The other runs back. Together, they start to beat up the man in green. There are security guards at every petrol station, these ones, like us, just look on. Before we can say “Derrick” he has dropped the camera and his backpack and is running to rescue the guy being beaten. He grabs one of the perpetrators of the crime by the arm and doesn’t look like he’s about to let go. Boda guys grab the other guy and finally, a police truck shows up.

The hero of the night.

The guy in green is a taxi conductor. The two guys didn’t pay the fare. Then smashed the taxi window as they tried to escape.

One of us had to go get Derrick because he’s the kind that doesn’t stop until justice is served. In all honesty, he may never stop because in this, our new Uganda, justice is very selective.

Derrick won’t stop.

Seeing Derrick run towards trouble to rescue a total stranger, I realized I wanted to be anything like him. I want us to want to be like him. I want to be fearless, like Nelson Mandela, like Bobi Wine, like Derrick. I can not talk about Derrick without talking about Bobi Wine, a man who fought against the amendment of the age limit bill, a man who took to the streets to say no to the taxation of social media and mobile money, a man who has been tortured and detained for reasons I still don’t understand, a man who believes in people more than he does in power.

Photo credit : Twitter

On Saturday, at the Writivism festival, while reading from his book A Woman’s Body is a Country, Dami Ajayi one of the lines read; “If we all die a little, perhaps we’ll all die a little less.” And it hit me really hard. What are we doing to make sure we even have legacies? What we do or don’t do now is lying the foundation for the next generation, so what are we doing to make sure our children don’t go through what we are going through? How can we make our Uganda better? What Are We Doing?

Photo credit : Internet

How are we dying a little so all of us can die a little less? – Make them uncomfortable, update your status with new artwork of our hero. Crowd your TL with #FreeBobiWine posts, let everyone know he deserves to be free; cause a stir in what’s left of their consciences, file law suits, talk to people you think can help the situation, visit the victims in hospital, comfort the families of the victims, and if you can, go to the streets, let the sun hit you, let your legs hurt as you run from your protectors-turned-attackers, let’s all die a little, in our own ways. Maybe then, they’ll stop torturing us, maybe then, they’ll stop killing us.

Why you shouldn’t visit at work.

Caution: DO NOT visit people at work, no matter how much they plead with you to.

(Part 1)

This is subjective so you don’t really have to take my word for it. A friend, let’s call him X, because I still don’t like my ex, asked me to go see him at work and I went. This was after weeks of saying I couldn’t make it, that I was busy and whatnot. I got there an hour later than the time we’d planned and was very remorseful; because I hate wasting people’s time almost as much as I hate having mine wasted.

He said he’d be five minutes, that I should sit and wait for him. He even left me his notebook and power bank. Fifty minutes later, he called to say he was in an unexpected meeting which was almost done. Another fifty minutes later, he said they were concluding. (To be a good liar, you have to be good with synonymous phrases I noticed.) I stopped counting. Instead, I took a walk to buy airtime so I could get data. When you’re on the Internet, you don’t feel so bad about your problems. It’s a good distraction from reality.

So when he called to say he was coming down the stairs, I didn’t have what to say. I just hang up and continued reading. If you’re wondering why I waited “all day,” it’s because he had asked me to come and in his defense, he really didn’t know there would be a meeting. He actually swore there was no meeting before I agreed to come. So I came, in hope that he had something important to talk about. While I waited for hours, before the Internet, I read Neil Hilborn’s Our Numbered Days and was interrupted one too many times. I smiled at each interruption; none of them deserved my anger. And I had lots of it.

To think, that I left my bed amidst drizzles, spent money on transport, missed lunch, just to come see someone, then have to wait for over three hours; I was not angry. I was furious and I wasn’t taking fury home. I had to unpack. I mean I could have just taken the power bank, that would have been a minor win, but I don’t do wins at the expense of negative emotions. No! I sat there and smiled at him when he eventually came. He said to follow him but I first had to turn off my data, finish reading OCD, then… He came back for me. So we went; him, his friend and I. Why had he brought a friend? Did he think I was going to kill him? Or punch him? Or yell at him? Did he know?

Of being my father’s daughter.

I’m always rebranding myself, because I can, and also because I’m a writer so I do this thing where I assume I’m a character in a story then I have to use my adamic license on myself. In high school, I gave myself seven pairs of names, one for each day. You’ll be surprised at how many pieces the name Elizabeth can be broken into. Not to mention other versions of it; for instance in Spanish, it becomes Isabel. ๐Ÿ˜Ž

When I finally “grew up” I decided to be Lisa Romans. Lisa because it’s a cool version of Elizabeth and Romans because it’s my father’s name. Now we all carry it around; Maria Romans, Patience and Alex. We are our father’s children.

I was told I was born on a rainy night, a rainy Tuesday night. That’s how I got the name Awori which has something to do with the night. In all honestly, I’d have preferred Akoth (rain-related), but I had no say. Maybe I’d have been a little more like dad, he’s Okoth.

My father is a very simple man. He doesn’t try to live large, he just wants to live right. He’d rather pay his utility bills than buy a car and stay in a “dark dessert” a.k.a no power and water. He’s from a humble background, (so am I) and I love how he’s never forgotten his roots. He tells us stories of his growing up. He’s an amazing storyteller. The guy will be giving a lecture on everyone’s recent uncool behavior and then suddenly, he’s telling a story. I used one of his stories to conclude my creative writing project at campus and did pretty well. It’s one where he survived death, he was supposed to be killed using a spear, it’s a story of trust and so many other things but he made it funny.

He says he’s cursed, cursed to be second best in every class he takes. I wish I were under the same curse. I was, for awhile; in primary school to be specific. I was the smartest girl in my class, then I went to high school and threw my curse away. I sort of got it back at the university. Point is; my father is a smart man, and mum says she was smarter than him so you can imagine how smart their kids are. ๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚

I’m sorry I forgot to say this earlier; my father is a human being so he’s not perfect but he’s definitely the best father there is(in my book of course.)

He’s never caned me (I can’t say the same for mum though.) He believes in conversation, he’ll just sit you down so you can talk, talk about your bad grades, your poor time management, or how you abused a prefect. That was the worst! I’d supposedly used the “f” word on a prefect and some idle teacher had told my dad. (Ya, I was naughty growing up.) I didn’t know how to start to apologize, but I was sorry to have ashamed him. I am still sorry.

Dad loves the environment, he’s always making us plant trees. He’ll help you plant and leave the rest to you. It’s annoying sometimes, like on days when there’s good TV but it’s your turn to water the young trees. (what are they called? Treelings? Treelets?) I can’t wait to have kids so I can start up stuff and let them finish ๐Ÿ˜‚

I learnt the word precedent from dad. He was telling us to work hard so we don’t deviate from all he has done for the family. The man honestly works hard, I’d love to be like him someday. Recently he was advising me to save. He gives the best advice, always. Growing up he’d say read hard. Now he says work hard and save. Also ‘as a teacher, never go to class unprepared.’

He’s always tried to make our lives easier. I’ll never understand how he did it but he’s done an amazing job; we have never been sent home for fees, have never slept hungry and when you call to say you’re broke, he comes through. He’s not the richest guy but he’s always provided for his family (cues in Cassper Nyovest’s Superman) I didn’t hustle with the long queues to get admitted to Makerere University, somehow the forms reached home (in Tororo) and we filled them together. He took me to consult with a lecturer and when I got admitted to do Education instead of Mass Communication like I wanted, he didn’t say; “Who told you to play at school? If you wanted it so bad you should have worked harder” Instead, he said; “You can do it after your Education degree. Besides, as a teacher of English and Literature, you can make journalists and anchors.”๐Ÿ˜…

We watch news as a family and laugh at his comments. We’ll be watching N-something news and he’ll say “That journalist is very unserious,” meaning you don’t move on to the next question just because the politician has “successfully” dodged the current one. Then he’ll look at me and go; “Is that the kind of journalist you want to be? You have to be fearless, the country is relying on you to find them answers so you have to find them real answers.” He doesn’t like mediocrity, he says you’d rather not do it than do it badly.

The one thing I’ve successfully learnt from my father is choosing which battles to fight. He’s generally a calm guy. And although I may not be as calm, I don’t fight every time I’m provoked. I fight when it’s necessary, because PEACE is better than “winning.” Besides, what’s the point in fighting if we’ll both end up with scars?

I once tried to use dad as a shield. I realized I had a crush on some guy at church. So I would go with dad, and leave with him immediately, to resist the temptation to walk up to the guy and say hi. On the third Sunday, I saw him talk to the guy’s dad. And the Sunday after, then the one after… So turns out they’re tight. In my head, if the crush ever says we should be more than friends, I’ma be like; “Yo! We can’t do this. What if we break up? What if it ruins their friendship? That would be selfish of us, no?”๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚ In real life the guy still blue ticks me. I should probably tell dad so we can stop talking to them as a family; combined effort, right? (Pretty petty, right?)

But my father didn’t raise me to be petty. He raised me to be mature and nice, to work hard, to care for people and all God has blessed us with, to be responsible, to believe in miracles, to never despise anyone or anything, to forgive, to learn from my (many) mistakes, to be appreciative, to make time for laughter (I picked my sense of humor from him), to be simple, to express myself (every time I go home, I find a new notebook waiting for me), never to trust Internet (which is why I’m not posting his picture here),to constantly try to be better, to plan for the future and most importantly to pray, because Jehovah God is the God of everything.

I’m proud of the man my father is. I’m proud of the father he is. Not perfect, but the best. Happy Fathers’ Day to fathers, you’re incredible!

Wakanda R(L)eads.

Have you ever fallen so far down you can’t remember how you even got to the top of the mountain? Well, I fell. I fell so far down it’s hard to pick my self up. I was so high, now I’m so low. It’s difficult to get back up.

Our relationship started in primary school. I was shy and quiet so I needed him to occupy me. Every evening, I took a piece of him. Scratch that! I started reading in primary school. I’d go to the library every evening to return and pick a book. It was our thing; Christine (my cousin), Alex (my brother) and I. The Tororo main library is opposite the post office. In my mind, that’s no coincidence, they are saying to be able to write to others, you must have read enough. Anyway, what do I know? The library was pretty cheap, you’d pay one thousand shillings and get access for the whole term. We would walk from school via the main hospital, past the youth center to the library every evening before going home. We read after doing homework. The librarians knew every consistent borrower. If you lost a book, you were banned from the library until you paid for it. Banned in every sense of the word; you weren’t to enter the library or even accompany a friend to the library. Your presence was an abomination. You were a thief and were supposed to keep away until you could return what you had stolen.

The one book we loved so much back then was; Does Your Father Snore? We had to look up the word snore to be able to answer the question. No, I’m not sharing the answer here๐Ÿ˜‚.

The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go. – Dr. Seuss

In O’level, I hang out at the book store more than anywhere else. Every free period was time to hit the book store, unless I was reading. I was always reading books literature; during lessons, at prep time, after classes. If I wasn’t reading I was writing. The more I read, the more I wrote. I’d get chits saying things like; “Who has last week’s story?” “Have you written the continuation?” “Is she going to die?” If there was a time I could go back to, it would be O’level. My favorite book then was The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. I’d narrate it to anyone who cared to listen. (I need to read it again.) Harlan Coben’s Tell No One blew me away.

When the Mills and Boons wave hit, I was a victim. One book was to be read by hundreds of people so unless you were tight with the owner, you only had a day or less to finish. Same with Brenda Hiatt’s books. My favorite was Taming Tessa. Then came Danielle Steel; my!!! If you brought any of those books to school you wouldn’t go home with them. They moved from class to class, from stream to stream, from dormitory to dormitory and you never saw them again. So don’t tell me Africans don’t read!

To read is to fly: it is to soar to a point of vantage which gives a view over wide terrains of history, human variety, ideas, shared experience and the fruits of many inquiries. – A C Grayling

African books? We read them in class. The likes of The River Between, The Bride, The Lion and The Jewel, Things Fall Apart, The Devil on The Cross, The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born, No Longer At Ease, The Palm wine Drinkard, A Man of the People, Betrayal In The City, Weep Not Child, Mine boy, The African Child, Black Mamba, Recipe For Disaster, A Grain of Wheat, Upon This Mountain…and the list goes on and on.

Lately I’ve been slacking. I don’t read as much as I used to. Instead, I watch. I’m the girl who doesn’t stop until I’ve finished the entire season of the series. I convince myself it’s my way of reading (which in way it is.) But I know actual reading is way better; where I’m allowed to used my own imagination to make words real. It is incredible! This year I purposed to read at least one book per month and I’m still slacking. I would only read when power went off, but I decided I wasn’t going to wait on UMEME’s failures as opportunities to learn new things. I decided to be intentional about turning off my internet to delve into a book. I also couldn’t wait for my life to get tough(er) just so I could escape into a different world in a book. I’ve so far read Trevor Noah’s Born a Crime, Ijeoma Umebinyuo’s Questions for Ada and Gabrielle Union’s We’re Going to Need More Wine. Talk about baby steps! Yesterday, I started on Tomi Adeyemi’s Children of Blood and Bone and I must tell you it’s magic. Literally. It’s a fictional novel set in Nigeria about a girl who’s trying to bring magic back to her people.

My plan is to read more African literature. I can’t impose that on anyone because literature is like wine; some like it red, others like it white. And its okay. On this last day of the April 2018 edition of #UgBlogWeek, I envision an Africa that reads, an Africa that’s willing to learn more about herself through the different voices that represent her. I envision an Africa with a reading culture. I envision an informed Africa. An Africa whose mind is open to new ideas, an Africa that appreciates the wealth that is (in) books.

Books are the compasses and telescopes and sextants and charts which other men have prepared to help us navigate the dangerous seas of human life. – Jesse Lee Bennett

Wakanda matters

Shalom! How are you doing? How is your Sunday going? I hope it’s full of laughter and love, or good sleep and food, or cool music and beautiful weather, whatever works for you…

Photo: matookerepublic.com

As a kid, I went to church just so I’d get sweets after. Mum paid us for going to church. Paid sounds wrong, let’s go with rewarded – she rewarded us for going to church. Eventually, the reward stopped coming; then going to church just became a thing, you had to go to church. There was no negotiation about it. “As long as you live under my roof you have to go to church,” I heard those words today. The pastor was referring to his household. My mum said that too.

When I went to boarding school for secondary, she wasn’t there to knock on my door. Still, I went to church. Church was awesome because I was in the choir. There were other reasons I went to church; I was in a girls’ only school so it was exciting to go out at least once a week, and if I got lucky, I’d bump into mum or one of my sisters. Yes, home wasn’t far from church.

When I joined campus, I stopped going to church. I was busy six days a week, doing a course with an unnecessary number of course units and Sunday just felt like the perfect day to rest. I told myself I was resting just as God had. Until some guy showed up in my life with his new perspective and all. He said church would help me grow, that church was a place to rest, to refill ourselves so that we spend the rest of the week sharing what we’d learnt. I was on a new journey and didn’t know much, so I took his advice.

Martin was his name. He was studying law while I was studying education. He stayed in a hall at the university while I stayed in a hostel outside the university campus. I woke up late on the Sunday he was taking me to church, but he waited. When I got to our rendezvous, he’d brought me a cup of coffee. Guy was on a mission! So we went to church, sang, danced and heard the word and I had fun so I went back the following Sunday, and the following one, and the one after that, and the two after that… Now I endeavor to attend church as often as I can, I mean it’s just two hours, it can’t hurt to go hang out in God’s presence, receive his word then go share…

Today, church was really dope. We are doing a series on family and how it matters. How family plays a huge role in how we turn out as individuals. Last Sunday, we talked about vision and its importance to the family; how it unites the family, gives it purpose and helps it focus. We also learnt that to get a vision, we have to pray to God about it, talk about it as a family, engage with like minded people and then stick to the vision no matter how hard things get.

Today, we looked at family culture – how we DO life; our norms and practices. To cultivate a strong culture, we were taught to;

1. Demonstrate honor. To honor God first, then to honor each other. Honoring God means living to please him. Honoring people means treating them like the special beings they are; being polite, kind, sincere, just and patient with others. Others in this case means everyone we meet, everyone is special so they all deserve special treatment; everyone deserves to be loved and cared for. Everyone!

Deuteronomy 28:1 If you fully obey the Lord your God by keeping all the commands I am giving you today, (the ten commandments) the Lord your God will exalt you above all the nations of the world.

Matthew 22:37-39 Jesus replied, “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’

2. Demonstrate hard work. We have to be people who do things, not people who sit back and wait for things to be handed to us. We have to put our hands to work and do our best and God will bless us.

Deuteronomy 28:8 The Lord will bless everything you DO and will fill your store houses with grain. The Lord your God will bless you in the land he is giving you.

Proverbs 12:11 Those who work their land will have abundant food but those who chase fantasies have no sense.

3. Demonstrate generosity. God blesses us so we can bless others. We shouldn’t let our wealth control us, we should control it. We do so by giving because it is more blessed to give than to receive.

When we give to others, we give God room to bless us even more.

Photo : pixabay.com

As we drove home, I sat in silence. I was thinking. I wondered what Africa would be like if we sought to please God with our every breath, I wondered what Africa would be like if we honored one another, if we spoke to our colleagues politely, if we talked about our differences instead of resorting to violence, if we accorded one another respect regardless of tribe, nationality, gender or financial status. I wondered what Africa would be like if we just loved each other, if we saw each other how God sees each one of us, as special and worthy of everything. I wondered what Africa would be like if we all gave our all at our work, if we didn’t constantly give excuses or pay my attention to distractions. I wondered what our continent would be like if we didn’t keep so much we didn’t need, if we intentionally gave of what we had, if we willingly shared with our “neighbors.” I honestly wonder what Africa would be like if we knew everyone matters. That’s the kind of Africa I envision(ed), an Africa where we do life with an understanding that everyone of us matters, an Africa that knows that Africa matters. Would knowing that change how we do things, how we treat our people and resources?

Hi, it’s me

In the spirit of the weekend, let’s keep it short and sweet. The title is Pius Miti’s idea. It will make sense as you keep reading…

First of all, I want to appreciate you all who take the time to read my posts. You mean so much to me.

Today, being a Saturday, I want to talk about something awesome, something beautiful – friendship. I know friendship is an amazing thing because that’s the image my friends have painted in my life. There’s no such as a perfect friend, only a good one. The focus of this blog is communication. Communication is such a big word; let’s just say “checking on people.” Check on people as often as possible.

Credit : pixabay.com

I don’t know where I’d be if my friends didn’t check on me. This one time, I thought I was going to die. Well, not necessarily die but something close to it. It was exam week and I’d spent the entire morning chilling at my place. I decided to go to the staff room at lunch time, to eat but also to show face. After lunch, I stayed around for a little while and was planning to leave when a colleague asked if I was the teacher of literature for senior four. I said yes. She told I had to supervise my paper which was scheduled for two. I didn’t believe her, so I checked the timetable. And she wasn’t lying! Time check – 1:48pm.

I had set the paper, so it was saved somewhere on my PC. But one of the reasons I’d left the house was because UMEME had done its due and turned off power and the laptop had eventually blacked out. I hadn’t put it on my flash because I thought it wasn’t due until the following week. The panic set in. How was I supposed to get power? How was I to print out the exam? I literally started to shake. Then a notification came through, someone was saying hi, just checking on me. I was relieved to have someone to talk to through my crisis. The exam was sat. I wasn’t fired.

Credit : pixabay.com

There’s people who won’t respond to your texts and calls, people who will blue tick you, but be consistent. Check on them. Even when they don’t respond, deep down they appreciate it. Check on people; you can never know what they’re going through unless you take the time to find out.

So, as you can see, I envision an Africa that values communication and friendship, an Africa where people check on their people every once in awhile.