By: Priscilla Rodgers
This trip to Uganda has been so special to me, I’ve traveled to several places but never have I felt so connected to a particular land. I felt part of something larger, part of a warm, supportive community. It is really hard to pinpoint what has specifically made this trip so phenomenal. This paper is an attempt to cull all of my most memorable experiences, weaving in what I’ve learned about Ugandan dance, culture, and people.
I knew little about Uganda before I went, I couldn’t even tell you who the president of the country was. I believe one must bring a humility and deep contemplation that recognizes one’s ignorance of the country and one’s willingness to learn.
Now I can speak a few phrases in Luganda. I know about their traditional garb like the gomesi, instruments like the adungu, and I can even name several tribes in the country. I was surprised to learn that when the British came to colonize Uganda they found the Buganda kingdom very similar to their own, even though it hadn’t been touched by any previous European power.
Since the two governments were alike, the British had the people of Baganda go out to other tribes and ‘civilize them.’ This helped to spread the language of the Baganda people, Luganda. And this is why Luganda has served as a lingua franca for the country.
During our stay in Uganda we had the pleasure of soaking up such a rich culture and the vestiges of their history. Even the food seemed to tell a story. One example would be the maatoke, which we were served so much of that by the end of the program we had to yelp, “No more maatoke!”
The food was very starch-heavy and I wondered if this is what made the Ugandan bodies so strong. My body eventually couldn’t take the starch anymore, but I loved the food and miss it now.
The potatoes were always seasoned just right and the vegetables seemed greener and more clean tasting. The Rolexes, with its humorous name, reminded me of the Ugandan version of burritos. This was quite a treat because being a Californian I love burritos. The beef was well-marinated and tender and the cows they came from were never too far away.
Ginger was ubiquitous in Kampala, they put ginger to flavor their teas, coffee, and soda. The Tilapia and Nile Patch, named after the river from which it once swam, were some of the freshest fish I had ever tried.
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