Within Uganda the rhythm of life is penetrating and guaranteed to move you no matter how many left feet you may have. No country in the world is purported to be more in tune with man’s being than this one and its reputation espouses such a truth. While others sleep, this country swings with a natural beat that seemingly cannot be extinguished. Travel the world, take in any and all of life’s exhilarating extravaganzas and Uganda may just end up the front runner by any standards. Some time ago this was proved true as my son and I were just returning from an exhausting venture that included Tanzania, Burundi, Congo and Rwanda. Once crossing the border into Uganda at nearly midnight, we were consumed in the festivities of the border town we entered. This is not to say that we were met with a party or anything of the kind. It was just Ugandans and their life force that embraced us the instant we were in their midst.
For many years now I have made effort to ascertain the origins of this unparalleled vitality. Why would this country, above all others, capture life in such an alluring state? No matter the extensive research, the answer has never been revealed. After all, Uganda is no stranger to atrocity and has survived the horrific impact of rogue leaders, dictators and an onslaught of wars in their north. But, as Winston Churchill once said, Uganda is the true “Pearl of Africa,” and remains so with practically no rivals until this very day.
Over the years this country has put me personally to the test and no doubt there have been times I would not have given a nickel for the whole shootin’ match. I have been robbed countless times, been held at gunpoint and have even had my life threatened on one occasion. Nonetheless, I have returned in excess of a half a dozen times and will continue to do so until I can no longer travel abroad. But, no matter what the state has thrown at me, I knew full well that my return would augment my own life and in doing so, returning has always left me wanting for more.
Honoring my particular brand of adornment, bracelets have remained constant as my first choice in attached body art and I have collected such trinkets from all around the world. Uganda makes some of the finest and unique bracelets I have ever owned. Nonetheless, there are those from my homeland of Fort Worth, Texas, that served as hearty sentimental reminders of where I am from. Not made from any precious metal, I have felt at ease to wear these about town ever since my recent arrival here in Kampala two weeks ago. Sunday this practice came to a bitter halt, as I was attacked by a robber who was masterful enough to make off with the three bracelets that I cherished most. All three were from America and were given to me in celebration of memorable occasions.
Sharing such an event with friends and family back home has brought staunch ridicule for both the country and for me. “Why do you go there; why do you foot about on your own?” My most earnest and comprehensive retort counts for little, however, for until you have been here it is impossible to make sense of such a happening. But, there will be more bracelets and more memories attached to them in my future. In fact, although my confidence was severely shaken, I was once again out and about yesterday, scouting for the small, small ornaments that I cherish most.
As it has turned out, the hunt for the perfect replacements has proven to be most difficult, with little to show for my endeavors. Styles change and that is even true in this developing country. While explaining the exact reason for my quest, as well as describing in detail what I was in search of, I was offered appeasement from all levels. One girl insisted on crafting a replacement while I waited, making every effort to address my tailored needs. When my bruised and scratched forearm was taken into view, the inquiries were many. And, upon receiving the information their consoling words appeared legitimate and were by all means soothing.
Who knows why this fellow targeted me, other than the color of my skin. Perhaps he had an ailing sibling at home and was desperate for money. What I do know is that after the attack a crowd gathered round and one older lady insisted that I follow her home, allowing medical assistance to be rendered there in the courtyard of where she lived. Again I was privy to the vibrant love and caring the masses foster and pass on to others. The loss still tugs at me and the marks on my arm are a constant reminder. Still, if I had to rethink the whole affair, this theft would not have deterred me even a little. This is my second country and no matter what, I shall always return.