Kalangala, Ssese Islands: Performing Arts Recital
Kalangala, Ssese Islands: Performing Arts Recital.
I moved out of Dreamland and caught a motorcycle taxi to Bery’s Place in the village of Mweena. Many of his 23 daughters approached me to personally welcome me back as I took my things to the guestroom. On the front lawn, the girls had a dance instructor sitting off to the side who comes to teach them traditional dance. The girls were in the middle of practicing a routine, where they were wearing feather skirts, and the traditional drum-based music was played loudly through speakers. It was a fantastic environment.
In the afternoon, Bery took me, one of his daughters, and a politician he picked up to Sselwanga Lwanga Secondary School in the countryside of the island where three of his daughters were on their last day of a ten day summer-camp for their Performing Arts Recital. The camp was singing-based, but had a couple of old keyboards and a guitar for the children to learn as well. The camp, called ALFFA (Almighty Fish Farming Association), has provided the students with a chance to record music in a studio and they have also made music videos for songs the director has written. It is a really great project for the young girls and boys. I gave a basic guitar lesson to a very interested young man who learned at a speed faster than anyone I have ever taught.
The Performing Arts Recital took place where the camp attendees sang many songs and performed together. It was nice. When a young boy was playing the keyboard, an older lady in attendance got up to dance. There is a great sense of local community here in the Ssese Islands.
On the way back to Bery’s Place, we drove back through Mweena. Bery told me that 60% of the women in the village were willing to exchange sexual favors for some kind of support, sometimes for as little as a fish. In the village, he says the percentage of ladies in town with HIV mirrors that same 60% number. Wow, they need proper education here…
Dinner was ready when Bery, the girls and I got to the house. The young ladies at Bery’s Place sure can cook. The food is a combination of European and African influences by each culture and it is superior to anything I have had so far since I arrived on this continent, safari meals inclusive. We had sausages tonight. Sausages! Real sausages! Delicious ones…
After dinner, the girls were allowed 30 minutes of traditional dance where they practiced routines and then another 30 minutes of “disco” where there was a party in the living room of girls dancing to modern Ugandan hits. It is easy to see why none of the girls want to leave this place. Bery offers them safety, security, opportunities that they would never receive in their villages and chance to have a sisterhood with 23 other girls who stay in the house. There is a lot of joy here.
When I went to bed, about 8 of the girls stopped by the door of the guestroom to say goodnight to me. This is a wonderful place.