Tuesday, September 28, 2010

A Poem

Uya Thetha?Bua? Kuluma? Hai bo!!

‘Molo Ma’, he says.
‘Molo buthi’ I reply with a smile. ‘Full tank, 95’
He opens the gas tank, puts in the ‘thingy’ and
fires a question to which I respond
‘Andi theth’isiXhosa.  Ndi ya thetha ka ncinci.’
‘I do not speak isiXhosa.  I speak very little.’
‘Hau,’ he says.  ‘U ya bua? … kuluma? … Shangaan? … Afrikaans?’
I shake my head with a half smile.
Here we go again, playing this game of
Who are you? Where do you fit? Do you really belong?
I am transported to another place and time –  

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, 1979 
A father and daughter drive up to a bakery 
There is a long line of light skinned people 
Who look like them 
Waiting for bread.  
They  get out of the car 
Walk past the line of people 
Straight to the till 
And ask for bread. 
They people in the line start to murmur. 
The lady at the counter speaks to them abruptly in Amharic.  
The father  takes out his red id document. 
Foreigners it says. 
‘Baria.’ – ‘Slave’ we hear someone in the line say 
They get their bread and walk away 
Relieved ut unable to look them in the eyes

‘Sisi, are you Nigerian?’
I am rudely awakened from my reverie
Nigerian?  Words flash through my mind 
Here this means Pimp Drug dealer Hustler 
Corrupt Makwerekwere – or does it?

‘No, I come from Uganda.’
To my releif
He makes no quick references to Idi Amin
Only a blank stare!
(Surely we contribute more to the world than mad men and disease!)
His blank stare takes me back to another place in time

Oshakati, Namibia, 1990
A young woman is standing in line 
At the Motor Car licensing office 
To apply for a drivers license 
He insists on filling in the forms 
Asking questions in his stumbling’ English 
‘Where you born?’ 
‘Kampala, Uganda’ 
He looks puzzled. 
She spells it, and he writes it all down 
She reads it upside down 
‘Place of Birth - Town: Kampala,   District: Uganda, 
Country:  Namibia.’ 
‘Excuse me,’ she says 
‘Kampala is both the city and the district, 
Uganda is the country.  It is not part of Namibia.’ 
He looks at her very puzzled. 
‘No,’ She says.  ‘Uganda.  Near Tanzania.’ 
He puts his pen down and shakes his head 
In utter confusion. 
‘Difficult case,’ he says. 
‘Go to Ondangwa.’ 
And moves on to the next person in the line.

‘It is near Tanzania and DRC’ I say.
‘Oh,’ says the guy, who has finished filling up my car.  ‘Okay.  300 Rand.’
I hand him the money, and drive off

namutebi - september 2010

Monday, September 20, 2010

Answering the call..

My first bodacious act (after deciding to step out of K&S) has been to pay attention to the call to be creative. I intend to develop a programme called ‘Bodaciously me …’.  At the core of this work will be the use of creative arts processes to explore personal and collective leadership and transformation.  I have been working with an artist friend, Anne Wells, and couple of other women in our experimental Thursday morning Bodaciously me …! Workshop.  We have been testing various activities that we intend to use in a Women’s Leadership workshop and as a Personal and Team Coaching process.  We have worked with story and archetypes, creative writing and video interviews.  We have worked with chalk pastels, done weaving with unusual materials and made ‘dolls’ using found objects as a means of exploring strengths, reframing challenges, articulating our aspirations.  The intention is not to make Art, but to use the arts as a language that enables the involvement of the whole human being – head, heart, body, spirit and imagination – in the process of personal leadership and development.  The results have been surprising and powerful.  For further information about these services please contact me @ Namutebi@mweb.co.za or on +2782 894 1718.

Poetry has been an important language for my own personal reflection and over the past few years I have shared some of my poems in coaching sessions, and workshops as a reflective tool, or to stimulate discussion.  In response to the feedback I have been given I am now putting them together into an anthology of poetry which I intend to publish as a CD and later as a book.  I am working with Dorian Haarhoff as a writing mentor.

On a more personal note
I am struck by conversations about identity, displacement and about how easy it is to belong or not – both in our work place and in our social spaces.  I am also fascinated about the things that draw us towards them, and or the struggle to stay true to one’s own dreams and aspirations in the face of life’s challenges.  As I have become more intrigued by other people’s stories and the resilience of the human spirit, I have also become fascinated by my own story of growing up in Uganda during Idi Amin’s regime, and about leaving Uganda and living in Ethiopia, Kenya , Lesotho and Namibia and finally South Africa; of living with siblings who had cerebral palsy, and understanding the legacy of my parents.  This has prompted me to begin writing my story which I am sure will take some time.  The process has given me a deeper insight into my own life, and a greater respect for my parents and siblings, and the broad shoulders on which I stand.  It has also made me realize that so many in this fast-changing world are dealing with similar issues.  This is giving me material that I can use in talks about diversity, about migration, about being an African woman, a ‘foreigner’ in my own continent and the challenges of integration, and about the struggle of pursing my passions.    

On a lighter note
All this has been very intense – the reflection, the family and the writing.  For my sanity I have started singing again, as part of the Cape Town Gospel Choir, and am loving the experience of working again in a community of seriously committed singers!  We have our first concert on the 11th of December, in the City Hall, and I can’t wait.