Yesterday, I spent the evening sitting on the steps of NUPECA’s office in Acholi Quarters, watching the sun go down over a sea of corrugated metal rooftops, and thinking about how different and calm that night seemed compared to the usual nights spent in the crowded city.
In Uganda, I’m constantly jumping back and forth between the extremities of things; by morning I’m in a slum, with dirt stained laughing children running around amid the squawking chickens and mangy dogs, and at night I’m tucked comfortably into a clean and comfortable room in some hotel or guest house. I trudge through muddy, crowded markets full of noise and color, then spend Sunday mornings sitting on a sofa in some posh coffee shop at the mall. I buy a chapati for breakfast from a stand pieced together from scrap wood and metal odds and ends, then have dinner in a beautiful outdoor garden restaurant in one of the nicest neighborhoods in Kampala. One weekend I’m in a vintage party dress and mascara, watching goats run around in a circle with a whole assortment of well-dressed wealthy Ugandans and foreigners. The next I’m dancing ‘til 2 a.m. with a crowd of sweating, smiling Acholi men and women in threadbare dress-shirts and pointy-shouldered gomas. And for some reason, the back-and-forth doesn’t seem all that strange to me. I wonder if it should.