Friday, April 20, 2012

The color of crafts, part bbiri

As a "cultural awareness" field trip today, I braved Ggaba traffic, almost sideswiped a police officer on a boda, and delivered the kids to the Nsambya craft market John and I visited a couple of weeks ago. En route, we established our objectives:
  • Show people Jesus. Kids' responses on what this looks like: Don't whine. Don't argue. Don't get the gimmies. Be nice.
  • Use our Luganda: "Okay, guys. How do you say, 'How much is this?'"
  • Interact with more people of Uganda.
  • Understand a little about Ugandan shillings. A thousand shillings sounds like a lot to a kid, but it's less than $0.50.
  • Get an idea of what "bargaining" looks like. (i.e. Watch Mommy try to avoid being taken for a ride.)
  • Delay gratification: You can purchase a small craft, but you have to wait until we've walked through the whole craft market--about a leisurely (is this applicable with kids?) hour's walk.
  • Support local craftsmen.
All in all, it was a happily successful day. I did arrive home relatively bushed. But at the risk of thinking more highly of ourselves than we ought, I think most objectives were accomplished! The kids employed their Luganda with the sellers, to Ugandan delight. They waited to spend their/my money, which means I avoided purchasing a second-hand stuffed Tweety bird from probably the only second-hand, manufactured pile of stuff on the lot.

Since I had now learned my numbers and how to explain who my oldest was, the sellers seemed very interested in birth order. Here, a mother may be known as "Mama" followed by the name of the child most significant to the people you interact with. That's most often your oldest, the mkulu: literally the "big drum" (think of a tribe drumming--the most important with the largest drum). If your other kids are away at school--boarding schools are the norm here--the name might be that of be your youngest, who remains at home. So I would be "Mama B. (insert name of my oldest)". Here in a culture that esteems authority, position is very important. In exchange for position, the mkulu, or big boss, is in theory supposed to be patriarchal to the people beneath him who give honor and respect. So everyone I walked by seemed to be guessing the oldest, and I was asked at least three times if some were twins.

The women I previously photographed were there and visibly happy to meet avana wange--my kids--and hear their Luganda. I thoroughly enjoy these kind of budding relationships in different locales around town. At least my Luganda draws a laugh! I'm grateful that since most sellers or employees speak English as well, Luganda is only a bridge and not a necessity.

At any rate, don't miss the photos. A picture is worth more than a thousand words here.
These women sit in long rows and bead while shoppers walk by. Meters away are the rows of basket weavers. There are kids and chickens here and there, some without their bottom half of clothing! (Kids, not chickens.)

This one definitely warranted a close up.

She wanted to carry her bag "like Africans do, Mom!"



These are created from soapstone.





To add a little context to our day--these ladies were lunching across from our parking spot.

This police officer was posted near the market. I still marvel at the fact that every police officer and lot of guards (not ours!) tote an AK-47--including the women. Brings a whole new meaning to the term "mall cop." But for a guy who was packing, he was friendly.

This was likely my favorite of the day. I'm not sure if she's grilling bananas or matooke. But initially when I asked to take her photograph, the man beside her told her to agree for a price of around 40,000 shillings! (Around $17. But still. It's a photo, people.) She acquiesed if I agreed to give her a copy of the photo upon my return.

1 comment:

Rachel said...

That's pretty awesome! Looks like you saw some cool stuff and was able to communicate, impressive!