The Trials and Tribulations of Extroverts

IMG_2934You think Introverts have it tough? Pity Extroverts!

True, Introverts are often ridiculed as bad communicators, lone souls, poor social buddies and individualist. While Extroverts are [perceived as] jovial, positive, friendly, giving, sociable, with an infinite joie de vivre!

Extroverts are expected to light up the room at a party and mingle, offer a free hand to the stumblers, a shoulder to the criers and bright lamp to broken spirits. Extroverts are to smile, laugh and cater to everybody’s happiness and pleasure, it is presumed and expected.

Me-time” is not [acceptably] synonymous with extrovert. How can the light of the party fold into oneself to deal with own issues? But that is seemingly not considered unfair!

True story!

I know an extrovert in my social circles. She loves life, she is spontaneous, adventurous, athletic and earthy. She loves everything natural, loves entertaining, and volunteering a helping hand to others, solicited or not. She is full of vigor, smiles and laughs out loud, and a pretty funny jokester

She will pick up the slack with no prompts. She will be the one cleaning up the mess, while everyone in the room is sitting watching TV or fingering their phones. She will feed the children, entertain them, play with them, read with them, put on an impromptu picnic for them and support their childhood dreams unsolicited.

Even if none of the children’s parents returns the favor for her own kids, she is never swayed from cooking up a storm, cleaning and caring for the sick or bereaved. Because giving a helping hand is the humane thing to do, that no religion, politics or economics can indoctrinate. It is also a key tenet of her social upbringing, which impressed on her the importance of service to others.

But what happens when she needs her “Me-time”? What if she does not want to sit around and laugh or play with anybody? Is she being rude, mean, nasty, causing tension? Is she entitled to claim her space, amidst others? Is she allowed to have “Me-time”? For the same reasons we give our children “time out”, to recover, to recuperate, to reflect and come back with positive energy and relaxed.

From what I know about her, she has come a long way, in controlling how much and how long she “zones out” and “shuts the world away”, and takes her time-out. She confessed to me that, she never used to stretch her tolerance and patience a lot like she does now.

For instance, she was never a “morning person”, until she became obliged to take care of another person — her own child. Correct, she had had experience taking care of children, but with the option of bailing out, at will, because they were not her own responsibility.

Before becoming a mother, she did not enjoy talking to anyone in the morning. No small talk, unless it was urgent and very important life concerns, morning transcontinental conference calls or checking in at airport gates on early morning flights!

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To reload her to morning ‘sugar’, she started going on morning running to wake her up to lift her spirits up. To her, running is not simply for “weight loss” —it has never been—but to pump her blood up. When others grabbed a coffee to jumpstart them in the morning, she goes for a run.

Since becoming a mother, her child has supplemented the morning run. He wakes up every morning with a smile and a positive attitude, that are so contagious! That alone, lifts her spirits up, though she goes crazy sometimes, when his happiness slows down, his on getting out of bed and getting dressed.

Reading and social media also keep her busy, and revives her energies. They give her new perspective about life, and give her the umph to keep going amid turmoil. So, blogging, reading online news, tweeting, FB, Instagram, and sharing with her online crowd is a joy to her!

Some might say it “escapism” from her immediate surroundings, but it is positive escapism. It allows her to spare others her agony and misery, until she can bounce back with renewed vigor and positive energy. It stirs joy in her, and helps her regain her stamina. It clears her thoughts, and allows her mould and transform herself strategically.

What bewilders, though, is when others take her quiet and “down-time” personal? Why they perceive her “hibernation” as directed at them, and causing tension around them, when she does not take their availability or lack thereof for granted?

If she can find the peace and joy within herself, why can’t others do the same? If she can still offer a helping hand even when her social circles do not return the favor, why is it hard to accept her without judgement, those times she is not an “Upbeat Extrovert”?

I wonder, why we should expect extroverts to carry other people’s 100th problem, when they have their 99 problems! Why can’t we accepted that everyone is a lot like the British weather; it fluctuates at from time to time, not permanently, and still brings us happy memories!

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Perhaps, we should all learn to accept that nobody is in a permanent state of bliss or misery. Nobody, in my imagination wants to be surrounded by people or be the entertainment for others all the time. Nobody wants to be the fortress for others all the time, or the last man/woman standing, when others are tucked in their loneliness, sorrow or “me-time”.

Nor does anybody want to be lonely and gloomy all the time, tucked away from others, without friends to laugh, play and talk to. We all enjoy to love, support and surround ourselves with others. But can we understand that Extroverts do not have an elasticity of happiness, and just show some love when they do not wanna be disturbed!

Happy Turkey-giving Y’all!

‘Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion into clarity. It turns problems into gifts, failures into success, the unexpected into perfect timing, and mistakes into important events. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.’
- Melodie Beattie

 

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Hello October!….Let’s See What You Got!

Dear October,

Can I say, you just sneaked up on me? Maybe Not. But you came with a Big Nasty Bang!

It’s been a long dry September…….Not very dry….Though, the month started off hot hot hot! Though, the heat did not stay around for too long.

Except in our hearts and souls.

September started off with the loss of a loved one. My son’s paternal grandpa (RIP). He should not have gone, I selfishly still say. He ailed so bad, too long, not to pull through; I thought he would make it, and look back on how painful it was…but glad he jumped back into shape! Too young! At some point, I would have to shut away the regrets, and remember the happy times.

But the loss came with a gain. Of a lost love. Well, the kind of “lost one” you cannot easily extricate yourself from, because you are [in]conveniently plugged into each other’s life. Eleven days, unexpectedly, lovingly spent; the longest period of our tri-life! Who would have re-imagined? Thankful! Grateful!

Anyway, it is six days of October so far, and I am still looking for a shinning light at the beginning and end of the tunnel. The first week of October seemed to be a quick slide from Spring into Winter. Temperatures went down, and chilly. Bringing a chill to our lives and hearts. It is pretty dry, more than I expected. Amazingly, the leaves are not falling off as fast as the smiles around here. Slowly turning yellow, read, orange and brown, though not yet too much cover on the ground.

Sobs sobs sobs! We do not sob very often around here, unless, of course, we are seven and below. We have been pretty happy, except at the losses. We have tried to keep the peace around here, with kids running around, yelling and preoccupying us with their wit and creativity. No more! Could it be that the new Fall school term comes with the reality that, we are stuck in school for the longest haul, no more long summers of children, except for a Columbus Day break, Thanksgiving and December/Christmas/Winter Break?

Then came a social relationship shuttered. That relationship you thought was here to stay longest. In fact, you planned your geographical locale based on certain social relations. Alas! Your type is not as valuable as you thought, it is about time to find another home. So much humiliation than can comprehend. Sometimes, even those we pay to render a service do not respect your worth. Sometimes, one needs to cleanse themselves of all the humiliation with wailing and sobbing. I believe in the power of “quiet tears” cleansing the soul

But, one has to return to sanity, and celebrate that which we have available – Life, air, loved ones, legs, stamina and the hope for another day. As long one can still breath, we should remain grateful. We are grateful for the loved ones, for friendships, for our children. That Child of Mine is in good health, working hard, outdoing himself, creating, caring and soothing me, when I cry. [And I had never allowed myself to cry in front of my own son.]

Time to celebrate that I have a marathon to run in about five days, my second this year. Anxiously awaiting that! That I have developed my website, and received exhaustive, outstanding comments from a real professional, in the game. Plus, I have a book chapter on Pan-Africanism to get in before the end of this month.

As the leaves start to Fall, I will fall into an aggressive mood, marketing my passion(s) as my profession(s). Bring these ideas to life, especially these three: running, writing and mobilizing. Time to bring my aggression on. Tough times call for tough people.

Nobody is Ever in a Permanent State of Being

We grow, we age
We age, we experience
We experience, we learn
We learn, we rethink
We rethink, we enlarge
We enlarge, we seek
We seek, we traverse, we travel
We travel, we encounter
We encounter we fall in love
We fall in love, we fall out unfulfilling
We fall out, we hurt 
We hurt, degenerate
We degenerate, we rejuvenate
We rejuvenate, we strive for peace
We strive for peace, we make peace
We make peace, we give peace
We give peace, We live Life
Lately, I have been going through the emotions. Various emotions. Why we fall in love? Why we let people into our lives? Why our hearts long for what has left us? Why we let others play with our hearts? Why we let our hearts long for the unavailable? Why we let the unavailable, unbothered and under-fulfilling and incompetent ruin our happiness? Why we pay attention, we weep, we sulk, we anger, we grope for those who should not have been in or enjoy our lives? Those who do not qualify to partake of our love?
Then I realize, it is human nature. Nothing is more human than to love, to err and to learn. Nothing is more human than to forgive, to dust off, to try again. Nothing is more human than optimism. If for nothing else, hope is all we should desire to recreate ourselves. To find the inner peace, to live life anew.
That comes with forgiving, Forgiving starts with ourselves. We cannot forgive others unless we forgive ourselves. Forgiving does not mean forgetting, it never will. But it is so worthy, in order to move on. In my experience, I have found beauty in two of the most hard-hitting life experiences: to forgive and to fall in love.
First, I unexpectedly forgave my father in 2013, extricating myself from deep wounds accumulated since. My father and I never had a relationship; except the biological attachment. I credit the death of my best friend in 2013 for opening up my heart to living life anew. I do not know, if it was her beautiful soul speaking to me. She always told me, “I pray that you will one day have a good relationship with your father.” I guess I had lost the only true soulmate [beside my mother], I knew understood me [more than my mother – I say], guarded my innermost secrets and cheered me on. And it happened. I completely forgave my father from the bottom of my heart, without coercion, mediation or cajoling. Now! I miss my father, many times! I have not forgotten all the wrong, pain and suffering he caused me. But I forgave him. At least I am now able to experience his happiness, and gratitude that I forgave him. He calls me from time to time, something that had never happened before. We sit down, talk and laugh, like time does not hold any painful memories between us!
Second, I have partook of the beauty of falling in love, and out. The “out” is most painful, but does not last forever. The “in” lasts forever. It is joyous reminiscing from time to time,  “falling in love”, a feeling distinctively apart from all other love relationships. The “out-lived love” prepares you to let go of any others, without succumbing to the same slow excruciating pain of love. It is equally intriguing pondering over why your heart fell for “that person” and not the other(s)! Especially, when the one you fall in love with and got away may never come clean to you how s/he really felt about you. Again, we make peace with the lost love, forgive, and live life.
Indeed “Love” and Forgiveness” epitomize my belief that Nobody is Ever in a Permanent State of Being. If we can love, we can forgive, and if we can forgive, we can love. Love for an inner peace; for goodness for ourselves and in others; for respect for self and others; for joy for self and others; for honor, success, celebration and understanding for self and others.
We, go through phases in life; hopefully we all do. Nobody is so evil without a glint of goodness! Even the mighty fall, soften and loosen up to different people and in different circumstances. We all love; we might not all know how to express our joys. Perhaps, our life circumstances might not allow us all, to smile or “make nice”, even when our hearts desire. Or we might not know or feel comfortable communicating our story. Maybe I might never hear my father tell his story from his mouth. At least I knew, he expressed his commitment to his family by providing an education to all his children, and a permanent roof for all his marital relationships. That fills me up! To his friends, he partied with them and made them party with him. He was a very trustworthy “kitty keeper” for plenty of his friends, and managed budding investments to fruition for many. Hopefully, they too, will remember him for that.
We, each have our insecurities, which are questioned, challenged and teased out as we progress in life. Sometimes our insecurities make us arrogant, introverted, aggressive, puppets, trigger-happy, or adventurous. At some point in life, it is all about “me”. Until we progress into “lovers of the earth” or “tree-huggers”. Or “fight for the rainforest” as a “survival for the fitness”. Finally, [or perhaps not] we [re]create goodness in ourselves and see goodness in others, and just agree to be, and let others be.
Whatever it is, we live and learn. We learn and let live. Hopefully, each one of us has a chance to life, to live longer to experience, to open ourselves up to learn, to love, to forgive, to give of ourselves, and to partake of what life offers us. And, to appreciate those who bring so much joy and pain in our lives, for they bring us great challenges, lessons and opportunities to become better and re-emphasize that we can never have a Permanent State of Being. Nor should we expect anybody else to stay permanently stagnant!

Know the One You’re With

Taking a break from my predominant running theme about “Education”, I chose to blog about relationships. Recent events have prompted me to write about why it is important to Know the One You’re With. Whether it is a sibling, child, spouse, lover, family or social network.

Plenty of us are guilty of passing judgment on others without fully knowing them. We think we can know a person merely through observing or interacting with their character, actions, interests, beliefs or experiences. If one is burbly, funny and entertaining, that person would be most likely considered happy and an extrovert, as opposed to a person with a calm demeanor. That, we did with one renown actor and comedian, till his mind boggling death revealed the cosmeticized pain and suffering he lived with from a childhood of unhappy family relations and feelings of neglect. The same is said of funny man “Nutty Professor”, who makes the world laugh, yet an introverted and gloomy around his closest family, as we learned through his divorce from ex-wife N. Mitchell.

Or perhaps we should not blame others for what they think they know about us based on our outward projections? Then again, should we really care what others think about us? Or perhaps we should expect that each on around us concerns her/himself more with getting to know those around them. I strongly believe in the value of “knowing everyone through their spoken truths”, in our quest for honest and humane relationships with those most close to us. Perhaps to spare us the resultant shock and denial that our neighbor, who grew up as an altar boy, volunteered at all community events, graduate from high school with straight  ‘As’, is the notorious village serial killer! Or the much-beloved school principal, who met and greeted kids as they entered the schoolyard every morning, was convicted of murdering his entire family of six, including his seven-month old baby and mother’s in-law! What about the shock after knowing that the dull girl from the corner shack, who never said a word in public or answered a question in class, always kept to himself, went on to win the nobel prize in literature! After all, we never expected anything profound to come from her; she was not among the popular girls, and no boy in her class wanted to date her! Right?

I say all this from personal observations, as much as from experiences. That we might not really know even those closest to us, including within our families. Perhaps we have never bothered to ask to hear their story from them; we have confidence in what we see and hear about them. We profile them according to our interpretations of their most glaring behavior, all the while ignoring the value of their own truths and subtle personality traits in making the whole person. Suddenly, we are shocked when they make life choices that do not auger with our understanding of them! Or they excel, ‘unexpectedly’!

One such person I know closely. He was the quintessential calm and quite child in his family. Nobody in his family thought he uttered a word out of his mouth, or that he could sustain a conversation! Around the family table he was the perfect listener to ever conversation, while his lips remained sealed! As a child, he was even scared of his own shadow, often bursted into screaming frenzies whenever a power outage occurred at their home at brought pitch-darkness! Incidentally, his schoolmates said he was a very entertaining and active person. At school, he and his best friend would adorn their ‘signature’ rubber-boots, stage ‘impromptu’ performances for other students, break it down to Marvin Gaye renditions, in exchange for money or something to eat.

Still at home, he was the quite kid that everyone granted his quiet amidst the noise. Until that shocking time when he fell sick with malaria, and started ‘mouthing off loud’. Initially, his family got excited about his parroting, assuming he was in recovery mood. Then his words became more rapid, signaling hallucination. Found out, when they rushed him to hospital that his fever was closing in to cerebral.

Fast forward, he goes off to college, but suddenly drops out and joined the military! His family were shell-shocked, that their quiet, timid child, scared of his own shadow was daring the hard knock military bootcamp, charged with that dreaded AK-47, spending cold nights in trenches waiting for the enemy, chasing after rebel fighters, and shooting known enemies of the state! The details of his military engagement are still scanty, but let’s just say, he was also part of the internal military intelligence!

The major details we found out about his life and interests are what he shared with us from his mouth. He proved to us that it is not enough to profile a person based on our observations and hear-say. We deserve to give each ‘horse’ a chance to tell its own his-/her-story, in order to have an informed opinion about and know him/her  truly well.

Many people put on a facade of strength, when in fact they have so many vulnerabilities and weaknesses. Growing up, I passed plenty of judgement on my mother for the decisions she made that I did not consider very sound and protective of her children, or even loving of herself. Later in life, through conversations with her where I heard her story from her mouth, I understood the choices she made. Now as a parent, I understand much more the decisions parent make, and the meaning of happiness to different people. Happiness is very relative! To a female parent, happiness might be for her child growing up close to the father, in the same geographical space with father or in the same home with the father. None of these are about her instant and personal gratification, which we have very much come to associate with happiness. Yet observers who have never walked the walk or are on the outside-looking-in might question why anyone would sacrifice happiness for the ‘harsh” uncertain conditions?

I reiterate that it is of paramount importance to know the person you are with!  We need to give people the benefit of doubt, allowing them to tell us their story from their mouths, and listening openly with no pre-judgement. Short of that, we are pandering half-truths about others, and perhaps missing a chance to develop honest relationships with people we are with by judging them based on our own conceptions of who we think they are.

Dear Son, Sometimes bad things happen to good people

Dear Son,

Yesterday, I had a great day! I cannot claim to have accomplished all that I set out to do, for but one thing, I did the most important item on the calendar -beside the usual, work, get you ready for school,, exercise, and pick you up from the bus stop. I felt energized!
You and I baked gingerbread cookies for your winter-recess class party. Our first experience venturing into gingerbread baking! We burned some but enjoyed it all. We decorated them with M&Ms, and of course you ate some of those…plus the extra cookie you designed for yourself.
As I sat down to unwind, check my email and the news, that is when I learned that, Sometimes, bad things happen to good people…..
 
Uganda Bans Mini-Skirts”….is the first piece of news I read on a friend’s Facebook profile. I went to google and searched for all news reporting on the subject. Face of Malawi, Nigeria Vanguard, africansportlight, bulawayo24, the guardian, and of course BBC had all picked up the story. There you go! This has been in the pipeline since early this year, when the Minister of Ethics, a Catholic Father Lokodo proposed the bill, allegedly due to increase in pornography in Uganda.
My instant reaction on FB was:
 Where have I been? Does this mean i am now a “persona non grata” in Uganda? A
(I added a link to the BBC article http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-25451709
Those who know me will tell you that I take my liberty very seriously! It is my identity, and I have worked hard to earn it -through self-expression, writing, learning, social interactions and discovery. I am a human, black and woman, in that order. I believe in Global Humanness! That everybody matters, and everybody has a RIGHT TO BE!
With that comes my detestation for social confinement, especially what I see as self-serving rules and decrees that unfairly target a social group based on perceptions of others about them. I am not going to tell you what to wear, so I would not wish that you should bother whether I have clothes or not – that is an extra inconvenience that I do not want to be bothered me, and so shouldn’t you!
I had to go to bed! As usual, I woke up at 2:00am to work till the time I have to make your breakfast, get you ready for school, and I see you out of the door to school at 08:10. I went to the kitchen to grab a cup of team. Then I remembered that I had not finished decorating all your cookies. I guess the news from the previous night hit me rather hard! So,  I decorated them with red and green, the December festivities colors, packed them, ready for school. I went back to work on my computer.
But still, there was not much noise online denouncing the bill! Where are all the Ugandan social activists on FB? In public fora? the women’s rights movement? the feminists always ‘snooping’ around on whose genitals are gone..?
 
Then at 06:00a this morning…and….
 
…in less than 24 hours, I got the news that  “Uganda Parliament passes the anti-homosexuality bill”….
There we go again…….It has been coming since 2011…but the mighty almighty international community, whose mighty arm controls the Ugandan government has kept it on the shelves with threats of withdrawing aid to the government.
Two identities stoned and stifled; one public [mini-skirt wearing women], another private [gays]!  
My reaction….
Uganda, it's gonna be a funky festive season!
Sorry minority, this Christmas aint for you, if you belong to any one of these two social groups: 1) Wear miniskirts; or 2) Homosexual. 
And you thought iPads do not boost productivity?
XXXX, are you still down-under? NNN, tell us, Min of Diaspora Affairs:)
One of my friends responded, 
"The ministry of diaspora affairs will have to start issuing travel warnings to the Ugandan diaspora warning them about travel to Uganda.
So if you wear mini skirts, or play for the other team, you are persona non grata. 
PS: Your money is not needed too so spend it away from uganda's shores."
Two hours later, 08:00a
 

“Uganda in international news December 2013: screw Women’s rights; hello Gay rights! Talk about society always strategically playing women against any other!” I cried

"And what are the Karamajongs to do? Oh! The white man'a burden, of dressing us up!” I added
 
More sadness from me….
NO Thank You, It's Friday in Uganda:(
 Four hours later, 10:00a, I wrote this….
"I think it's been a while since I've been sad, and publicly expressed my sadness, esp on a forum like FB. But the passing of the Anti-pornography bill in Uganda this weekend, hit me real hard! In essence, "the law bans material which shows parts of the body including breasts, thighs and buttocks, or any erotic behaviour intended to cause sexual excitement."
As a self-declared comfortable nudist, I am terribly offended. Already, idle men in Uganda have been literally and verbally undressing women in public, if they deem you improperly dressed. Now they have a law to endorse their abusive actions.
Two, Ugandan nation groups like the Karamojong, who do not wear clothes or not cover up fully are now criminals in their own country. A friend reminded me that Fr. Lokodo, Uganda's Minister of Ethics who proposed this law is also Karamojong, but he's basically saying, screw you my peoples!
Three, most Ugandan cultural groups dance in what could be termed "erotic behaviour intended to cause sexual excitement". Is our culture and our cultural celebrations illegal too?
True, the anti-gay bill has been passed as well. Not that I do not care; I have published my views repeatedly on the subject, and expressed solidarity with the Uganda gay community. I also think they have a whole international clout who will ensure that the Uganda government financially suffocates, if it dares to "mess around with their people -[read gays in Uganda]".
But for the wretched of us, running and exercising in knee-high shorts, smartly and happily dressed in knee-high dresses and skirts, and twerking to the beats of Bakisimba or Badilisha, who have already been abused, pulled, verbally stoned by these idle men in Uganda, some living and dosing in parliament at the expense of our taxes, only waking up to abuse us further!
And to claim that we are a god fearing nation, when millions of public funds are robbed by these men in political office without prosecution, is a terrible insult to my being as a human, a woman, and a Ugandan!
It's a men's world, indeed!

But I do hope, it is not Your world as a man, my son. I do hope, when you have the power, and in position, you do not make this world all about yourself!
I must say though that, your tardiness for school, plus events that happened later today cast the smile on my cheeks further away…. Until later in the day when I went through a friend’s photo album and, Viola…a little laughter showed up….

Liberalism is just an illusion

I guess all of us communicate to try and get the other part(ies)y see our point of view. To allow others read part of our mind, and understand our viewpoint and outlook on life. We do not necessarily seek to convince or convert the receiver of our communication. Some among us are comfortable just ‘being understood: the way we think, reason, live our lives, learn, or conduct ourselves amidst others. At least I am ok with that! Which explains why I have refused to be pigeonholed.

I once tried out belonging to a group that claims to have free -thought….until I realized that they are a bunch of wannabe liberals, cum atheists, cum scientologists…They try to convince others that, religion, African and traditional] culture is devoid of reasoning but emotive. They conveniently deny  that, like religious or cultural groups  [read traditional or Africa] which they be-mourn, they too subscribe to a dogma….or try to build one. Yet, their allegiance to a western-led cultural, religious, social and political culture is merely another form of revivalism…not necessary free thought. For, they worship “Jean clothes”, as a portray of “freedom to be”. They defend English as the global “language of development”, they reject and westernized science is the only justification to existence or logic. To me, that is another dogma of organized religion NOT liberalism, tolerance or free will. Anybody who seeks to challenge them, is quickly thrown out as illogical, emotive or bigoted….

I am uncomfortable with any form of communication, especially verbal or literal, that tries to claim sanity over another. That ranks and labels ‘the other’ based on one’s looks, dress, belief, food, sleep pattern, language or geographical location. Which is why I protest at all these “SI Units” for this and that – “political correctness”, liberalism, literacy, poverty or wealth, civilization, knowledge, plenty of those. I hate the “isms” or “ists” especially! I do not want to be anything – No! I do not have to be a feminist to believe that “women are people”. I do not have to be a monarchist to love and defend my Kabaka (King for Baganda in Uganda), I do not have to be a federal statist…to defend “federalism”…nor a culturalist to defend “culture” nor bigoted to defend blackness. Don’t call me a “humanist” because I said, I believe in humanity. I just want the right of everyone to choose their course of life to be respected.

That’s why I take issue with anyone who says to me that exposing parts of the body undermines the glory and pride of a woman. So, you mean women in cultures that do not cover their breasts have no glory and pride? Or little kids who run around naked, or with just a thread (thanks to missionary infiltration in their ecology) have no glory whatsoever? I appreciate the fact that you are a “clothist. But why don’t you respect my right to be a nudist?

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I am not a big fan of clothes!  Any opportunity I get to strip them off, I embrace  heartily!  Sadly, I lost my liberty to nudity once I got birthed into a society that had already run to clothes. But I will exercise it, whenever I have a chance. I am not an exhibitionist, I just love my freedom…especially because it comes with NO intention to hurt anyone.

Which explains why I quit organized religion. I was born into a Protestant or Anglican family. My maternal grandma was a Reverend – Member of the Clergy, so my mother went to church every Sunday, and participated in all church activities whenever the opportunity presented itself.  Matter of fact, she is still active, teaching Sunday School and all sorts of other church activities. And I was once active in church: sang in my teen days, prayed seriously, spoke in tongues and attended night prayer. That was a phase in my life. I did it all. But I also think I took the bible as literal as I read it, and as it was taught to me. I read the NT cover to cover….I practiced all the Bible said I should. I would not lie, not fornicate, not commit adultery, not hate. and not drink. That is the ten commandments. I tithed to, even when I had no income…

Until I came to America. Then I realized that religion can be used to bless those going to war to kill each other. The religious drink, they sell their brand of religion as different from others, same thing that scientologists do. Oh! and the religious commit adultery and fornication. Yes! I was once a victim of the pastor’s sex advances…Shock of my life! Slowly I began to disentangle myself from organized religion, even though I embraced religious communities like the Mennonites, the Mormons and Muslims. Not because they all start with “letter M”,  but they operated as a family, a community, more than a religion. They did not ostracize me, like my experience growing up in religious and Pentecostal Uganda. I could still join them in fellowship, if I wished, or for dinner or for any kind of celebrations.

Then I went to Senegal, and fell in love with the practice of Islam as a culture, not a religion. For those who do not know, Senegal  is one of a handful of African countries…which has never experienced a military coup.  All political regimes have come through the ballot. Senegal’s first president was a catholic elected by 98% (or more) of muslim population, plus, he had a white french wife.  Unthinkable in a country like mine, Uganda…that the christians would elect a more as president OR accept a presidential candidate with, for instance, white British wife! So, I got engaged to a Senegalese because they reminded me of muslim friends, growing up in Uganda, who always invited us to break the fast and share Eid with them. Well, then I got side-tracked and left a really good man…

But another opportunity presented itself with my son’s father’s family. The parents converted to Islam, and I loved their togetherness in prayer and faith. It was very attractive and reassuring. I thought my son would try that out. After all, I decided as an adult to leave religion…even tho’ that memory never leaves me. I left that claim that there is ONLY one path to the after-life through Christianity….but I do not denounce anybody who does. In fact, my best friend (RIP) was a practicing christian…and I always told her that my blessings rubbed off her strong faith…I have plenty of religious connections, many who have blessed me and my son along the way. I do not have a problem with them, as long as they do not bedevil my way of life.

But a little interaction and I am wary, already. The beauty of a woman is in covering herself up…Oh! Halloween is demonic! Yeah! there is a lot to take in. I am fine with my son, just getting the experience of religion as a community. After all, I have been out of religion for ages…and do not get him into church. But when you tell me that celebrating the dead is demonic or that I am not glorified without covers…or that there is only one religion that encompasses all faiths….Or that christ is the only way to eternal life….uhm or science is the only form of logic….uhm! THINGS FALL APART. I guess we’re gonna keep it our way. We do not need much help getting more confused. No matter how “tolerant” you will say you are….You acts and stance against others tells the real story.

Are we all “the marriage-type”?

Doreen-LwangaWhen you live in a “wedding country” like Uganda, you begin to wonder whether, contrary to your clueless head, you in fact did not know that you are a “bride in waiting”! Sometimes your cold feet drop, and you catch “cold fevers”. You worry if you are the only person who is going to stay single for the rest of your life. After all, even your single friends love to talk about marriage, attend weddings, date married men and believe that “to be a part of ‘normal’ society, you have to get married”.

In the past three days, the subject of marriage has hit me into discomfort, with the impending wedding of Prince David Kintu Wasajja, brother to Kabaka Ronald Muwenda Mutebi II and last born child of the late Kabaka Muteesa II. I am a self-confessed, “I am not the marriage-type”! In fact, I hate weddings and do not do weddings –as a bride or guest-please do not invite me. I also believe that I cannot star as a cast or extra in a wedding film. I sort of have this fear that a wedding is the ultimate speedway to losing an intimate relationship.

And being among married couples in Uganda fortifies my belief. I wonder why they go to church or mosque, make vows of in sickness and health –you are the only one for me –then pile onto that relationship another two or three girl/boyfriends with barefaced shame! A married man with girlfriends or mistresses or “side dishes” as they are referred to here in Uganda seems socially sanctioned, as much as a single woman dating a married man. Barely any friends or relatives throw a fit over it, except when the “First Wives Club” folds its fist to move a law regulating Marriage & Divorce, through Uganda Parliament (but that is a story I will tell you soon).

I love commitment relationships though, till death doeth us apart. Though, I wonder if my self-confessed “I am not the marriage-type” stands in my way of a perfect commitment intimate relationship. I once read somewhere [not in the bible] that, whatever you confess or wish for yourself comes to haunt you and shape your life. But I often try not to think about it as an explanation to why I am still single in my adult life.

Then, why I am even bothered by the marriage of Prince Wasajja? No! I was not expecting him to ask for my hand in marriage. Matter of fact, I have never looked at him “twice”, with all the opportunities I have to see him every week. You see, we belong to the same running group – the Kampala Hash House Harriers (KH3), which meets every Monday at a different location in and around Kampala to run socially. I know some may cringe at the association of a Prince with The Hash. We are the self-ascribe Drinkers with a running problem, but who also go on to run 42 km in competitive marathons, 7 “hard knock” Hills of Kampala February, and Kampala-Jinja Relay every July. We do all competitive and charity runs around Kampala, some of which we have won. We just believe that beer is a better hydrant and energy boost for running than waterJ

Being in the middle of my “social group wedding”, since Prince Wasajja belongs to us -hashers, I have had the honor of being privy to all wedding preparations right from the first wedding back in December 2012, which some would like to conveniently refer to as “Introduction Ceremony” or “Traditional wedding”, when the bride Marion Nankya officially revealed her groom to her family. Plus, I am the communication guru for my running group, which puts me at the center of receiving and disseminating information about KH3 activities. I have had to communicate back and forth KH3 invitations to the many Bachelor parties and church wedding for Prince Wasajja. I have also gained access to plenty of “behind the scene gossip” on wedding preparations. Moreover, Rubaga Cathedral in my hometown is where Prince Wasajja gets married on Saturday, April 27, 2013. So, as I sneaked away at seven O’clock in the morning to go to work, I caught a glimpse of what looked like wedding preparations in the neighborhood. There, reality hit me real hard.

If a happy, jovial, carefree, meek and happy bachelor Prince Wasajja can bow to societal pressure to get married, do I need to conform to societal pressure and “make myself marriage material”, whatever that means? Should I throw away my favorite Tyler Perry DVD of Why did I get married and Glen Campbell’s A Case Against Marriage? Does this mean there is a Mr. Right for me and for all the Single girls out there? I went ahead and asked http://www.brainmeasures.com/calculator.aspx?calcid=76&catid=7 Are we all “the marriage-type”?