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Our weekend was a sweet one. Temperate spring weather hung on, so we enjoyed plenty of time outside in the jasmine-scented air. Pete and I had happy hour on the porch after Grant’s bedtime. The music doctor has learned a great variety of major seventh chords so the vibe was very bossa nova. We walked to breakfast, picked up a few second hand toddler toys at a yard sale and cruised an art festival. We caught up with friends at an year-end party and a birthday gathering.

Sunday church was beautiful this week too. Our church played host to the bishop, and true to form, he shared wisdom and insight. He urged us to see God and love in our everyday interactions. Where art inspires serenity and peace, God is there. When breaking bread with a hungry little child, God is there. I couldn’t help but think of Ubi Caritas, my favorite text. Loosely translated: God is charity and love, and where you find love you’ll find God. Amen and alleluia.

What a nice weekend. Hope yours was great too.

Images via Instagram as usual. The best camera is the one you have with you, right?

Saturday at the Seashore

Saturday we played hooky from our usual weekend activities to take a little road trip. In the days of old, we’d find ourselves driving much further to the sugar sand beaches of the Florida Gulf Coast, but with our little guy’s schedule and gas at $4 a gallon, keeping it local is attractive.

Our first stop was a county welcome center we have driven past countless times. It’s a spot with a nice little view and birdies a plenty to watch from a big deck overlooking the bay.

We meandered down the road a piece for a picnic lunch and some sunshine time with a few of our oldest and best beach buddies.

Grant loved it. I thought he might be bothered by the sand in his toes and the wind and the bright sun but I was oh so wrong. He happily played with this beach ball (great party favor, thanks Abby!), shoveling sand in and out of a bucket, watching the sandpipers nearby and feeling the waves wash up on his tiny little feet.

Also loads of fun: crawling in and out of a chair. Repeatedly.

There are hiking and biking trails just steps away from the beach, so we next time we’ll have the opportunity to recreate in the salty sea air  just 45 minutes from home.

We picked up some grouper on the way back and prepared a delicious dinner. It was a perfect ending to a fresh from Florida day. We will have to repeat this fun trip again very soon.

Photos  via Instagram. I can’t stop!

Friday Favorites: Lunch Date

Lunch dates with Pete are one of the best parts of my week. Lately we’ve been having lunch together on Fridays. It’s a great day to sneak away from the office for a little time together. I know date night is popular but I’m fine with lunches for now. Little Grant’s at daycare so there’s no need to call a sitter. It’s the perfect break in the work day and a nice pre-weekend ritual to boot. Today’s lunch date is planned for a new(ish) cafe in our neighborhood. I’ve already decided on a chicken salad sandwich with collard green salad. Can’t wait to eat, and even better, to enjoy the company I’ll be keeping.

This picture is an oldie but a goodie; I took it almost exactly two years ago on my second trip to Uganda. Whenever  we meet for lunch I seem to remember that day: the steamy walk up the hill from Backpackers in Mengo, the crisp, sweet taste of a delicious cane sugar Coca Cola, Pete and his knockout Luganda skills, and actually enjoying matooke. Fond memories from great lunch date…

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Life lately has been colorful: lots of flowers in bloom and bright sunlight. Along with the glorious spring comes plenty of sneezing, but thanks to a great many prescription drugs it’s manageable. Pete has been out of town for the past couple of weeks so Grant and I have been left to our own devices. We’ve been to the park and spent lots of time strolling around our neighborhood. After he goes to bed I have been practically inhaling novels, and even watched an intellectually stimulating film (can you believe I’d never seen Baby Mama?). It’s a far cry from the days when Pete was doing fieldwork in Uganda and I would read for hours and hours every night for months at a time. It’s still fun to zoom through quick reads but I am so grateful for life’s other distractions these days.

Also new around our house:

Watch out world.

Thoughts on Kony 2012: Respect and Support, No Purchase Required

There is no denying that Joseph Kony is a bad guy. There’s nothing to like about a guy who has abused, abducted, raped, mutilated, enslaved and killed thousands of children in the north of Uganda and elsewhere in Africa. Unquestioningly, Kony and his Lord’s Resistance Army are forces of evil.

What I do question, though, is Invisible Children (IC). IC has once again brought Kony’s atrocities to the forefront and with it another “Save Africa” frenzy, its Kony 2012 video. At my last check, the YouTube movie has attracted more than 65 million hits. Seemingly overnight, on Facebook, Twitter and all over the web, Uganda is a topic of conversation. (Ironically, Kony was driven out of Uganda in 2006, so truly this is about more than Uganda alone.)

Among other emotive shots, the video features Russell’s attempt to explain the LRA to his toddler son, enthusiastic (and mostly white) volunteers putting up posters and wearing Kony 2012 bracelets, and some heart-wrenching footage of children who walked for miles to sleep in a safe place at the height of the LRA’s power in Northern Uganda. The latter comprised much of Invisible Children’s namesake first film and brought the organization to prominence.

Uganda is a place I became interested in eight years ago when my husband focused advanced degrees on music rituals of  a couple of ethnic groups within Uganda. Let it be known that eight years isn’t a long time at all. But following eight years worth of politics, elections, current events, while maintaining relationships with some beloved Ugandans, coupled with two trips there has provided me with some knowledge of that amazing place.

That knowledge includes this little tidbit: many of the Ugandans I’ve met (both on the continent during two brief visits, and in the diaspora here in the United States) are capable, educated, savvy people. These are people both aware of their surroundings and adept at solving problems in a myriad of ways that address their communities.

That’s why Kony 2012 is so bothersome to me. It’s a pithy marketing campaign to benefit one organization, IC, and its agenda for Central and East Africa. Kony 2012 is completely devoid of the important voices of people in Uganda (and beyond Uganda’s borders), voices that highlight current issues and solutions in contemporary Africa.

If you haven’t started looking around for dissension about Kony 2012, you can start. There’s plenty of fodder for a good conversation.

Christian Science Monitor guest blogger Semhar Araia called out IC, saying,

I appreciate their role. They are reaching a core constituency — many of whom have never thought about these issues before — and getting them to care about Africa. But caring is no longer enough.
There is no easy way of saying what I feel right now, except a deep hurt and gnawing urgency to bang my head against my desk as a prescriptive to make the dumb-assery stop.  Sure, Joseph Kony and his counterpart of yesteryear, Idi Amin, have largely been responsible for the single story of Uganda. I have a hard time shaking it from the lips of strangers I meet. That’s all they know or seem to want to listen to. They dismissively glaze over my breathless exultations of the great promise in our youth, our technology, our agriculture, and our women.

These criticisms of IC aren’t new. In 2009, the blog Texas in Africa, maintained by Morehouse College Political Science professor Laura Seay, featured a guest post by Dustyn Winder and Erin Bernstein that discussed a previous IC campaign, “The Rescue.” Others have extensively covered dissatisfaction with IC for years.

Now here are a few (not so well developed ideas) thoughts. There are lots of complexities here, though the Kony 2012 video makes it seem elementary. Never once, for example, does the movie even mention Museveni, Uganda’s president, and political issues at large in Uganda. How much detail would you expect in a 30 minute video, particularly when it serves as an “awareness-building” campaign and a not-so-thinly-veiled fundraising mechanism?

Here’s another (perhaps not so radical) thought: you can’t solve problems exclusively  looking from the outside in. Three young American white guys thousands of miles away editing video are perpetuating a neo-Colonial “we are here to save you because you aren’t capable of saving yourselves” stance. Maybe that’s not a good thing.

I hope that Americans and other around the globe will question IC and its motives. Indeed, be compelled enough to look around at the good work being done in Uganda and all across Africa, work being done with those who Kony has terrorized, and those who are working at building a life for themselves.

I’m supporting the notion that a trendy, flash-in-the-pan marketing scheme isn’t a long-term, sustainable solution here. That ending the war and ending Kony won’t end problems entirely. I know there are far more questions than answers, but we don’t have to be satisfied with the agenda IC presents. And finally, I think we should all realize that every nation has its share of problems. All politics are local, so let’s get involved in our own backyards, too.

Let’s listen respectfully to African and diaspora leaders and support their efforts as we work together to improve our world without guilt. No bracelet, action kit or t-shirt purchase required.

See more responses from in-the-know smarties on this post at Global Voices by Rebekah Heacock. If the whole thing simply drives you to drink (or has you seriously needing a light hearted moment), check out the drinking game on www.wrongingrights.com. The post includes a nod to the IRB and proper credit to that creepy photo you’ve seen of the IC guys with bazookas. Finally, The Guardian has provided a few details of IC’s financials, including $244,000 that was likely spent on Washington lobbyists. Take a look over here.

Friday Favorites: Uganda

Uganda was on my mind all week. In March 2009 and again in March 2010, I paid visits there, when my husband was conducting dissertation research. We did the requisite amount of touristy stuff, but Pete also took me  to a number of places off the beaten mzungu path.

I hadn’t expected to enjoy my time in Uganda as much as I did. That place seeped into my soul. I certainly didn’t expect that two years later I would crave the opportunity to return there, and I know someday we will. For now I will cherish the memories I have, and keep in touch with Ugandans I know and love.

As a native Iowan, March used to conjure images of dirty, slushy snow and incessant cold – never ending winter. But after those trips, March elicits the desire  to drink delicious tea, eat lots of chapati and Indian food, feel the wind in my hair as a boda speeds through Central Kampala, and hear more Luganda, just to name a few.

 

Uganda was on my mind long before Invisible Children blew up social networks twith its simplified and emotionally exploitative 30 minute video. I’m still considering my response to Kony 2012 and after I’ve had more time to digest and edit I will post something here. (You know, for all two of you reading.) In short, I’m critical of what I saw and am delighted to hear that so many others agree.

In the meantime, please enjoy a few gratuitous photos of one of my favorite places on Earth. I took thousands and it’s impossible to summarize a place with just a few images so consider it a glimpse from my view.

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A few scenes from life lately.

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