It is 4 in the afternoon, temperature just under 40 degrees, occasional hot breeze from the South West. On the houses opposite boys are spreading slices of vegetables, yams I think, on the roofs to dry. The boys are barefoot, the roofs are metal. I dread to think how hot these tin roofs are, but the boys seem fine; although the metal creaks under their feet.
Behind me is a house cum bar where there is some sort of radio/ TV that fades in and out. There is something incongruous about the voice; it is female and speaking real RP English. It takes a while to work out what is so odd, I can only catch a word here or there but the voice is horribly familiar. Then I remember, it is the voice of the actor who plays Caroline in The Archers.
There have been other unlikely cultural combinations recently. A band in a hotel garden playing Ghanaian High Life guitar music; upbeat and from West Africa. Then in the middle of it all a large man with a small guitar started singing Harry Belafonte songs, ‘Island in the Sun’ anyone? The Hollywood version of the Caribbean via West African musical styling in a mock European hotel garden in a very poor part of East Africa.
Two huge birds of prey float slowly above the compound, from time to time one of them will dip its wings and tumble downwards towards the mango tree before swooping back up to its companion.
The next cultural mash-up
In a café, again with a garden, run by an Italian from the Veneto but born in Uganda. It is full of Young Americans, large, confident, tanned and healthy with lots of very small children and more on the way. Several of them play an acoustic set (guitars, a mandolin and a cello) a mix of mid-paced, Midwestern folk and Patsy Kline. The boda driver on the way back couldn’t really get his head around the idea of ‘acoustic’.
I was speaking to a Canadian academic the other day who told me that appreciating cultural complexity is a characteristic of those who once colonised, but who are now colonised by those they once ruled. I’m not sure I believe much of this but perhaps the British enjoyment of good Indian food proves his point? Certainly us UK volunteers are very happy to have found a South Indian café here. Eating a masala dosa on a Gulu side street on a Friday night as the youth went by in their finery was a good way to end the working week.
Back in the compound
Drumming has been going on for some time, it is far away but very fast and strangely un-rhythmic. It is so hot that even the lizards are hiding, but crows still circle the radio mast laughing at each other.
Later in the Evening.
The sun has set, Samiz Bar is just gearing up for the night. The first song they play loud is ‘It’s a Wild World’, but the version by Maxi Priest not Cat Stevens. I last heard this when our daughter was a month or so old and we played this song very quietly to help her sleep. Hearing it some 24 years later at a very different volume in a different continent and very different context is thought provoking. We carry so many associations with us, hearing them clash together must create some sort new life, not sure what though; will report back later.