August 15, 2010

Mabira, Uganda

Tired from the cold night huddled in a bed with three of my colleagues, a disconcerting dream lingering like the early morning dampness under forest cover, we trudged up the muddy incline leading to the road out of Mabira forest.

A truck full of UVP interns and staff slowed to a stop, “iganga iganaga” they called out laughing, impersonating a matatu(minivan taxi). They were already full but the prospect of avoiding the long wait and inevitable mzungo gouging enticed me to squeeze myself in.

The laugher subsided a few miles in, Old Man darting ahead of lumbering trucks and meandering cars. English faded and was replaced by lusoga and laughter while a countdown of music from the entire continent bantered with the wind rushing in from our open windows.

We raced passed people bent over tea plants. The green leaves in bushes low to the ground spreading out like neat tufts of hair. Giving way eventually to sugar cane, lanky stalks crowding each other. Giving way to a cleared cane field burning. The smoke obediently wafting south, rising like volume on a stereo.

Shakira’s “waka waka” catapulted itself out of background status and the whole truck erupted. Hands in the air shaking to the beat, lyrics at the top of lungs catching on the wind and seeming to amplify.

“what language is that?”

“A Cameroonian one. She remade it.”

I didn’t know that. The song ended. Voices offered residual humming.

The forest behind us, the nile, tea, sugar…the weekend just beginning.

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1 Comment on out of mabira

  1. LaDawn says:

    finding Shakira?

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