Kampala, Uganda
October 7, 2010

“I haven’t even been proposed to here, I think I’m insulted.”

I was half joking but in retrospect I can hear how it must have sounded. No knowledge of my constant proposals in South Africa, no context for “love at first sight” in Liberia, it must have sounded absurd.

James, a twenty something UNDP intern, immediately replied, “you aren’t up to standard here.”

Cool kisses from the wind against my face soothed a little but the sting of his words still clung loosely to me as the boda wove its way through kampala, chasing James and  catching my humility instead.

His words all the more glaring in the wake of an earlier comment from one of the university students at our dinner table, “when are you getting married?” he inquired.

“I don’t know.”

“you must invite me to the wedding,” he insisted.


“because you are a vigorous woman,” he supplied, as if that explained it all.

Vigorous? Vigorously not up to standard. and it is a silly little vanity. A joke that lingers because it cuts closer to home than anyone realized, I like to believe closer than anyone intended. But beauty is relative and apparently I am no kissing cousin.

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1 Comment on no beauty lost peace

  1. Lizzie says:

    Ya know it’s funny. I know the question is coming. Every new person I meet in Africa, I wonder will you ask – Why aren’t you married? or When are you going to get married? You would think that I would have finally come up with a clever answer but nope. I am still dumbstruck when they ask and at a loss for words.
    My recent conversation on this topic, in Ghana, extended to, “Well….you’re pretty….I don’t see why you’re not married.” My thoughts automatically fell to the sarcastic – Gee, Thanks!
    Logically I am aware of the cultural significance of the question but no matter how much I prepare for it, how much logic or sarcasm I throw at it, it still stings.

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