torsdag 19. mars 2009
In chapter 28 in the Gospel after Matthew it,s a paragraph that have been given the title: The Great Commission. Before I continue I find it useful to give a brief summary of what have happened recently before this. Jesus have been attending his ministry for some time. He then decided to travel to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover, which is the departure from Egypt of the descendants of Jacob. (Read in Genesis and Exodus for furhter information about Jacob, his descendants and the Passover.)
During this Pasover feast a lot of things happend, wich should be widely known. A brief summary will nevertheless be given. On the first day of the Feast Jesus and his disciples were eating the Passover. During the meal Jesus predicted that he would be betrayed and that his friends would abondone him during his trials. Later as predicted he was both betrayed of one of his friends and abondoned by all his friends. A coalition of the chief priests and the elders of the people made sure that Jesus was arrested, accuesed for anything from rebellion against the government to blasphemy against the one and only living God. The blasphemy mainly of Jesus consisted of admitting that he is Christ, the Son of the living God. Through pressure and repeated requests the governor was persuaded to crucify Jesus. Some flogging and mocking preseded the crucifiction on a cross next to some criminals. Later the same day Jesus died and was thereafter buried.
On the first day of the new week Mary Magdalene and Mary went to the grave, which they found empty. On their way home again they met Jesus, who greeted them. And told them «Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.» This is way the eleven disciples who is still alive is found in Galilee some time later. This is what is written about the meeting between Jesus and his disciples: «Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshipped him; but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, «All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.» «.
Since then the church, which is the fellowship of disciples of Jesus Christ have been occupied with this commission in one way or another.
onsdag 11. mars 2009
«I just want to see that peak» I said during one night. Though I didn't mention the name of the peak I wanted to see it must undoubtedly have been the top of Mount Elgon. On my first trip to Mbale I saw the outcast hills and slopes of the Mount Elgon massive. And I immediately wanted to do some mountain walking up those slopes. Time didn't allow any such expeditions then. As I write these words my sunburned face have just recovered from four days in Mount Elgon Nationalpark.
One early morning in the dry season of Uganda I walked away from a delicious pancake breakfast and walked to the lawn where I could gaze at the mountains. The Landlady of the last lodging before the mountains came over to me and showed me the peak of Wagagai, shrouded in mist quite far away from the village of Budadiri.
On the first day of the mountain walk I first traveled to the last village with a road and from there the whole group of armed rangers, porters with pangas (big knives) and mountain walkers set out. It took several hours to walk upwards through villages and farmed areas where walking on steep mountain paths was the only way of transport. Further up we ventured into a very quiet forest where the only sound was the buzzing sound of some insects and the leaves of the trees moving in the wind. The only animal seen but not heard inside was a small chameleon. Lunch was eaten inside the forest near the Sasa river which provided fresh water. Sound of birds came and gradually increased as the treas grew smaller. Gradually the forest gave way to bush and grass vegetation which stretched upwards and into the horizon. Late in the evening I reached the closest to the top which most people use two days to reach.
After one nights sleep in a tent the walk for the highest peak of Mount Elgon started early in the morning on the second day. The landscape was dominated of a gently sloping moorland with gradually less vegetation as we climbed higher. From that walk it's not much to tell since it mainly consisted of putting one foot in front of the other from early morning and until lunch time. Before we reached the top I had a view into the caldera which is divided between Uganda and Kenya. Around midday the summit was reached and I could enjoy the view from Wagagai. After taking a few pictures, eating some snacks and drinking a little water it was time to slope down again. Returning to the camp was less tier-some, but took almost just as long time. Still the day was shorter than the previous one and it was time enough for cooking a supper and otherwise enjoying the evening.
Approximately 40 km of walking going much up and down was done during the third day. Both vegetation and terrain changed much from moorland with grass and small bushes in the morning to valleys and hills for hours around midday and then thick forest in the evening. After walking for hours in a thick and dark forest I had hoped to arrive at an open space before camping for the third night. In the evening I instead found myself sharing a huge cave with thousands of bats. The cave was at least dry and it was plenty of water because of the waterfall coming down at the middle of the cave opening.
After midday of the fourth day I again came out of the forest only to find that the sun felt unbearably hot. Some hours later I sat down and rested a bit. After all the walking I felt very tired. Though mostly I was happy after spending several days walking in beautiful nature ranging from farmed countryside, grass covered moorland to thick forest. Most of all I felt that my mountain trip now was ended though it still was several hours of walking left and then two or three hours of driving before I would reach Mbale where I would spend the night. Immediately after thinking that this trip was over I started to think about new mountain walks I would like to do.
2. Waterfall across cave opening
3. Path through the thick forest
4. Peak Picture
&. Wagagai as seen on the first morning
torsdag 12. februar 2009
Picture one and two show the main office of Posta Uganda on a day with very little traffic on Kampala Road.Pictures three and four above show the Castle at one end of Karl Johan street, built on the instructions of Karl Johan.
This catchy name (of Posta Uganda) belongs to the ugandan post service.I have had the pleasure of using their services a couple of times. Here I want to tell about one time when I received a parcel from a country far away in northern hemisphere of the world.
One sunny morning when I walked in to the FOCUS office I was stopped by the always smiling receptionist. She handed over one slip from Posta Uganda which stated that I could pick up a big parcel from the main post office. Previously I have travelled to Wandegeya Post Office to pick up a small parcel. Out of curiosity I asked if she knew why I this time had to go to the main post office in the city centre instead of using the local post office in Wandegeya. The answer I got was that it depended on the size of the parcel. Letters and small parcels could be retrieved in the local post office while for larger parcels and some other services you had to go to the main post office. I found this to be a curious way of delivering postal services but said nothing as I knew very well that there are other strange things that happen in my own country.
A few days later I found time to travel to the city center in order to collect the parcel. Posta Ugandas main office is located on Kampala Road which is the main road in the capital and compareable to Karl Johan. Here I guess it's time with a simple explanation. The name Karl Johan refers both to a late king and to the main street in the capital of the country from where I recieved my parcel. This street does of course have it's name from this king. The lifestory of this king is rather fascinating. He was born in Pau in France the 26th of January 1763 where his father was a french official. His mother was Jeanne de Saint-Vincent and the name of his father was Jean Henri Bernadotte. The future king was baptised Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte. During the time after the french revolution he served in the french army and advansed rapidly until he became general. Though he didn't help Napoleon Bonaparte climb to power he continued his work in the French army during the time of the French Empire under Bonaparte. In the beginning the 19th century the swedish government was in desparate search for an adequate heir to the throne. A swedish official took the case in his own hands and offered the throne to Bernadotte. This didn't fall in favour home in Sweden at first and the daring swedish official was thrown into prison. Later the swedish government rethought the whole thing and decided to elect Bernadotte as King of Sweden on 21 August 1810. As King of Sweeden he took the name of Karl Johan and he would later participate in the alliance which ended the rule of his former «boss» Napoleon. During the tumultous and chaotic times after the end of the Napoleonic wars the neighbouring nation of Sweeden tried to free itself from danish rule. Sweden had been promised this country as a part of the peace treaty of Kiel. Out of this a conflict between the swedish government and representatives of the government of it's neighbouring country arose. Escalation of the conflict continued until war emerged. None of the fighting parties were interested in a long lasting and full scale conflict and so a peace agreement was reached late in the autumn. In the end the two countries were joined in a personal union where the independent struggeling nation were allowed to keep it own newly written constitution. These events in distant time full of chaos, changes in society and war which is so much different from todays world made the prelude to that the house of Bernadotte still regins in Sweden and that the main street in another distant country in the northern hemisphere is named after the ruling name of a swedish monarch in the 19th century born in France and baptised with another name than his ruling name of Karl Johan.
Because the main office of Posta Uganda have such a posh adress it's quite easy to find. When I entered through the main door I belived that this would be an easy task as I had been inside before to post a few letters which were destined for the very same country in the far north. Alas how wrong I was. It would take me much more time and talking to much more people than I could ever have imagined before entering throuhgh the doors of Posta Uganda. As I walked down the corridor inside I started to think that I could only remember counters which was ment for sending letters and buying stams, so I decided to approach the information desk and ask where I could collect my parcel. To live up to the Ugandan cultural code of friendlieness I first greeted politely and a few polite remarks was exchanged between me and the postal staff behind the desk. When Good morning, How are you. I am fine thank you and such phrases were completed, I showed my parcel slip and asked where I could collect it. At this moment I didn't know it, but this person was only the first out of several I would have to interact with and be friendly with before I could retrieve my parcel. I will therefore name these people with increasing numbers as the story unfolds and more people comes into it. «This is not the place to retrieve parcels. You need to go out and go to the parcels office.», the answer sounded. No need to tell that I was rather disappointed. I continued to ask where I could find the parcels office. «Walk around the building and go up the stairs to the parcels office.» was the answer, so I thanked and walked out. On the other side of the building it looked like a proper backyard in a big city and it also was on staircase leading up. Climbing up was easy and at the top it was only one door leading into a corridor with a very stern looking armed guard gazing out on me. Armed guards are relatively common here in Uganda though most of them look relatively friendly, while this one looked on me in a way that told me that I was clearly in a wrong place. I still felt that I had followed the instructions and I didn't know any other place to go to find my parcel. I therefore initiated the greating procedure and when he had replied in a friendly but very brief way I continued with asking where I could find the parcel office. He told me to walk down again and I would there find the entrance to the corridor where I could find the Parcels office. Thanking for the advise I walked down again thinking that it requiered more exploration than I would have believed to recieve my parcel. At the bottom of the staircase I found myself on ground level, though I realised that it was higher up than ground level on the other side of the building. And I remembered a closed staircase inside the building and thought that the woman at the information desk might have referred to that one when she talked about going upstairs. Looking around I found the entrance to a corridor and walked in. On one side it was partly open to the backyard and since it was no artificial light in the corridor it was a kind of shadowy twillight in the corridor. On my other side it was several doors some where closed, others led into empty rooms and other again led into a kind of darkness inside. None of them had a sign telling me what they led to. I therefore continued down the corridor thinking that if I didn't find a sign for the parcels office I would have to test out every door I had walked past. Near the end of the corridor I found an opening with a sign above that said Parcel office, so I entered. Inside was a huge room, it was aproximately 4-5 meters broad and around 10 meters long. Along one of the long walls it ran one continous desk from one end of the room to another. The entrance divided the room into two halves and on to the one side there was a smaller desk and on the other it was a bench to sit on. Inside the room it was five other people, two of them was clearly cusomers which were helped by two of the post personal in the room. Hanging down from the roof it was also two signs. One above the small desk which said recovering and another above one end of the long desk which said delivering. I belived that the recovering desk must be the place to get my parcel so I waited since it was already another customer at the desk. As I waited and studied the room the woman behind the long desk beneath the delivering sign shouted to me «Do you need help», so I walked over and was meet with the normal ugandan friendlieness. Once I had shown her my parcel slip and explained my quest to retrieve my parcel she asked if I had any official legetimation and then she could help me. I therefore showed her my driver liscence. After studying it for a while she looked content and told me that she would go to find my parcel and that I could sit down on the bench and wait. Then she quickly disapppeard into the blackness of the opening behind here. More than 10 minutes passed by and I only hoped that I would sometime see my driver liscence, my parcel slip again since she had disapperead with them. At last she reappeard with a big box in her hands and called me over. From somewhere behind the desk she produced a large book where she started to fill in details about my parcel and also from my drivers liscence. After a while she asked my what the referance number of my identificaton was. And she added on an extra question about which language it was. This initiatied a long conversation about Norway, that the language is actually Norwegian, how long I had been in Uganda and what I am doing here etc, etc. Of course I also explained where she could find the reference number of my drivers liscence. When she had heard enogh she asked me to sign her book to confirm the information about my parcel and my identity. While signing the book I though that it was good that they took the job of handing out parcels seriously and I was happily thinking about returning home to unpack the parcel. Alas for had I only known that I would still spend a long time in the parcel offic. When the book was signed she gave me a reciept for recieving the parcel and told me that I could continue to the other end of the desk. So I took the parcel, the parcel slip, the reciept for parcel recieving and my drivers liscence and walked towards the other end of the room where I could see a man waiting. I approached him and went through the usual routine of friendly greetings and gave him all my papers excluding my driver liscence and my parcel. He then started seraching energetically through a large pile of small white papers. A few minutes later he stopped searcing and started reading and it then became that he had found the original part of my yellow parcel slip. These he effectively stamped before he started to contemplate upon the writing on the declaration slip on my parcel. Several minutes later he asked me what it sadi here and which language it was as he pointed to the contents box on the declaration slip. I first of all explained that it was written in Norwegian and that the parcel was sent from Norway in northern Europe before I translated what it said. We then ended up having a small conversation about what these contens was. And it became nesescarry with a small speech about Norway, what I did in Uganda and how I found the country. In the end he just told me that he would need to talk with his boss and asked me to wait for him and then he disapperead for a while. He reapperad together with a woman who walked over to my parcel, studied the parcel slip for a while before she turned to me and started to exchange the requiered friendly small talk. She then asked me what it said in the contents box and which language it was. To this new and surprising question I tried to give as clear and short answer as possible. After a few more specific questions she thanked me for my answer, turned towards the man and told him something I didn't hear before she left. Alone with the man again I was asked to sign both the copy and the original and the copy of my parcel slip to confirm that I had recieved the parcel in unharmed condition. By now I had experienced so much fun in the parcel office that I wasn't much surprised when I was given the three differen pices of paper and my parcel and asked to pay a visit to another desk in the room. This desk was occupied so I had to wait for a while before I could encounter it. First we went through a number of friendly greetings. Another big book then emerged from behind the desk and the woman started to write down details from my parcel and from the papers I was bringing with me. She then asked for official legetimation and so I gave her my drivers liscence and this time it wasn't surprising that I needed to explain what the reference number was, which language it was and even more. Once all detailes was filed in the big book she asked me to sign, write the date and pay 3000 schillings. More and more fascinated by the byroucracy of the Ugandan post service as I was thinking about what could possibly come next. To my my surprise and delight she told me that I could now leave.
Totally I must have spent nearly two hours to pick up my parcel so I nearly danced of joy as I left the building. Thinking about the whole event I realised that I had talked with six different people, used 3000 schillings, explained a lot about myself, Norway, Norwegian and given some comments about how I find life in uganda in order to be able to pick up one parcel. When it comes to time it took me many times as long time as I had believed. Looking back I find it to be a funny and intersting meeting with a foreign byroucracy and the end result was also good. I finally recieved a parcel with the suspicous content of norwegian chocolate, norwegian comics, a few socs, a torch and a fes other harmless items. All of them have brought much joy into my life and to other people of native or foreign origing in Uganda.
fredag 23. januar 2009
with a description of Ugandan road directions as a way of understanding Ugandan culture
and including an introduction to public transport in Kampala
In the end of November I receieved a parcel from home in occation of my birthday. Since all post to me needs to be sent to FOCUS Uganda I would normally recieve post from the reception at FOCUS. This time I only recieved a slip that stateded that a small parcel for me could be retrieved from Wandegeya Post Office.
A parcel slip from the ugandan post service contains information about which post office you need to visit. This spesific slip also said that I needed to pay 1000 schilling for retrieving the parcel. At the bottom of the slip it was a warnig that the post office would only store the parcel for 14 days. When I recieved the slip I was told that they couldn't retrieve the parcel for me because the post office insisted that I needed to come personally and present official legetiamation papers in order to retrieve the parcel. My first thought was that the ugandan post service is just as or even more strict than the norwegian post service when it comes to security. Wandegeya is a busy and chaotic shopping and busniss area situated at one of the major crossroads for traffic in to, going around or coming out from the city centre of Kampala. For these reasons the main roads in the area are crowded with people and cars. And from the main roads there are several minor streets branching of and continuing into the surroundings. I travel through the area every week and I have also walked through parts of Wandegeya. Still my local knowledge wasn't good enough to know where the Post office is. I therefore asked for directions and the answer I got sounded something like this: Take a taxi to Wandegeya and get of at the stage. Then you continue to walk and near Stanbic Banck, but not very near, in fact it is a distance away from Stanbic Bank there is a road to going down. Slope down and then take to the right. After a while there is some big trees and then you are near the Post office. This answer does tell something about Ugandan culture. First of all there is something like 1,5 to Wandegeya and the distance can easily be walked withing 15 to 20 minutes. People in Uganda does admit that they might be a bit lazy and that is one reason they give for why they would prefer to use a taxi for such a short distance. Before I continue I would need to explain what a taxi is. It is not the same as in Norway where you have a ordinary car with five seats and one driver which is employed in a small or big company and for which you make a order and they then drive you to the place you want to get to. Neither is it a cab as you would find it in London and which is essentially the same as in Norway except that the cars look different. A taxi is the most common form for public transport in Uganda. It is usually and that means nearly always a white Toyota Hiace where the room usually used for transporting goods is filled with seats. There is four rows with seats and the sliding door where you enter is placed on the right side of the car since you drive on the left side of the road here in Uganda. In order to get to the backrow you have to bend double as it isn't a lot of space beneath the roof. Then you ha ve to fold together the foldable seats which fill the gap between the two permanent seats in each row and the right side of the car. Thus a corridor of walking space is created when it is needed. Each taxi have both a driver in the front where there is also room for two passengers and in the back part of the taxi there is a conductor. The job of the conductor is to get more passengers to the taxi, recieve payment when people leave (and not when they enter as in a norwegian bus) and remember when and where people want to get of. The latter only happens in those rare occations where the conductor actually do a good job. And now you should know enough to continue with the story. Secondly ugandans usully add that they doesn't like to walk since there is no proper sidewalks and on edge of the road you have to compete with other people, bikes, cows, motorcycles that try to get in front of the traffic, goats and generally watch out for the cars which doesn't pay much attention to people who walk. The description for finding the correct road is also very ugandan. Most roads here doesn't have a name and among those major roads who does have a name there is very few places with a signpost that gives the name of the road. Of course the main raod in the capital and a few other roads in the inner city and other important roads have names. Generally it still remains true that roads doesn't have a name and even when it has a name it is very unlikely that people will know about or use the name. Giving directions based on buildings, shops, banks and other places with a recognisible advertisment is therefore very usual. Secondly the direction for finding the road show another part of ugandan culture. People doesn't think about distances in terms of meters or kilometers or estimates of the mentioned. Instead people use expressions far, close, near etc or if it is a long travel they will tell you how long time it takes with public or privat transport in a car, taxi or on a boda. Again there is need for explaining before continuing. A boda is a motorcycle with a driver which you can use to travel from one place to another and you need to discuss the price before you jump on. The description that our road was near but not very near Stanbic Bank in Wandegeya is therefore in a way a very presice description. «Sloping down» is also as good an ugandan expression as you can ever hear and out of the setting it was possible to understand that it meant walking down until you reach the bottom or possibly the end of the road. One thing is the same both home and here. People use left and right when they give directions. A difference is still that at home people could in some cases have been talking about north, south, west or east when they give directions or talk about different parts of a town or country. In uganda those words about directions compared to the sky is just that; words. Those words have no practical meaning or use in the ugandan culture. Ask anyone and they will not have any idea about where north, south, west or east are compared to where they are now. This may sound like an contradiction as ugandans love to talk about the part of the country where they or their parents come from and those terms are often used then. This tricked me for a long while until I finally realised that those terms are very freely used and they only know after having been through a school system where studying and drawing the map of the country play an significant part of the education of young people. People therefore have an general idea about where in the country their village is though they doesn't use directions according to the sky in their daily life. At last there is a clear description about where the post office is. It is «near the big trees.» Large and old trees are often used in road descriptions. As a matter of fact trees and espescially mango trees are more often used for road descriptions than words like left, right and distance descriptions.
In November I had already lived a few weeks in Uganda but I was still and I still do think in such a Norwegian way that I tried to get a more «detailed» description. The word detailed is set in clamps as what I really wanted was a more Norwegian style explanation. The attempt to get more information was of course futile as all nessescarry details in an ugandan setting was already provided. This meant that it was nothing else to do than to set out and try to find the post office in Wandegeya. A little more than 30 minutes later I found myself outside the post office in Wandegeya. Following the directions and making a few guesses had worked surprisingly well. Inside I went through a ritual of showing official legetiamation, siging a very large book where all details about my parcel was handwritten and paying those 1000 Schillings before I got my parcel. This search after the Wandegeya Post office is a very clera example for how road directions are given here in uganda. Secondly it also gave me an introduction to the byrocracy of the ugandan post sercvice. I later had a broader and longer exposure to the byrocracy of the ugandan post service.
torsdag 6. november 2008
Picture one: Facilitator and audience in action
Later there was more teaching on other themes, workshops on themes like time mangement and gender issues, a cultural night on saturday evening and a service on sunday. As much as possible I attended the different happenings, but I also missed some because of a brief visist to Mbale town and because I attended an Introduction. Both will be commented in later posts, but for know it should be enough to know that an Introduction is a big happening and among the major events of life here in Uganda.
onsdag 5. november 2008
caughing in Uganda
fredag 24. oktober 2008
When sailing was still an usual way of transporting food and goods across the world oceans Hald was built as a recreation place for a wealthy family. Since then the houses and grounds have been used for celebration, bible schooling and as hostel for people who need a place to rest their bodies after long days of travelling. Today it is having several functions. One is of importance to me and my story. It is the physical location of Hald international centre. In itself that is nothing more than a long and fancy combination of words.I guess that the phrases would need some explanation. Most importantly it is a way of exchanging young people. That is people who have a desire for leaving the comfort and saftety of their home place and do some small or great work in a different society to change the world and make life better. Of course those people also have to be within defined age limits and they should also fulfill other official requierments. This year two Ugandan girls have travelled north to work for and togehter with christian students in Trondheim and two Norwegian boys have travelled south to Uganda to do the work for the Kingdom as people here would say when someone is doing one or another ministry in an christian setting.
I happen to be one of the two boys in Uganda and I intend to post small stories from my life in the pearl of Africa, fun facts about norwegian or ugandan society and other things related to my work, life, Fellowship of Christian Unions in Uganda or Hald. The name of this place at the southern end of Norway brings alive the memory of approaching the entrance where an erected stone were rised with the inscription: Hald 370 Km til Kristiania