My love affair with music, dance..and well, drama is natural:p

While little girls dreamt of becoming doctors or lawyers..perhaps even great mommies from their experience washing and dressing up their dollies..I was quite busy practicing to be something bigger…a  superstar of course!! Thank you very much.

At the age of 10, I discovered my calling. If you needed me, I was the girl wiggling her waist to the sounds of the ngalabi or destroying her thumb(nails) playing what was called the “thumb piano” an instrument I played while the rest had pun pipes, xylophones and I don’t know what else.. The ‘symphony (yes I insist it was one) was easy on the ear too if I do say so myself. Our trainers knew what they were doing.

I vividly remember Miss Kanago, the then choir teacher whose behind was uhmm…sufficient. I knew this even at a young age. She was  really well endowed. When she walked, you had to notice as she titillated her behind as if she had a mental beat. Wait, what was I saying? Yes…the music.

I can’t say I had the best voice ( I think I got soprano slots simply because I could make my voice high pitched effortlessly) or that my dance moves were out of this world..but I think that the passion I have for things that matter was first tested at this point of my life. I genuinely loved what I did.

We got into inter-school competitions and often made it to the finals at National Theatre which was just a stone’s throw away from my school. Oh how I looked forward to these days!! Once we came second and I cried for hours. I could not imagine how we were beaten. We had given it our all.

In P.7 when the teachers seemed a little laid back about inter class competitions, I decided to bring this wealth of skill and knowledge(yeah right) that I had built up those past years into life. My stream performed the best folk song and baksimba-Nankasa dance you could ever see..Yours truly even had to have a ‘female husband’ when the boys were playing hard to get for roles that needed their ‘expertise.’ I recited a poem that sadly I can’t even remember. I think I like that old me better-

It is believed I turned my focus away from books to feed this love for the arts. I am inclined to believe this but then again, mistakes have to occur for lessons to be learnt, no?

Fast forward to High School.. Either I was shy or it was low self esteem but I could not picture myself on stage.. Those days teens performed to the sounds of Missy Elliot or Sean Paul and Mwiri boys tried to woo us with Boys to Men and Jagged Edge. Was I also going to go up there and ‘shake what my mama gave me?’ I think not.. ‘A’ level brought with it some courage but I’d become a skeptic..maybe I am just a nice local girl who’s just  into local music:)

Whereas they say University years are the ones that help you discover yourself, I think I had pretty much realised who I was by this time. My love for music took a new turn. I discovered rock music and became a bit of a lunatic when it played. Both soft and hard rock had different spots in my system. The bands became an essential part of me.

Rock musicians have a certain deepness that I can liken to an artist who passionately strokes his canvas as he envisions the masterpiece yet to unfold. You feel it in the strumming of a guitar or the tempo of the drums  but most of all in the melody of the lyrics.

My friends and I religiously listened to “Touch fm ” and took the long  trip to Kampala so we could scream and jump at Steak out’s Thursday rock night. The boda boda ride from the stage back to hall always felt like winter in Africa…goodness! But we went back anyways

My denims and all stars can tell that story better;) Those were amazing days..youth, energy,friends and fanta/alvaro heights.What more could a girl ask for?

The other genres also remained in my life in their own special ways. I have come to realise I can stand almost every kind of music…and if I don’t know how to dance to it, I will still force it.

The other Eureka moment was that I did not belong on a stage, back stage maybe? I thrive in open space, screaming and dancing like no one is watching..literally.*smh

I am that embarrassing friend who sits at the back  of your boyfriend’s car and remorselessly sings along to Adele even if I know I can’t hit the notes like she does…That girl who will dance in the taxi  park if I hear ‘uhmmmm uhmmm uhmmmm’ (a.k.a tell you say)..who may knock down a bottle or two when ‘madtraxxget down plays years after its release..In short just stay away from me if you have anyone to impress and there is music close by:p

One person who gets as high when a song he loves plays is my very own brother, Barns. Earlier this year we were at a hang out joint in Kigali and a friend remarked ‘you two dance alike’..Obviously I was enraged. I am already in denial that we look alike and now you want to bring up something personal like dancing?!!(P.S: I am not YELLING!)

So this year on his birthday,I met him at a bar I shan’t mention…because well, I do not know how I even find myself there. No, it isn’t a kafunda and they don’t grow illegal herbs in their back yard(or do they?)..The bar and I just have bad blood..but the music was on point.

Anyway, so he was with his friends and I was joined by mine and there was a lot of merry making in many forms…but there was this form that seemed to be the cherry on top. It is a dance move that you simply need to see for yourselves.

Now I have experienced first hand what damage this dance move can do and in Kigali it is already described as ‘doing the Barns.’  We on this side of the border are still trying to aptly coin a term for  it.

See, he( the ‘bawse ‘ as he’d probably like to be called…not) acts like he is just going on with his business calmly dancing and then out of the blue, wait for it…”a gunshot”.. The gun shall be cocked in different ways, over his head, right below his waist, at the side…gosh..!I can’t do this dance justice in words.. Anyway, it is pretty addictive and you will probably find yourself compelled to bring out your ‘inner gun.’ You either need to see this or we shall put up a you tube video because….like I said,words just make me sound like a poor narrator of an Action movie:(

My friends kept ‘shooting’ days after…and when I think about it I can’t help but smile. This move is certainly a show stopper.

So, as this love affair of mine continues to grow, I hope that I shall one day dance salsa in South America or the waltz in a real ball room, perhaps watch an orchestra or dance away on a beach in Jamaica…but until that day..I am pretty sure that music and dance will still follow me…or I will follow them…

As for the drama..What? Isn’t life’s  drama enough?



Stolen moments this weekend…

Just another ordinary Friday, or so I thought. I had a bit of a stomach upset so I decided to skip lunch. I borrowed a friend’s car and together with another friend we went to buy cake.

See the day before was my friend Celine’s birthday and I hadn’t gotten her anything, except for a sweet text. We actually only met this year but  she has been loyal and kind in amazing ways.I thought that she deserved a treat. I decided to buy her that cake and take a stroll to her office that isn’t far from mine.

When I got there, she saw what I had in my hand and let out a little squeal. Her workmates had envious expressions, but I was quite happy with that part. One needs to show off that they are loved from time to time…:p

Before I left, she pulled me aside and said she wanted to tell me something. “Someone sent me money to buy a birthday cake but I thought I should give it to the children instead. Please use it for the Christmas party.” Celine said. I almost broke down. In that instant, I thought perhaps I should have bought her a matching vitz to go with the cake:) I was deeply touched.

In all my fundraising initiatives, I have come to a simple conclusion. It is those who have the least that are willing to give. Every time I interact with such individuals, I feel blessed beyond words.

Fast forward to Sunday..this time an ordeal that makes me sad to recount. 4.45 pm,I met an old friend,Rita just before we got in for the mass. She told me she had just returned from a funeral. When I asked who had passed away, she narrated a short story.

” I went to school with Edith*not real name.* She was a very sweet girl, that one person in class whom you know is dependable. We lost our ‘sweet person.’ For the past two years she has been ill. The condition was terrible.She came from a size 14 to an 8.When checked for HIV and cancer, tests were negative. Every hospital sent her to the next one unsure what the condition was. She had to leave university because of the illness until her demise.”

It was heartbreaking to listen to this tale. Even before Rita could mention it, I knew people must have been speculating about witchcraft. I mean, that is the only other option when doctors fail, right? I cannot mention the number of cases I know of where doctors overlooked obvious steps or gave up too soon only for a condition to escalate and lead to near fatal or fatal situations. I was sad that Edith didn’t get a chance. I was even sadder that her family will keep asking themselves questions that they have no response to.

We eventually got into church and started with praise and worship. This mass is charismatic and therefore has a lot more ‘life’ than ordinary. As we sang I kept thinking of this young girl and all the deaths that have been occurring these past few weeks. Sadly, the festive season seems to carry drag this darkness along with it. May all those that have departed rest in peace. This was my eye opener this weekend, to the brevity of life and its blows too.

My attention was stolen by a beautiful girl who seemed like she was 12 or so, P.7 vacation most probably. Short hair, long eye lashes and such beautiful skin. She was sitting right next to her father. I made up their history, of course I could be wrong but he seemed like a single dad, her best friend. They shared little jokes, hidden high fives and exchanged fond glances. It was such a pretty sight. A kinyankole hymn was played and I could swear this young man was going to do the ‘ekitaguriro’ right there. He was so elated, his eyes were practically smiling:) He clapped  eagerly as  his daughter giggled. This is the point when I realised that I was a perpetual stalker and decided to focus my eyes elsewhere as I sang along…okay hummed along as I had never before listened to this hymn.

I want my daughter to have such a special bond with her daddy, so evident that stalkers like me will feel it a mile away.

So last night as I lay on the couch reminiscing about the weekend that was, I realised my memory of bliss wasn’t in an expensive outfit bought or the comfort of the seats in a luxurious BMW. I was thankful for special bonds and quiet time.

Just before I turned off the music hoping to call it a night, I overheard mum laugh out loud. She was speaking to Monica who I’d say is more of a friend than a maid. I have no idea what they were speaking about but I wanted that to be the last sound I heard before getting into bed.

It really is in the little things…

Here is to a great week!

Amateur preacher part 2

I sat back and listened attentively to the preacher of the day who happened to be Maria, the ‘mother’ at the orphanage. She encouraged good and condemned evil while emphasising fine manners . I drifted off from time to time so I could conjure an image of my own family. I tried to remember my childhood and imagined what it would have been like growing up with over 100 siblings but more importantly I tried to envision the feelings of this selfless mother. The sole protector who fights for them, scolds them and moulds them into adults everyone shall admire. Such a task and yet it is oh so rewarding!

As she concluded, I thought I heard her say ‘mama wa’mwe Esther naye……’ (let your mother Esther also…..) The following words were a bit unclear but I could tell she was beckoning me to the front.  Who? Me? An entire congregation? It didn’t help that I was sitting at the front. There was no time to compose myself and take a long walk.

I got up, took a deep breath and stood at the pulpit. Hmmm…where does one start?

Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” This is one of my favourite verses of all time, and now I had a chance to illustrate it my way. I got little Timothy to read the Luganda version and then I went on to promise these amazing children a better life and the possibility of seeing all their dreams come true.  Why not? They have a long future ahead. The best part is that I genuinely believed every word I said!

Now if I had been warned about preaching prior to this visit, chances are I wouldn’t have been as articulate.Natural expressions often reflect better..of course save for the fact that I could not translate words like exaggerate and flabbergasted:-p..Okubuza buza is almost like to flabbergast, no? Anyway, some words I had to translate by adding the letter ‘a’ at the end  like ‘mukama aja ku blessinga’..I know I know..blessings=’mikisa’ but am just giving an example.

I digress.

My next verse  to feed on was  1 Corinthians 13:13, ” And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”

I encouraged the little ones to love one another for it is only then that they shall get rid of anger, jealousy, grudges and everything else that comes in the way of their joy and unity. At this point, there were murmurs..some caretakers even mentioned names. (mostly of kids that often got angry and showed it)This was sad. I wasn’t there to judge anyone for we are all victims..some are just easier to notice.

If you love someone,hurting them hurts you too. We used basic examples about sharing, frowning when you are mad and talking behind each other’s backs..I needed to think like a child.*very refreshing*

I encouraged them to forgive for there is no greater form of freedom after that.The pain starts to varnish once one lets go. To be honest, I went on and on till I forgot where I’d started.I would like to think that the point was driven home somewhere in my mumbo jumbo.

After about 30 minutes,( I had to check my watch after this sweat inducing experience)I was done. Maria came up and asked the children if they knew  that ‘Mama Esther’  could preach. Huh! Even I was still in recovery!

Moving on. We asked the children if they had anything holding them back from the spirit. We encouraged everyone who needed some sort of deliverance to come to the front.

Slowly, they  walked to the front, almost all of them did.

Maria asked the first one what his problem was

*Kazibwe (the shy one who once sent me a letter thanking me for stopping him from returning to the street) went first. He said he had been sad that his(their) goat wasn’t giving birth but it finally did. He also had a force pulling him back to the street.

*Mugisha, a teenager who is about three weeks old at the home came next. He said he did not know how to forgive and needed to be prayed for. Earlier we had had a chat. He told me some boys had come to the home one evening and pretended to be destitute(they probably were except weren’t planning to stay at God’s grace for the long haul) but escaped with some clothes. He said he would have undressed and beaten them if he had seen it happen. Clearly he needed the spirit of forgiveness.

When we got to the third one we had to stop and pray in general. Viola came to speak and just broke down. Each time she tried to articulate her thoughts tears just dropped and she wailed like there was something inside that wanted to come out but simply couldn’t.

At this point we just started to cry out to the Lord to unload the burdens everyone had within.

It was extremely emotional. Lots of the children wept as they summoned the spirit. I held Viola throughout, prayed with and for her and later just let my mind wander to the other people in my life that I knew were in need, including myself.

It is ironic that I had this experience on that particular Sunday. The week before and the ones to follow were to be some of my most difficult in relation to this project. See, no matter how noble your intentions are, there will always be people criticising every move you make and trying to milk the joy out of it. It gets more difficult when it is individuals close to you that are meant to support and understand you..but that is a story for another day. I simply needed this.

I felt at peace. I knew I was meant to be there at that exact time. My mind and soul sang a little harmony.

Before I left I asked Viola one last time what had made her cry so hard. This is what she had to say.

” My dad has very many children, 22 to be exact. None of those children ever got to P.7 and yet I am sitting for exams tomorrow. I am not the brightest or luckiest of them. I just can’t believe what I ever did to deserve this.”

I was astonished. I could  barely speak for the next minute or so. I gave her a huge hug before breaking out into a small speech about God’s timing and his love for those that surrender all to him.

This was just one of those memorable days. Once again, these children, my children blessed me immensely.




The Amateur Preacher: Part 1

Sundays are generally laid back days. It is a chance to speak to God about the week that has gone by and lay into his hands the new one..but for most people, it is an opportunity to relax, let their hair down and rejuvenate.

Last Sunday, I had a date with the children at God’s grace orphanage; to go and pray with the candidates who were sitting for PLE the day after. Armed with success cards and a joyful heart, I set off for Kyebando. As usual the ‘Aunt Esther’ squeals greeted me. I can never get enough. In fact, I may just legalise my  full name to ‘Aunt Esther Kalenzi:-p’

I walked up to the house,the children were divided into two groups with the little ones in the garage and the older ones under  the tent. We had praise and worship for a while then different groups started to come forward and sing. This is the part I shoot myself for not having a camera.

The first group was ‘little angels’ and they were exactly that. Seven year old angels singing and dancing for the Lord?! What could be more adorable? 🙂 They were followed by ‘Jesus’ team,’ and lastly ‘Alpha and Omega which had the oldest children. Their dance moves were quite impressive too! I smiled till my jaws began to hurt. Last I had seen Kazibwe was on Monday when he could barely speak, hardly a week later and  he was showing the ‘engalabi’ (long drum) how it’s done! What an awesome sight!

Sharif, an S.2 student who was the pioneer P.L.E candidate at God’s grace came and sang a Luganda song that he composed. It was actually quite beautiful! I learnt the lyrics to at least 80% of the song. Get me high on fanta some day soon and I shall definitely re awaken the Aretha Franklin in me:)

During the service,anyone who had a testimony was called to the pulpit. One by one, the children thanked God for life, for healing,a place to stay,clothes and even for Aunt Esther.(see, I told you it rhymes)

I eventually got up. Who was I to sit when I had been blessed beyond all my expectations…? When it was my turn, I thanked God for the children because they have blessed the 40-40 family in many ways, I extended my gratitude to all the faithful friends who braved the rain to attend our ‘soccer mania’ that Saturday and generally bubbled on for minutes on end. In that moment, that is exactly where I belonged.

In part 2, I shall briefly describe my stint as a preacher;)