Lights, Camera, Action

19

As a child, I was anything but timid.
I found my true-self when I hit the stage.
MDD (Music Dance and Drama *Musilu Ddala Ddala😛* was my calling. At the time it didn’t matter that your voice didn’t sound even remotely like Adele’s. I know this because I got away with solo performances and I can’t even sing to get free rolex😭
I played local instruments in the instrumentals, I participated in pretty much every traditional dance, the folk songs and even performed poetry.
I loved acting the most.
All this was at school during class competitions and later when I joined the School choir.

Over the weekends, my brother  and I provided some back up dancing services to live bands. You didn’t need to call our manager or book in advance. We just showed up with our folks and got in formation shortly after. We were reliable like that.
We also got paid handsomely by revellers. That was until mum kept the money for us😒
I am sure you know how that story ends.
When we asked for our $$, we were given a list of all the things we had not paid for since leaving the womb😞

 

Fast forward to adulthood.
I dislike crowds. Along the way I lost the childhood innocence and became self conscious. I become shy even when everything in me tells me there is no reason to be and getting on stage is not fun for me anymore. It is scary.
Younger me would definitely scoff at this boring version.😳

All my dreams of Actor-Model-Writer-Airhostess-Lawyer-Journalist-Writer again (in that order, I think) have not quite materialised.

Nonetheless, I would like to believe every stage along the way prepared me for something else. Many of my public speaking sessions are probably fueled by that past acting spark to be honest. I get up intimidated by the crowd, anxious,nauseous, stomach rumbling and somehow manage to speak sense (or so I hope) and leave without fainting. Little miracles those ones.

Don’t get me started on this 5 year journey of ‘begging.’ It is difficult for me to even ask a friend (not stranger or acquaintance) to lend me a small sum of money let alone give me something I can’t return. And what do I have here? A 5-year ‘career’ in hounding friends, acquaintances, strangers and the internet world at large to give,give,give-time,resources, skills, everything!😮

I recently met someone (with whom I am acquainted) on the street and they asked “What are you collecting money for this time?” I chocked a little, afterwhich I responded, “Good afternoon, how are you?”
Basically,his mind told him that the greeting I now deserve is “How much do you want?”

Most of this journey has been filled with ironies, in different shades.
We are complex, ever-changing and if we embrace change, it opens our eyes,minds and hearts to the multiple things that we can be, that we can become. We need to allow ourselves to change, to grow, to learn.

Human beings are not one-dimensional;we are multi-faceted; not even what you see on the surface is a representation of who someone truly is.
We can be weak and strong; we can be bullies and still be emotional, confident yet anxious and so much more.
There’s so much beauty in being unapologetically authentic.

There’s no use watering down who you are or toning down your awesome because the world isn’t ready. Make them ready💪💃and if they fail to be, their loss😈
On that note;
Perhaps at 68,someone will write a script that will touch my heart and I will hit the stage one more time. Maybe I’ll act the role of a granny in denial, asking her grandchildren to call her “Aunt Essie”
Till then;
Go forth and explore the multiple versions of the amazing soul that is YOU.

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I had a dream

Last year, we brainstormed during a meeting, out of ideas on whom to headline for Croak and Rhyme, 4040’s annual music fundraiser. The year before, we had surprised many, including ourselves and brought the legendary Maddox Sematimba as our main act. We needed to match up to our own expectations. “What about Sauti Sol?”  we thought. They are terrific musicians and would put up a good show, plus they are in the ‘neighbourhood.’ How would we pull that off? Obviously, we could not afford them. Our ingenious plan was to find an airline to give complimentary tickets, an up-scale hotel to sponsor the accommodation and then we would convince the group to perform at no cost. Easy peasy right? Not.

One of the best and worst things about my team and I is that we dream massive dreams. The more difficult it seems to pull off, the more we want it. We did not go far in this dream. We soon found out that Talent Africa was organising a show in Kampala for the afro-pop group. We took a seat.

The tickets to the show did not come cheap and while I was thinking of which organ to donate, Jem sent me a message that read “ How badly do you want to go for the concert?” I replied with few words and multiple emoticons. She made it happen. I anticipated their performance so much that I literally booed performer X off the stage because his set seemed to be endless. I assured Jem as soon as the band showed up, we would not to be sitting anymore. We’d have to take our spots at the front to dance and scream the night away. We did move when they were finally coming (for real) because at these concerts the main act can ‘appear’ 431 times before they actually show up. They gave a great performance as only they can. They have truly mastered the art of stage presence and performing live. My only regret was that they didn’t stay longer.

****

Last week on Monday morning I tweeted about a dream I had had.

sauti tweet

While I was minding my own business, trying to work on my dissertation, I took a break and went online. I found a message from Joseph saying he’d read my tweet and that I should call a number (which he shared) to continue the conversation he had started. I asked him to quit playing games with my heart right away *hands up if Backstreet boys came to mind as you read that. No? Okay. Moving on *

He assured me that it was real since Sauti sol was coming for a show that weekend. What? Which rock was I living under?I did not even now about the concert. When I checked twitter, I found most of the replies to my tweet were referring to the upcoming Club mega fest where the group was scheduled perform. Here is what followed, I loaded an amount of airtime my phone doesn’t usually subscribe to, said a short prayer and made the phone call to the +254 number. I shared the details with their publicity person and when I was done, I sat on my bed thinking ‘Could this really be?’ That is when I did what any normal person who has faith does. I opened my closet and looked at my vast collection of 40-40 t-shirts.(the only clothing item that is upgraded almost regularly) I chose the t-shirt that I would wear if my request was granted.

faith thanks God

Over the next few days, I asked those who understood my anticipation to pray as I tried, albeit, unsuccessfully to think about other things. Lo and behold! I receive a program and guess which team has a slot with Sauti Sol? Breathe, Esther breathe!, I had to remind myself.

It is one thing to enjoy music by a musician or group of musicians, it is totally different when you realise that they are more than that. To blend talent and compassion for humanity would seem obvious and yet it still remains a reserve for a specific kind of individual. Knowing Sauti sol extends their time and resources to children through their Soma soma initiative struck a chord with me while we dreamt of bringing them to Uganda. As with everything else, God had other plans. He needed them to come and be part of our literacy program (recently christened Angaza which means to shine) that resonates with their belief in education and encouragement of young people to pursue their education.

When Bien, Polycarp, Austin and Savaro met the children, it was magic from the start. They were exhausted from their long weekend of activity but that did not stop them from sharing some love and energy.

band laugh with kids

kids peace

polycarp baby

Sauti kids happy

The group encouraged the children to stay in school and value their teachers and education. They emphasised the importance of finishing school, which they, themselves, did alongside their musical career.  Having met at Upper hill High School themselves, it was easier to illustrate real life examples of some of the benefits from their time together. When Polycarp was introduced as having graduated in Actuarial science, the children were asked if they knew what it meant, there were several resounding ‘Yeses’ in the audience. I was laughing too hard to google the meaning, for my neighbour of course.

high 5

Bien speech

 

Would this session have been complete without some music and dance? Nope! The children got to learn the chorus to Sura yako and the cherry on top was the lipala dance. They were overjoyed and kept singing long after the band had left.

hearty laugh

See this pure happiness! So infectious!

As a friend remarked, the adults might have been more excited than the children. I can’t speak for everyone but how often do you have a dream, literally and watch it come true, before your very eyes- soon after? In my life, I can’t say often and for that, I am all kinds of grateful.

Photo credit: Daron

 

Thank you Sauti Sol 🙂

Keep believing.

Koona dance

This might be the shortest blog post I ever write but even as I type, I am reeling over the content 😀

It is no secret that I go gaga over great music, even better if the beat makes my knees weak and electrifies my system. These songs don’t come very often but when they do *insert those emoticons, you know them*
Anyway, when Ritah recommended I listen to this song, I did not know what to expect. However, I had a good idea because *screams* Sauti Sol!
I shall not say much more, watch the video and then we can discuss our own dance version, yes?

 

 

Watch till the end!

Happy Friday!I know mine is 🙂

Leero weekendi!

 

Xx

I know who I am

For the past couple of weeks, I have been waking up with different songs in my head,constantly; anything from the 90’s to an old hymn. I usually find myself singing or humming for the rest of the day and when my brain is really in overdrive, I question the lyrics word for word. *Do not try this at home*

Today, I started by humming “I know who I am” and it kept ringing in my head. I decided not to give up an opportunity to get up and wiggle in the name of the Lord so I played it on loud speaker and got up to shake it off. It felt good, no it felt great!

How powerful are these words though?!

We are a chosen generation
Called forth to show His excellence
All I require for life, God has given me
And I know who I am

I know who God says I am
What He says I am
Where He says I’m at
I know who I am

I’m walking in power,
I’m walking miracles
I live a life of favor,
‘Cause I know who I am

Oh oh oh, oh oh oh
I know who I am

I am holy, I am righteous oh…
I am so rich, I am beautiful

I’m walking in power,
I’m walking miracles
I live a life of favour,
‘Cause I know who I am

Take a look at me, I’m a wonder
It doesn’t matter what you see now
Can you see His glory?
‘Cause I know who I am

Oh oh oh, oh oh oh
I know who I am

Did you believe them as you read/sang? I know a thing or two about feeling the exact opposite of what the song is telling us to do. What if you don’t know who you are? What if you don’t think you are such a wonder, who is beautiful and living a life of favour? Well, the truth is you are and that you don’t believe it is what we need to work on:)
Sometimes you need to convince your brain/ heart even when it is difficult. I feel like this is the only thing I have been trying to do ALL year <not melodramatic at all,yes? :p> When I take a break from doing it in my life, I try to ‘infect’ the next victim. I really do believe those ‘cliches’ about finding happiness from within, teaching yourself to be positive *etc* can’t all possibly be wrong. We take what is applicable and leave the rest, oui?
I certainly feel pumped up after singing such a positive song or reflecting on a positive message. I don’t know what works for you but if it is, sticky notes on your wall, computer, wall paper, videos or even hanging around positive people, do it, whatever it takes. You owe yourself at least one smile a day (100 would be great too!)
A few things happened to me in this regard, yesterday that I thought I’d share.
First, I received a call from a friend who was reeking of positive vibes. Luckily, she called in the morning so it set the pace. The more we spoke, the happier I felt.
After the call, I decided to watch one TED talk before going on about my day. The one message I can’t get out of my head is “Don’t fake it till you make it, fake it till you become it.” I urge you to watch this for further context. It explains how our body language can shape who we are. I actually found myself subconsciously practicing it. What surprised me even more, was that a couple of hours later, I was faced with a potentially stressful situation together with a friend. We were already dealing with much more pressure so I asked her to walk away with me, and we did. A few minutes later she remarked ” I would still be panicking if you had not been here.”  I smiled. A cocktail of  interrelated events had unfolded for this result.
 Whether you don’t know ‘who you are,’ or you can’t figure out how to get to point B; ‘hoping for the best’ is not a strategy, allow yourself to take little steps even if it is just steps to acceptance/ dealing with the situation and not necessarily solving it completely. Love yourself enough to give yourself time. Probably a tad simplistic but like I said, whatever it takes.

P.s: Dancing helps too so if you can sneak a few minutes of it in, just dance!
Heeeeey Macarena, AAAhAA! 😀
macarena

My kind of Christmas

At last year’s children’s Christmas party, I was a little grenade. Bandaged cannula on one hand and dancing like I was being paid on the other. There is a video of us showing you how to ‘go down low’ (Hi Sheeba) hidden somewhere. After the party, I went to the hospital for a ‘routine drip’ and ended up spending the night. By my side were 5 of my closest friends who took turns watching me. I thought about it, and if God forbid anything had happened that night, I would still be happy. I would know I gave 120% to something I loved and had people with me who loved me too.

I honestly believe some of these incidents occur so that I can never forget where it is I have come from.

This year, my anticipation was twice as much. I barely slept the night before the party. We were opening a dormitory too! Yaay!

Fundraising for this second dormitory was not a walk in the park. How could we explain to ourselves that we managed to raise funds for a bigger, more expensive building but were failing at this one? It was not easy to deal with the pressure, internal and external.

.After several events and campaigns, we had meetings in which we would just whine or discuss every other matter but the elephant in the room. We were afraid to admit that we had not raised enough money and time was running out

. At the same time, the rain was destroying our building materials back in Bombo. Each time a phone call or text came in asking if any money would be sent ‘soon,’ the day became instantly miserable. I can relate it to a parent who fails to provide for their children and is unable to explain the circumstances.

Despite all this, we did it…yes WE, collectively, with friends and supporters from all over the place 🙂 *jumps*

On Saturday 12th December 2015, we unveiled this new home for 30 girls. Excitement filled the coaster as we headed to Bombo and upon arrival, we truly felt the reason for this season.

dorm view

 

dorm main

dance

 

I could not contain my heart when these little ones performed and threw a few thank yous into their performance

 

little ones,thank you

As if that was not enough, the older children had prepared a short play. It depicted the story of orphans and street children who were sworn to a life of suffering. After a while, one of them suggests that they get up and ‘cross the bridge’ to find a better life. Their first attempts are futile. That is until they get help from good Samaritans. Do you want to guess who those are? There was a happy ending as they chanted “We crossed the bridge!!!” <Where is the water from my keyboard coming from?>

play sad

 

play 4040

play smiles

From the food, to the performances; gift opening and cake, I could not have asked for a better Christmas gift.

One of the girls, Laila shared her joy with me. “ I am happy I shall sleep on a new pair of bed sheets, a new mattress, in a new dormitory.” I could feel the delight in every syllable.

santa helper

All some of these children asked for was undergarments. Things we found waiting for us in this world and can hardly relate to that kind of deprivation.

dorm christmas gifts

We ended the day with a serious dance party in which some people I shall not name and I were floored beyond recognition. It is safe to say that dance moves have evolved and our bones have aged kubanga the hustle was very real! It took some people two seconds to ‘get down’ and others almost a minute.

dorm cake

 

dorm

 

 

baloon burst

Builder

smiley face

joy

 

25th December is 8 days away and I am lucky enough to have a family to spend it with. While God blessed me with a beautiful family that I was born into, I am mighty glad he gave me a bigger one through the 4040 dream. I am much more because of all the experiences.

 

with team

 

group smiles

Every day, every month, every year, I am thankful for each one of you who has given their time, money, prayers, and other resources to ensure that we are still here.

I celebrate you.

photo selfie

Photo Credit: Phame

A very Merry Christmas to you and yours..and for 2016, tukikole neera…neera neera.

 

XX

Fresh start(s)

Today, 2nd July is the date which actually marks the middle of the year. We have completed 182 days and have 182 days to go. Congratulations! If you are reading this then you are alive and well. Well is quite relative so maybe we shall just go with alive. That is an accomplishment in itself, we might not be responsible for it but well, we are here.
“Today is the first day of the rest of your life.” If you lived by this mantra, it would be possible to reinvent yourself and make changes every day. It’s easier said than done, though, right?
Like most people I set out to achieve a few things this year (notice the deliberate absence of that word..that rhymes with solution?) I noticed recently that some of my goals were a trap for me to fail as they were not in my control. What if you want a promotion at work and then you end up losing your job because Boss X brought his wife’s sister’s boyfriend’s son to take your position? Is that your fault? Do you then get to December and put an ‘X’ against this box? That’s a bit unfair. However, even as we made all these plans there was no guarantee we would still be here. It is important to do ones best but still remain realistic. Also, don’t be too hard on yourself.
The beginning of a month, or a week seem like easier times to start a routine. Although if we refer to a certain quote above, you can decide to close your business, withdraw your savings and travel the new world on a random Wednesday after deciding that ‘this is the day.’
According to Maxwell Maltz, who was a plastic surgeon in the 1950’s ,it takes a minimum of 21 days to form a habit. Apparently, the world chose to edit the ‘minimum’ bit and went on with a myth that indeed 21 days are enough. This article explains that after more research was done, it was found that it in fact takes about 66 days. Woah!*Hands on head.* Apparently it was inspired by this study.

Nonetheless, there’s an exception to every rule. Not to mention the researcher didn’t necessary study people living your kind of lifestyle in your city for that period of time. Every individual’s uniqueness certainly plays a role in the result.
Last month, I decided to make some of my year’s  goals a reality by taking little steps. My focus was mainly on health. I made it very simple and achievable. Take a glass of water before breakfast,and as much as possible throughout the day, do a few exercises at home and ensure my diet includes either a fruit or vegetable (or  both) every day. All these were in my control unless of course for some reason  I got ill and could not walk or suddenly there was no water supply. Lucky for me, ‘healthy food’ is usually available at home unless one chooses to ignore it.
I can’t say I formed the habits for sure because I faltered a few times. I missed out on my morning glass of water twice, the exercises I also skipped a couple of times but made up for them by doing double the next day. For the fruits and vegetables, if I had errands out of home, chances were high that I did not care to incorporate them. Thankfully, these days weren’t many and were relatively apart. Not too shabby, I think. The cherry on top is that I have all these things at the front (not back) of my mind and that pushes me to do better. Additionally, I think this is great practice for when I grow my list to include more difficult tasks.
According to ’66 day article,’ this is how to divide your time.
• Day 1-22- Be vocal about your resolve. Apparently, It is more difficult to disappoint people than yourself.(mmhh) It’s easier when you are accountable to them.
• Day 23-44: Look inward. Ask yourself why you are doing what you are doing and remind yourself about the importance
• Day 24-66: Keep moving. You are getting there
• Day 66: Celebrate. Oh and not by doing that which you set out not to do. Yes, they are saying if you were trying to get off alcohol, find a nice virgin pina colada in a colourful glass with a straw and be content 😛

I think these steps are great, if you alter them to suit your personality and routine. I only just read about them and yet I think I did fine-ish. That said, improvement is always an option even if you are at the top.
I think mid-year is a great time to reflect on your plans and even make new ones. I don’t know what works for you but I suggest a journal/notebook, reminders on your phone/PC/bedroom wall. Generally, anything and everything that will get you to where you want to be.
I am going to continue on my quest to make these ‘habits’ stick as I incorporate new items on this list that I hope will outgrow me in my pursuit for a better all-round life.

Go ahead, fly.

darling
My mini-celebration shall take place tomorrow. This is fate, I tell you! As we begin the next part of the year, I am only more determined to do more and better the old me.
My team and I have organised a night of music and poetry dubbed ‘Croak and Rhyme.’ If you are in my circles then this >> #CroakAndRhyme is very familiar and you might even be on the verge of chocking or blocking my team and I. If you do not feel like this, what a patient person you are! Also, ignore all those ‘suggestions,’ they were a bad joke.
This event is different because much as well-known Ugandan Artists will take the stage, ordinary fans and music lovers like you can have your moment of fame. It’s all for the fun of it really, that’s why it is called Croak and Rhyme and not Uganda’s finest musicians.
While you will hear ‘old hits’ performed by great artists like Joanita Kawalya of Afrigo band, the legendary Maddox and Qute Kaye, you will also see several recent favourites.
From Hip hop, to Rn’B and acapella groups, we have it all. Naava Grey, Mun G, Richy Kaweesa, Ruyonga, Benezeri, The Mith, Maro, Nutty Neithan, Shine, Canaan Gents and Sauti ya Africa.
Poets will also hit the stage to give us a dose of their talent. The event will cost you Ugx 10,000 and will take place at the Uganda Museum.

collage
All of this sounds awesome, yes? Well, I am excited even as I type! What’s more exciting is that the proceeds shall help build a dormitory for 30 girls at Elohim Children’ centre Bombo. These children also have a performance actually so you get to see them for yourself.

Please note, they are quite talented so you might leave your wallet, visa and car keys with us 😛

Elohim kids
If music and poetry don’t tickle your fancy or you are unable to make it, contact us on other ways to support the cause. Email info@40daysover40smiles.org or call 0704816607/0777499991
Good luck forming new habits, you have 6 months to go. Scratch that. You have the rest of your life. 21, days, 66 or even 10? Whatever works for you, go for it! Let me know how it goes? Also, see you tomorrow 🙂

Take the shackles off my feet so I can dance!

I woke up this morning and this is all I could think of. “Take the shackles off my feet so I can dance!’

I quickly sent a text to my friend Ritah and asked her to send me the song ‘Shackles-Mary Mary’ because she is my song bank.. and she did!

I replayed it and it was clear that the lyrics spoke to me just the way I wanted them to.

In the corners of mind
I just can’t seem to find a reason to believe
That I can break free
‘Cause you see I have been down for so long

Feel like the hope is gone
But as I lift my hands, I understand
That I should praise You through my circumstance

Take the shackles off my feet so I can dance
I just wanna praise You
I just wanna praise You

You broke the chains, now I can lift my hands
And I’m gonna praise You
I’m gonna praise You

I have been immobile for seven days, which is a lot for anyone but even more disturbing for a victim of OCD like yours truly.

I have my days, weeks, months planned out but it is true what they say, time certainly doesn’t wait for anyone.

I slowly looked at everything urgent, important, urgent and important and the not so important ones and kept telling myself the next day would be better. When I noticed the universe wasn’t in agreement. I slowly cancelled everything and only maintained the weekend rendezvous’ which I sadly had to miss too.
Last night I received the image of a cake for a do I had helped put together and I could almost hear my tummy yell. ‘Let’s go get that!!’ but well, that didn’t happen.

Having four walls  closing you in can be disturbing. You think of the most random things. I tried not to look at the time, keep offline mostly and away from phone calls under the pretext of bed rest. That meant that I had to use my brain for other things EXCEPT self pity. Not the easiest thing to do under those conditions but well, you fake it till you make it.

And then the 7 days blogging challenge happened! I wished I could take part but I sort of did, as an admirer and appreciator, right? I waited for that hour of the night when sleep would elude me and then I began to follow link after link, read one blog post after another, grinning,frowning,smiling.Name it. It was exciting, not in a ‘I want to scream’ type of way but more like I could-get-used-to this. Could it be that God timed this just for me? To slow down a little and take in everything else that life is about? Good reads, silent meditation and everything in between?

I lay in bed and read every article in the dailies like a curious tourist in a foreign land. I got round to reading some magazines full of celebrity gossip that the mother had got me a while back which I never had time for. They can have a lot of rubbish but a dream outfit here and a holiday destination there never hurt anyone. Oh! some eye candy too. Wait, perhaps I enjoyed this a little too much.

time 1

Whereas I didn’t intend to take time off, and it wasn’t the most painless affair either-I did get time to think about a lot of things.

I even learnt a new word that I have failed fix somewhere in this blog. Wait, now I can’t even remember it :/

Sure I missed some days that I can never recover and I am behind schedule on a few things but hey- there is always a bright side 🙂

There’s no advantage to hurrying through life

So, if the universe doesn’t force you to take time off, like me, you better grab every opportunity you can to stop and actually smell the roses (literally and figuratively)

In the meantime, I shall be getting these shackles off so I can- DANCE!!

xx