ON THE POWER OF UGANDAN STORIES AND THE PROBLEMS THAT CLEVER CHILDREN FACE

This week is all about children and Ugandan books at the 4040 camp. To be fair, it is also always about the children 🙂

Here is what Ernest Bazanye thinks about Ugandan stories.

The problem with being a child is that no matter how clever you are, still, a lot of your thinking is being done for you. You still depend on other people to interpret things to you and you don’t know yet how wrong so many of them are so much of the time. If you are a clever child this is even worse, because you ask a lot of questions, and you ask people who aren’t as clever as you are, and they tell you things you would have been better off not hearing. Things you would have been better off figuring out for yourself. You are bombarded by perspectives and views and opinions and ideologies from all angles and, especially if you are a clever child, you won’t even be satisfied with these, you will seek others. And so you will read books. That is where the problem with being a child, particularly a clever one, becomes even more intense. There is a vast selection of books for children available now, and it’s great. It opens doors to so many different experiences that one may never have otherwise been able to benefit from. Books are great, not just because they entertain, but because they show you parts of life other than your own, and show you more of life that way. You learn. Not just “education”, but learning. Each book is a different eye through which we see a different angle of this multifaceted thing called the world. And we can put these together in the back of our minds to build a cohesive picture of this world. That’s how you get clever children to become educated and cultured adults.

Because we get so many of our books from America and Britain, what we tend to see is an American or a British life. An American or a British world. It is already apparent among grown up generations that this sort of thing takes effect and doesn’t let go. Many of us now think of modern Western culture as the default. That is how the world is. October 31st is Halloween, marriage is monogamy, kings are noble and wealthy, boys ask girls out on dates, intelligent people become scientists, buttocks are things to be ashamed of, physical beauty is a virtue and other cultural tropes which are in actuality uniquely western, are taken as universal. Then it gets worse. That is not actually our world. We fall in step and sync ourselves with it, but western culture is not really ours. There are resemblances and places where we borrow and share, but it is not really ours. It is theirs. And so when these books rarely mention our Ugandan or even African lives, and when they mention them only in regard to how they fit in with Wisconsin, Winchester of Wyoming or Westeros life, we will feel as if we have been relegated to the margins. We assumed that we were fully certified members of the world, full participants in it. And this is a portrayal of the world. Why is it that in this picture we are cast to the margins? It can cause some subconscious self-bigotry, a feeling that African lives are in fact incidental, less significant and inferior in the great scheme of things. Our literature and especially the literature that our children read is partly responsible for the idea that we are less than the rest of the world. But can you ask yourself why? Did any writer, or did any group of writers decide to create and present this ideology to us? Was there a plan to ruin our children’s faith in themselves? There have been councils and conspiracies against us, yes, but I don’t think this was one of them. I think CS Lewis, Enid Blyton, JK Rowling… all did what storytellers do everywhere. Including here in Uganda, and in Africa. They told stories, they drew a picture from their point of view and shared it and added it to the general tapestry of the planet’s stories.

Which means that the mishap was here, on our end; that our own storytellers were not doing the same. There are many reasons why so many of the fifty five years of Uganda went by without Ugandan children’s books. Now, finally, we are able to change that. We have not just one writer, but several writers, not just one book but several books, all here to tell stories, to show life, to define the world, to help shape our children’s view of it, to help them see that they count in it, that they are just as much a part of this planet’s people as every other child, and even to teach children from America and Britain a little about Uganda.

On the 11th of November, 40 days over 40 smiles Foundation will be launching a series of children’s storybooks written by Ugandans, for Ugandans and telling Ugandan stories. I was asked to write reviews, but please forgive me, I am skeptical of reviews. Too many critics get it wrong. They say a book is bad, and then the book brings joy to readers. Or they say a book is a masterpiece but the public loathes it. Ultimately, I find that you should make your own judgment for yourself. I love Wimpy Kid, but I don’t like Harry Potter, so what do I know? I loved Moses series, but I wouldn’t recommend them to younger children. Those boys used to escape from school to drink. I enjoy Winnie the Pooh more as an adult than I did as a child, and I find Famous Five flaccid and charmless. So no reviews. But I will say this. It is about time this happened. And we should be glad, proud and grateful that it did. This is a time when we need a generation that will think better than us, one that will be keener, more conscious and more ready to make the changes the world needs.

 

book launch poster

 

 

We need Ugandan books for Ugandan kids.

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We came. We fell. We got up.

By this time last week, my situation was ‘a calm state of panic.’ We were at the Uganda Museum for our third edition of croak and rhyme. While many things were going right, an almost equal number of irregularities seemed to come up every now and then.
The funny thing about being a leader is that you have to strike a fine balance between optimism, realism, patience and unwavering determination during the most demanding situations. I do not think I am even half way there. Therein lies the beauty of time, experience and the lessons that come along the way!
The concept of croak and rhyme, like many of 4040’s ideas was random and uncomplicated, during one of our many meetings over two years ago. As one of the group members suggested the name, we laughed and then fell in love. Just like that, it was adopted and here we are. When I saw the bold words ‘croak and rhyme’ in one of our dailies this week, I grinned as I reminisced. Humble beginnings can surprise you!
This year’s edition was quite taxing. We came up with a theme and then needed to figure out how to work around it. Our wish list was loooooonnng (yes for emphasis) In fact, last year we toyed with the idea of bringing Sauti Sol for the event. *mental note to review my sent items folder for good laughs years from today* The irony that this blog post is coming out when they are in Uganda already for tomorrow’s show! Eh! Perhaps I could get a word with them. No? I digress.
We contacted tonnes of artistes. Some said no, others yes, a few said maybe and some simply led us on because they did not know how to articulate their negative response. I can look back and chuckle now but when it was happening, it was far from funny. We had legends with us though :D. This madam made my waist do things, good times!

These were 'our days'

These were ‘our days’

This event comes with a lot of pressure because of the expenses involved in putting it together. It is nothing short of a gamble and I must admit some of the lessons have been learnt the hard way.

Our first edition brought in a full house at a small venue. The management expected a small crowd and gave us few chairs that they did not expect to fill. Before long, we were trying to create space for the overwhelming crowd. At the end of the event, after realising the profit from their sales that night-they were asking when our next event was and more than willing to provide the venue.
The second one was taken to a bigger venue to accommodate the growing numbers. While we paid attention to that detail, other factors came into play. The World cup quarter final fell on the same date. Additionally, both traditional and social media were awash with announcements from the police about a terror threat to the city. I cannot count the whatsapp forwards I received on D-day warning me and basically asking that we discontinue our plans. These factors worked against us but we still had a sizeable crowd. The event was well organised and raised the bar for us. Armed with these lessons we set out to do even better this year.
The rain during the day got us on our knees, some of us even started yelling at the skies (yelling at God really) and thankfully the weather behaved. The drizzles during Maddox’s performance were hardly felt as the crowd sang along. Blessings just 🙂

maddox 1

crowd 2

 

 

I realised the ‘power of alcohol’ when I was confronted by a reveller who said he could not stand to look at me, knowing beer had run out at an event I organised. Eh, I took cover immediately. We must admit the crowd overwhelmed us and found us under prepared. We take full responsibility. There were other faults that we have certainly taken note of. Be sure to see changes next time 🙂
Despite the massive turn out at the event, the figures were not as exciting as we anticipated. We found out that an unscrupulous individual stole ‘tags’ from our entrance and started selling them to attendees before they reached our team. As a result, payment was made to him and sadly, it will never reach our dormitory.
That Sunday night as we tried to count, recount and then count the proceeds some more, we silently hoped that some of the coins would morph into notes and the ‘1K’ notes would transform into ‘50K’ notes in the process. This was not to happen. BUT. It could be a lot worse! We could have made an investment and then failed to break even. We could have planned this event for months only to have 50 people attend. That did not happen. Yaay!
The artistes gave energetic performances, moreover at no cost. One of the artists’ managers on our wish list insisted that we were making stuff up. There was no way any Ugandan artists could perform completely for charity. Oh ye of little faith! I hope one day they’ll understand that- *It’s not only about the money*
So, as I type this I am over the ‘we could have done better’ and now onto the ‘we shall do better’ state of mind. Everyone who attended and supported us even when we erred, the artistes who resisted the urge to become ‘divas,’ simply offering their talent and the service providers who have stuck with us, you made it possible.
Special thanks to those individuals who could not make it buts still sent entrance fee or directly contributed to the dormitory.

To the team that was behind the scenes, having pre-event nightmares and fighting then making up, then fighting again because you believe in 40-40 and what it stands for- you are invaluable.
We are now Ugx 11 million away from completing the dormitory. It seems like a little. Or a lot, depending on how you view your glass.

Nonetheless, I will be back here with pictures after we complete that building. Until then, please do not tire of answering our call. We are doing all of this, together for Uganda’s future, for a generation that will outlive us and learn from our dedication.
Till then, keep being the change, even when it hurts!
X

Akiba- “That which has been saved”

On Martyr’s day this year, the team at 40 days over 40 smiles decided to have lunch with the wonderful children of Akiba-Bless a child Foundation.

We were greeted with warm hugs and shy smiles before getting into the house to get to know the children  and tour the home.

We are happy to receive you 'welocome'

We are happy to receive you ‘welocome’

ben zindzi

 

The home looks after children who have cancer, whose parents lack means to pay for treatment. Each child comes with a caretaker who watches over them during the course of treatment. The home takes care of all their needs.

Brian, who started this home four years ago-took us through their history in brief. The room fell silent when he told us of the multiple deaths they had to deal with in 2012 when the health Ministry delayed to  dispatch medicine, only to release a batch of expired drugs too little, too late. He confessed that he was unprepared to lose any child and when the first death occurred, him and his staff were confused, unsure how to deal with the situation.

He must have noticed the grim looks because he quickly told us that ‘Akiba,’ means to be saved and children come to this home for exactly that. Many of them have walked out of their doors cancer free while others get to spend their last days in a fun, loving environment. That was comforting enough.

One success story is told of a little boy who was brought too
the home looking frail and weak. Doctors gave him about a week to live. He has been at the home for three years now and it has actually become his home-literally..

His nick name is ‘Kazeeyi‘ (old man) because he could not walk and limped like an old man. He is fearless, fun and so full of energy. We all tried to steal moments with him so his happiness could rub off. It worked! 😀
See below.

kazeeyi

 

Can’t touch this!

He drew a roundish shape on the black board and told me that was a head. When I asked whose head, he said 'Kapeere's.' I laughed heartily but when I asked for mine to be drawn, it was just as shapeless :D

He drew a roundish shape on the black board and told me that was a head. When I asked whose head, he said ‘Kapeere’s.’
I laughed heartily but when I asked for mine to be drawn, it was just as shapeless 😀

Kazeeyi and Kapere showing off their skills

Kazeeyi and Kapere showing off their skills

We decided to act a skit for the kids. It was based on the story of the Good Samaritan in the Bible. It was lovely to watch them laugh out loud though it seems the adults laughed harder.

Beaten and left for dead

Beaten and left for dead

The Good Samaritan and his loyal donkey come to save the day

The Good Samaritan and his loyal donkey come to save the day

 

The home is so free of anything that reminds you of illness. You can actually forget where you are.
They have plenty of games. It was a chance for us to bring out our inner child.

I spoke to a self proclaimed cynic who came with us on that day. He said our methods are ‘childish’ but somehow they work. I tend to agree somewhat. The heart that the team at 40-40 comes with might not always be ‘mature’ but it is the reason we (breaks into song) ‘we ain’t going nowhere, we ain’t going nowhere, we can’t even stop now….’ *moving on*

Anyway, when was the last time you had a swing all to yourself? 🙂

We couldn’t resist. In fact when it came to departure time, some people whose names shall remain withheld for security reasons,simply failed to get up.

josh swing

 

gloria

Es and talba

 

 

Hug a boda guy today :)

Hug a boda guy today 🙂

 

Lunch was so scrumptious there are no pictures. By the time the camera man came to get evidence, only bones surfaced.

Some of the amazing ladies who are part time chefs

Some of the amazing ladies who are part time chefs

 

We decided to play a game of football. Team 40-40 Vs Team Akiba. There was sweat and blood, literally.

goal keeper

This ‘gentleman’ kept whispering “You are finished.” or “I will cut off your nose” and “You are dead.” before attempting to score.

My life was in danger! 😀

The whole time I was thinking;it is never that serious. However, people were out to win. If it was a real match we would have gone into ‘extra extra time.’ When it was 10 goals to 9, I fled for the more ‘safe’ pass time- swinging 🙂

You want more photos? I have 🙂

amma

 

 

nick and kids

 

Talba

 

Overall, it was a very beautiful day. Every moment was an actual celebration and I know those who showed up left with a new supply of joy. So many moments brought ‘oooohhhs’ and ‘awwws’ both silently and quite loudly 😉

One thing remained on my mind and I need some answers plus a better understanding. It was mentioned in passing that Uganda has only one radiotherapy machine at Mulago, which was purchased in the 1950’s. That means all cancer patients that need it must rely on that one. Google ‘said’ a new one is $70,000(approximately 175 million UGX) Of course there are shipping costs et al but surely we can get one of these, or more? Those who are as disturbed as I am, please feel free to poke for answers ad of course be part of the solution. I am convinced that we can do something about it.

Did I mention this? Brian funds treatment for these children almost entirely on his own, using funds from his business.Whereas this must be difficult financially, I believe the emotional strain is unimaginable.

However, when you see those beautiful children and hear that 400-500 children have been treated and given the time of their lives thanks to Akiba Foundation-you know that is oh so worth it.

We would love to make the home even more vibrant, a mini-Disney world of sorts. You can join us to make this happen 🙂

 

On becoming a champion

On November 9th last year,I watched this young lad perform. His song was fairly new and not many people knew it or him for that matter. About a handful of people were singing along while the rest quietly watched or chatted with friend.

After his performance, he walked up to me and said “Thank you for the opportunity to perform here.” I do not know if he could see the shock on my face.  Whereas it wasn’t the first time 40 days over 40 smiles had been in contact with artists at our events, it was rare that they would be the ones to show gratitude and not the other way around.

He later added that he was so impressed with the work we did, he wanted to have a concert and have proceeds dedicated to the cause on May 8th 2014.

The Champion Concert was indeed held on May 8th 2014 and Benezeri fulfilled his promise.

Big dreams

How does a 20 year old choose to have a concert on a Thursday at the MTN arena and expect people to come? There is work/school the next day and this is not the most convenient location. Also,it is Hip hop for crying out loud, it isn’t even that popular. What? You want people to donate books too, and carry them to a concert? I knew you were crazy but that is plane insane.

There were over 500 people who came out that night, they sang, danced and screamed. They watched artists who have been around for a while and then got a taste of some ‘newbies,’ they were were the first audience to listen to Benezeri’s maiden album and they were given exactly that.

Books? Oh yes, people carried books to a ‘Hip Hap’ concert, about 120 of them to be exact, in boxes even.

benezeri with gloves

There are several Ugandan artists who are comfortable with having a few hits that they are known for, which they shall perform at ‘grand events’ but the best position they can take is that of a ‘curtain raiser.’ They have no album to their name and that isn’t such a big deal because they still make money off the hits and remain popular. Other have made great videos. You look at them and can’t remember what the song was about but you know that this person invested in his product. Others shall have album launches every other day, it doesn’t matter if there are 8 songs including remixes of songs from the one before.

A couple of days ago, Benezeri decided to put his entire album online for free. That is right, all of it.

You don’t believe me? Check here Champion or here yup, FREE!

I caught up with him to find out why he decided to make such a bold move and also picked his brain a bit on music and life.

benezeri 1

 

A little over one week later,how do you feel about the show- the support the hip hop fraternity gave you and the fans that showed up for the Champion concert?





The night of May 8th seems like a dream. A recent dream.  It was such a glorious night. So many people to thank. Every musician that came through and spared a few hours to be, and perform, at the concert, I’m really grateful. I can’t remember any time I saw all those people in one place, especially just out of love and support. It was deep. Im forever grateful to the people that came through to attend the show. It was such a humbling and satisfying feeling to see each and everyone of them. The support I received after too, was special. It’s like everybody was genuinely happy for me . It’s been a rewarding experience.

 

What were some of your biggest challenges as you planned this concert?

I think the biggest challenge was finding the resources to pay for the venue, the events company and many other costs.

Lessons learnt?
I learnt so many lessons. But one of them was that if you believe and trust in God, and you back that up with persistence and a good team, nothing is impossible.

You have decided to put your album up for free download, this isn’t something you hear everyday. What drove you to make this decision? What has the reaction been so far?

As expected, I have received a lot of condemnation and criticism, but mostly from “industry” people. I have got tonnes of calls, whatsapps and messages asking me whether I’m in my normal mind frame. The consumers though, are very happy and are listening. They like the songs which is such a huge reward for me.

I put up the album for free download for many reasons. The main reason being, I really wanted people to listen to the album and share it. When I made this album, I wasn’t thinking about how much money I wanted to make. I was thinking about how much I wanted people to hear it. 


Secondly, if Kanye West or Chris Brown or even Ice Prince releases an album, I will be able to access and download it the next day.It  doesn’t matter whether or not it’s the artiste that puts it  up for download. What matters is that it is accessible and it indirectly benefits the artiste because people are able to listen and that is every musician’s greatest reward.

Next, the people that buy CD’s  don’t do so because they can’t find the song somewhere else. An avid fan will first download the songs and then if they have the money, they will purchase the CD. The 2 are not mutually exclusive. Actually, people that buy CD’s in this day and age consider the CD a souvenir or something they can look at and be proud of and keep. That’s why the “Champion” CD can also be bought at Soundcup (Garden city) for UGX 20,000.
Finally, ‘it’s not about the money, we just wanna make the world dance.’ Of course not literally, I’m not a dancehall artiste. But, I definitely will not let money cloud my judgement and decisions. As somebody said in one of the online debates that ensued after my announcement, “Open your eyes, money is not the only reward in life”

What is next for benezeri?

The next thing I’m working on is a few very nice videos for the songs I have recorded. Look out for those.

Slowly by slowly,I shall also be working on  my next album for 2016. I’m also hoping to graduate in early 2016.

What message do you have for young dreamers?

My message to young dreamers is, no one else will ever see your vision as clearly as you, so stop wasting time debating it with people and seeking their approval. Instead, get started. Also, people are fond of “advising”and discouraging. One of my favorite quotes from Kanye West is “How are you going to convince me that I will not succeed in something, by giving me an example of how you failed in another?” There’s always a first time for everything.

There you have it, follow the links for Benezeri’s free music and purchase a copy of the CD ‘for free’ at only 20,000 UGX. Sound Cup (Third floor,Garden City Mall)

Happy Listening!

Writer’s Note: If we look close enough,we shall realise that all the role models we are looking for are right here, at home-doing extraordinary things with the least resources. If we support them, their limitless potential shall have limitless results-

 

 

And then there was 5 Aside UG…

If you have organised an event before then you know that while everyone is chatting and having a good time, chances are you are battling a few ‘demons’ behind the scenes. The bride isn’t talking to the maid of honour; truck carrying the drinks gets involved in an accident minutes before the function begins, the guy with the public address system is a no-show and all his numbers are off. Does any of this sound familiar? If it doesn’t, you are one lucky lad!

You can plan an event for months and even fix provisions for the worst case scenario, only to be shocked by scenarios worse than the ones you envisioned. The universe has jokes I tell you.

On March 8th , 40 days over 40 smiles Foundation organised an event dubbed “5 Aside UG,” we had planned it for quite some time and were pretty anxious to see the outcome. Meetings, whatsapp threads, late night discussions, stalking service providers- we did all that.

We began approaching ‘potential teams’ six weeks before the event from within our networks. The response was overwhelming. Our target was 32 teams but even before we launched the campaign, about 35 had committed to getting players. When things seem too good to be true, they usually are.

A few weeks later when we contacted the team captains, the number dropped by more than half, some even denied ever hearing about this tournament or even 40-40 for that matter. It was hilarious. Not.

We went back to the drawing board and decided to accept our fate. We were going to close registration with or without the teams we had earlier planned for. In the background, we tried to make registration as convenient as possible but the day before the deadline, we had 15 teams. We agreed to close at 16 and make fixtures based on that number.

Closing day :The ladies in charge of registration had been called all sorts of names and had their patience tested for the past weeks. We didn’t think it could get any worse. However out of nowhere-literally, we had an avalanche of teams. In fact, the number exceeded 32 and we had to call people to ask them to withdraw.

I will give you a few examples of the drama that surrounded this.

-‘John,’ whom I actually know had no idea I was the one who picked up the phone because my colleague whom he had called was driving. The conversation went something like this. “You have to register my team. I got held up and delayed but money is not my problem. If you don’t register I will call *insert name of 40-40 member whom he was sure had a ‘higher rank.’ (The organisational structure of the foundation is unlike that of most bodies and thus you will not find titles like C.E.O, C.F.O, U.P.D.F etc) In fact, I was more agitated that he thought he could talk down to someone he had never even met!

-This next guy we shall call Bosco. He didn’t speak to me but here is an excerpt of the conversation. “You need to register my team; do you know how many influential people and potential sponsors I can bring to your event?” (Please! All the guests we had already invited are ‘influential,’ enough if they are supporting a cause that is bigger than them) I will save you from other such tales and move on to us eventually settling for 40 teams. Did I mention the teams that came back to claim their money because they thought ‘5 aside soccer’ was actually basketball? Hihi. Bambi we returned it in good faith 🙂

The day finally came and if you were at Bush Court, I need not go into details. As if the 40 team shocker wasn’t enough, people came from all over to attend this event. From the parking lot alone, you would think it was ‘Enkuka y’omwaka’ (I have no English translation for this)

Yes, we had a few hitches and the team at 40-40 apologises for those. If it is any consolation, we were attacked by the more vocal ‘victims.’

As I made my rounds, this lady walked up to me and asked if I was Esther. As soon as I gave a positive response, I realised that a lie might have made more sense. She had a stick that wasn’t so much for beating as it was for gouging my not-so-small eyes. She explained how her team had not been called, deserved to win, the team which ‘cheated,’ etc- all the while moving the stick an inch from my eyes. I remember constantly repeating ‘I will see what I can do’ while taking short backward steps. Competition is real. The dramatic encounters were not few but I will share just one more.

I met another gentleman who told me he had only played three games and thus needed ‘compensation’ before he left. I was trying to comprehend this. Was each game worth 2,000 shillings so that he gets 4,000/= in change? Just before I could respond, a tipsy girl tapped me.

Her: Happy Women’s day

Me: Thanks, Happy Women’s day to you too

Her: Do you know that you are a woman of substance? (sips Guiness)

Me: *crimson face*

Her: You got me to get into a taxi all the way from Kansanga to come and contribute the little I have to change a child’s life. (sips beer) I don’t even go to church and yet here I am supporting charity. Thank you.

She walked away and when I turned around, Mr. compensation was gone too. Overall, it was a very humbling day. I am actually not over it, a whole week later.

We learnt several lessons and are very grateful to everyone who took the time to participate and was patient with us throughout.

.I wish my team could get a month off or more, for all the hard work and sleepless nights. You guys rock!

Unfortunately now that we have raised the money, the work has to begin. Just to reiterate, we managed to raise 11,376,700 on that day, after an initial investment of 4,712,600. That means we have 6,664,100 surplus that we shall inject into our programs starting next month. Literacy and numeracy as well as food and nutrition shall be our focus as we continue to better the lives of those less fortunate than we are.

How do you like our custom made boots and medals? I just love my team’s creativity and how they are constantly re-inventing things that would otherwise seem so ordinary!

boot 1

boot 2

medals

Congratulations Team Wesonga (Winner) and Team Benezeri (Runner up). The finals took place using ‘DIY flood lights’ and it worked!

This was our biggest event yet, with over 1,000 people present and we don’t take it for granted. Keep spreading the word and being the change! The numbers are great but having you as part of our movement and programs is even better.

To our partners, friends and well wishers, the team at 40 days over 40 smiles says thank you! It is because of you that we have made 2 years and can’t wait for the decades to come.

Behind the Scenes; The power of friendship

I took a nap on Wednesday afternoon and kept the phone in silent mode as I usually do. When I woke up, I found about 8 missed calls, 3 text messages and endless whatsapp interactions.Logged onto facebook and even more buzz in the inbox.

I thought nothing of it (It is when you are away from the phone that it usually goes crazy so I know better than to be moved by that) until I started to read the messages. There actually was a mini-emergency regarding our Saturday event Hoops for Grace IV. I had to get up, get dressed and find a mobile money outlet that had enough ‘float’ for at least 1,000,000 shillings so that a couple of service providers could actually begin to work. One friend sent a message ” It is not like you to go quiet for this long without letting us know.” I replied and explained to him that I had taken a nap and asked if I should be informing people that I am going to sleep.  Believe it or not, he said yes!! I laughed and realised that sometimes 24 hours are indeed not long enough! Life has to move on whether one has an ache, sleep debt, emergency et al.

Fast forward to Saturday, D-day. We had done our best regarding planning and marketing the event, we prayed  about the weather and everything else, surely things were going to go according to plan, right? Wrong!

I hardly slept the night before and just as I was beginning to find peace, morning was upon us. I got up, took care of a few chores and then loaded mum’s car with merchandise to use at the event, left space for one person I was to pick and then got in to start the car.

Alas, it had no plans of moving! I could hear it sing “No, no,no!” (Amy Whinehouse voice) The battery had gone to sleep. I laughed! After doing everything on time, this is what fate had decided? Obviously ‘star ta fa’ but only because of the amazing team that I belong to. In ten minutes, some friends who were heading to the event to ‘work’ passed by, we pushed the car, jump started it and then it was ready to move 🙂 Phukes!!

When we got to Bush Court, it was difficult to do anything, the first few minutes were characterised by an argument that ‘we were late for.’ After standing around staring-trying to make sense, of it and failing, we started to off load the materials and set up. We were doing great on time, *see the positives*

Then suddenly everything was ready but the players were only strolling in casually in ones and twos, not the complete team. Looking around there was even a team that had branded shirts, with their name and hoops for grace written at the bottom, eh, people can be prepared!!

Eventually, the games began and things were running ‘smoothly’ but you know it can never be perfect, at least not behind the scenes.

 

Several things still needed to be bought and while I was lamenting that I needed a ‘loose 200k’ (albeit half serious) to take care of some bills, my friend said she had something to give me. Believe it or not, it was 200,000UGX!!

Suddenly our ‘ poor gate collectors’ were being bullied by over 6ft tall muscular beings who did not want to pay a measly 3,000sh for entrance, then those who said they were actually players got to registration point and decided they weren’t ready to part with the 10,000sh for players. In fact, some pretended they would not play then somehow sneaked onto the court (God is seeing you) It was so frustrating but the 40-40 team still managed to keep calm. It stopped making sense to remind people that it was for charity not our benefit.

I joined my friends at the drinks section and we began to switch the cold drinks to the top and warm ones to the bottom. Some not-so-gentleman found me and yelled “Stop laughing and give me a mirinda!” I was speechless and gave him his Mirinda..all the while thinking, just because we are asking for help does not mean people should be rude. I had to be fine. Turns out several other arrogant customers haunted the poor girlies (and later guy too) who were at the ‘bar’ especially when change ran out or the ‘fresh’ drinks took a while to get delivered. They still stood strong

You still had to smile and act like it was all okay. Voices were raised when the delays occurred especially amongst the team but we are all human you know. If yelling is how one deals then so be it.

As if that was not enough, the car key decided to disappear yet the DJ’s laptop and turn table were ‘chilling’ in there.
I was afraid to call and stress the mother for a spare key so instead I made myself busy. MC’s announced the missing item but still nothing. I decided to keep myself occupied so I would forget but every two minutes someone innocently asked ‘Did you find the keys?,’ #Fail.

I decided to accept the reality and make that call. I could tell that I had woken her up and the response seemed to suggest mum didn’t know where her spare key was so I had to either find this one or…find it!

My friend’s 8 year old cousin asked me what was wrong. When I told her she gave me a big hug and said “Don’t worry, you will find the key.” I fell in love with her all over again. Bless her.

I later went to sit by the merchandise table and think of a break in or plan C, only to have another member of the team tell me she was going to hunt the key down.

Five minutes later, she was holding it up after finding it ‘hiding’ in a random polythene bag (kavera) that I must have carried at some point.
Ululations happened 🙂 (We are set to marry in December :D)

My mood lightened up and suddenly, nothing could make it bad again.. or could it?

Expenses kept coming out of nowhere to the extent I had to go and ask members of my team for 10,20,50,000 because I did not want to ‘touch’ the event money . None of them asked how or when I would pay them back, they just gave it to me, one even checked her wallet to give me 10,000 and only found 3,000 🙂 Team work is a beautiful thing!

Everyone was fighting some sort of battle to make it work- carrying,counting,climbing to put up the screen, driving back and forth to purchase items,pay service providers, insisting friends should come e.t.c and make it work they did!

People left after the movie ended at about 9.00 pm and the team still stayed to clean up,pack and up and deliver property that wasn’t ours. By 1.00 a.m we were home, exhausted to bits but still, happy!

 

Well, it even seems more worthwhile now with a surplus of  5,204,000 going to dormitory construction (our main goal) after investing 2,840,000  and making 8,044,200 at the event, one can only say the efforts really paid off!!

P.s; I deliberately left out the names because each and everyone played a huge role and it was team effort indeed!

To say I am proud and honoured to be part of team 40-40 would be a huge understatement.

:)

🙂

 

Thank you to everyone who had a hand in our success no matter how small.

God bless you forever and a day more 🙂