The advertisements here are shocking. I have taken enough journalism classes to know that there is something called a target audience. And it is clear that Africa’s target audience is world’s away and world’s apart from the one that I am used to. I have decided to focus on the advertisements and signs that I have seen. Sadly, I can’t take pictures of all of them, but I have written them down. One billion reasons to believe in Africa is a Coca-Cola advertisement that I have never seen anywhere but here. I find it strange and somewhat sad that people need advertisements to believe in their own continent. Or rather, that they exist. There are entire stone buildings that are painted red with white coca-cola slogans above them. I don’t know what is in the buildings, but the people that sit and stand on their door steps don’t seem to have the money or the inclination to “enjoy” a coke. There are metal coke signs similar to the ones that I collect back home hanging from buildings that can barely support themselves and in places where people wear tattered clothes and have bare feet. Who hung these signs? Who painted these buildings? How did they do such a thing? And who told them to?
So, because of my life long love of Coca-Cola and my frustration at its infiltration and exploitation of these people, I have decided to give my own list of billion reasons I love it here mixed with reasons that I can’t stop asking questions. (Except I can’t write a billion, so I will give you a handful.)
- I saw a gecko in my bathroom. I thought it was a sticker until Teresa pointed out that it was three-dimensional. I later saw it near my suitcase.
- There is trash everywhere. I learned that is what we smell burning. They have no public trash collection. Plastic bags are mashed in the dirt and garbage is piled in the alleys between houses.
- Women sweep the streets with little brooms made of sticks. Even in downtown Kampala
- The nuns in Uganda wear white. The nuns back home where black.
- The juxtaposition between the red dirt that seems to stick to everything, the green of the vegetation and the bright clothing against black skin is breathtaking.
- There was a 3-6 month old baby lying on the couch of the hotel bar/club that we went to .
- Ugandans clap during mass. After the homily and during the presentation of the Eucharist they clap because they are receiving a gift.
- I bought a necklace for 18,000 shillings. That is approximentaly 9 dollars.
- There are no stop signs or stop lights here. Only round-abouts.
10. People here carrying everything on their heads. Everything. Shopping bags, bowls of mangos, stacks of linen and six-foot long piles of sticks.
11. I had a banana a few days ago. I am boycotting Dole when I get home.
12. I fed a baboon from the window of the bus as we crossed the nile.
13. Despite the poverty here, no one begs. There are no homeless holding signs about their own depressing situations and no one has asked me for money despite the fact that I stand out like crazy with my white skin, blonde-ish hair and giant camera.
14. I saw a tank (like yes, a giant military tank) outside the soccer stadium in Kampala. It was labeled “Ugandan Police”
15. There is a bird here that sounds like Kevin in Up. I don’t know what it looks like but it woke me up a few days ago.
16. I played percussion today with an African named Dennis. He taught me how to play a mini-marimba.
17. I saw a chicken cross the road for the first time today.
18. Two nights ago I walked down the stairs to the pool area to read. It was about 10:00 at night, but I figured that because the hotel was gated I would be okay. As I turned to walk down another flight of stairs I almost ran into a man in a trench coat that had an AK-47 hanging at his side. He was lurking in a doorway. I should not have been scared because we see them everywhere here. But I had never been that close to one. I kept walking down the stairs and when I sat down to read I heard a swishing noise. I looked up to see that the man had followed me and was staring at me from the stairs. Heart stopped. I said hello and he acknowledged me. He slowly turned to walk back up the stairs. I have not left the group since.