fredag 16. oktober 2009

Friends or beggars?

After living in Ibanda for five days, we are getting more comfortable and used to our situation. We wake up at 6am from cars honking when passing the road outside. Then, someone comes to drive out all the cars parked in our yard, making sure to honk some too. At 7am all the neighbours are up and at 8 the children greets their teacher good morning in the school next door and breakfast is ready – hopefully.

Today we started the day with a stroll around the village, getting to know it and its functions better. When we did the same stroll in Bugoye we met a very eager, enlightened and smiling photographer called Kato. He told us about history, language, culture and tendencies in the area and showed us around introducing us to everyone. He also explained to people that we were students doing fieldwork, that we had no money and that our work was important. His presence, despite a somewhat high level of interference, made the process of registering much easier. We have yet to meet the Kato of Ibanda…

Here in Ibanda we feel perfectly safe, but like outsiders. People stare without restrains. The kids keep calling to us; “Mzungu! Mzungu! Give me money!” We are getting to know some people though. The young guys outside the gate selling chapati (pancakes), the lady who’s restaurant we eat every night, the staff at our lodge, the grocer who’s always asleep on his bench, the guy who sells sodas warmer than the outdoor temperature and of course Stephen and his staff and players. They make us feel welcome and more at home in a situation that often leads to frustration and a sense of hopelessness.

Today the CDTS main team won the Kings Cup final. It was an incredibly boring game with lousy play from both teams. But in addition to spending time watching bad football, both of us were approached by all sorts of people from the crowd asking us to be their friend. Asking for our contacts. Asking for money. For marriage. When you are standing on an overly crowded truck and a young and tiny man with obvious eye problems is asking for a job so that he can complete his education – how do you give a good answer?

It is difficult, maybe impossible to become fully integrated in a society so different from your own. When it in addition thinks of all white people as filthy rich money machines, it is sometimes tempting to stop caring, give up and go home.

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