Some of the Lessons I Have Learned
There will never come a day when I am not thankful for all I have and the magnificent opportunities that have come my way. Being immersed into another culture is one of the greatest set of circumstances I have ever known. Because of my love affair with Africa, I have learned to follow my heart and search for reasons why I refuse to turn loose. It was 1997 when I actually moved to Uganda and learned to be part of them. As of present, I have just returned from another adventure in Africa and am at peace because of all I have learned.
The people of Uganda have taught me about true happiness. In comparison, they have nothing and I have everything. As I mix with the masses, I wonder why and how these folks can maintain such a healthy mind. Seemingly, there’s no time for depression and the kind of angst that gets in the way of everyday life. Those people are just happy for the gift of living just one more day. It’s sorta like their food. They eat to be nourished and remain thankful for every meal they take. There’s not a lot to choose from, and they are satisfied with whatever comes their way. On the other hand, we have tasty choices that are always available. We, too, eat to stay alive, but it is often for entertainment.
When an African is sick they tend to hide whatever is wrong. After all, diseases there are frightening and dangerous and folks don’t want to be ostracized. On the other hand, they make special efforts to keep pathogens at bay. When someone needs to cough they often leave the room. If the sickness continues they reach out for medical care. They have a tendency to look out for one another and do everything they can not to infect others. Diseases that aren’t contagious, like malaria, are often ignored as folks are often forced to go to their jobs despite fever and pain.
And speaking of illness, in Uganda people use herbs, special foods, and laughter to stay afloat. These efforts work, especially the laughter. Ugandans are funny and will readily make jokes that are enjoyed by anyone near enough to hear them. They reach out to each other and sincerely inquire about others and exhibit loving care. When out and about someone may take your hand and hold it as they question your well-being and how you are really doing. Most of the time these few minutes of care are most believable. They have the time to do so and the motion is quite common.
In Africa there isn’t much realization of real time. Time is of little consequence and it’s ever so common for folks to simply ignore it. As a matter of fact, I rarely know the time when I am there and never wear a watch. Of course, this can get old. When someone says they will be there in an hour, just make use of the time and wait. If you show anger about the situation it will do no good. They won’t even respond.
The best part is family. In Africa family is everything and it is a measure of wealth. The bigger the family the better. Before I knew the truth, I listened to American beliefs that Africans just didn’t love their children as we do here. This is false, for every child is a blessing and parents are delighted when a new birth takes place. Children aren’t spoiled there and show extreme respect for everyone. In fact, most children don’t look in the eyes of an adult until they have an invitation. It’s rare to see a child misbehaving. Everyone seems to cooperate and just get along.
In total, life in Uganda is simple and there’s not much effort to complicate matters. You work and earn a dollar to buy food or pay rent…that’s about it. It’s rare to see cigarettes and folks generally haven’t enough money for drugs or alcohol. God is everything and is exalted on high in most every religion. Indeed, life absent of demands is their way and it’s ever so successful. Sure, they have desires, but love comes first. Happiness exists in Uganda and is there for the taking. In return, I am ever so thankful for the lessons I have learned and pray I can hold onto them and pass them along.