Tuesday, 23 September 2008
Of fear and laughter
I have this theory about South Africa.
I think it has actually slipped into a parallel universe which hovers above the place where South Africa should be on the map.
I'm in Uganda sharing writing skills with parliamentary researchers from 12 African countries and I feel like I have slipped into that warm-hearted, inspirational place that Africa should be.
Those of you who are South African, can you remember when any complete stranger in smiled and greeted you in the street? Have you been made to feel totally welcome and appreciated by any South African recently?
It's such a relief to be treated as an equal and welcome partner, rather than with the hostility and suspicion which has become the norm at home. It's just a pleasure to see people of all races, ages and sexes smile with genuine pleasure when they see each other.
We've had a busy two days and this afternoon we managed to grab an hour to go shopping at the curio market. And it was there that I discovered that there is actually someone miserable in the heart of Kampala. Quite a community in fact!
Marabou storks are almost as tall as me and they stride along the roads of central Kampala like a flock of undertakers in black tail coats, their huge pink wattles swinging obscenely under their arm-length beaks. They speak to each other with dry clacks of their beaks and make nests the size of king size beds in the trees.
They do bring some light relief though ... I had one of my best laughs in ages when one swooped low over the head of the delegate from Ghana. She ran, screaming with a mixture of laughter and terror, "It's going to shit on my head! Help, it's going to shit on my head!