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Friday, January 16, 2015

HENRY BARLOW - Building a Nation



EVERY TIME A UGANDAN ASKS ME WHAT I HAVE TO SHOW FOR THE MANY YEARS IN CANADA, I TELL THEM I HAVE DONE A BIT OF WORK. MY PEOPLE ASK FOR THE MANSIONS YOU BUILT, THE HOTELS, THE BUSINESSES, THE CHURCHES OR SCHOOLS NAMED AFTER YOU.

Do you have any idea how much liability that comes with?  You are at Nangalama Secondary School in Mukono District and some idiot teacher canes the kid to near death and I get the call that a kid is in IHK.  Then hell breaks loose. Nedda.  I own nothing and will remain with this positive balance sheet for a loooong time. Sans tear gas. Sans bullets. Sans torture. Sans hunger.  Sans nebilala nebilala.

Sadly, my culture is not one that realises that even the simplest things according to Uganda are actually the most difficult things one faces in Canada.

Many many times, I have wondered how it is possible to raise kids so far away from home and still manage a smile.  The quick rush would be to fly home, secure a job (and ya all know I would get a great paying job) and then the girls.  BUT surely there is something more than accepting an inflated budget job to serve the Nation.  So we must think outside of Building the Nation.

Until I read this poem.  Ya mean every little bit helps?  To build the Nation.  But for who? And which Nation?  Then in that case, I too, I am also nange sibalimba ndi confused katono kubana njagala kuyamba okusimba eUganda to BUILD THE NATION.
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HENRY BARLOW (may God grant you the peace you left in Uganda. In fact, may God remind us Ugandans of you. Forever).

Today I did my share
In building a nation
I drove a Permanent Secretary
To an importantt urgent function
In fact, to a luncheon at the Vic

The menu reflected its importance
Cold Bell beer with small talk
Then friend chicken with niceties
Wine to fill the hollowness of the laughs
Ice cream to cover the stereotype jokes
Coffee to keep the PS awake on the return journey

 I drove the Permanent Secretary back
He yawned many times in the back of the car
Then to keep awake, he suddenly asked me
Did you have any lunch friend?
I replied while looking straight ahead
And secretly smiling at his belated concern
That I had not but was slimming down.

Upon which he said with a seriousness
Which amused me more than it annoyed me
Mwananchi, I too had none!
I attended to the matters of the state
Highly diplomatic duties you know
And friend, it goes against my grain
Causes me stomach ulcers and wind
Ah, he continued, yawning again
The pains we suffer in building the nation.

So the PS had ulcers too?
My ulcers, I think are equally painful
Only they are caused by hunger
Not sumptous lunches!

So two nation builders
Arrived home this evening
With terrible stomach pains
The result of building the nation -
Different ways.

----- Please note that the above poem is by Henry Barlow, not Martha Leah Nangalama



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