Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Les Journaux Africains: Little Ritz, Kabale, Uganda - 19.50 13/04/2010 - Part Two

Photo © 2010, RizaGroup.org
After getting over the initial shock at how vibrant the Kabale Arts Centre looked, I finally noticed that, like the final scene of a film, almost everyone I knew and cared for in Uganda was there - for Grace had gone home a few days before. People like Charlotte, Ruth, Peter, Penninah and Edward (her husband who was one of the artists featured in the opening night).

It felt like a social event that I was meant to be attending, not just in support of a project started by bazungu, but because this is Uganda, my second home, a place were I have genuine friends now whom I enjoy being with. The event was filled with warm smiles, laughter, chatter, hugs, handshakes, tears of happiness and a genuine feel that this project, as with the much broader partnership between our college and the town of Kabale, holds a lot of potential for the future.

As I cast my eyes around the room, in my mind's eye, I can see colleagues, students and people who genuinely care for one another and the whole experience is mildly overwhelming. The different colours, ideas, or statuses of any people present are just not an issue. We are all equal here.

A short while later Greg makes a speech thanking everyone for their help in getting the place ready in such a short period of time - something the UK is used to in the form of such wonderful programmes as DIY SOS. As he makes his speech the only thing that matches the beaming smile on his face, is the equally large number of proud smiles on the faces of the local artists featured in the opening exhibition.

The speeches and clapping over, and following a Mirinda - there's no wine at this gallery opening - we head to the Little Ritz, a restaurant across the road from the Edirisa. 

En route, Charlotte and Ruth both stop to bid me a tear-filled goodbye. They both hold on in a manner which seems to imply they feel that I will not be returning ever again. They both did this last year, but this year it seems twice as impassioned. It is as if to say that the instant I get back on the plane to London via Addis Ababa I will forget about them and never want to hear from them again.

I know that is not the case.

And if you're reading this, then you too know that is not the case.

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