Sunday, October 02, 2011

The Bakiga Window: The Closest Thing to Eden?

The view over Lake Bunyonyi from Itambira Island.

The sun is setting to my left as I sit looking out over what could be paradise on earth. The trees are helpfully beginning to mute the warmth of our most powerful star as it sinks lower and lower behind the line of hills to the West.

It is Saturday 16th April and I am sat watching the evening sky paint its moving picture over Lake Bunyonyi, from a vantage point on the Itambira Island resort of Byoona Amagara.

As with every year, after a week of attending meetings, organising my own students and working on education projects with various institutions around Kabale, we retreat to Lake Bunyonyi to relax and reflect for the weekend. As with previous years, we have come with a group of Kigezi High School students and staff.

I will admit, that at this moment, I am leaving all and sundry to their own devices and, although I am sat with two close colleagues, no one is speaking and I am glad of that fact.

This place is so unspoiled by humanity – I guess I mean large numbers of westerners. The resorts, be them around the banks of the lake or on islands in the middle of the lake, are all eco-resorts and live symbiotically and peacefully within the environment.

It is the purity of these surroundings that encourage your heart to bare itself. You think about your time in East Africa, the friends you’ve made, the things you’ve seen and often your failures to complete certain projects. This is a place that ideas grow within your soul. This is a place where you resolve to improve yourself, rather than demand improvement in others.

One such thought I am having, as I look out over this small bay, relates to the local population of Bunyonyi. At this moment, one of my biggest failures is my lack of knowledge about the rural communities here.

After three annual visits to Kabale, I am getting a good idea about many regional quirks. I can even say a few things in Rukiga – albeit very bady. I understand that if one of my Bakiga friends tells me they’re going for a short call, it doesn’t mean that they are off to use their mobile phone.

All well and good, but life is different for rural communities and I know that. Embarrassingly I haven’t visited the school on the Bwana Island that lies to the right of this natural picture frame in front of me. In fact, I haven’t visited the small village to the north of Itambira that lies to the right of my natural picture frame.

So it is, that as the sun continues to set, I whisper to myself a resolution: next year the men, women and children of Itambira and Bwana will be my educators and kill off this ignorance I have of their communities.

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