Sunday, December 04, 2011

The Bakiga Window: Your Life is a Product of Your Decisions

"Your Life is a Product of Your Decisions."
As you move through life, you realise that moral teachings come in a variety of forms and from multitudinous sources. It maybe from a particular holy book, or even from a wise village elder – it may even be that the writing is on the wall.

It is Friday 15th April and I am taking an hour or so out of the day to wander around the Kigezi High School compound, to talk to a few students about their experiences here and to keep an eye on what my own students are up to.

As I cast my eyes about, I notice that in a slight change from last year, the messages promoting good moral values are no longer just on miniature signposts planted into the flowerbeds; they are now painted using stencils onto the walls of the classrooms around the main central quadrant.

The sign that imidiately catches the eye of most tells students to, “avoid pornographic films.” Indeed, I am later to learn that there is a photograph, taken by one of my own students, with that very message in the background and me in the foreground. Nice.

"Love your Father and Mother and you will live longer."
It does seem to me a very un-British way of dealing with morality. In the UK we don’t really seem to openly discus moral values – they are supposedly implicit in our actions perhaps, but not so glaringly displayed. I don’t know whether this is a good or bad thing, as I must confess I’ve not really considered the matter that deeply.

For many bazungu the messages provide an often-humorous insight into how issues relating to morality are dealt with in a country that is in step with its religious and moral compass. Many of the other messages talk of God and of respecting your mother and father.

Regardless, one of the messages seems to resonate more than any of the others. This message reads, “Your life is a product of your decisions.” Momentarily my students become reflective. Not solely reflecting on what they have been experiencing during their weeklong stay in Kabale, but also reflecting on their own education back in the UK. Maybe a small reminder, from time to time, does come in useful after all.

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