Monday, October 18, 2010

Love and Hate Africa

Things I love about Africa (Uganda in specific):

1. Most of the people are nice and the con artists are usually easy to spot.
2. The local transport is cheep, as is most of the food (non-western).
3. Local ingenuity and complete disregard for anything resembling OSHA standards.
4. The belief that a 125cc motorcycle made in the Mid-East is a perfectly legitimate way to transport: another 125cc Motorcycle (on the back of the seat), 15ft poles dragged behind in traffic, 8ft reams of aluminum siding (crosswise), a family of five, or almost anything that can be purchased.
5. The unstated, yet often practiced, belief that enough dirt can fix almost anything.
6. People are much less self-conscious concerning weight (much harder to inadvertently make inappropriate comments).
7. That people tend to be much more concerned with relationships than schedules.
8. The misguided belief that I care about titles. This allows me to sarcastically claim the title Reverend Bishop Pastor, His High Holiness, Missionary to Humanity, Apostle to the Apostles, the Left Hand of God, Brother Blue (I’m thinking of having cards made).
9. People are often committed and passionate in worship.
10. Kids still know how to play outside.
11. People love music.
12. European football leagues are watched and cared about.

Things I hate about Africa (Uganda in general):

1. There are a lot of con artists, scammers, and takers, which gets you in the habit of distrusting people… often those who actually need help.
2. The variety of food. When you have soil and climate that will literally grow or enable the raising of almost anything, you can do way better than maze, cassava, and pork, flavored with salt and tomatoes, both for flavor and health (basil, oregano, garlic, peppers, almost any other spice, green leafy vegetables, guava, beef cattle, cheeses and other dairy products from the cows and goats you already have, salsa, baked goods that aren’t of the consistency of cardboard and gravel, etc.)
3. The way women are treated and how cultural stigmas enable so many more people to be abused, neglected, and ignored. Also the fact that this happens on a much broader scale in a culture that “values” community more than most western cultures.
4. The dependence on the west for most technologies and principles of developing infrastructure coupled with a general lack of desire to apply the principles that make them actually work, or be efficient.
5. The general dependence on the west for a lot of things. Helping and being helped is good; welfare and dependence are bad. They just are.
6. Pride: people don’t care about weight, but everything else matters.
7. The top down and bottom up culture of corruption that makes progression way more difficult/costly/useless than it needs to be.
8. The cultural belief that leaders and those in authority are meant to be served and respectfully obeyed in all things. Everyone knows their place and anyone above anyone else make sure it is known.
9. Freedom is talked about as an ideal, but control is the often-practiced reality.
10. “Racism” doesn’t exist, but tribalism does and it is much worse (at least when compared to the U.S. today).
11. Hope is often invested in westerners with money rather than God who has actual power.
12. Church sound systems. Seriously, if you burnt every single one in Africa it would be a massive net gain for worship and preaching.
13. Most of the popular local music SUCKS! In general it is a bad version of poorly produced bad American pop or hip hop.
14. If something is scheduled for 2 p.m. no one shows up until 4 p.m. and it doesn’t start till 5 p.m.
15. You can’t watch American football.
16. I don’t get to drink.

Things in the gray area:

1. The belief that sugar should make up at least 25% of any beverage.
2. Cold sodas are rare. Finding one makes it that much better.
3. Portions for local food are often big.
4. Church is often a social as well as spiritual event. This can make church last way too long.
5. Traffic laws are rarely known or considered anything other than suggestions.
6. The cost of cars and gas makes it so that the traffic is only bad half the time.
7. DVD’s are cheep, but often lousy.
8. Nigerian movies make Bollywood movies almost watchable.
9. Having no hot water keeps the electric bill down, but then again so do the power failures.
10. Crappy internet stimulates my reading, or causes me to waist 3 hours trying to send one email.

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