A few years ago I taught a poetry workshop in Uganda. There are so many lines of their poetry that stay with me, but one that came to mind today was this: “I am from Africa, the land of black.” The poet went on to describe how she is from the land of black in her skin, black in the soil where her family grows potatoes, and blinding blackness at night where the hum of electricity hasn’t reached yet.
Today as we drove away from the airport, we travelled on a road under construction. Along the road were streetlights, the first in all of Uganda. They haven’t been lit yet, but all I could think of when I saw them was that poet’s words and how startling it will be to see rows of streetlights shining in the pitch black.
Though in the land of black, for me Uganda has always been the land of green. The equatorial climate makes every plant lush and verdant, with signs of life abundant in every leaf.
When I think of green, I think of newness, of the urgency of seedlings breaking free of their seed coats for the first time, of blots of colorful flowers blooming while the dark green leaves do the work of collecting energy from the sun and making it into food.
It reminds me of this verse, which has been knocking around in my head for a few weeks.
“Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.”
Uganda has been a place for me where old things are shed and new things break free and grow with reckless fervency. It is my land of green lovingly tucked into the beating heart of the land of black.
P.S. I’ll be posting blogs and some photos here, but other things like live videos, short posts, and complete photo albums will be on the Vigilante Kindness Facebook page.