Acoli Cultural Revival Organization 18

There have been no posts for the past few days because life simply took over. That, and the difficulty of actually going through the process of creating and uploading the post, photos, and video from a USB cellular modem with a very iffy network connection made it difficult.

First I should say that a day or two after being with Mary Otema and her malaria stricken 12 year old son, things improved quickly. The next day he was awake, able to read and smile, and was recovering. The day after that he was released and Mary and he both could return to their home.

Today is Sunday and I am actually in Kampala waiting a brief time to board my KLM airplane to Amsterdam and then to Chicago, find the bus to Milwaukee and finally see my wife and partner, Mary, once again after 28 days. That is a long time when you have been married 46 years and are retired!

Gala 1

A group from Lokung demonstrate the traditional Funeral Dance that honors the dead and the grief of the family.

A great deal has happened since the last post, the most significant being the incredible success of the Acoli Cultural Revival two day Gala. Since I have much to say about that and need a much stronger connection to upload the video clips, those posts will happen after my return to Milwaukee on January 2.

I will say that the Paramount Chief of all Acoli made his first visit ever to Padibe and Lamwo distritct to see the Cultural Revival Gala.Here you can see hem flanked by traditional dancers and led by the personal assistant/prime minister. He came to both days, spoke to the people about the critical importance of their cultural heritage; and because he was there all the other chiefs also came.

This is my very good friend and co-director of the collaborative drama, Tommy, playing one of the traditional instruments we are using in the show.

It is around midnight in Milwaukee and 9 am here. By this time many young men are up and working at making bricks since 3 or 4 am. They begin so early in the morning because it is cooler during this very hot, dry season and brick making is back breaking work.

Bicycling one morning brought by these young men making local bricks.

Bicycling one morning brought by these young men making local bricks.

 

This was probably his tenth trip to the borehole to get water to for the brick making.

This was probably his tenth trip to the borehole to get water to for the brick making.

Mixing the mu/clay for hours on end to get the right consistency to put into the molds is some of the hardest manual labor I ever saw.

Mixing the mu/clay for hours on end to get the right consistency to put into the molds is some of the hardest manual labor I ever saw.

A lot of water is packed in from the bore holes and the earth is mixed over and over and over again.

Although they mostly continue making new homes in the traditional round style, using bricks as the inner layer of the walls instead of woven, split bamboo keeps the termites from eating into the bamboo and destroying the hut way before its time is due.

Bricks 5

Wooden molds are filled with the mud/clay mixture to form the bricks the they are knocked out of the molds and laid out in the hot sun to dry,

Hundreds of molded bricks laying in the sun to dry before firing.

Hundreds of molded bricks laying in the sun to dry before firing.

then stacked in very tall piles about 8’ x 8’ x 8’. They kind of look like an ancient ziggart. This “tower” of bricks is covered in mud, left to dry and with a hole left open in the bottom center. This hole is filled with wood and brush which is set on fire and left to burn to harden the bricks as much as possible. Then the bricks are used to create the round walls of the Acoli hut. After the brick walls are formed a dark mud is applied that dries to a very hard substance. The Acoli hut is highly engineered for longevity in a harsh environment and for maximum comfort. It is always cooler and has excellent ventilation which provides much comfort in the hot weather.

The young men will use the finished bricks to build huts like the one in the background or sell them on the market to others who cannot make bricks but can afford to buy some.

 

I will leave Northern Uganda peacefully, leaving these people to an unbelievable daily grind to just survive. For 95% of the Acoli life is about day to day subsistence. Even one of the teachers told me after he gets his monthly salary, pays the children’s school tuition, they have money for about 2 weeks. The last two weeks they simply live from what they plant and harvest. It seems so unfair compared to other places in the world, but that seems to be the way the world works. All the pleasantries and conveniences of life we take so for granted were all earned by generations before who toiled much so we would not have to.

That is a lot of weight to carry on your head day after day and yet keep a smile on your face!

That is a lot of weight to carry on your head day after day and yet keep a smile on your face!

I wonder how many pounds this older woman has carried on her head in her lifetime?

I wonder how many pounds this older woman has carried on her head in her lifetime?

Today our toil is different, but could it not also to be more enlightened. Africa has so many generations to go before it really comes into the next level of “comfortable” living. Even though all of this is really important to me, it is the human heart that really matters and the hearts of most of the people here are filled with humility, a real sense of friendship, family and connection to each other within the clan and between the clan. Of course there are disputes as in any human community, but it never ceases to amaze me to see so much joy in the midst of such poverty and very simple subsistence living on a day to day to day basis.

Caroline is one of the ACRO mobilizers who worked for the past year in one of the four parish zones.

Caroline is one of the ACRO mobilizers who worked for the past year in one of the four parish zones.

Many of the people have no idea how people in the other parts of the world live, but television is changing much of their perception. One day it may also change how they vote and there may even be governments that care more about the people than lining their own pockets. We not only pray and hope for this day, we can also make personal sacrifices and come to Acoli land, to Padibe, Madi Kiloc, Paloga, Lokung, Potika, Madi Opei every year. We cannot afford to wait for governments. Each person can make a difference in helping others with so little.

1 comment to Acoli Cultural Revival Organization 18

  • Gunnar

    ” It is the human heart that really matters and the hearts of most of the people here are filled with humility,” so nicely said Rob. Look forward to your return and to hear more of your work.

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