Monday, February 1, 2016

A case for the little man...(me obsessing over dreams)

As navigate this world, constantly trying to figure out what really works for me and where I shall strike it rich I have tried a number of things? Selling phones was the more interesting one but I never had that shadowy thing called "investment capital" and since I sucked at this whole proposal writing and pitching for funds I sort of did not make it. I tried my hand at selling land and cars but that was not any more successful.

I have sold food stuff as a camp but again I had to punt that off to a friend. There are several things in there I have tried I think but in all these endeavours I really was seriously looking for a buck.....Here I was doing odd jobs while I had a degree. It did feel a little menial but I did it because I had to.

each day I walk the streets of Kampala seeing all these people who are doing small odd jobs selling tomatoes, roast meat, Rolexes, clothes, maize or airtime and I wonder how much do they really make and why do they even keep coming back.

I think of all the things I have read in books about expanding and growing your business although I wonder how much can you grow a Rolex business, but that is for another day.

I think of the things that have stood in their way, choked their dreams and tripped them up but still they come out every evening to sell their wares.

I ask if there is anybody willing to walk with them, starting with teaching them that they can be more, do more and then going ahead to show them how.

I ask if their government doing anything to help them, to break the back of the corrupt and tax evaders (many of whom can afford to pay these taxes). Are they stream lining the system for efficiency and equity?

I ask also about our conscience, not towards social justice, though that too is something we are sorely lacking, but towards simple honesty. The idea of paying a fair wage or reasonable price seems foreign to us. You would not believe how “expensive” a 150USD charge is in a budget of 50 times that cost. These little things such as paying fair wage can do so much and make a difference.

Then I think of my struggle and their struggle. I might be a few steps above the ladder from the way the world looks at it but I always aware that our existences are both precarious.

Each day, despite all our hurdles we get up and go and work...that alone I applaud...and each day we try to reach our dreams...

I laud work….however small and I pray we all reach our dreams one odd job at a time.

Monday, November 2, 2015

On Turning 31

I guess it’s that time of the year where I take stock of the year that has passed and perhaps say one or two inspirational things…perhaps.

Two people stand out as I set my other foot into the door of the 30plus club. The first is Cynthia Ayeza. Anybody who knows her will perhaps not be surprised. She was once a total stranger I met through another friend. She runs one of the best on line sites with African stories by African writers but more than that is the sheer light she seems to exude. She is happy by choice and I think that is what stands out the most for me. We have shared some deeply personal stories off the bat and that too has been a salve to this pained soul. Cynthia I can’t thank you enough but know that while the cynic in me may sometimes roll his eyes at your optimism for life, another part of me is grateful and I hope and hope and pray that nothing ever changes that about you. Thank you.

The other person, who I believe featured in my previous thank you piece is Edith. She will not read this because she abandoned social media hehe. But I guess when you are in the dark sometimes having someone there with you makes all the difference. We have stood back to back against our own demons and have helped each other through the dark time. I suck at all the mushy stuff but never doubt that I love you…I would behead superman for you.

Martin my partner in crime and righteousness. God never allows us to walk alone and even though he is always with us he knows the importance of a human companion. This year you have given me more laughs than I care to count, shared debates with me and have kept up with all my irritating habits. We might have started at the bottom but we are getting there…and remember the stuff you promised for my birthday…I shall be collecting.
A lot of the people I have met this year have just been the best and most simply for being whom there are and simply being a present friend. I know I have morphed into a silent brooding old man lately but you are a big part of my life.

On mental health
The other big part of this year has been my continued struggle with depression. Yes I know, I don’t seem like that usual candidate. But I guess everything and everyone has a breaking point. But while I could spin a sop story of how hard it is to live through dark days at noon and feelings so crushing you can’t get out of bed I would like to speak to anyone who has been through this whether it be a “mild case” or a much deeper struggle, you are not alone nor are you a lost cause. We (those struggling with depression) are much stronger than we give ourselves credit for. We might be rarely understood but I guarantee you the world needs our gifts, talents and lives. Hang in there, keep taking those meds and let’s live. PS feel free to message me and let’s have a chat. You are not alone.

To all the other, depression is not a demon, a feeling or a fad. We “don’t do it” because it cool or because we want attention. The causes and the symptoms are as varied as those that suffer from it. What we need most is to be treated like normal people….irony I know…but being treated like with kid gloves, whispers and God knows what else does not help the recovery situation. It’s a very real struggle, more for some, less for others but a struggle none the less. You love, care and support goes a long way.

On Faith
This has been a big part of my life but I am done with church. Now before you get all hot in the collar keep reading. Recently someone asked me why I have become “so bad” and I jokingly said four years working in a church. There is still so much pain and bitterness attached to that period in my life and I fear I shall be dealing with the consequences for some time to come but deal with it I will.
I still believe faith is central to life…but not the concept of church as it’s practiced today. I have joked that church needs to be banned or burned, whichever comes church, in favour of home churches or at least smaller community based churches. I find that smaller units of faiths, sharing everyday life are a much riper place for growth and revival. Think of only going to cell (for those churches that do cell) or those room fellowships for the next year instead of the mega church services? I think it would awesome.

So if you do not see me for the more traditional church events don’t get worried, just pray and if you should gather the courage approach me and let’s have a conversation. If this for some reasons means we cannot be friends, it will be sad but I guess we each must walk our paths.

On Change
Everything changes and not always for the best. But such is life. I am learning to give the boat a little rope so that it rocks a little as the storms of life rock it in the habor and some times the the midst of the storms, i take down my sails and just go with the flow till clear skies hit and i can finally steer my life in what i believe to be the right direction.  I am not who i should be nor who i used to be...but i can assure you i am all kinds of me. 

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

The Girl who changed my mind

Once i met a any normal boy and girl we did what boys and girls do...we got to talking. She told me she wanted to be a teacher. I was amazed, humbled and inspired. She was the first Ugandan i met who, from S6 Vac, had the ambition of being a teacher. Now we all know how this is a profession scorned,or at least it was. But here she was loudly and openly telling us she wanted to be a teacher.

Fast forward several years and i meet another young lady...and like all young men and women do...we got to talking. She told me she wanted to build a school back in her home district. At the time she was studying from Bulaya (Ugandan vernacular term used to refer to countries overseas) , i forget which course, but she was going to channel all her monies and energies towards building a school. Again i was amazed, humbled and inspired. These two women sowed the seeds that bred and season of introspection. they taught me that, yes there is so much wrong with our country but only we can change it, not buy asking the government but buy actually doing something about it ourselves.

Fast forward several more years. I had just left my previous job and had started my photography business. Those first months meant i had a lot of time to myself. I pondered on my plight and that of my country. I wondered how i could make a change. There were so many more before me. Politically minded and social entrepreneurs...they were doing something but what could i do.

One of those many days, with too little in my pocket to pay for my fare home i walked down Kampala road. My head was literally bowed, glued to the pavement. Tired of all the self-pity i decided to lift my head up high...literally. I looked up, a little too high i guess, cause i found myself staring at all the shop signs that had hang above my head all these years but i never noticed. I love graphic design and so the signs intrigued me a little. "How much you miss when you always look down" i wondered.

I observed that many do the exact same thing; we look to our feet as we scurry around this city. I wondered how much we missed because we do not look up.

The next few weeks were spent looking up all over the city and noticing the shapes, the textures, the play of light and so much more.

i started taking pictures with my phone and later my camera....from this my Instagram Blog was born...a collection of images that show the other side of this Lovely city that has been my home all this time. It was my way of seeing my city in a different light.

But something bigger was born in me those few months. I realized that I can change my city if I change the way my peers looked at it. If I could just get them to appreciate this country and city perhaps they would be more willing to fight for it and defend it from pariahs of bad governance and selfish greed.

More than that perhaps I would inspire us to do something about our city, to plug the gaps where we see them and stem the tide of disrepair or despair.

I might not have a lot of money, but I have my camera and my eyes…perhaps through them you and I can see what an awesome Gem of a country we have and perhaps live lives that help it thrive and shine.

Oh and one more thing, I have chosen to randomly follow and promote all blogs and Facebook pages that build an authentic Ugandan picture in the hopes that someday we can all meet up, look back and say we did it.

I want to be like those two ladies a mentioned, sold out to my countries well being that i am willing to stand up and do something with my resources and what little grit i posses. So I am changing my country one image at a time…hopefully.

Friday, August 7, 2015

I wish i could write....

i wish i could write
but i cant
my eyes too tired
the hands to weary
and my heart too heavy

i wish i could write but i cant
my mind too race-y
dashing from thought to thought
many too scary

i wish i could write
but i cant
for an audience to heady
on their own ideas
captive of the trending trend
too busy liking

i wish i could write
 but i cant
too many people pretending
i know you just not getting
anything that i'm saying

i wish i could write
but i cant
because people don't read
no that's not true
they read but they don't heed

I wish i could write
but i cant
like a woman who gives of her fruit
i am tired of whoring my words
to an ungrateful horde

i wish i could write
but i cant
i have decided to gather my tattered virtue
and cast my pearls no more
before another steaming herd

i wish i could write
but i cant
No its not me,
Its you.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

The problem is choice.....

Sometimes we need to find one single truth and hang on to it. Like an anchor in an out of body experience It provides the tether that keeps you grounded; allows you freedom to venture out but more importantly it allows you to find you way back to a safe place when all the craziness of doubt sweeps in.

For many of us, that hope was the idea that we were made for more. That our every step was ordered and despite calamity the ending was written and we won. There was this grand scheme in which, we were told, were an integral part, that without our involvement this great cosmic plan would Fail and that because we were such an important part of this plan all things would work out for our good.

This hope, this dream kept us grounded. We limited our exposure to sin and temptation and tempered our flesh with fasting and much prayer. We binged on the word as a stockpile of ammunition against the bombardments the devil would surely  send our way. We pushed through doubt, pain and fear, cheered on by the camaraderie around us.

Then we grew up a little. Suddenly the world was much bigger and out role in the cosmic plan grew larger. But I suspect more than that we suddenly were cast into an arena where the fastest and strongest survived. There was no room for weakness. The faith was separated into echelons and you were at the bottom.

You are still part of the machine, the great plan but you are such a small cog in a massive array of cogs and wheels. But unlike a part of an actual machine, a piece of forged metal that would merrily go spinning till infinitely, you are human, flesh, bone and blood and feeling and at that realization( your smallness) you are feeling a little lied to. I you were important but in light of all this you question your importance.

And so still hoping you take you place as part of the machine though your heart never really settles. A few spins and you start to wonder what the heck this is all about. You can see the machinery and hear it grind. You can feel the shudder and the shake and see the different parts accomplish some task. Some days you even feel the forward motion, but down here, in the heart of the belly of the beast all you see is wheels and cogs spinning towards some unseen and unknown destination. You know someone is driving but you haven the foggiest where or why.

I describe not the reality but rather the feelings we sometimes have to wade through. We prostrate before a God whose will and plan is absolute and even though he leans down and whispers in our ears we fathom it not and so we believe, have faith and hope.

We chose to believe, have faith and hope. That word choose…indeed choice is at the heart of this faith and we actually do have the freedom to choose to keep following. That is for me the real difference, the real reason that you should hang on; you CHOSE this faith. And if per chance you accepted because of fear, group think etc you must always chose or perhaps now decide to choose to stick to this faith.

Anyone who has followed my posts will notice I never hide what is going through my head and heart whether it be doubt or pain. BUT I am still here not because I saw some powerful vision or revelation but because I chose this faith and even now, while choked by the waves of this world I chose this faith hoping and believing that Jesus will reach out his hand and pull me up. I cannot give up or give in because I chose this path. And even if he does not save me, even now I still chose it….until the day I do not.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Hello Fear....

I was about to start this post with, “I have not written in a while” but I realize that is redundant. What is more important is why I haven’t written in a long time.

Over the last few months a silence has crept over my soul. I slow, dark mist, a dark miasma of dread and fear, like a fog on a marsh it has hang around for long. Nothing I do can dispel this, well let’s call it what it is; fear.

Fear! Andrew Pacutho,  afraid?  Those that know me will find this hard to believe and still some will say, “but we are human, it happens” I find the timidity and fear as puzzling as most and the reasons a little confusing.

For the first time my fear does not come from outside but from within. Not within my spirit or my soul but within a community that i have called home and family for the longest time.  It’s like being of a different opinion gets you cast into the pile of the weird believer or worse backslider or labeled with something akin to you don’t know what you say and if you were plugged right it would all make sense.

While I have argued this out with friends close to me I still find the idea that I cannot be broken and messed up in church totally wrong. It’s like going to a hospital and being stigmatized for being sick.  There are so many questions and so few answers. The usual mantra of “God’s word has all the answers” feels hollow. Otyooo!!! I just blasphemed or something right? If the teacher cannot make plain the text, then the text, or the teacher or the student has a problem. I suspect it’s either the student or the teacher.

But more than that is the fear to speak out against perceived wrong things in church because suddenly you are or have been made to feel unsure of yourself.  You can’t be right when you are the only one who seems to see things a certain way right? They can’t all be wrong. Can they? If you are wrong, how wrong are you and must you keep shouting if you are that wrong? After all if you were right other people would stand with you right?

These questions can drive a man insane. I am still searching for the answer, praying that a light would shine in this fog but until then I shall sit in the back silent and do battle with my soul.

I shall leave church alone….and hopefully church will leave me alone…for a while.

Monday, January 26, 2015

The Mountain Top and The Purge

Every Year we make resolutions. Every Year we fail at these resolutions. In frustration or protest some abandon new year resolution making while other find other ways to focus their year around simple achievable goals, new philosophies of self improvements or whittle away at their lists until they have just one thing they aim to achieve that year. 

i like to start my year with a mountain top approach and a yearly purge/renewal. For the mountain top view i start mostly before God. I take time to meditate and peruse the year past and the year ahead. I then ask for a general direction, an over arching leading so to speak.  It may be a sudden realisation about that year or a sense of energy and excitement that set the tempo for my next 365. Sometimes its an exact phrase or direction. Other times a sweep of the hand denoting an area that needs attention.
for this year, its excitement and a sense of anticipation, that leaning forward in expectation of something great and grand and with this the feeling of exhilaration and confidence that anything you set to do you will achieve. its like that newness that comes after a heavy downpour. Everything is fresh and new and the old and dirty has been washed away. Its a clean slate and you can scribe anew the paths for tomorrow.

The Purge is mostly about passing along all physical possessions that have served their purpose or would better serve someone else. Its also about getting rid of some of that clutter that builds up around my life, desk and closet over the years. This can be in the form of a donation to charity or selling some of these items and making better use of the money. I normally purge clothes. I don't give away old clothes, i try to give away perfectly good items that i just haven't worn that year or no longer fancy. Sometimes i still fancy them but realise someone else needs it or would look better in it hence i pass it along. Jeans, shirts, shoes and more are moved forward. If they are too old i donate to those willing with the express knowledge that these are old and worn. If i can re-purpose and up-cycle them i do so or give to people that can.

This last step is my way of reminding myself that things are not the thing and there is more to life. I am reminded that things are simply tools for a purpose or an end while having a mountain top is a chance for God to set the stage for my journey. Its me seeing the big picture that will keep me moving when i am in some deep dark ravine or remind me that there is so much more when i am at the top of some hill or mountain, a constant reminder that there is more to come. 

these acts can be a series of things or just one simple thing. I changed my computer Operating system for example. i spend so much time looking at this screen i figured what better way to reminder me of the newness of this year than a totally different way of working. I am getting rid of furniture(if you want to buy i have a huge table/Desk and a bookshelf) and some gadgets. many clothes wont survive either.

This year get rid of more...give more...