After publishing over four posts on this subject, we have finally created an almost full collection of African misconceptions. Africa, it seems, is misunderstood. To date, we have published two posts on African Misconceptions, one on Uganda’s Technology, and another on crazy facts about Africa. These posts averaged 1,250 words apiece, showing that there truly is a lot of unknown information about Africa.
But, if you’re a new follower or simply haven’t been able to read these posts, today’s your lucky day; this post contains all of the information found within the last four combined, but in bite-sized pieces.
Two days ago, I left on the last plane out of Uganda. Just before the country closed its borders, I flew out on an Ethiopian Air flight with a final destination of the United States. I had been given 2 hours to pack before I could leave.
The last few days have been a hurricane of emotion. Right now, as I write this, I am in Saint Albans, West Virginia (the USA). I have been here for barely under 48 hours. The story of how I got here is something straight out of Hollywood, and it all starts with my uncle’s wedding.
Intercontinental travel is part of being a missionary kid. Sure, businessmen and rich people all travel abroad, but missionaries and missionary kids alike travel, it seems, as often as we breathe. When discussions about the military arise, I always joke, “I’ll join the army; I would get seasick with the navy and I’ve had enough planes for a lifetime, so that just leaves one option.” Jokes aside, this is true. I can’t even count the amount of times I have been on an airplane, let alone the thousands of hours driving to particular destinations.
Despite being a “veteran” within traveling, there are still several changes that affect me greatly when changing countries or even continents. Indeed, the latter proves to be far more difficult, as country changes usually stay within continents, reducing the cultural change therein. Driving from Uganda to Kenya will prove far easier then flying from Uganda to the United States. The differences between Uganda and Kenya, while existent, are minimal compared to the differences between Uganda and the USA. These changes are massive, and despite the experience I have in “continent hopping”, they still hit me like a punch in the gut. Some, such as jet lag, can be reduced with experience, but there are four others that seem particularly difficult to avoid.
Honestly, one of the most common questions Africa Boy gets is this: “What are some of the funniest things you’ve seen in Uganda?” Well, after living here for 15.5 years, I have a few that are almost sure to make you laugh.
After several days of work, I am very pleased to announce the launching of a new Christian blog- Destination: Ghana. Created and owned by a friend of mine, Ian Nelson. His big sister is a schoolmate of mine, and so, as a favor to both of them, I helped create the site in preparation for his launch. Now, finally, he is ready to go!
I didn’t know what AIDS was until I was thirteen. During that time, Uganda had been having an epidemic in the north, and so awareness was at an all-time high. It was on the walls of our announcement boards, the emails of our newsletters, and the tongues of our school kids.
Eventually, I learned what this deadly disease was. In fact, I even learned who had it. It turns out, there’s plenty of people I knew that had contracted the disease from one way or the other. Suddenly, AIDS was everywhere. Fear began to captivate me as I became paranoid about my water, my dishes, my silverware- anything that could put me into contact with it. At the time, I didn’t realize that AIDS wasn’t transmitted through touch, but I didn’t care; I was too paranoid about receiving it.
After a few weeks of this, I realized how silly I was being. Nobody in my family had it, and my chances of getting it were higher than my chances of a girl liking me- basically none. I had to release that fear to the Lord, as I had done with so many other fears.
I love talking about cultural differences. Quite honestly, they are something I could talk about for hours. The differences found between cultures is fascinating, and today’s example is no exception.
The owl has been associated with wisdom for centuries, dating back all the way to Greek culture. The Greeks believed that the owl was a symbol of Athena, goddess of wisdom, and as such hoped that the coming of the owl symbolized the coming of Athena. They passed this belief on to the Romans, who heavily influenced the development of Europe, which eventually lead to the influence of American culture itself.
“When I first came to Uganda, I saw so many children with nothing. In America, we think we know suffering and poverty, but in reality, we know nothing. But what really strikes me is the fact that every child is so happy. Even though they have nothing, they smile as if they have everything.”
This quote, believe it or not, is another common thing I have heard from Americans visiting Africa. While there IS poverty in the United States, it usually remains tucked away, avoided at all costs. After all, who cares about the hobos and homeless? This mindset has been a hindrance to the more sheltered American teenagers and young adults. Because they have been sheltered for their entire lives, they have no idea what the outside world looks like. Thus, when they arrive in Uganda, all ready to “minister to the poor and needy”, they are caught off guard by the sheer number of poor people. The rich exist, of course, but Uganda is dominated by men and women that make less than $500 a year. This amount proves to be staggering to the average Westerner. And yet… There is something that strikes them far harder than poverty, and that’s a smile. The Ugandan people, while not being the richest in the world, consistently find things to smile about.
This ability finds itself in stark contrast to the Western world, in which money is common and yet true happiness is in short supply. There might be men that own three houses, four Lamborghinis, and a private plane, yet they only smile for the cameras. Deep down, brokenness affects us all, and money cannot repair the gaping hole in our souls left by the sadness and regret that comes with sin.
Happiness can be found outside of money. Poverty, in all its crushing weight, cannot remove the joy that is somehow found within the hearts of the Ugandan children. This joy, found within real life, is what astounds many Westerners, who expect to find a lack of happiness whenever poverty is present. Joy is found in an appreciation of God’s creation, not within money or possessions. This is something we would all do well to remember.
Alright, that’s all for today. This was a throwback post, meaning that it was actually published by me over six months ago. This is something I am going to be doing every Saturday as a chance for new Followers to read some of my old content and see some old stories.
Thanks for reading! Your support means a ton to me. If you haven’t already, be sure to click that Follow button below or to the side, so as to not miss out on any new posts. Then, click that Like button to show your appreciation. Thanks again, and I hope you have a great day.
This should be very obvious. After all, who wouldn’t want to move to Uganda? Sadly, some people take convincing. After all, why would you want to leave a frozen wasteland and move to a place of perpetual summer?
Oh well. I guess I will need to show you exactly why you need to move to Uganda. Here are five reasons that should at least prompt you into considering a visit to Uganda.
Today is Thanksgiving Day. All around the world, Americans are gathering to celebrate this momentous holiday. Yes, I said all around the world. Even here, in the middle of Nowhere, Uganda, Americans are gathering.
What used to be an American holiday is now known across the globe. Although celebrated mostly by Americans, the holiday is recognized in nearly every calendar today. And so, even here in Uganda, we are wished a “Happy Independence Day” by cheerful Ugandans.
Uganda is home to thousands of witch-doctors. In fact, one of these used to live across the road from my ministry. Although long gone, his memory presents an important reality- witchcraft is alive and well in Uganda.
When New Hope first started, a local witchdoctor approached the leaders and claimed that the Ministry wouldn’t last long. Basically, he gave the Ugandan equivalent of “This town ain’t big enough for the two of us.”
Now, in the present-day, I live five minutes from a small town named Kiwoko. Kiwoko, according to some, is the “witchcraft center” for the entire district. This makes it a hub for witchdoctors and their patients. The hospital, Kiwoko Hospital, treats thousands of patients a week. Because of this influx of sick and needy people, witchdoctors often attempt to lure people away from the hospital and into their homes, where they can offer darker practices for a cheaper price.
Because of witchcraft’s deep hold in Uganda, we even see examples of it here, in New Hope. The first time that I, in recent memory, can remember being exposed to works of witchcraft was when I was about seven years old. It was a Friday night and, as per our tradition, my family was eating pizza and watching a movie. Coincidentally, the movie we watched was Bednobs and Broomsticks, a 1971 Fantasy/Comedy about witchcraft.
The movie, starring Angela Lansbury and David Tomlinson, was filmed by the creators of Mary Poppins and actually resembled its sister movie in many ways. However, one piece of the movie remains apart from this comparison- witchcraft. The entire plotline revolves around three children that, during the London Blitz, go to live with a witch. She is a member of a witchcraft correspondence school, capable of flying on brooms and casting spells. The movie would basically state that witchcraft was not only normal, but it was also good.
Uganda is an ever-changing country. In my fifteen and a half years here, I have seen so much change, it can be hard to believe. In fact, when I hear stories of Uganda’s post-war status, these changes become even more real and amazing. Tales of literal skull mountains, mines in fields, and bombed-out houses still haunt my mind at night. And now, Uganda is a thriving country, growing faster than almost any other African nation.
Because of its massive change in both growth and technology, many people remain with outdated information on Uganda and its neighbors. They believe that people still walk around with lions and hang out with monkeys. Unfortunately, as we’ve already seen, there could be nothing further from the truth. In fact, here are three crazy things that I bet you didn’t know about Uganda.
The hot sun beats down on withered, yellow grass. Cicadas scream their swear words to the sky. A dog barks somewhere nearby. The smell of smoke filters through the air, signaling that dinner is being cooked at the house. Warm air filters down from above, settling on your skin. This is Africa.
Uganda is far more advanced then one might think. When many westerners envision Africa, they think of those Massai guys with spears in their hands, blankets on their shoulders, and dull looks on their faces. They picture a technologically dead country, useless to anyone except their own people.