Greetings from Uganda!
Sorry for taking so long to get out a blog post. Class has been keeping me so busy!
The trip over wasn’t too bad. DC to Amsterdam, Amsterdam to Kigali, Kigali to Entebbe. The stop in Amsterdam was just long enough to fire up the wi-fi, eat a wonderful croissant, and find my gate. Fortunately, the stop in Kigali was just an hour on the tarmac. I’ve gotten used to the length of the journey, but I’ll never get used to the seats. 😛 I arrived in Uganda at about 11pm. My uncle and cousin picked me up and brought me right home. After a red-eye and a day flight, my body clock was so off that I was able to jump onto UG time pretty quickly (it’s Eastern + 7).
I am staying at my uncle’s house in Kiwatule, an up-and-coming area in outer Kampala. It’s about a 25 minute ride to school in the morning and being a little out of town, it’s nice and quiet. This is the first time I have come to Uganda with an agenda of my own, and a regular one at that. I am already settling into a nice little groove. Class from 11-1, lunch break, class from 2-4. It’s funny: I’m used to having a jam-packed schedule, and while I don’t have that much on my to-do, it takes forever to get anything done. I think part of that is I am settling into “African time” and taking a more relaxed attitude (which as many of you know, is probably a good change for me to make :P).
Why Am I Here?
I know that I have talked to many of you about my goals for this summer, but it doesn’t hurt to set the stage. I just completed my first year of a doctoral program in Ethnomusicology. I am in Uganda this summer to do a number of things: 1: take a course in Kiswahili at Makerere University, 2: get a feel for life here, and 3: feel out fieldwork opportunities. My program requires 3 languages, so Kiswahili seemed like a good choice given that I had studied it before and that it’s the lingua franca of the region. There’s also pop music in UG that’s in Kiswahili (see the work of Dr. Jose Chameleone, who’s on tour in the US right now). Every time I’ve come to Uganda in the past, it has been for a vacation, to see family, go to weddings, etc. This time I actually get to live here a bit which will help me evaluate what it might be like to be here for an extended fieldwork period. In terms of fieldwork opportunities, I need to get a sense of what the trends are in pop music right now. For example, Ugandan Dancehall is much bigger than I realized, so that might be something worth pursing while I’m here. I have info about my current research interests on this page, but I will say that I am particularly interested in the role that digital media plays in identity creation. On top of the goals above, I’d like to get a sense of how young, urban Ugandans connect online, particularly with smartphones. Many phones that aren’t smartphones have Bluetooth capability and that’s one way that music is passed around.
Life So Far
Things are going really well. Today (Monday) is the first day of the second week of my classes. The class is four hours a day, one-on-one. It’s freaking exhausting, but my teacher, Mr. Kyomuhendo, is very nice. I am getting used to the grind though (haven’t done tomorrow’s homework yet, #debacle). After seven weeks, my Kiswahili should be on point. Hopefully I will have the chance to go to Kenya or Tanzania before the summer is over to test it out. Between class, homework, seeing family, and taking the occasional deep breath (watched a riveting Nigerian movie this evening #nollywood #rootingforthefirstwife), things are super busy.
I miss you all very much. If you need me, you can always get me by email or by WhatsApping my US phone number. Feel free to post any and all questions below!
Thanks for reading and I’ll be back in touch soon. Kwaherini!