This is a journey that every positive move i've made in life has set me up for. I'm going well into the middle of East Africa to instruct youth on how to build solid hip-hop productions, and represent the positive culture of hip-hop. There's not an ounce of struggle within this mission. It's basically heaven sent, based upon my soul's merit.
I approach every international trip I ever go on with the same level of chill - expect nothing, open your eyes to everything, never trip. Going in, my only fears were mosquitos and vaccines I had to take - both of which had the potential to throw my body off majorly. Oh yeah, and water - I had to remember I cannot drink it from the tap. Don't get caught slipping. There'd be a poopy price to pay.
I arrive to find Uganda to be a huge pot of vibes that make me remember what living life is truly about. Sienna roads, throngs of beautiful people, cows, goats and chickens walking freely on the streets with schoolgirls and mothers with swaddled babies to their bosom, preachers on the corner with bible in hand, calls to prayer booming out the masjid PA, dancehall playing everywhere…or sometimes random soundtracks like Set It Off. Boda boda motor taxis that create traffic with passengers carrying groceries, mirrors, other children. Youth. Hella youth. I learn that over 70% of Uganda is under 30 years old. I look at this place and understand it as the future as a heavy admiration enters my heart.
Every strong feeling i've ever felt about US hoods, I feel here on the streets of Kampala - except that the hood in the States is mired in a shame that I can't find in Kampala. The people here are proud and purposeful. They are beautifully making the most of every thing they have available to them, and in my understanding of self-determination in the streets, that makes them all Gs. Surprisingly Ugandans are hella soft spoken. So much so, that I thought I was getting punked on so many occasions " Come again" became a regular phrase used, but the people were so sweet, they didn't mind catering a deaf, loud, American girl. Think though, if all the people speak quietly, how great they are at hearing EVERYTHING. Even the way the wind blows.
There is a familiarity about the people, the customs, the streets and the root culture that I can draw connections to being raised in the American south. It's funny that Southern culture is downplayed in the grand scheme of the states - it is the most traditionally African in the context of US history, but I digress.
My students are the truth. Hip-hop is their basis and they are proud to rep it. They look for it to bring people together. Afrobeat music influences the sonic style. My beatmakers naturally are amazing at rhythm, duh. Rhythm controls life. Slow bpms aren't their thing. It means life is slow. Trap is a buzz word, but not a sought-after commodity. They want to make tracks people can spit to and move to that have feeling. Makes me realize our (US) need to slow the moments in music down isn't just an innovation, it's a sonic luxury - some cultures can't afford to slow the tempo. I played DJ Screw for my new Ugandan friend and he literally fell asleep. I'll always love Screw though.
There's so much more to say.
I took a boat ride on Lake Victoria on a Sunday at sunset. The lake that begins the Nile River. I'm forever in love. I can't tell you all.
Just watch and listen to the art that comes about.
Africa is not a place to fear or feel sorry for, only to love and respect with the utmost gratitude. It is, has, and always will be great.