Monday, 10 April 2017

Konversations with Kids

Towards the end of 2016, around the time that I arrived back in Uganda, Disney released a film that told a story from the country that stole my heart*. The film is none other than Queen of Katwe - an inspiring tale of a young Ugandan girl who becomes an international chess sensation!

Image source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Queen_of_Katwe

Despite the fact that much of the filming was done in South Africa, and David Oyelowo butchered the accent on a number of occasions**, the film, overall, depicted a fairly accurate representation of life in Kampala for many of its residents. But, I also found it portrayed a good representation of Ugandan culture, and the beauty that this country has to offer. It offered up a good balance between leaving you with that feel good sentiment at movies conclusion, while also showing some of the hardships and realities that usually wouldn’t make the cut, without overdoing it.

A few months ago, my good friend Sweet Cheeks*** sent me a message to tell me that she and her two kids had just watched the film. At that point I still hadn’t seen it, so I couldn’t really comment on it’s accuracy, representation, etc. But in the conversation that followed she mentioned that both her kids - her daughter in particular - had started to become curious about life in Uganda. Me, being ever-so-keen to talk about Uganda to anyone who will listen, offered to have a chat with her when I came back to Canada.

And so, last week, out meeting took place. 

Sweet Cheeks and her two kids.
Photo credit: Amanda Jay
I realized the moment I opened the door to welcome the three of them in, that I had never met other of the kids. I knew a lot about them via Facebook, and they knew a bit about me through conversations with their Mom leading up to this particular evening. 

We all quickly settled in the living room, and in no time, the kids began to ask me questions. Some of them were silly - which could easily be chalked up to the amount of pressure they apparently felt to ask all of their questions in one evening, but also just the not knowing how to ask, or even what  - but, once we began to chat a bit, they began to ask some well thought out questions.  These included how I access water, what types of food I ate, and what languages are spoken. They asked about the trees I see there, and my neighbourhood. They asked me about life in Jinja versus life in Kampala, and seemed to be pretty impressed once I (eventually) managed to pull up my old apartment on Google Maps! 

After they left (which involved several unexpected hugs before they could depart!), I thought about some of the questions that they asked. It was clear that they had both given the movie some thought in context to their own lives - even if they didn’t know they had been. I thought it was really neat that two young Nova Scotians were interested in a place as far away as Uganda; not just as the setting from a movie they’d watched, but also in respect to how we are all connected despite the obvious distance. But it was also pretty amazing that a Disney film (which I wouldn’t usually associate with as being thought provoking) had compelled these to kids to ask questions. 

It’s these moments that I really appreciate about my life outside of Canada - what I can teach others about a different part of the world. I think in this day and age when our newsfeed, technology use and other sources of information are inundated with negativity, these conversations are even more necessary. It wasn’t about me trying to sway them to believe one thing or another, but about them trying to piece together the images they saw, with the questions they had, and how that can lead to an experience beyond just watching a film. 

I really enjoyed their curiosity, and I hope I’ve inspired them to have a closer look at a part of the world they may not have a lot of exposure to outside of the usual topics (slavery, geography, WorldVision commercials, etc.). But, Sweet Cheeks - the best way for them to really get a sense of it is to just bring them for a visit (just drug them for the shots!)!

-the Orange Canadian

*Or “stop emu” as autocorrect seemed to think I was tying to say...
**Pretty sure my accent is better than his... 
***A name lovingly bestowed upon her by my mother!

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