Today, the third day of our Uganda trip was spent at Wakiso Primary School on the outskirts of Kampala. Each day, my being has been emotionally flooded with feelings of excitement and happiness simply seeing the pure smiles on these kids’ faces. Yet, I have also been torn seeing the hardships and suffering many of these kids have experienced in their past or continue to experience due to lack of simple and basic human needs.
To welcome us this morning, our FoDU team was treated with entertainment by the kids of Wakiso. The entertainment consisted of two parts. First was a traditional eastern Ugandan choir performance about the process of making bark-clothes the women wear to cover up. The powerful song was performed by over 25 kids who were perfectly synchronized switching back and forth between girls voices and boys voices, between group singing and solo singing. This performance was followed by a traditional super energetic dance performed to African drum music with a simple but awesome beat. I have travelled the world and been entertained by both kids and adults alike in performances that have been perfectly orchestrated and enthralling. But today’s entertainment stood out as being the most soulful and energetic I have ever seen. As I observed the faces, smiles and body language of these kids, it was obvious that their entire being was singing and dancing. Their hearts cried with joy as they rocked theirs bodies in rhythm to the drum music. My chest vibrated with the rhythmic beats. I sat transfixed but caught my hands and feet rocking back and forth wishing to dance in freedom but forced to act with decorum knowing I was one of the chief guests expected to act and behave as one.
I experienced an almost trance-like state as I completely connected with the children who were expressing an unbridled and unfettered joy of being one with themselves, performing to their best and being the best. Finally with one last drumbeat and with one last song chorus, it was all over 45 minutes later and I came out of my transfixion.
But that is when my philosophical juices started flowing and continued throughout the day as we delivered computer training to both Wakiso schoolteachers and students. I found myself enjoying the process of observing the excitement with which everyone focused on the possibilities that our 30 donated computers could bring to them. Between demonstrating mouse and keyboard usage, windows functionality and Internet usage, I could not help but wonder why the morning children entertainment stood out as the most amazing soulful music and dance I had experienced.
By the end of the day I was certain about my conclusions. I recognized that the kids of Uganda we have experienced thus far are some of the most pure thinly layered personalities. They have nothing to prove to anyone. They are operating from ‘ground zero’ so to speak. They have nothing to lose and everything to gain. They have only forwards to march. They have no one to act for in any particular way except maybe their teachers. They are truly able to be themselves with no layers of ego or arrogance. It is from this base that the kids performed. This base-level has given the kids real freedom to express their inner warmth, their inner spirit, and their inner nature outwardly through the beaming smiles, powerful vocal expressions and energetic body movements. Perhaps, we can all learn from these kids of Wakiso about how to set ourselves free in our own unique ways so that we can smile, sing and dance as we maneuver our way through life.