Wedding Day Memories

A stride with friends at The Speke Resort, Munyonyo on 17 December 2005.

A stride with friends at The Speke Resort, Munyonyo on 17 December 2005.

It is now nine years down the road since Gertrude and I wedded in December of 2005 and sure the several stings of the honeybees in our lives have not taken away the sweetness of the honey. You might wonder what that means? Well, I was told on my wedding day to call my wife honey but also to remember that honey comes from bees and they sting. Our dear son Philemon has been keen to remind me of that statement from our wedding MC several times over, after he had asked me last year why I call his mother honey.

Trudy n Philemon.

Trudy n Philemon.

Lately, though, he has tossed another simple question to which I gave a simple answer that nevertheless led to a series of questions: “Why were we not at your wedding daddy? Simple answer; you were not yet born.” Why were we not born?, because we were not married”. Another question comes rolling, “Daddy, did mom choose you or you chose her? Answer: “We chose each other.” Not so satisfied. Sometimes, I am tempted to think that he feels that he missed a moment of joy that he should have shared with us, had he been around.

I wonder what he would ask today if I had the chance of being home with the family for our wedding anniversary? I had promised to be home by this Wednesday but like in every year since we married, save one, I am far away from home and from my beloved wife. And like nearly every Christmas time I am not well – just recovering from a serious viral infection that put me down for several days in the past fortnight. Like, December 2005, though, this December seems to be hot and dry unlike the past eight Christmas holidays which have been quite wet.

Emitono Philemon Iputo, always curious.

Emitono Philemon Iputo, always curious.

I wonder if he might remember something from the wedding video, other than saying, ” Daddy, you carried mom that day; can you carry her again today? Or might remind us from one of his favorite songs, “Restore by Chris August”, about keeping Jesus in the middle of our marriage so that the neighbors will have nothing to listen to. That was the MC’s advise to us on our wedding day: He said that in the first year of marriage the wife talks and the husband listens, in the second year the husband talks and the wife listens. And in the third year, they both talk and the neighbors listen, but if keep Jesus in the middle of your marriage, the neighbors will have nothing to listen to.

Mercy n Trudy share a moment of joy.

Mercy n Trudy share a moment of joy.

There is so much to rejoice about, though. Most of all is the fact that we are still one and God has blessed us with lovely children who are like the roses of our life and God has given us the grace to live with the thorns and stings of our lives – for he says we ought to accept both good and evil that he permits in our lives and he also creates both the darkness and the light (Ref. the book of Jeremiah). Note paraphrase is mine.

He has also blessed us with wonderful friends and a humble place that we call home where we can escape from the hustle and bustle of every day life to reflect, fellowship and recover for the next leg of this journey that we call life.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you all.

May you have peace and blossom in 2015

May you have peace and blossom in 2015

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A Quiet December 15 in Juba

The same sun shines up on and warms us all, and the same God created us all in his image that we might shine with acts of righteousness to his glory but we have created war instead, It started with Abel and Cain but Christ came at Christmas to point us back home to God. And it is possible to make a change; it starts with you.

The same sun shines up on and warms us all, and the same God created us all in his image that we might shine with acts of righteousness to his glory but we have created war instead, It started with Abel and Cain but Christ came at Christmas to point us back home to God. And it is possible to make a change; it starts with you.

For some of us who were in Juba about this time last year when all eyes, hearts and minds were set on going home for the Christmas holiday come the week that fell on December 15th 2013, we approached this date this time around with a lot of trepidation, fearing a repeat of some kind of what happened in Juba on that date.

Thank God, though, that December 15 has come and gone without incident, at least here in Juba. We have had our fair share of the dust, heat and sound of generators and mosquitos at night – so much better than the “Carol of the guns” which rocked that fateful Sunday night last year.

It is my hope and prayer that the residents of Juba and the people of South Sudan will have a peaceful Christmas holiday despite all the odds which they are faced with.

God bless South Sudan and for the sake of the elect who worship his holy name may He bring lasting peace to this nation.

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Reflections in Juba – “Good Neighbors.”

This is what war brings instead of development. This picture is from back home in Uganda from a previously war affected area.

This is what war brings instead of development. This picture is from back home in Uganda from a previously war affected area.

Today I dared have a long walk from Juba town center back to office through a route I often trod before the events of 15th December 2013 and before a group of “locals” sat me down in the bush while on an evening jog in the neighborhood of our Juba office.

It is obviously more than a half-year since I walked past this once bustling neighborhood in which this afternoon I saw a signpost I had never seen before by the roadside that read, “Good Neighbors Head Office.” As I walked along the road I was struck by the absence of any form of human activity or the music that used to come from the many shacks scattered along the road, let alone the absence of people and the many abandoned homes with bushes growing in the once bare ground compounds.

I wondered where all the people had gone and what had happened to the various metal & wood workshops and the brick-making sites in this area? The haphazard electric cables which once criss-cross the road from one end to another from this generator or another where nowhere to be seen. An eerie feeling came over me as I trod along and I even became afraid that I might have made a grave mistake in taking this route which brought the unpleasant memory of that evening near Korok Guest House.

My situation was not helped when just ahead of me I saw several soldiers lying down on mattresses in an unfinished building that obviously before the war was meant to be a warehouse or factory building. Thank God, I went past this huge building without anybody stopping and I quickly changed course to a neighborhood that seemed to have more life by virtue one of the few institutions which seems to have been less affected by the December 15 crisis – a beer factory.

If I have never believed or got a glimpse of the effects of the civil war which South Sudan got itself into by the fallout between the senior leaders of the ruling SPLM party, there was no doubt that I saw it first hand this afternoon.

Somehow, I have been skeptical of the numbers of the internally displaced people, especially those who fled to the UN camps in Juba. But if this neighborhood is representative of the many once sprawling neighborhoods and slums, then there are really thousands of internally displaced people sheltering in the UN camps in Juba.

With this kind of situation, I wonder what some of my colleagues, some of whom have fled the country make of the jokes they used to have at lunch time in the dining hut about an imminent civil war. They used to say that they had fought the Arabs but they are yet to fight among themselves and being one who had seen effects of years strife back home in Uganda, I used to tell them that, “You guys are talking as if war is just like some football match where the loser walks home quietly or worse still as if you never lived in refugee camps”. Well, this year’s independence anniversary was like no other at our office. I remember being alone with my laptop at the dining room which in the past two anniversaries would be full of life – eating, drinking and loud arguments by our journalists.

Surely, like that song which is often heard on Juba airwaves says, “There is no good war and neither is there any bad peace.”

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Growing Up Together

Son, like my uncle told me years ago,stay curious and avaricious for knowledge and if you should pause for a rest, take a nap but do not stay sleepy.

Son, like my uncle told me years ago,stay curious and avaricious for knowledge and if you should pause for a rest, take a nap but do not stay sleepy.

My son Emitono turns six on 24th July this year and it seems with every day that passes he gets to ask us (mom and dad) more and more questions besides reminding us that he will be six this July. He has already asked for what gift he would like for his birthday come 24th – an iPad straight from America. I wonder what he intends to do with but sure he will have a lot more uses than I have with my smart phone which he uses better than I can,

Besides the iPad, Emitono has also asked us to have his birthday party at school where he can share the joy of that day with his classmates and friends. I am afraid, he might not get the iPad this month since I have not yet ordered for one but he will at least celebrate with his friends and classmates.

Like I said earlier that the list of questions from Emitono is growing by the day as his birthday draws closer, his mom emailed this afternoon to say that he asked why she married me. I wondered what is at the back of his mind like when he asked me who gave me my current job and I answered it was my boss, he said that he did not like my job because it takes me away from home. Well, the mom says that she said that she married me because I asked her to. And he also asked where she was living before she married me and she said that she was living with her parents.

That is not the first time a similar question has come up from Emitono. Back at Easter, he asked her when we were visiting my in laws who took mom away from their home and she had told him that dad did so. Earlier on that he had asked my uncle who took away his grandma (my mom) from their home and why> he also asked how my uncle had a different mother from my mom. That was quite a tough question my uncle because Emitono wondered how a brother and sister could have two different moms? The issue at stake was nothing more than the fact that our grandpa was polygamous and the young man is yet to know that some men marry more than one woman. For certain the question why some men marry more than one woman is on the way.

Not very long ago I was knocked on the knee by a boda-boda (motorbike taxi) and when I narrated to Emitono what had happened to me, he not only asked if I had reported the case to police but also if the accident was potentially fatal? He went on to ask if his mom would have got them another father had boda-boda killed me? I told him that I would not know if their mom would get them another father because in my dead state I would neither know nor influence his mother’s decisions.

We went together to collect milk last week and Emitono asked the doctor from whom we buy the milk how his cows make the milk and he was so dissatisfied with the doctors answer that the cows makes the milk in its body, that he kept on asking how does it do it until I chipped in with some plausible explanations.
Homework time last week was equally tough for me, for Emitono disagreed with me over several answers and methods of work which I gave to question and requests which he made – he said several times that I was either wrong or confused.

I am afraid that come 24th July, besides inviting me to school, he might also ask me to give a speech apart from blessing the cake. Unfortunately, I will not be in Entebbe, for I will be more than 700 km away from home in the capital of South Sudan doing the job he does not like.

While our son has been growing up and asking may questions, so are we – at least I am asking myself more questions each day more than ever before and I just seem not to have enough time for all that I want to do before the Lord can call me home. I am also between two generation – my father’s and my son’s and I have to try to be home with my ailing parents and I also have to be home with our children besides being at home with my own generation.

Son you were made to thrive, please ride on and do not look back, for you will be an over-comer.

Son you were made to thrive, please ride on and do not look back, for you will be an over-comer.

Well, if I were to give a speech for my son, I would punctuated it with three quotes – one from a movie, the second from a book and the other from a song and this is what it would be: Son, when you grow up and life throws up its waves into your face, please roll with the blows and do ask for who moved your cheese, for you were made for so much more than just survival – you were made to thrive. God bless.

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Reflections in Juba – How the powerful and mighty fall

When I am indoors back home in Tororo, I sometimes look at the outside through this dining area window and reflect like I do here in Juba

When I am indoors back home in Tororo, I sometimes look at the outside through this dining area window and reflect like I do here in Juba

Like it usually happens, my travels to Juba to do the work of Sudan Advocacy for Development, my time away from family and the many responsibilities and attractions or distractions from home, offer me a golden opportunity (as they say silence is golden) to look through the window of life into the our world and also the world within me.

The rain that has been bucketing down since morning has finally subsided leaving a bleak atmosphere over the city and it all quiet here at the office/home except for the sound of the diesel generator. As I turn to the Tv the news of the expected peace between South Sudan’s warring sides comes on. I also turn to our local channels back home in Uganda and they are full of politics pointing to the forthcoming general elections in 2016. The intrigues and the endless promises to the people fill the air. From Syria, Iraq, Pakistan, Ukrain, Central Africa Republic, Egypt, Lybia, Nigeria and  even the US come stories of power struggle and death.

I cannot help but wonder while I remember men like Pinochet, Sadam Hussein, Amin Dada, Col Gadafi, Hitler, Mobutu who was buried in a common cemetery in Morocco, Stalin, Jonas Savimbi, Nebuchadnezzar; the list is endless, how far men will go to gain wealth, power and fame and what finally they do with it when their sunset finally comes?

The righteous Biblical man Job had this to say about man in chapter 14 of the Old Testament book of Job
Chapter 14:

The Mogerts
1. “Man, who is born of a woman, is of few days, and full of trouble.
2. He comes forth like a flower, and is cut down. He also flees like a shadow, and doesn’t continue.
3. Do you open your eyes on such a one, and bring me into judgment with you?
4. Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? Not one.
5. Seeing his days are determined, the number of his months is with you, and you have appointed his bounds that he can’t pass;
6. Look away from him, that he may rest, until he shall accomplish, as a hireling, his day.
7. “For there is hope for a tree, If it is cut down, that it will sprout again, that the tender branch of it will not cease.
8. Though its root grows old in the earth, and its stock dies in the ground,
9. yet through the scent of water it will bud, and put forth boughs like a plant.
10. But man dies, and is laid low. Yes, man gives up the spirit, and where is he?
11. As the waters fail from the sea, and the river wastes and dries up,
12. so man lies down and doesn’t rise. Until the heavens are no more, they shall not awake, nor be roused out of their sleep.
13. “Oh that you would hide me in Sheol, that you would keep me secret, until your wrath is past, that you would appoint me a set time, and remember me!
14. If a man dies, shall he live again? All the days of my warfare would I wait, until my release should come.
15. You would call, and I would answer you. You would have a desire to the work of your hands.
16. But now you number my steps. Don’t you watch over my sin?
17. My disobedience is sealed up in a bag. You fasten up my iniquity.
18. “But the mountain falling comes to nothing. The rock is removed out of its place;
19. The waters wear the stones. The torrents of it wash away the dust of the earth. So you destroy the hope of man.
20. You forever prevail against him, and he departs. You change his face, and send him away.
21. His sons come to honor, and he doesn’t know it. They are brought low, but he doesn’t perceive it of them.
22. But his flesh on him has pain, and his soul within him mourns.”

 

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Reflections in Juba – Rain and more rain

Afternoon rain back home in Tororo,, Uganda. It has been raining here in Juba like no other time I have ever experienced here.

Afternoon rain back home in Tororo,, Uganda. It has been raining here in Juba like no other time I have ever experienced here.

It has been drip-drip here in Juba since day break and it is past 1 pm now and there is not a single sign that the rain is about to stop. I was in town for the newspaper distribution and surprisingly the vendors who were not to be seen any where yesterday when it was dry, turned in droves, albeit wet from the rain. I just wonder how much they will be able to sell in this very wet weather.

Unlike the newspaper vendors who braved the rain to work, non of my colleagues from the editorial department has shown up at the office. One can hope that they are out there “covering the rain.” I had the unfortunate opportunity this morning of giving sanctuary from the rain some vendors of Nigerian origin who engaged in all kinds of obscenities in the van to the pleasure of their South Sudanese counterparts who laughed and laughed when I just wished the guys would get out of the van.

I have never seen so much rain in Juba and it is pretty cold too. I have turned off the air-conditioning but there is hardly any difference. When we arrived here on Saturday afternoon, I was sweating even while I bathe because of the heat which anyway I have become accustomed to in Juba. Now, with this very wet and mostly filthy conditions in Juba, I wonder what the conditions inside the camps of the displaced people at UNMISS bases might be like. I just hope, it will not worse the cholera epidemic which so far seemed to have been contained.

Unlike what the Nigerian newspaper vendors were wishing to be doing at home in such weather, back in my village, the hamlets would be smoking with maize roasting, for this is the main maize season The herds boys, though, would wish there were no cattle, for surely this kind of rain used to be my worst nightmare as a young herds boy back yonder.

I am told that it is raining all the way to Kampala which gives me a bit of worry about the road back along the Juba/Kampala highway which normally gets flooded near the border this time of the year. I hope we shall not have to go winding through Yei and Arua like last year when there were floods near Nimule. The colleagues in Kampala have nothing to worry about today with or without rain, for it is a public holiday over there – the so called Heroes Day. Meantime, I just have to enjoy the new Juba weather as we hope for something new from Addis between Salvar Kiir and Riek Machar.

Here is something to reflect on:

One half of life is luck; the other half is discipline – and that’s the important half, for without discipline you would not know what to do with luck.

~Carl Zuckmeyer

 

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Reflections in Juba

My wife Trudy, one of those people with whom my thoughts were with today.

My wife Trudy, one of those people with whom my thoughts were with today.

It has been a quiet Sunday for me here in Juba. I was out early morning for the distribution of the New Nation newspaper as it turns out, hardly any vendors who did get their supply of the current edition of the paper showed up at the distribution point at the CBD. South Sudan is never short of surprises for me and each time I am here presents another learning opportunity. South Sudan’s third independence anniversary is almost here and I had better remember some lessons learned in the past two anniversaries about work during public holidays, rainy days and weekends.

Trudy, Linda and Shadrach on a visitation day some years back at King's College, Budo

Trudy, Linda and Shadrach on a visitation day some years back at King’s College, Budo. Photos, like good music have a certain effect on my life.

Well back the in office home it has been quiet time for the three of us who happen to be around today; the driver, the security guard and me, each minding their own business.

Philemon and Mercy out and about recently in Entebbe. Philemon called today and said that I am bad mannered for not being certain when I would be back home.

Philemon and Mercy out and about recently in Entebbe. Philemon called today and said that I am bad mannered for not being certain when I would be back home. Pictures of my kids usually have a tendency of lightning up my heart and a day just does not seem to pass without me taking a look.

I have kept away from my room and watched TV and taken coffee for the greater part of the day concentrating on Christian channels and NatGeo Wild and as a dog lover, I really enjoyed “Caesar to the rescue”, learning new skills on dog handling and dog behavior. Obliviously, as I watched TV and sipped coffee, my mind occasionally wandered far and wide, sometime back in time and place. Thank God in it all, I have not been anxiously – a good sign that I have been able for at least a while to tame the workaholic spirit within me. I also calmly took several telephone calls, both local and international while I watched TV.

The sights and sounds of home, one of the things I was reflecting on while I perused pics from the HOUZZ website on home design. Like President Museveni one time said that his cows are not just cows but also his friends, these geese are my friends too.

The sights and sounds of home, one of the things I was reflecting on while I perused pics from the HOUZZ website on home design. Like President Museveni one time said that his cows are not just cows but also his friends, these geese are my friends too.

I am now back into my room doing what I had originally planned for the day – listening to gospel music on internet radio (Klvv’s My Praise Fm)on my bed. And I am obviously typing this blog entry even though I did plan to do so. I am really glad that I am able to write a bit, for my mind was a little cloudy and my heart kind of heavy when I left home for Juba on Friday evening.

The fish pond in the middle of our compound back home that I was working on its expansion and beautification just before I left for Juba

The fish pond in the middle of our compound back home that I was working on its expansion and beautification just before I left for Juba

This has been a and better day for me than yesterday. I have also been able to browse photos and videos shot by myself in my laptop’s photo gallery with great elation and some moments were quite humbling. I leave the Lord to take care of the things done and words which I can neither undo nor retrieve – His Grace Finds me, so said the song by Matt Redman a moment ago.

Good Night and great week.

Perhaps the most valuable result of all education is the ability to make yourself do the thing you have to do, when it ought to be done, whether you like it or not; it is the first lesson that ought to be learned; and however early a man’s training begins, it is probably the last lesson that he learns thoroughly.

~Thomas H. Huxley

 

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