A Sweet Reunion.

Yes, I’m American. Yes, my skin is white. Yes, I have (somewhat) soft curly hair. But who says I can’t be the daughter, sister, cousin, and grandchild of two vivacious families living in the vibrant village of Mukono, Uganda?…

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Joel, one of my Ugandan brothers, and I. Hanging out on Easter.

Joel, one of my Ugandan brothers, and I. Hanging out on Easter.

East African culture is beautiful for many reasons…

The captivating deep hued colors of the pure blue sky, brick red dirt, smooth dark skin, and complexly patterned cloths.

The upbeat music that permeates every moment of the day- as if keeping time for the cooking, cleaning, walking, greeting, and eating.

The uninhibited dancing, in which all participate (there is no such thing as a bad dancer).

The constant, shameless hand-holding.

The humble mentality that ‘what’s mine is yours’.  

"What's mine is yours" at its finest,

“What’s mine is yours” at its finest.

All of these things are beautiful in their own respect but, in my opinion, the most beautiful cultural aspect is the value for family. [Unlike the generally individualist American culture, East Africans tend to be collectivists, making for a higher value of family.]

The Kagolos and Wanderas show no hesitation when telling me I am part of their family. In fact, they insist that I am one of them. Though I’ve done nothing to deserve this honor, I gladly accept.

Wandera family photo-shoot.

Wandera family photo-shoot.

Kagolo family photo-shoot. Noticing a theme?...

Kagolo family photo-shoot. Noticing a theme?…(BTW, this was supposed to be a ‘funny photo’. Apparently Only two of us got the memo.)

In the U.S., if you were procreated by one or both of my parents, you are considered my brother/sister. If you are the woman who gave birth to me, you are my mom. If you are the woman who gave life to my mother, you are my grandmother.  You get the picture.

The Ranck family, genetically speaking. :-) [missing you all]

The Ranck family, genetically speaking.

In East Africa, specifically Uganda, if you visit my home, are a friend of the family, are in some distant way related to me, or participate in basically any family activity, I will never question calling you my brother, sister, mom, or uncle…you are family.

Because my Kagolo Jajas (grandparents) don’t speak a lick of English, most of my time in Mukono was spent with my brothers. We walked around town visiting friends, buying onions, eating cassava root, listening to local tunes, greeting passerby’s, and delivering fresh milk – all whilst holding hands. I am their sister, so we hold hands.

We hold hands all the time. And I love it.

The bros.

The bros.

[Understand that my Ugandan brothers have lost some of their parents to AIDs, pay their own way through university by running a CD/DVD business, live with their uncle in Entebbe and take care of livestock, play football with their friends, and wash their few shirts by hand on the daily. To any onlooker, our lives are quite possibly incomparable.]

Tea time with bros.

Tea time with bros.

When we hold hands I feel included and accepted. All of our blatantly obvious differences immediately fade away and it is just me and my Ugandan brothers, doing ‘normal’ life together.

According to the rules of genetics, as well as many societies, we are not genuine family. And all too often, we as humans allow these rules to divide us, hindering us from loving deeply and accepting one other unabashedly.

The Kagolos and I are family because we choose to be – because we, without having to vocalize it, know that sometimes love is blind. Blind to physical, social, and cultural differences.

And being blind isn’t always such a bad thing.

[For more photos from my Easter weekend in Uganda, keep scrolling!]

Jajas

Mother and Father Kagolo in their Easter best.

Kagolo's

Hanging out at the Kagolo's. Mama Kagolo has taken in countless children over the years. She is truly the village mother. Ask any boda-boda (motorcycle) driver.

Hanging out at the Kagolo’s. Mama Kagolo has taken in countless children over the years. She is truly the village mother. Ask any boda-boda (motorcycle) driver.

Andrew

My Jaja. No friendlier man have I met.

My Jaja. No friendlier man have I met.

Joel preparing the Easter chicken.

Joel preparing the Easter chicken.

HAPPY EASTER.

HAPPY EASTER.

Baller brother.

Baller brother.Brother Denis in his CD/DVD shop. He opened this one-room business to pay his way through university. Only one more year to go!Brother Denis in his CD/DVD shop. He opened this one-room business to pay his way through university. Only one more year to go!Looking out of the Kagolo home.  Looking out of the Kagolo home.That face.That face.Brother and HALF of a jackfruit. I repeat, HALF. Brother Peter and HALF of a jack fruit. I repeat, HALF.And then this happened. Oh the privileges of being an honorable guest. And then this happened. Oh the privileges of being an honorable guest.Mama Josephine. As well as being a mother of five, she is the founder and manager of an organization in Busia, her home village. She teaches women a variety of crafts and has dreams of creating job opportunities for the entire village.Mama Josephine. As well as being a mother of five, she is the founder and manager of an organization in Busia, her home village. She teaches women a variety of crafts and has dreams of creating job opportunities for the entire village.

Breakfast.

Breakfast.Spontaneous family praise and worship.

Peace!

Minah Kagolo - following in Jaja's footsteps by helping to care for extended relatives and village children.

Kagolo home.

Jaja doing what she does best,

Prepping the turkey.

Prepping the turkey.

Family portraits.

Family portraits.

peace

Jaja's and brother Joel.

Jajas and brother Joel.The infamous Kagolo mango tree.The infamous Kagolo mango tree.Ok, last Peace picture.

Tour of the Wandera's house.

Joel and his cousins (my cousins) in Entebbe.

Joel and his cousins (my cousins) in Entebbe.

 

 

 

 

2 thoughts on “A Sweet Reunion.

  1. mjacks77

    KEL! You are gettin’ GOOD with the cam-cam! Oh man these are beautiful.
    Also, “The constant, shameless hand-holding.” THAT WAS YOU EVEN BEFORE YOU MOVED! 🙂
    I love and miss you. Keep sharing.

    Reply
  2. haliecarley

    I am staying with the Wandera family now! I absolutely love them. They are the sweetest people I have ever met. I have only been here for about 2 weeks now but still we are family and I love them very much.

    Reply

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