Sunday, November 9, 2008

Movie Night

One night after a late dinner last week, I was walking home through Lyantonde and passed by the local theater. Because the power in the rest of town was off, I could better hear something out-of-the-ordinary coming from inside - something about "Chicago", "Harvard" and "his wife Michelle". I hadn't even started to shift my eyes toward the building to see what I was hearing when one of the dozens of theater salesman had me by the arm and was escorting me in. "My American brother"… "you will like" , "you will like" , "Obama" , "you go" , "you go"… "give me 200." Next thing I know I'm in the theater that's usually home to bad action videos from the states (Nick Cage, Steven Seagal, etc, dubbed in Luganda at insane volumes), Nigerian soap operas, or English Premier League football matches. I never thought of setting foot in that place before that moment, due to its bad reputation as a "thieves den", and now I'm sitting with at least 50 young Ugandan males in dead silence watching an Obama documentary in English. My eyes burned from of the overwhelming smell of Waragi (Ugandan's national drink originally named "war gin" by British soldiers during WWI) which added to the surreal experience. Everyone was glued to the screen, and I can't imagine that too many others besides me could fully understand the film's narration. That's what made it so powerful. The world is waiting for this man, or at least what he represents, which to me is a renewed sense of service and personal responsibility in each other. The same sense that makes a room full of 20-something Ugandan males – already labeled as thieves by their community - sit down and try to educate themselves by watching a documentary in a language they don't speak, about a man in whom they see hope.

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