Life is a choice

It is not often that I am slapped and encouraged this much in one article. I am convinced that this is something we must all hear. It’s such truth.
Comment, share, like, reblog. Make sure this reaches the ends of the earth.

Laura uncensored

Hi.

I think, it’s about time I wrote about something that’s been on my mind for nearly two months.

I dont know why I never got around to penning my thoughts down but it was probably that the thought felt half baked and not yet worth sharing and yet I write best when I write impulsively 😂.

So here goes😂

The Life you Choose

I’d even come up with a title for it😂. The life you choose!

You know, my brain is a very interesting place😂. Have you seen that video where some guy says he thinks his talent is thinking cause he can think all day? That’s me😂.

I am/my mind is a myriad of thoughts 😂

Back to writing;

My parents have always told me, Life is a choice Laura.
And if you are a frequent reader of my sometimes extremely long statuses, you’ll know I’ve spoken about…

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Of turning to the things we know

I find myself in a state where I don’t quite understand what’s going on, have a grip on the things that matter, or have certainty of any shape or form. So I turn to a thing that I have forsaken. The one thing I am sure of. Well, one of them. The result is the following short poems (if you can call them that) I shared on my WhatsApp status. The joy I derive from writing is unreal 😂.

The first

As I fall flat on this bed that’s broken my back more than the weight of this world, I ponder upon these thoughts. I ruminate in silence.

“Some days adulting is the least of these worries😅.”

“Most days rising is the best solution of a bad bunch. Most days.”

Littered thoughts, almost in jest.

For I know tomorrow I’ll rise and I’ll punch again. I’ll rise again and go again.

For I am a prisoner of hope!

The Second

Why do I write?

Do I write?

I write?

Write.

Right.

When all the things I court turn on me

To the thing I know I return

To the verses and stanzas and lines

To the certainty of the rhymes

The cradle of a passion that’s truly mine

The Conclusion

And so I realized that writing poetry was not an actual solution to things🤣.
I never did think it was.
I never quite understood how people wrote for emotional reasons.
I wrote out of burden.
Out of spite for the words that swam around my mind.
Perhaps it’s caught up with me.
It matters not.
For writing poetry is still no actual solution to things🤣.

Not the ones I face.

The Aftermath

And now

We deal with life

As life must be dealt with

Head on

The Response

The real tragedy is if you haven’t been born again yet.

I refuse to write anything with a tragic ending.

But to what end would a life be lived if it ends with the loss of breath.

To what end when there is more. When there is eternity.

Like I said, tragedy never sees the end of anything I write. Would you like to receive Christ today??

What Shall I Name This Post?

In a brief stint of adoration and obsession with the British star, Amy Winehouse, I listened to every one of her songs that I could get my hands on but my absolute favorite was “Valerie”. Word for word, I’d sing along grooving in enjoyment. Today I found out that it was only a cover of “Valerie” by the Zutons, a British band. Also, she was only featured on the track (at least I knew that). Nonetheless, that cover went on to do really well on the music charts. I mean, thousands of miles away I knew so big deal.

It really got me thinking. As good as the Zutons are (they did write the song), the truth is the song didn’t do as well as it did when Winehouse got on it. One might argue that before it did as well as it eventually did, the song had likely garnered success and I daresay the Zutons were okay and happy with it. Then Mark Ronson gets Amy Winehouse on it and it blows. To a completely different level. Immediately it clicked. That’s what it’s like when we let God in. Another level. One we didn’t even know was there.

For most people our lives are quite normal. We do what we need to do. We want to have some degree of sanity and succeed in what we do and it’s all good. I’ve debated deleting those last three sentences because that is all I have craved for the last few months 😂. But I know this for sure. From experience. When you let God in. When you let Jesus in. When you give him your life, just like that lovely song, next level. That’s where it goes. Not just on the physical level. That’s a bi-product. On the spiritual level. I’ve seen both sides of the music charts and I guarantee you the one with Him in it, constantly, is better.

That last paragraph sounds imperfect to my inner writerman but there’s no mistaking the fact that you were meant to receive this message. Here’s just a trail:

I am approaching the end of work. It’s a drag. I decide to read a blogpost I saw in the morning (Samali’s brilliant post). I get there and I feel the urge to write. So I open my wordpress after months of inactivity (forget that I’ve only written once this year) and the first thing I see is that I have been followed by someone named Valery Nangula who has a lovely blog (Tap to check out Valery’s blog). Then I remember my ex-favorite Winehouse song. So I google it. I find out it wasn’t her song to begin with. Here we are now. A roughly written piece with no holds barred and no real title.

My point in all these rusty rumblings is that Jesus takes your life from PAM Awards contender to guaranteed Grammy winner every year for the same song😂. It all begins with you accepting and taking Him in. Quite simply. Romans 10:9 – If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that he was raised by God from the dead, you will be saved. Saved from what, you ask? Saved from ourselves. From the sin we are factory-designed to be a part of. From a life that goes from what it is now to nothingness when you pass to a life that has a purpose on earth and goes to heavenly bliss when you pass (quite literally).

Like I’ve already mentioned, it’s quite easy. You utter with your mouth that He is Lord and believe in your heart the He was raised to save you and just like that you will be saved. But that’s not all. Join a Bible believing church and start, like a child, learning how to walk daily in this new-found life. Out of all the things I’ve posted on here, this is hands-down the most important.

Don’t leave your life to the Zutons. Allow the Amy upgrade today. 🤗🤗.

Seeking Refuge In Hope

I spend a lot of my time studying football and footballers and how they come to be. I watch documentaries, read biographies and pore for hours on YouTube trying to understand why and how footballers, clubs and all things around football come to be. It’s a real fascination. I’m not satisfied with simply watching the game and following a team. I am deeply engaged.

Last year, I traveled to a refugee camp in Northern Uganda and met a number of refugees. My translator was an 11 year old South Sudanese boy. To be honest, his translation skills weren’t great but his confidence was admirable so I stuck with him. After a long day of interviewing dozens of refugees, I’d spoken in at least 5 different languages and even my translator was visibly tired. When all was said and done, I paid him the agreed amount and figured I should probably have a chat about life with him. It was a lot better than sitting bored in wait for the driver. So I gathered him and 3 of his friends for a chat. And what a chat it was.

This child had seen war, he’d seen his family get torn and scattered off to 3 different countries. He had no idea when he’d see them again. They lived in a camp where the odds are ridiculously against anyone growing up there. You’re almost guaranteed a wasted life. Dependent on insufficient rations from donors for food, stuck in an endless pursuit of survival with little hope to ever thrive. But he had hope. Him a little more than the other 3 (who were younger and had larger families on the camp and relatives in Australia, USA and Kenya)

A whole half hour into the conversation, the other 3 started to lose interest so I turned to my translator and asked him what he intended to do with the money, he quickly and excitedly responded, “I’m going to buy an Arsenal jersey.”
Baffled, I began to speak to him about saving and using money well. In less than a minute I realized he wasn’t going to barge so I began to question him about it and that’s when it struck me. Three things kept this boy alive. First, the Jesus his mother had taught him about. Secondly, the opportunity school gave him to become a doctor and thirdly, football. These three things lit the fire in his eyes. He came alive when he spoke about them. He had such hope!

Back to my love for digging deep into football matters. I recently chanced upon the life story of, in my opinion, the most exciting Left Back in football today. Alphonso Davies. Born to Liberian parents who fled their country due to civil war (you should read about the war in Liberia. Very traumatic ), Alphonso came to life in a refugee camp in Ghana. Growing up he played football with the other kids in the camp until his parents immigrated to Canada. Fast forward, he went on to join the soccer league in America becoming the second youngest player to play in it. Lightning quick, with an eccentric yet humble character, it was only a matter of time before Alphonso was snatched up by one of the world’s best and most successful football teams. Bayern Munich. With the Germans, he’s bound to win everything. He’s already won the domestic league and the continental championship. In both he contributed immensely and has caught the hearts of many a fan.

Now for the connection. You probably know what I’m going to say. But this morning, I remembered the 11 year old South Sudanese boy who just wanted some money to fuel his hope. But instead of remember him in sadness, I couldn’t help but smile in hope. If Alphonso could do it, why couldn’t he.

As the driver pulled over and signaled for me to hop in, all I could see was 4 boys that were going to buy themselves jerseys they’ve always wanted to own. 4 boys who, if they attempted to follow my (sage) advice, would respect the girls and women they meet, study hard at school, try to enjoy life, read their Bibles and stay hopeful always. I saw 4 delighted children. But my translator stood out among them. There was something about him.

This morning nearly a year later, however, I am convinced beyond reasonable doubt that that little boy will one day be a pro footballer, or a doctor or someone that blows away the odds. Perhaps he might turn out like me, hungry for knowledge. But how do I know, you ask? Hope! He has hope! Where there is hope, there is always a way.

Best Of The Year 2019

🤗🤗🤗My people.

This was meant to be a 25 day challenge but as experience has shown, I’m horrible at those. I mean, look at the gratitude challenge. I stopped on Day 3. Day 3! To be fair I completed the challenge in different places like my Whatsapp status and one of my many notebooks. So instead of a fully blown out challenge (I really just wanted to say fully blown out😂) I’m going to make 2 or 3 separate lists with my #BOTY2019🤗. Sindio? Whatever Sindio means😂

This was the original list. I’ll pick out a few of them. Let’s go!

1. Movie

Shaft takes it for me. That’s because I really can’t think of many other 2019 movies I’ve watched. Secret Life Of Pets 2 was nice as well. Avengers did not live up to the hype. I can’t think of any other movies (I haven’t seen The Irishman yet though). I guess the equal opportunity ass-whooper takes it. Let me know in the comments which was your MOTY, will you?

2. TV Show Season

I’m big on African content lately. I particularly like My Flatmates but I’m only on season 1 from a few years back so that doesn’t count.

But if I’m being honest, Blackish Season 6 takes it for me. The Johnson family never disappoints. Again, let me know in the comments what you think. I have a feeling you’re in a better position to give a right answer.

3. Fiction book

Is Jennifer Makumbi’s When Manchester Happened a 2019 book? If it is, then it’s my pick😊. I haven’t even read all the stories in it(because I love to drag books I like😂) but it’s taking this spot for me😊. What’s yours?

4. Non fiction book

The lantern meet of Poets released their anthology Streetlights At Noon Eclipse this year and boy is it good. I’m not entirely sure it falls in this category but IMO, you should get it before year end.

5. Song

This year has been one of those where I revisited the past so a lot of the music I listened to was from the past. But if push comes to shove, these three are it for me.

Éko – Coldplay

Another in the fire – Hillsong

Chikibombe – Levixone

Parte after Parte is a close fourth mostly because it’s everywhere really but I’ll pass.

I bet you’ve got better taste than me so let me know in the comments.

Album Art for Coldplay’s Everyday Life album on which Éko is

6. Album

People – Hillsong United without a doubt.

I considered Coldplay’s two part album Everyday Life which is a beautiful beautiful album but People is a life giving album. People underlines how worship and love bring us together as people in the world and it comes from a place of a faith with questions. The kind of faith we are familiar with. Each individual song is quality, the message crisp and clear, the devotion undeniable. They’re great worship songs. It’s a wonderful album. Not my favorite Hillsong album of all time (Let There Be Light😭 made me cry) but definitely album of the year on my end. How about on your end?

Album Art for Hillsong United’s People album

7. Experience

For me it’s been such a rollercoaster year. I performed at some terrific shows😎, I taught poetry😊, I almost failed at school😅, I had a period of sleepless nights in which I was slowly sinking into a sea of anxiety😔 (thank God those ended), took over a Missional Community at church👯 (we started a Community Book Club 📖 for less privileged kids around Bugolobi – hit me up if you know any), I had my heart broken💔, broke a heart😔 (was that this year🤔), my sister got married, I finally graduated from University 🎓 🎓, got a wonderful job 🕴 where I’m having visible impact on people🤗 and the firm heavily invests time and money in our learning, I completed a 9 month leadership program under Global Leadership Summit😎, even attended the Summit thanks to Aunt Beat Bisangwa (she wrote a book this year that you have to read) and head of GLS Uganda, Betty Rutare.

Yeah. We rocked it! Suit by Oga UG

Y’all should come for Dialogue next year (it’s this fantastic space where young people and the older generation get to have conversations around life)

Those are just the big moments. Truth be told I’ve had a year I can’t complain about. Despite all the loss and pain that’s animated the year, there’s been some huge wins. Some of those, like work, reduced the amount of time I have to blog but that’s also served to test my resolve to write. I’m here, am I not?

With that I come to the end of a disorganised post😂 that I am glad you have endured to this point🤗.

Let me know – let us all know – what your #BOTY2019. See you. Kwaheri.

To be continued…

Day 3: What food are you most grateful for? (30 Day gratitude challenge)

I am grateful for all food except onions 😒.

Food is a gift straight from above. I learnt that the hard way.

When I was 19, I spent a few hours in jail for a crime I have never been made aware of. One of those hours happened to be the jail lunch hour😅. Of course I refused to eat the food. It looked horrible. Absolutely terrible, I tell you. Until some inmate assured me “You only have one meal a day. If you don’t eat now, you’ll have to wait till the same time tomorrow.😒”

The thought of not having a meal for close to two days was not one I was willing to have. So I joined the fight for that bizarre looking food. It tasted worse than it looked😂 but I pushed on till the plate was near empty. I have had very few worse experiences.

That day taught me to be grateful to even have food on the table.

So today I’m grateful for all kinds of food. All except onions😒.

Day 2: What technology are you most grateful for? (30 Days of gratitude)

I honestly thought this would be the easiest day of the challenge 😅. Instead I’m stuck thinking long and deep about it with no visible end to the matter. So I’ll just pick one piece of technology and go with that.

I’m grateful for the abacus.

That’s where it all began. Before the first computers (Remember EDIAC and ENIAC?😂). Before Napier’s Bones and those computers that were the size of a bungalow. Before the PC. Before the telephone. Before the merger between telephones and computers. Before the smartphone.

Before all of that was the abacus. That’s where it all began and I am grateful for the Chinese (I think) that came up with it😊.

I guess my gratitude is automatically transferred to all the children of the abacus😂.

What are you grateful for today?

Day 1: What are you most grateful for today? (30 Days of Gratitude Challenge)

On some days gratitude comes easy. Things are looking up and you’d have to be a fool not to be thankful for everything. But on some days, the very idea of gratitude feels like an insult. Being thankful is defiance of the highest order.

Today I’m thankful for gratitude itself.

I’m thankful for it’s ability to shift our focus from the cloud to the silver lining. From all that’s going wrong to the good that easily goes unnoticed.

I’m thankful for how gratitude persists and insists that no matter what, it is well.

I’m thankful for how gratitude, like a soothing balm, offers some form of relief in our darkest moments.

On days like this when eking out a list of things we are thankful for is such a tall order, we can’t be more thankful for gratitude itself.

What are you thankful for today?

Day 3 – The 11th Pan-African Literacy For All Conference

Parting is such sweet sorrow.

– Shakespeare

That popular saying perfectly describes the general feeling at the end of the successful event. 3days of intense, intentional deliberation came to an end today and the organizing team in Kampala can now heave a huge sigh of relief and go to bed satisfied.

The tone for this final day was set by a keynote address by CODE board member, Dr. Wendy Saul whose immense experience in education made her the perfect candidate to deliver the final keynote address of the conference.

In her address, she emphasized how all that had been learnt in the previous two days would go to waste if not contextualized by the delegates to fit their unique contexts. She echoed the fact that what works in the USA may not work in Abuja, and what works in Sudan may not apply in Zambia.

To achieve equity, the main goal of the conference, contextualizing all the information acquired here will have to be done to ensure that everyone has a chance at benefiting adequately from it.

With that said, it was back to business in the parallel sessions.

A wealth of information was shared in the parallel sessions I attended and more. Some of this came from education consultant, Audrey Dralega who spoke on how talk helps babies comprehend better. Yes! Talking to little children helps to expand their vocabulary and comprehension.

She shared a story about her father which she used to illustrate just how important it is for parents to be fully present in their children’s lives especially at an early stage.

Things like reading with and to them, giving them choices to make etc are paramount.

Her presentation was followed by a presentation by Zimbabwean Emely Muguwe from Midlands State University on Imparting Literacy Skills to Early Childhood Education Learners in Zimbabwean Rural Settings: Towards Achieving Educational Equity (PAPER)

In the next set of parallel sessions, I attended a session on The Role of ICT which had presentations by Dr. Thomas DeVere Wolsey of American University of Cairo, the youthful and intelligent Nimrod Muhanguzi from RTI (research done with Prossy Nannyombi) and Paula Saine of Miami University, Oxford, Ohio.

Dr. Wolsey spoke on Graphic Organizers for Reading Comprehension in the Second Language Classroom and made a case for students to be allowed and encouraged to make their own graphic organizers. He also presented 5 different organizers:

1. Text structure

2. Vocabulary Development

3. Summarization

4. Synthesis

5. Augmentation

Nimrod Muhanguzi presented a research on the use of tablets by teacher coaches to improve their ability to support teachers for in-service training. He made a case for the inadequacy of the single pre-service training of teachers when dealing with a changing teaching environment.

The tablets are incorporated with useful tools developed by RTI International such as the android app Papaya.

His engaging, youthful style kept the room glued to his presentation.

Paula Saine of Miami University, Ohio made a presentation on Building Cross-cultural Competence in Classrooms with Literacy and Digital Technology (PAPER) in which she spoke of how the use of digital technology was used to aid a white upper-class American teacher be able to teach students from different cultural backgrounds than hers efficiently. The exercise was a success with the teacher’s class that included African children.

The final parallel session I attended featured a presentation by Joachim Bibuli of Save The Children Uganda of the paper Small Catch but Big Impact (Muhuruzi, Mary; Bibuli, Joachim)

The Closing Ceremony

A fitting close was accorded to the conference which was noted as a huge success by a representative of CODE, the organizing committee and the outgoing International Development Committee – Africa chairperson Ms. Margaret Muthiga.

Dr. Charles Lusambu represented the chief guest Hon. Rosemary Seninde, State Minister for Primary Education, and thanked the organizers, sponsors, the delegates and all involved for making the conference a success. The minister’s remarks, which he read, resounded the president and government’s support for literacy in the country.

The event ended on a high note with the declaration of Annette Mpuga, chairperson of the Reading Association of Uganda – the organizers, as the next Chairperson of the International Development Committee – Africa in the place of Ms Margaret Muthiga.

A huge win for Uganda such as this is a step in the right direction and if the success of this conference is anything to go by, Annette Mpuga will lead well.

All in all, the conference was a huge success.

The next PALFA Conference will be held in Zambia.

Over to you Zambia🖐

PS: follow the hashtag #PALFA2019Kampala on twitter to catch all you may have missed over the 3 days.