“Mere” Christianity

I am 23 years old. I live in the United Kingdom a nation that tries desperately to hold on to its “Christian” title, yet is secular in practice. And if I sound dismissive in saying that then I apologise because I do feel extremely privileged to live in a country where “freedom of religious expression” is more than a theoretical concept. That being said, religion as a whole still makes me deeply uncomfortable.

I was brought up in a Christian/Muslim household. Christianity being the faith of my mother and Islam being that of my father. When my father left he took the Islamic influence with him for the most part. However what stayed with me was this hesitancy as declaring myself as one thing.

Correct me if I am wrong, but I often feel that many people call themselves “insert religion here” not necessarily because it’s what they believe, but because it forms part of a greater mass cultural identity. Everyone around you is “inset religion here”, your traditions stem around “insert religion here”, you are a product of “insert religion here”, ergo you are a follower of “insert religion here”. For me this religion is Christianity. So what is the dilemma, because many people are comfortable sitting in this space.

I don’t want to say I am a Christian, if It is not what I truly believe. And after years of researching I am going to put my hands up and say that yeah you know what I believe that Jesus Christ is the son of God and that he died for my sins and that he was resurrected 3 days later – a bold claim I know. But then after that, I don’t know what to do.

I try to be the good little Christian, attending services, praying, reading the bible, but I want more. Sometimes Christianity feels like a straightjacket. What worsens matters is that in our collective attempt to appear like the perfect Christian we can often be reticent in sharing the ways we struggle with our faith.

And so the cycle begins. Tries to be a good Christian following all the rules – slips up for whatever reason and takes a break. Enjoys the break but begins to feel that life has lost a direction and purpose then returns to being a good Christian. I’ve been doing this for the past 5 years, not to sure how I feel about doing it for the rest of my life.20180201_022509.jpg

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23 Things I Learnt at 23

Here we go:

1. Friendships end. Just because you were childhood best friends doesn’t mean that you’ll make it that far as adults. As we age, our values change. True, the love might always be there, but if the values are no longer aligned how can the friendship remain?
2. To sympathise with my parents. It’s very easy to pick apart the performance of our parents in raising us, especially as teenagers. However there is something very humbling in approaching the ages they were when they had me and my siblings. People don’t just have children after resolving all their emotional trauma instead these still affect them when raising children. If I am so fortunate to have kids, I will do the same.
3. I am blessed to have the siblings that I have. Not only are they family but they are my best friends ( although I can’t say that they feel the same way).
4. Mental health issues are not a joke. You underestimated the impact it could have on a person’s life until it affects you in some way.
5. To stop delaying my happiness, because I need to study. I’m not telling you to throw away your books, because let’s face it, you want to do well. But at what cost? Truth is spending time with family, friends and with myself is important to you. Make time for those things too!
6. You can’t have it all! This might seem like a total contradiction to number 5, but you can’t have it all. In life you have to make sacrifices in order to reach your end goal (whatever that is).
7. You are a negative Nancy. In a lot of situations you just assume that things will go wrong. It’s probably to do with things you’ve experienced in the past. Note to self, need to work on this.
8. A belief in a God isn’t static.
9. Life is hard. Really hard, and there’s a lot of unexpected things which you cannot always prepare for. Some of the things that you have experienced will scar you, and will make you cry when you think about it. You never really understood how your mother could cry for years about things that happened in the past. You now know what it means to be inconsolable.
10. Sleep is some magical stuff. When you are feeling stressed and you don’t know what to do, and I mean don’t know what to do in a literal sense- go to sleep. Trust me you will feel better in the morning.
11. Me and alcohol do not mix. After 5 years of experimenting you have come to the conclusion that you and alcohol do not really mix. You’re so bubbly normally that people do not even notice when your drunk. And then it gets to the messy stage which is not fun at all. You also have the worst hangovers!! Maybe a little alcohol here or there but that is it.
12. Leave your hair alone. It just wants to be an afro, it doesn’t want to be straight, nor does it want to form loose waves. It just wants to be. You’ve recently cut off much of the damage and now we are going to let it flourish in whatever way it pleases.
13. Looks do matter- kind off. It’s true, but what matters mores is how you look at or perceive yourself. Irrespective of whether or not you are deemed attractive to societies norms, how do you feel about yourself? And if the answer is rubbish are you working on feeling better. I’ve recently come to realise that taking that little bit of time on the morning where I sit in the mirror and “fix my face” helps me to feel more confident during the day. Why? There’s something reassuring about knowing that I have taken the time to make myself presentable, if that helps you to “look” better, I don’t think there is anything wrong with that!
14. You will fall in love: The love you feel for your nephew scares you. He is your light and his existence reassures you that there are further loves out there to discover.
15. Approach dating with caution: Boys, you still don’t really get them.
16. Start saving: If you haven’t started saving yet you need to start. Things cost money, and ideally you don’t want to be living pay cheque to pay cheque.
17. People lie: Sometimes people lie about big things. Sometimes these things are too much to come back from and the trust is shattered.
18. Exercise is good – Stop being a couch potato. The sense of achievement you get when you can run a little further without feeling as winded is incomparable. As a matter of fact, go put on your trainers now!
19. Music is everything. Enough said.
20. You don’t have to be the best. You’re used to beating yourself up trying to be the best, but now you’re tired of being black and blue. 23 is the year you learnt about self-love. And that means being okay with yourself and not jeopardising your mental wellbeing for a grade on a piece of paper.
21. You’re a strong cookie- You’ve been through a lot over the past few years, mountains you never knew existed let alone though you would have to climb. Remember this for when your next Mt. Insurmoutable comes along.
22. You start to feel worse about yourself :this is the age of comparison, why don’t I have a boyfriend? why haven’t I got that job role? Am I adulting right? You won’t admit it to your friends, but you’re not as self-secure as you seem.
23.  You start to feel better about yourself : You’re starting to realise not to sweat the small stuff. Not quite, cool calm and collected, maybe another post at 30?

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In the words of SZA, God bless those 20 somethings

 

When government corruption goes viral

 

To the annoyance of generation X, social media is the preferred news outlet for millennials. And why not? Most of us stay within a 2cm radius of our phones, permanently logged in and glued to our news feeds.  Check notification. Tag friend in meme. It’s all very mundane. But every once in a while, something resonates.

This summer was my first time visiting my country of origin Uganda, a hotspot for westerners suffering from the dreaded saviour complex. Coincidentally, this summer was also when a few friends (who shall remain nameless), tagged me in a video of Ugandan politicians engaging in a fist fight in the middle of parliament. Needless to say I was embarrassed. What I didn’t reveal however was the extent to which the footage saddened me.

Like most of post-colonial Africa, our road to democracy is still under construction. The arbitrary borders drawn by colonisers did little to unify the people, and upon leaving they created a system of political instability exploited by avaricious men. Among such offenders is Yoweri Museveni, our president for some 30 years. So what was all the fighting about I hear you ask? Well the “beloved” president  wanted to put in a motion to make him eligible to remain president beyond the current limit, and to put it colloquially , the opposition wasn’t having it.

I get it, the idea of politicians fighting is funny. That being said, I implore you to remember a time where you felt so much frustration that all you could do was react physically.  That is how many Ugandans feel about the system. A system where elections are rigged, voting is redundant and outcomes are predictable. Contrary to the western perception of Africa, Ugandans are aware of the problem, and are desirous of change. But we are also realistic, this government will not go quietly. So why compromise the relative peace of the nation when the wounds from previous civil wars are still open?

On my way back to the airport we drove past a plot of land the government had sectioned off. Beside it stood a billboard advertising the plan for a hospital they aimed to build there. I remember smiling while telling  my half-brother how happy I was at the fact that our politicians were finally investing in the country. He looked at me, startled by my naivety. “ The government often force people to give up plots of lands justifying it by saying it will become a hospital or something like that. But you walk past years later and nothing has been built. Then one day you hear they’re building something completely different that they can make money off, it’s all planned.” I couldn’t reply. “We used to play football there” he said.

I do plan on going back to Uganda next year. Like every younger sister I hope my brother is wrong. Like every Ugandan I know he’s not.

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Me and the famalam living our best Ugandan Lives

Honey I’m home

In the time that has elapsed between my last blog post, I have thought about writing  almost every single day , but have not.

This isn’t a justification, more of a marker in time. Hopefully things will change from this point on.

Perhaps to tackle the subject of where I have been I’ll do many separate posts, as there’s a lot and I am not quite ready to go into all of it. I sometimes feel like if I open up I’ll just fall apart. I feel like I have fallen apart maybe twice in life already, arguable three times and somehow I have gotten up, but that’s me going off on a tangent. Anyway, the bitch is back xx

Home is where your heart is

I know that the stars do not shift when  we are together.Nor does the moon strengthen its pull on the tide, For we are nothing and no matter how much we acquire much of what we do shall be without consequence

But when I am with you, I feel that I am doing more than just existing

In the hollows of your chest I have found peace.How is it you are so thoughtful, even while sleeping your body sings to me as you inhale, exhale, inhale, exhale

Maybe this is the meaning of home

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Tonight I am getting over you

Tonight I am getting over you

I will step into the shower and wash you out of my hair

But this time I will be thorough, I will clean behind the ears where our conversations still linger

Undelivered promises, wishful thinking at its best

By the sink I shall rinse the mouth that I wanted you to share, gargle and spit out the words that  have only been heard by you

This time when I dress it will be for me,

I will no longer dress with your attention in mind

For no combination of garments ever made you see me

The mascara I put on will be for me,

And the blemishes that I paint over will be for me

For no amount of makeup ever convinced you that I was beautiful

Finally when I am done, I will inspect myself in the mirror as always

The outfit chosen for me now I have accepted that you are not for me