Yesterday was the last day of the Gulu seminar. The journalists there, mostly from the Acholi tribe, decided to give all three of us Acholi names. Steve’s new name is Komagum (ko-mah-goom), meaning Luck. Grace – who suggested the name – said it’s because she feels lucky that Steve came into their lives to give them the knowledge of peace journalism. Keith and I were both given names meaning Hope – Okello and Akella, respectively.
Today we all took a trip into downtown Kampala to get traditional clothes for a Buganda tribal wedding tomorrow. Caesar, our driver to Fort Portal and Gulu, is getting married and asked us to please stop by on our way to the airport. Keith and Steve got white man-dresses and I got a blue set that has a peasant top-like blouse, a wrap-around skirt and a head covering. The seamstress was very cheerful and friendly, and said if only I could turn black I would look like a real African. She took great amusement at watching me try to tie traditional knots on the various ties of the outfit.
Next, we went to the craft bazaar to buy souvenirs. The shopkeepers were mostly friendly and excited to talk to foreigners. I learned a little about the art of negotiation. Some shopkeepers I didn’t argue with at all because the price seemed more than fair. Others had prices that sounded outrageous so I talked the shopkeepers down to something better. It was really fun, actually and I wish that I could do more shopping that way.
My proudest purchase of the day, I got for less than half the sticker price. A pair of ebony wood bookends, priced at 55,000 shillings (about $25), looked really nice on the shelf. But I was looking for something for myself that was more in the $10 range, so I shrugged and walked away. As I reached the door, the shopkeeper yelled out, “Okay, okay – 20,000 shillings!” Well, for $9, we certainly had a deal!
This was a really great and relaxing way to end my trip in Uganda. The only thing I’m not looking forward to is the insanely long travel to get home!