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Showing posts from July, 2009

Poem: African Elegy

I find Ben Okri's poem, African Elegy (below) very uplifting.
We are the miracles that God made To taste the bitter fruit of Time. We are precious.
 And one day our suffering Will turn into the wonders of the earth.

There are things that burn me now
Which turn golden when I am happy.
 Do you see the mystery of our pain? That we bear the poverty And are able to sing and dream sweet things.

And that we never curse the air when it is warm
Or the fruit when it tastes so good Or the lights that bounce gently on the waters?
 We bless the things even in our pain.  We bless them in silence.
That is why our music is so sweet.

 It makes the air remember.  There are secret miracles at work That only Time will bring forth.
 I too have heard the dead singing.
And they tell me that
This life is good They tell me to live it gently With fire, and always with hope.
 There is wonder here

And there is surprise In everything the unseen moves. The ocean is full of songs. The sky is not an enemy. Destiny is our friend. Ben Okri

Buruli Ulcer in West Nile

Securely stored in Sir Albert Cook Library in Makerere Medical School is one of Africa's treasures to a medical historian. The Mengo Archives in this library are a collection of medical records dating back to 1897 which detail the clinical records of cases seen at what today is Mengo Hospital in Kampala.

Among these records are the notes of Dr. Albert Cook whose patients were among the earliest on record to have suffered a debilitating disease that came to be known as the Buruli Ulcer, after Buruli county (present Nakasongola District) where there was an epidemic in the 1960s and '70s.

Today, Buruli Ulcer is not making headlines. In 1948, an Australian doctor Mac Callum established that the disease, known in Australia as Bearnsdale ulcer, is caused by a mycobacterium M.ulcerans, according to the World Health Organisation website.
However, the mode of transmission has eluded scientists and this has hampered the realisation of effective public health policies for control of the dis…

Gulu's Night Commuter Days

In war-torn northern Uganda, everyone has a story to tell but it is the children who have been forced into adulthood that touched my very soul…

Her name means suffering; probably the suffering she was born into but also the suffering she is growing up in - an apt metaphor for a war child, suffering through no fault of her own. Acan’s voice is firm, even intimidating, but her English is halting. Our conversation is brief, given that I can’t construct any decent sentence in Acholi.

I met 10-year-old Acan and a group of night commuters at dusk, hurrying to their sleeping centres in Gulu town. They all looked young and enthusiastic, but they have matured beyond their age. Given their busy schedule, these children don’t have a normal childhood. Their day begins at dawn walking back to their villages before heading to school. By evening they have to start another long trek to Gulu town. And yet, these are the ones one would consider the lucky lot who have not been killed, raped, tortured and …

Moyo: My Home Town

The small West Nile town of Moyo is no tourist destination --not just yet -- but nevertheless, it has the Nile to charm you and the huge rock outcrops to fascinate you…

Going to the village is always like a new beginning. Cherished memories beckon. The simple, rural pleasures cast a wondrous spell: the communal lifestyle, lively conversations and quiet joys. No wonder they say there is always something better somewhere, anywhere, everywhere you travel.

However, Moyo is no place for the fainthearted. Getting there is no smooth ride, whether you travel by air or by road. Every time I fly there, I imagine the pilot is on some kind of air show, deliberately taking me to hell and back. And he always seems to make emergency landings! So each time I safely arrive in Moyo, I make another promise to God.

This time, I decided to take the gruelling road journey from Kampala, via Arua, to Yumbe and finally, to Moyo; I came back via Adjumani, Gulu then back to Kampala (the road travel is about seven …
Dear Reader,

My name is Margaret Vuchiri. I am a journalist based in Kampala, Uganda - East Africa.I started this blog, The Tamarind Tree Shade, mainly as a hobby.

I love photography and tend to snap away at little things many people would easily ignore, such as the chipped mug in a restaurant, the fine china a friend reserves for rare visits, or the tired-looking traffic police officer baking in the furious heat of the tropics! That is why The Tamarind Tree Shade is mostly heavy on pictures. I also share some of my newspaper and magazine articles here.

In my hometown of Moyo, located in the West Nile region of Uganda, the tamarind tree is special, not just for its fruits mainly used to season millet porridge; the tree is more popular for its cool shade. 

The tamarind tree shade is where people gather to share stories, cherished memories and ancient tales. It is the place for quiet joys, loud laughter, heart-to-heart conversations, conflict resolution and good old sisterhood gossip. The …