Thursday, April 26, 2007

I Was Born


Listen Closely. This is me. This is the truth...
"Dear Mama"

You are appreciated

[Verse One: 2Pac]
When I was young me and my mama had beef
Seventeen years old kicked out on the streets
Though back at the time, I never thought I'd see her face
Ain't a woman alive that could take my mama's place
Suspended from school; and scared to go home, I was a fool
with the big boys, breakin all the rulesI shed tears with my baby sister
Over the years we was poorer than the other little kids
And even though we had different daddy's, the same drama
When things went wrong we'd blame mama
I reminice on the stress I caused, it was hell
Huggin on my mama from a jail cell
And who'd think in elementary?
Heeey! I see the penitentiary, one day
And runnin from the police, that's right
Mama catch me, put a whoopin to my backside
And even as a crack fiend, mama
You always was a black queen, mama
I finally understand
for a woman it ain't easy tryin to raise a man
You always was committed
A poor single mother on welfare, tell me how ya did it
There's no way I can pay you back
But the plan is to show you that I understand
You are appreciated

[Chorus: Reggie Green & "Sweet Franklin" w/ 2Pac]

Lady... Don't cha know we love ya? Sweet lady
Dear mama
Place no one above ya, sweet lady
You are appreciated
Don't cha know we love ya?

[second and third chorus, "And dear mama" instead of "Dear mama"]

[Verse Two: 2Pac]
Now ain't nobody tell us it was fair
No love from my daddy cause the coward wasn't there
He passed away and I didn't cry, cause my anger
wouldn't let me feel for a stranger
They say I'm wrong and I'm heartless, but all along
I was lookin for a father he was gone
I hung around with the Thugs, and even though they sold drugs
They showed a young brother love
I moved out and started really hangin
I needed money of my own so I started slangin
I ain't guilty cause, even though I sell rocks
It feels good puttin money in your mailbox
I love payin rent when the rent's due
I hope ya got the diamond necklace that I sent to you
Cause when I was low you was there for me
And never left me alone because you cared for me
And I could see you comin home after work late
You're in the kitchen tryin to fix us a hot plate
Ya just workin with the scraps you was given
And mama made miracles every Thanksgivin
But now the road got rough, you're alone
You're tryin to raise two bad kids on your own
And there's no way I can pay you back
But my plan is to show you that I understand
You are appreciated

[Chorus]

[Verse Three: 2Pac]
Pour out some liquor and I reminsce, cause through the drama
I can always depend on my mama
And when it seems that I'm hopeless
You say the words that can get me back in focus
When I was sick as a little kid
To keep me happy there's no limit to the things you did
And all my childhood memories
Are full of all the sweet things you did for me
And even though I act craaazy
I gotta thank the Lord that you made me
There are no words that can express how I feel
You never kept a secret, always stayed real
And I appreciate, how you raised me
And all the extra love that you gave me
I wish I could take the pain away
If you can make it through the night there's a brighter day
Everything will be alright if ya hold onIt's a struggle everyday, gotta roll on
And there's no way I can pay you back
But my plan is to show you that I understand
You are appreciated
2Pac

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Dreams


"And now I tell you openly, you have my heart so don't hurt me.

You're what I couldn't find.

A totally amazing mind, so understanding and so kind;
You're everything to me."

Friday, April 13, 2007

17th

I had a dream of you last night. Strange. Because I have never met you. But I had a dream of you last night. I have never talked to you, but I had a dream of you last night. I don’t know if we’ll ever meet, but I had a dream of you last night. And in my dream. In my dream, I heard your laugh. In my dream, I touched you. In my dream I knew what your skin felt like. In my dream I was close enough to see the fleckles of separate colour in your eyes. In my dream I was able to see each and every individual pore of skin on your face. In my dream…

I had a dream of you last night. It’s been a long while since I last remembered a dream I dreamt, sleeping three hours or less everyday now. But I had a dream of you last night and when I woke up, I thought I would get up, go in the next room and you would up, singing aloud, oblivious, eating cereal at the table, your ears ear-plugged, preparing for the morning and the hectic day.

I thought I would stand upstairs looking down at you, your black backpack on the table, that book you never leave whenever you leave the house on top of the backpack, bookmarked for when you would get a minute and dive into it, already tucked into your white pullover that looks softer than cotton and you so much softer, it breaks my heart that you have to go into the world each morning unescorted. I know you can handle yourself but since I saw you in that pullover, it’s been different for me and now I know why men go to war, underground, and risk their lives for the sake of a woman they love. I thought I would stand there, watching you. In my dream, my dream over.

I have not wanted to come here again for a long while. I have not wanted to write anything for a long while. I don’t think I will be writing for much longer here after this. I came back here for you. But when I had a dream of you last night, the sunshine days of lost moments at the Constitutional Square making it in the morning for another day, gazing at Crane building in the night, the taxi home bound nights driving past Statistics House and the ghosts that abound there, the watching for dawn sitting up alone nightmares, did not matter, when I had a dream of you last night, woke up and remembered I had a dream of you last night.

I thought I could not do this anymore. No, scratch that, rewind, and set the tape right. I can’t do this anymore. But I like to make the effort because you’re more than worth the effort because I had a dream of you last night and now I know what your voice sounds like, I know how you laugh, how your eyes crinkle in mirth is with me and you’re with me because I had a dream of you last night.

I had a dream of you last night. It has been the most peaceful dream, the most peaceful night, I have had in a year and a half. I want to tell you about the years before and what happened in that year and a half, there will be time, there will be time, but right now, I had a dream of you last night. It has been the most peaceful dream, the most peaceful night I have had in a year and a half.

All I know

Is everything is not as it's sold

but the more I grow the less I know

And I have lived so many lives

Though I'm not old

And the more I see, the less I grow

The fewer the seeds the more I sow

Then I see you standing there

Wanting more from me

And all I can do is try

Then I see you standing there

Wanting more from me

And all I can do is try

Nelly Furtado, Try

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Lemon Days

This is personal.

A week after Makerere University was closed, I went back. I went back because I thought I was ready and for a very personal reason. To revisit my Makerere. Not the Makerere of rampaging students on strike down in Wandegeya terrorizing all in their path, or the Makerere of pajeros parked late at night in hostel parking yards with potbellied ‘benchers’ or the clubbing campus night Makerere. Not the Makerere of I Feel Like Chicken Tonight or Pastor Sempa’s Saturday night Prime Time around the swimming pool Makerere. That was never my Makerere. It never was. Well, not all the time. Like this place was!

My Makerere was a place where I used to sit in my final year on the loneliest, quietest Saturday afternoons you can imagine looking out of large windows to across the beautiful Faculty of Agriculture where there was always at least one person in the shade reading. Sometimes a couple on the balustrade, side by side, seeming to dose in the heat of the afternoon, their books spilled onto the grass under their feet. My own unread books spread out on the spacious table before me, watching them but sometimes not seeing them.

My Friday night refuge place holding in my trembling fingers tattered and fading copies of Penpoint when Ngugi wa Thiongo still signed himself as James and John Nagenda was still in awe of a few people, first sketches here, bunkered away where few ventured. In the Makerere University Main Library.

How can I explain to you what it meant to stand infront of a shelf that had one end to the other books written by one author who from the age of 15 I knew I would have to read one day? F. Scott Fitzgerald. This whole love affair beginning when idling one rainy morning by flicking through an encyclopedia I came across the photo of this stunningly good looking man in a suit that remarkably resembled my own father but for his white skin. Years and years would pass but I would never forget that half looking over his shoulder face of a man who was almost as beautiful as an angel.

When I least expected it, browsing through the Makerere University library on a morning when the lecturer has not turned up and I did not have anywhere else to be: here he was! All of him! From his first juvenile efforts through his first published novel This Side of Paradise to the broken column grandeur of his last, The Last Tycoon. I did not go back for any lectures the rest of that day!

I needed to sit down because it was too much to take in when I looked further down the shelf and discovered that Fitzgerald was not the only present from Makerere generations past waiting for me here. Ernest Hemingway was here too! Ernest Hemingway, one of the most famous authors to ever pass through Uganda, a hero to many, and a writing model inescapable!
Hemingway!

Hemingway whose A Farewell to Arms I had saved and saved and not eaten many lunches to be able to buy a brand new copy from Aristoc Booklex when I did not even have taxi fare. Saving every sort of currency that came into my fingers from 50 shillings upwards to 500 shillings when that amount seemed able to buy you the whole world and still leave you some change to pay your ticket to heaven. Hemingway! The day I bought my treasured copy of A Farewell to Arms is the day we had our senior six leavers’ party in our school main hall, a party I missed reading Hemingway leaning on the garage door of my father’s house. Hemingway was here too!

The near shout inducing discoveries would not stop here. There would be the Romans from Horace to Julius Caesar himself, glorious even in their Catullus depravity and punning, the Chinese, the Japanese with self emboweling masters like Yukio Mishima, good Czechoslovakians like Jaroslav Hasek everyone should hear of, a strange New Zealander called Katherine Mansfield I had never heard of. And then there were the Russians. My God the Russians! The Russians!

People who knew me then used to wonder, “How come you’re not dating anyone on campus?” I was. I was dating the Makerere University library! So I went back a week after Makerere University was closed. My Makerere had survived! My Makerere had survived.