Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Net

Five to eight in the morning.

Beautiful day promised. The sun is out, but, the skies are overcast. No rain the last few days, that means the dust is up and about, a thick ever present red mist that lifts from the roads whenever cars pass.

And, the mornings... seems like smog to me. Kampala is growing, bigger, and heavier, a too pregnant mother. We wallow in our filth, which is kind of discouraging. This is very beautiful country.

Now, heavier cloud moves over the sun. Cooler, colder air, a nip in it on my skin. But, I still feel it in my bones that it will be bright hot and shiny later in the day. That is what it was yesterday. And, today it will be.

A few days without internet.


Is an addiction nowadays. I remember the days when I used not to have it..... , used to hear about that thing, the internet. Then there were days, soon after I had started working, when I would spend my off hours, and little money in internet cafes. Ridiculously slow, but, they gave access to the wonders of the wide world web. Was about that time that I came out to myself. The internet played a part. Not very easy to admit that I was gay. Not even to myself, even when I was acknowledging the emotions, and seeking out the thrills.

But, once it was acknowledged, to myself, the most immediate challenge was, where do I find others like me? I thought that I was alone, in the whole of Kampala, or Uganda.

Well, the internet showed me others.

Later, I made a website, on geocities, yahoo's free spaces. Gay Uganda. A cyber lover and I reworked it. Orokie. Theme captured our feelings at that time. He put up the photo of a single elephant on the index page, with the caption, 'You are not alone'. And next, a herd of elephants in the African bush, on trek, the dust of their movement rising a cloud around them, and the caption, 'We are many'

Orokie. Orokie of memories.

An artist and painter who lost his eyesight as a result of a tragic set of happenings. Orokie the painter, who used to call me the poet. His poet. He is the one who sketched that sideways nude 'me when I am me', hugely talented, gay, African, with the knack to see and notice, and express himself through simple complex images. With an eye for the African male.

No, we have lost contact. Much as the internet is the domain of those with sight, when the artist lost his sight, he dropped off the edge, periphery of perception.

Nostalgia. Wonder what he is doing....!

Those were the days.

At the moment, I do have access. There is some, seemingly at every street corner in Kampala. And the suburbs. No longer have to go down-town. No longer have to make a trek for it.

I used to pay exorbitantly. Still do, as a matter of fact. Internet in most of Africa is more expensive that elsewhere. The providers still have us squeezed for the access, though it seems as if they are feeling the competition.

Anyway, I am playing the consumers game. Trying to find a provider that will suit my pocket.... as low as possible. That means, whenever my subscription lapses, I go hunting for the best deal round town.

Well, I cannot have access to the cheapest and best deal. And, it irks me to fork out so much on internet....! Yet, it is a necessity of life, my life. I bet we shall write volumes on how the internet has revolutionised our lives. From helping our coming out as gay human beings, gay Africans. Seeking and finding love near and far. And, the organising, the maturing of our thought processes, as we wrestled free of the clinging homophobia, and found a vestige of freedom.

I love the internet. I say am addicted, but, it is like food. A necessary thing. I love it for the freedom to be myself that it allows me. The opening of the world to my senses and perception. I love it for the ability to connect to others that it gives me.

But, most of all, I love it for the extension of my being that it is.

Even now, not connected, off line, my mind is occupied by it. The time when I will log in and find myself connected. Able to surf and look at the news. From Tunisia to Tasmanian devils. Challenging the smallness of my world with the huge variety of perception. I love it for that.

Here is to a great day to you. When this is up, I will have posted.... will be online, again!

Have a great day.



Leonard said...

Good Morning from Central America, Gug!

It´s a lovely day here under the volcano (which has been making strong noises lately like a Maya God who wants attention)...this volcano, our volcano is beatuiful and strong and tall and looms over our coffee fincas and viveros (where they grow roses and such for export)--it´s absolutely magical around here and the donkeys, cows, horses and goats (almost forgot their name in English) get hurded up and down the streets while older ladies sell hot, handmade corn tortillas, vegetables and a hot beverage made out of cinnamon and mush--it´s good and somehow fortifying on chilly mornings.

Our tiny village also sports two recent internet stores (not cafes as they have in the cities) with a few computers--these places are jammed with teenage boys hooting and grouping around the few ramshackle computers (no doubt connecting to the outside world of female strippers and love for sale)-- I have wireless (as we have no landlines out here in the campo) and it too is one of my larger monthly expenses--I´m a very small audience, outside of some government offices, and the ¨providers¨ have a very captured audience--that may not change for awhile but it´s an expense I must have--my computer brings me daily news from everywhere--I notice we all have similar life ¨issues¨ and we easily identify with one another--big issues that have to do with our justice and survival--not to mention, not-so-simple to obtain, equal rights--but we talk, we stay strong, we listen to one another and for that support grounded in genuine good-will and hope for one another I will continue to pay any price necessary to stay connected--out from under matters for people like us.

Interesting. Even in tiny indigenous villages in Central America--mine included, there are many noticeable ¨LGBTI¨ citizens--all here, all alive (and mostly well) living with various degrees of acceptance around them (or not). It´s fascinating to me to simply observe OUR people living everyday life with OUR everyday brothers and sisters--life goes on and people like us have always been part of it no matter where we live or no matter how much ¨hospitality¨ we receive from our neighbors, friends and families--we ¨are¨ part of everyones reality both in shiny bustling Kampala and sleepy, yet constantly moving, lush Sacatapequez in the shade of the volcanos (that sometimes roar with fearsome delight).

Have a great day Ugandan friends/family (we are family, we are like you),

Leonardo Ricardo

darkpassion (dsaronin@gmail.com) said...

Thank you for writing about Orokie. I miss him so much, I miss his comments about life, his art, dancing on paper. I miss his love of life and appreciation of the beauty of a man's body. Thank you for these words of tribute to another gay man.

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