Monday, July 16, 2012
Tying the knot (with no loose ends)
Last Friday we had a group dinner at a popular eating spot, Café Sankofa. It was one of our weekly gatherings to debrief and reflect on our experiences so far. As we munched on pizzas and tasty sandwiches in the cool garden, everyone was asked to share a high point and a low point of the trip so far (it was encouraging that everyone had more highs than lows!). A couple of the students expressed frustration that they had not yet been able to really “connect” with Ugandan young people, given that we were staying in hotels and attending lectures. This last week, a few of us witnessed the summum bonum of connections, the civil marriage of one of the pioneers of our Uganda program, Lindsay McClain (who returned to Gulu after graduation to become the Communications Officer at the highly respected Justice and Reconciliation Project) and Jeff Korondo (a popular local musician and communications officer at the Institute of Peace and Strategic Studies). Family members and some of our GSSAP team sat around the table at District Office and listened to the administrative officer as she spelled out the meaning of marriage from a government perspective, questioning them on whether they had any other spouses (particularly from customary marriages). She repeated several times that bigamy was illegal and would result in a jail sentence. When we thought the time had come for the signing of the marriage certificate, the woman who had been typing (and I mean typing not keying in) the names came and apologized for having misspelt some vital information (they told us they don’t do it in advance as people change their minds). She was making the sign of the cross as she spoke and was clearly begging for forgiveness. Anyway, it worked the second time around and we eventually exited the building to the stirring ululations of some of the groom’s sisters. Everyone in the local government offices seemed to have left their desks to see off this lovely international couple. Surely this union is the icing on the cake of our Uganda program!