Thursday, April 2, 2015

First Gen

I could talk about many things
But it don’t mean a thing
If it ain’t got that swing
Du wop, du wop, du wop, du wop,
Du wop, du wop, du wop, du wop
I claim to be from many places
Make myself comfortable in many spaces
Sentiment claims me as drive
Through the South and West Sides of Chicago
Midwest all on my tongue and in my mind
Blackness all encompassing
Melanin layered on me the color and texture of chocolate
Thanks to Daddy’s darkness
But I have the privilege of pointing
To a spot on the globe
Where The Ancestors belonged
Where my ancestors belonged
I love my culture
Being Ugandan is my inheritance
Passed down from generation to generation
Even though the gift was given to me in a small Chicago hospital
With a proud new dad calling home to the elders to ask for a name for his baby girl
Being Muganda is my inheritance
No matter how bad my Luganda is
My parents are who they are
It amazes me
How my last name is a magnet
Strangers will ask about my name and my family
Then share memories of time past
Being Ugandan is my heritage
No matter how much I don’t understand or advocate tradition
Tradition is not so kind to smart, assertive and ambitious women
Patriarchy is so pronounced
That wives and ex-wives totally dependent on husbands and indifferent men
Has become the rule instead of the exception
Girls too poor to go school and learn independence
Become wives with children and tear-stained faces
After their husband finds a younger woman
I criticize out of love
My people have potential
But they don’t realize it
They refuse it
Iron grips on tradition
While the world moves on around them
Leaving them behind
But it is my inheritance
To greet everyone in the room when coming to the function
Saying hello with hugs and respectful kneels as a sign of respect
Busuutis, kanzus, kwanjulas, kasikis and Kiganda dances
Consonant-vowel symmetry in every word
Kawunga or posho, sambusas, matooke, rice pilau, and muchomo
As I can remember
Doing the Tootsie Roll with friends
Riding crosstown on the school bus
The first time Mom let take the ‘L’
I remember the first time I tried the Kiganda dance
And decided I was good at it
I remember Kasisinkanos, our own family reunions
I remember dinners and road trips
To Michigan, New York, Pennsylvania and the suburbs
I remember my first flight on KLM to Uganda
I remember seeing my uncle and auntie at Entebbe when Dad died
I remember playing with my little cousins who called me Jaja (Grandma)
Simply because their grandparents were of my generation
I remember traffic jams and knowing we were in Bwaise, without looking up
Chicago is home
America is home
Uganda is my birthright

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