I’ve almost adapted to African timekeeping, but I still don’t get the agreeing to come the next day and then you find out that person had something else on (like school), that everyone else in the group knew about and just didn’t tell you in the first place. Is it that they want to please the figure of authority, the foreigner – and they just tell us what they think we want to hear?
In the meantime, one of the guys who does turn up should actually be in school, but isn’t going – as far as I can work out, because he hasn’t been able to pay school fees. My first reaction was to send him away to avoid encouraging skipping school, but if he really has been sent home, isn’t it better he’s here, maybe learning something?
And I haven’t figured out what’s going on with the girls. In the first week, a few came who haven’t come back, and though I’m told there are others that are interested, they’ve never turned up. When I ask the boss here he always blames a lack of communication and says one of the boys in the class should have told them about the classes. Which I don’t think he has done. Either people are reluctant (or lazy) to inform the girls for some reason – or the girls just aren’t interested (fair enough), and the communication thing is used as an excuse? I spoke to a Ugandan who teaches filmmaking in another (grittier) slum of Kampala yesterday. He reckons girls still think of technical subjects as being for boys. But I also suspect it’s a confidence thing: from the few sessions I had with girls, they seemed more self-conscious about getting things wrong while the boys usually ended up praising themselves for great work.
Anyway, we plan to visit an exhibition of award-winning Ugandan photojournalists at the weekend. If all goes to plan (who knows?) – one of the prizewinners, a young Ugandan called Abdul, will meet us there and talk about his work. Young people need role models from their own country, their own culture – it’s pointless, after all, if they think all this is only for rich white people.
Of course, the list of prizewinners in the Uganda Press Photo of the Year is almost entirely, if not 100%, male. I guess others struggle with inclusive participation too.