From Ashes to Life – Entry 16
Less than a decade ago mutilated dead bodies of Northern Uganda were dragged by the hundreds and thrown atop of one another into mass graves; however, when all feels lost in the abyss of hopelessness heroic flames of pure intention emerge to illuminate the damp, dark caves. The sickening pile of horrific sins stacked upon the womb of Mother Nature disintegrates one brushstroke at a time. Rather than corpses, this region now piles art, instruments, fire-equipment and living bodies into a mini-bus painted with red earth. After receiving an official invitation, the Mami Wata team heads towards the Bayimba International Arts Festival of Gulu. In a mechanical buffalo we power through the countryside towards the district most effected by the war, passing directly in-front of the birth-place of Joseph Kony, the leader of the Lords Resistance Army. From ashes to art, Northern Uganda is slowly resurrecting into the phoenix of creative liberation.
This international art and music festival carries the colors of change in the hearts of the inspired youth and marks a huge step into Uganda’s development. Artists from around the country exposed themselves out of the woodworks, here to stay. Our art exhibition, displayed upon recycled wood, rustic nails and bundles of hay, wove a vision of “Colorful Love” through old Uganda. Upon special request we climbed onto the stage and offered a spontaneous concert of spoken word accompanied with the drum, flute, and female vocals. Steven and Jacquie initiated Ariel Yoga, flying all the way into the National Newspaper. As night falls Steven and I lit the fire and dance our heart out with double-staff and fire-poi in-front of a virgin crowd. “Free Uganda! Free Uganda! Free Uganda!”, glowing flames echoed from within the hearts of the hopeful. We ventured to this festival to share art and the fire, and left a shared in the celebration of Northern Uganda’s soul.
With the fuel pumping and the engine charged we returned to the Lira district burning to touch paintbrush to wall. An unforgetable week was calling: three murals, one for each school the Mami Wata Art Therapy Project had the blessing to work with… and Jacquie checks into the hospital. It is said that many people leave this continent with “Mama Africa Fever”, but Jacquie will leave with Mama Africa’s blood literally flowing through her veins. The health of the team is the first priority. It could have been seen as an unfortunate obstacle, yet this illness was a lesson and blessing to us as the most amazing hearts of Uganda emerged with their true colors on their shoulder, bringing the power of unconditional love for family and strangers alike. Before long, Jacquie was once again tearing through the countryside on the back of the motorcycle adding her flavor of expression into the flying murals. The texture of each wall carries a stories asking to be told. The colors dance and the strokes caress the skin of education… education is their future offering them the tools to bring healing home. The children helped stitch together the themes of the murals and the love transforms the blood red memories into rainbows of new life.
From sunrise until sundown we rode in the back of the pickup truck bouncing along the dirt roads beside elephants, gazelle, giraffes, hippos, and wild boar, while baboons jacked our lunch, TWICE! Animals were calling out the wildness within us all. Two male lions gazed into our eyes through the shady brush… zero fear clouded their vision. THE KINGS ARE ALIVE! The external world is directly reflecting our internal relationship with the oneness of life itself. Thank you for the deepest of reminders! Life is simple in the rawest form when we dive through the illusions of complicate fear and choose to FEEL!
After extending their trip for a full week, the final day arrived when Steven and Jacquie climbed upon their plane after a month of magic. With so much gratitude and love, we embraced as a powerful unit and with a wag of a street dog’s tail, they were off. It was sad to let them go before the end, but the show must go on. Shira, the wildcard who has demonstrated incredible commitment to the cause, and I, remained behind for 7 days to add the finishing touches. All of the Mami Wata team, and Breathe World Wide held the brush with me in the last stroke of the project. We have done it!!! My dream has manifested in the most divine manner… within four months this dream that started with one, adopted and loved by many, touched over 750 CHILDREN!!!!
The community of Borlonyo shared their acceptance and love for the work we have been blessed to share with the survivors of the massacre. We were sent off into the night with dancing and singing of peace. During the last moments at the Choorom primary school the headmaster revealed his story of the horrific day that stole the lives of hundreds and the innosence of thousands. “You are bringing a New Vision For Africa,” He told us…. And Africa has brought a new vision to our eyes as well. This journey into the heart of Africa, through the ashes of war, have showered blessing upon our souls that can only be seen when you gaze into the eye. No one needs to be “saved”; it is time to share in this beautiful symbiotic relationship of a growing unity that levitates within the space between each word. Thank you Children of Peace Uganda, David, the schools, SAMSAM, all the open hearts and the courageous acts of forgiveness in a sea of war-inflicted trauma. THANK YOU ALL! PEACE!!!
Love Benjamin and the Mami Wata Team