Sylvester & Abramz on BoingBoing

My favorite Ugandan hip hop/breakdancing duo made BoingBoing yesterday as part of a post on Diamonds in the Rough, a documentary about Uganda’s awesome socially and politically active hip hop scene.

The film has been out for a while, and its director, Brett Mazurek, was profiled in 2006 by UGPulse. The site also has an excellent introduction to East African hip hop (Uganda’s at the bottom) and an interview with Sylvester & Abramz, whose song Lemerako is featured in the film’s trailer.

Check it out:

Ugandan breakdancer featured in Oxfam video

You may remember Abramz. He’s the rapping, breakdancing activist I’ve written about here and here. Also here. And this time. Here too. And that one. And here. Clearly, I think he’s terrific.

Apparently, so does Oxfam.

At the United Nations Climate Change Conference currently taking place in Indonesia, Oxfam released a video of testimonies from around the developing world. The people featured are primarily subsistence farmers. Climate change, in the form of floods, droughts, heat and pollution, has devastated their livelihoods. Driving their message home at the end of the film is Abramz:

If you want to help, check out Oxfam’s pledge to fight climate poverty.

breakdance project uganda rocks the blogosphere

It’s time for another gushy post about Breakdance Project Uganda. Two posts, in fact, and neither of them mine:

Breakdance Project Uganda by Stevi Wara
“Biting my lip in concentration, my legs are awkwardly trying to mirror the movements of my new break dance teacher in front of me. Dancing with local Ugandans on my left and right I don’t feel pressure, but motivation to land this next trick.”

Abramz Tekya: Rapping, Dancing for Change by El Oso
“After a steady stream of phone-tag, Abramz and I finally found each other at Antonio’s – the closest thing I’ve seen to a local restaurant chain in East Africa. Sporting a hoodie, t-shirt, and baggie pants, I couldn’t help but feel immediately comfortable. It felt much more like talking to an old friend from Southern California than meeting a complete stranger in the middle of Uganda.”

In other awesomeness, the project is headed to Arua with MS Uganda. From Abramz:

We’re going to collaborate with MS Uganda ( A danish organization) & IATM (International Anti-corruption Theatre Movement) to do a community sensitization program about democracy & human rights.

We’re going to do a forum theatre play about democracy which will be a fusion of drama & breakdance (Bboying,popping & a bit of locking). Then we’ll have discussions with the community.

After the sensitization program, ‘Breakdance Project Uganda’ will do a free of charge breakdance workshop which will be open to all the community people.

And finally, because Breakdance Project Uganda makes me want to jump up and down like a little (breakdancing-ly talented) kid, a video from their latest visit to Naguru Remand Home:

blogger hates me

Well, not exactly. But I did get flagged as spam, which shut down my ability to post until a “human” (I’m quoting the Blogger notice) reviewed JF and gave me the green light.

Thanks, human.

And, now that I’m back, I’ve been tagged by Glenna to participate in the 8 Random Things meme. It feels a bit hypocritical, given my last Global Voices post about the blogren being all fun & games.

But then, what’s the matter with fun & games? So here goes (I’m skipping the rules because everyone’s already been tagged except for Josh — your turn):

I hate these. I think they’re a waste of energy, pixels and kilobytes. (Grumble, grumble, arrrgh…. 27th, I’m turning into a pirate already.)

Until three years ago, my biggest aspiration was to work for the CIA. In my defense: they teach you languages. For free. And they pay you for the ones you already know.

I was supremely relieved (and thoroughly amused) today when I noticed that I’m not the only one who edits local media in my head.

In my book, barbecue sauce is its own food group and should be applied to most other foods, including mashed potatoes and omlettes.

I read so much that as a kid I could never clean my room without constant parental prompting — I’d get caught up in the copyright tags attached to toys, old homework and the backs of cereal boxes.

I never travel without my pillow.

For all the times that I’ve sheepishly introduced myself as a Russian major attempting to work in East Africa, I wouldn’t trade my degree for the world.

I bought a ticket home this week. Talk about mixed emotions. I’ve lost count of the number of times I have hated this experience, the number of times I have curled up on my bed and cursed everything: corruption, poverty, the Anopheles mosquito, incompetence, bureacracy, misplaced deference, war, rain, matooke.

And then there are the wonderful things: Breakdance Project Uganda, the Nagenda Academy and the visionary behind it, watching the sun rise during the early-morning bus rides north, the French-speaking owner of Maq Foods in Gulu, the youth leaders I’ve met working for GYPA, my 27 housemates (and counting), the blogren.

My good friend Chris recently left Uganda after a year in Gulu. I’ve been reading his blog a lot lately as he grapples with returning to the States, and this post made me miss Uganda already. In the words of Locus Amoenus: “Funny then, how Uganda always seems to redeem itself when you want to lay under the mosquito net and sob.”

june UBHH: fighting with the communist, breakdancing with the blogren

Last week’s UBHH was smaller than usual — we were missing several of the usual suspects (Dennis, Kelly and Glenna) — but we had some new faces and a handful of intense conversations.

Revence and I got into another fight, this time about whether Uganda is more democratic than the United States. There are so many problems inherent with such a simplistic question: what is democracy? How do you define democratic? How do you rate the various aspects of democracy, and which ones weigh more than others? Are we talking about the current administrations, or each country’s history as a whole? Can you even count Uganda’s history as a coherent whole, politically speaking?

I’m not going to rehash our conversation, aside from pointing out that after declaring that he “hated all Americans,” Revence promptly granted all Americans present at UBHH honorary Ugandan citizenship to avoid the sticky question of whether or not we could still be friends. I’d just like to direct your attention to this article, which details the recent decision of the High Court in the UK to fine Museveni 60 billion shillings for illegally shutting down a Ugandan newspaper in 1986. It isn’t directly related to our discussion about democracy, but I think it’s funny.

Petty disagreements aside, I had a great time — so good, in fact, that Dee, Carlo and I decided we couldn’t wait until next month to see each other. We’re going breakdancing with Breakdance Project Uganda tomorrow afternoon at the Sharing Youth Center in Nsambya. Join us some time after 4:30 and before 8:00 to have my friend Abramz and his fellow breakdance geniuses teach you how to do this: