Wednesday, December 31, 2008
As I am sitting on the beach in Cape Town :-) looking out to the sea and reminiscing about this strange year 2008, I cannot help but think of a quote by the great essayist, writer and art historian John Berger which nicely sums up the year 2008 for me:
“In life, meaning is not instantaneous. Meaning is discovered in what connects, and cannot exist without development.”
Monday, December 29, 2008
Kurt Tucholsky: Das Ideal
Ja, das möchste:
Eine Villa im Grünen mit großer Terrasse,
vorn die Ostsee, hinten die Friedrichstraße;
mit schöner Aussicht, ländlich-mondän,
vom Badezimmer ist die Zugspitze zu sehn -
aber abends zum Kino hast dus nicht weit.
Das Ganze schlicht, voller Bescheidenheit:
Neun Zimmer - nein, doch lieber zehn!
Ein Dachgarten, wo die Eichen drauf stehn,
Radio, Zentralheizung, Vakuum, eine Dienerschaft,
gut gezogen und stumm,
eine süße Frau voller Rasse und Verve -
(und eine fürs Wochenend, zur Reserve) -
eine Bibliothek und drumherum
Einsamkeit und Hummelgesumm.
Im Stall: Zwei Ponies, vier Vollbluthengste,
acht Autos, Motorrad - alles lenkste natürlich selber –
das wär ja gelacht!
Und zwischendurch gehst du auf Hochwildjagd.
Ja, und das hab ich ganz vergessen:
Prima Küche - erstes Essen - alte Weine aus schönem Pokal -
und egalweg bleibst du dünn wie ein Aal.
Und Geld. Und an Schmuck eine richtige Portion.
Und noch ne Million und noch ne Million.
Und Reisen. Und fröhliche Lebensbuntheit.
Und famose Kinder. Und ewige Gesundheit.
Ja, das möchste!
Aber, wie das so ist hienieden:
manchmal scheints so, als sei es beschieden
nur pöapö, das irdische Glück.
Immer fehlt dir irgendein Stück.
Hast du Geld, dann hast du nicht Käten;
hast du die Frau, dann fehln dir Moneten -
hast du die Geisha, dann stört dich der Fächer:
bald fehlt uns der Wein, bald fehlt uns der Becher.
Etwas ist immer.
Jedes Glück hat einen kleinen Stich.
Wir möchten so viel: Haben. Sein. Und gelten.
Daß einer alles hat: das ist selten.
Kurt Tucholsky (1927)
Saturday, December 27, 2008
Bin wie benebelt,
seitdem völlig daneben,
wie auf einer komischen Droge.
Was hast Du mir gegeben?
Ich lauf wie blöd durch die Gegend,
grinse im Gesicht,
Du hast mich abgeschossen, abgefüllt,
gekillt mit nichts.
Ich bin high von Deinem Kuss,
Geil auf mehr, gib mir nur ein Versuch.
Ich bin dabei alle zu nerven,
wie auf Entzug,
Jeder verdreht die Augen,
ich kann es selbst kaum glauben
Ich steh neben mir im Laden, an der Theke.
Ich bestell nen Saft, doch der Verkäufer hat nur Hasenzähne.
Alles wie verspiegelt, rückwärts,
ich versteh kein Wort.
Hol mich hier heraus, sonst explodiert mein Kopf.
Bin total durchgeknallt von den Träumen einer Nacht,
Wieso haben gerade die kleinen Dinge so einen großen Nachgeschmack?
Der Motor läuft, Musik tropft aus der Box,
doch es bleibt nur ein Zwischenstop.
Wir fahren schon ewig im Regen.
Die Tropfen leuchten bei Gegenverkehr,
heut Mittag schien die Sonne durch die Bäume,
und es roch nach Frühling mitten im Herbst.
Wir fahren schon ewig im Regen.
Ich sitz ganz hinten, denk nur an Dich...
[Clueso, Regen, 2008]
Thursday, December 11, 2008
Monday, December 1, 2008
Wenn ich zersplittert bin,
Vater, mache mich ganz -
lies die Scherben meiner Seele auf
und setze sie wieder zusammen.
Wenn mir die Luft ausgeht,
hauche mir neue ein.
Gib mir einen langen Atem.
Wenn ich die Augen abwenden will,
stärke mir den Blick.
Gib mir die Kraft, zu sehen,
zu verstehen und zu handeln.
Gulu is full of funny and quirky stories, some of them purely non-pictorial… I was waiting for a social worker the other day in front of a school to visit some of the war-affected children… as I was early I joined a group of students sitting in front of one of the huts and made a bit of small talk… soon enough one of them, a twenty something Ugandan introduced himself as Otto von Bismarck… incredulous, I asked him to repeat his name. Here it came again: Otto von Bismarck. He was not joking and he did not know who the historical Otto von Bismarck was… seems his parents, uncle or ant, or some relative with a sense of good humour had decided that this name would suit him well… before I could take a picture he had disappeared…
Saturday, November 29, 2008
Friday, November 21, 2008
UGANDA. Gulu. November 2008. Portrait of Jolly Grace Okot in her office at the Invisible Children charity. She was one of the first abducted children by the rebels in 1986. She was forced to work as a child soldier for two years before she could escape. Jolly returned to school and worked with several charities such as Oxfam, MSF and the UNHCR. In 2003, she founded the H.E.A.L.S. and Invisible Children charities. She was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2005 for her work and has received many awards for her admirable charitable work for war-affected children.
Despite the fact that one could get a different impression from the images on this blog, the main reason for me to come to Uganda was to work with two charities, Invisible Children and H.E.A.L.S., both based in Gulu in Northern Uganda. Both charities deal with the reintegration and counselling of war effected children, especially of former child soldiers. Jolly Grace Okot serves as the country director for both charities.
As you might know, as only as far back as 2006, the area around Gulu, where I am at the moment, was a war zone where a civil war was waged between government forces and the Lord Resistance Army (LRA) headed by Joseph Kony. In fact, since 1986 the LRA has led a civil war in Northern Uganda. The primary victims of this war were the Acholi people, 30,000 of their children were abducted and forced to serve as child soldiers and sex slaves. Often as a test of their “loyalty” to Kony and his LRA these abducted children and teenagers were forced to kill another child or teenager when they were forced to join the army. There has been a ceasefire now in place for two years but a peace agreement has not been signed yet. There is a lot of healing to be done already now but this process will even amplify once the peace agreement has been signed and many more thousands of traumatised child soldiers will come out of the bush.
In the last five days in Gulu, I have started to take portraits of some of the children, have listened to their stories and have written down their often heart wrenching stories. But I feel that I am running out of time before I have to return to Germany and that there is so much more to do to do this story, and more importantly these children any justice. So I have decided rather than to do a half baked story this time to consider this as a start and return to Gulu next year for a longer period.
One story in particular almost made me cry (I have taken her portrait but to protect her, I will not publish her image). M. who is 15 years old now lost both her parents to HIV/AIDS related diseases before she was abducted by the LRA at the age of ten and taught how to use a gun and to kill people. She was forced to kill another child with a panga (machete) and was made to cut this other child in half, or otherwise she would have been killed herself. She has managed to escape the LRA at some stage and now is attending school. I cannot even begin to image what kind of nightmares and traumata this teenager must still live through every day…
Thursday, November 20, 2008
I was given the chance to spend a weekend in a remote mountain village (it takes about one hour to hike up the steep path to the mountain village from the valley town of Kilembe) with Baluku Selnano and his family. He has three wives (it is legal for men in Uganda to have more than one wife, but not vice versa) and twenty children. He lives off his farmland, growing coffee, cotton, and bananas. I also attended church service with Selnano on Sunday morning at the Church of Uganda in the village.