“An Invitation to Stay Long” (Nathaniel’s reflection on visiting the homes of his friends in Uganda)

bananaPerhaps what is most intriguing to me about Ugandan homes is not found in a study of the exteriors, or a look around inside, but rather the perspective from their internal view to the outside.  I like to unlatch the window shutters – raising the hut’s eyelids – perceiving the world from within the living organ that is the home’s existence. 

In rural Uganda, the view is often of banana trees.  The trees are truly lovely images, and the matooke (plantain) fruit is absolutely the delicacy of choice.  The plantations are abundant, providing nourishment and culinary delight even in the absence of prosperity. 

The great-matooke-view is made even more special by the scene’s soundtrack.  The wind gives crackly voice to the leaves, while the steps of animals and people pad a similarly crisp-tune on the carpet of dry and fallen foliage underfoot.

All the while, one is offered the loveliest of hospitality.  A visit to a Ugandan space quickly convinces the guest that kindness and manners are not merely taught here – but that they are heart-motivated.  Instinctual. 

The vitality of this land does not only come from its plantations, channels and vast lakes. 

But it springs forth from a noble humanity that is viscerally kind spirited – where gentility actually feels genuine.  Where emotional vulnerability is not feared, but broadcast.  Where poverty is not often seen in the soul.

And where a stranger is always welcomed with a nearly whisper-quiet exchange of respectful greetings, and an invitation to stay long.