Everything is slow at the start of the semester and then it all piles up at once. It suddenly feels like I bumped into the class work. I am talking about my class in Creative Responses to Crises and Conflicts. I was still trying to make sense of the course requirements before it dawned on me that my mid-term proposal was due. We had to make presentations of a crisis we have identified and the intervention we had designed. It was not to be perfect but it was to challenge our minds to think out of the box. That has become a cliché now. One wonders if thinking inside the box will be the NEW IT.
I have had various meetings with Jegan, my professor, on the course. I have the concept but I now need to translate it into something actual. My initial thought of putting stuff together into a power point does not cut with him. “Power point,” he says, “is boring. We need something artistic. Put together some stuff.” Since my computer design skills and video skills are lacking, I am at a loss. We have been told not to try to learn something new this time. I don’t know what to do. I have the idea of putting together a multi-media presentation. I have just discovered Media Storm and I think it is cool and deftly captures the medium I want to explore. Problem! Cannot learn something new to be able to make my presentation for the mid-term. Got to do with what I have.
At the last meeting with Jegan, we agree that I will produce a book. So I get to the task of searching pictures and text on the internet, and I look through my fiction too. The result:
Stolen: stories of lost childhoods
The gist of the project:- Uganda has a protracted history of conflicts. Key among the conflicts are the 1980-1985 rebellion in central Uganda (which saw the sitting government seize power) and the 1986-2006 armed conflict in northern Uganda. The key story in both conflicts is the use of child soldiers in armed combat. While the LRA conflict is the most known conflict where an army of child soldiers were used, the story actually started in the 1980-85 rebellion. This book seeks to weave these stories together, as interconnected stories and not individual narratives as has been the general narrative. Different pictures of the conflicts and texts reporting on both conflicts will be mixed up in the book to show how similar the story is. While there are pictures, I will insert foot notes at the end of each picture to bring the full story for the reader, both what has been reported in the media and my truth about it. The purpose of this proposal is provide alternatives to capture both conflicts and show the similarities in the conflicts as part of the bigger picture of the nation’s civil wars. I intend to put a collage of pictures, newspaper clips, cartoon strips and narratives all got from internet research. It is also a way to challenge the current narratives of the conflicts that have been prevalent in the public arena.
Between worrying about my class project, I finally get out of my worry-zone and start working. Pictures, newspaper extracts and an extract from my short story, The Last Card, written back in 2005 about child soldiers. I thought it would fit in this narrative. Merging fact and fiction and seeing where it goes from here.
I get constructive comments from the curators invited to the show. I am glad. When I come to office this morning, I read an email from Jegan, he wants my permission to present my book as part of the class work to a funding proposal committee. Yes, I say, go ahead now. We are going to continue discussions on the book project throughout the semester to see how we bring it to its full potential.
I guess the amazing thing about this place is that everyone encourages you. They tell you that you are good and you believe it and work hard at it.