Odd shoes

Jun 17 2011

We heard a rather sad story the other day which unfortunately reflects something of the respect that people in this part of the world hold for each other.

It started by my recollecting to Steven, our helper, having noticed the feet of the worker who has been making our new window shutters. He was wearing odd shoes. One, in smart brown leather would not have looked out of place with a suit. The other was a trainer with half the sole hanging off it. With his torn boiler suit and welding torch he was dressed for the job.

This reminded Steven of a time in Uganda when he was young. He had no shoes and it was coming up to Christmas. So he went to the rubbish tip and managed to find two sandals: one red, the other green. One of the sandals he mended, then put them away for Christmas day. On the 25th, he took his sandals out and went to church. A Ugandan lady, walking behind him, deliberately stood on one of Steven's heels, breaking the sandal, this time irreparably.

We have read stories of the Rwandans who spent years living in the refugee camps of Uganda, treated as outsiders and forbidden from working. Africa is bright, colourful and may even have a promising future; but the antagonism that can sometimes be glimpsed between strangers is something that is going to have to go first.