12.13.2007

kimu kimanyi

I would like to share with you a story about fate, or perhaps coincidence. Which one it is, you can decide.

A long, long time ago, I was in third grade at Empire School. Our school choir performed two songs in Showtime, and if you are from Freeport, you know what a big deal this can be to a third grader. Showtime is an annual Freeport tradition of song and dance lead by Jeff Lehman, the choral director at the High School. Sparkles and lights adorn the event and tickets always sell out so it is about the closest thing to stardom in the little town of Freeport. So you can imagine, as a third grader, you feel like pretty big stuff performing up on stage for so many people. We were to perform a song that we had to sing in two languages, one was English and one was a language none of us knew. We were told the foreign words matched the meaning of the words in English:
One thing I know,
Everybody has a seed to sow.
Let your heart of hearts take you down the road,
Everybody has a seed to sow.

This song became stuck in my head for many years. As I become older, the song became very meaningful to me. It became an inspiration to me to find out what my ‘seeds’ were and where I should ‘sow’ them. Eventually, the song stopped playing on repeat in my head and I had almost forgotten about the tune until a few months ago when I received phone call from my parents. My father started the conversation by telling me that I would never guess what song they sang again at Showtime this year. He said it was the song about seeds and then sang (or attempted to sing) part of it for me. It was the same song that I had sung so many years ago. Once again I found myself frequently humming the tune. I was singing the song, trying to remember what the foreign words were and was surprised when the ones I could remember sounded a lot like Luganda. Luganda is the language they speak in the Buganda region of Uganda and it is also the language I am trying to learn, so I thought perhaps I was just putting in new words. About a week later I was at the orphanage cutting pineapples singing the song when one of our university students stopped me and asked how I knew the song. I told her the story and she starting laughing because it is, indeed, a song in Luganda:
Kimu kimanyi,
Buli muntu twasiga ensigo.
Omutima gwo wa gulu ngamye,
Buli muntu twasiga ensigo.

If you are unfamiliar with Peace Corps, when you apply to become a volunteer they can place you anywhere in the world. For me, they chose Uganda, and I ended up living the Buganda region. I think that Luganda is probably spoken by 0.6% of people in the world. So to me, having a song be my theme song growing up, and to then have it become part of my life as a grown up is a very moving realization. Much more than coincidence, it shows me that my entire life has led me here to this moment. Just another piece of evidence, that we are all part of a grand design.

Except for the university students, most of the kids here didn’t know the song so I got to teach them something in Luganda which everyone found very surprising and humorous. This is a video of my third and fourth grade students singing the song. video