Out of the Village

Overcoming Barriers

by Banya Ku'Caya

 

Book Details

Overcoming Barriers and Getting Away From the Village

A life lived with numerous ups-and downs, brings with it a difficult task of shifting through the package for the positives. The task is challenging, but yet exciting, especially when the negatives lurk in the background. Molded into the little, gentle, and humble man that I am today by those experiences encountered in an attempt to becoming different from the other villagers, I found it essential to recall and relive all the minor events with everything I could muster in digging out all the experiences from their hiding niches and make them available for those who have traveled and or are traveling a similar route. The struggle to overcome traditional messages extolling me not to worry about going for further education beyond the secondary school level was tough. Equally mind-boggling was the urge to rejoin my kith and kin as a peasant farmer should the outside world prove hostile to my goals. Nonetheless, I trudged on and somewhat sheepishly, managed to get where I am today; far beyond my wildest dream. It was a journey through thorns with scratches all over my body, but then again, it was a journey worth the trials and tribulations.

 

Book Excerpt

It was in fourth grade that I encountered conflicting cultural messages about advanced education. The school had a curriculum that included morning choral music just before morning tea-break at 10:30 am. Pupils in grade four sang at least two new songs every week in preparation for parents' day at the end of each term. Two of these songs, sung by upper classmen, usually grade seven students, struck me most:

Kwan ngo ma itero wa iUlaya ni ka omera?

Kwan ngo ma itero wa iUlaya?

Pongdwongo tye Gulu kany, laya na,Kwan ngo ma itero wa iUlaya?

“What kind of education takes you all the way to England?”

“Pongdwongo (Sir Samuel Baker Senior Secondary School) is here in Gulu, my friend. Why do you have to go all the way to England?

The implication of the song was that the highest level of education expected by people in the village was secondary school. What the villagers didn’t understand was that beyond secondary school, there was university education which necessitated that students go either to Makerere, the only national University, or proceed to universities like Oxford, Cambridge, Aberdeen, Wales, and so forth, in the United Kingdom (England).

Given the standard of education at the time, the villagers could be excused for considering a secondary school education the ‘ultimate’ level of a successful education. It was understandable in that a secondary education guaranteed graduates, government paid jobs. It was enough to get one out of the village and earn placement among the bread-and-butter-people. Those were the people entitled to eat eggs for breakfast while drinking tea with milk, a symbol of success; this could farther be crowned with owning a car and/or riding a motor cycle and having fleets of bicycles.

If attaining that level of success wasn't possible, the villagers saw nothing wrong with staying put in the place of one’s birth and engaging in peasant farming as contained in this song:

Dwog cen latin pa maa,

Dwog wamak pur

Pur won naka tek,

Ento ber makato duc

“Come back the child of my mother,

Come, let us concentrate on farming.”

“Farming is difficult alright, but it’s the best vacation.”

 

About the Author

Banya Ku'Caya

Born July 10, 1957 to Zakeo Kal Ocaya and Amburijina Lapura in Minja Village, Gulu district in Northern Uganda. Education: Lukwir, Comboni College, Nabumali High (Uganda); Dip. Science Education (KSTC-Nairobi); B.A., (U.J, L. A.); M.S. Ed., E.I.U, Charleston); Ph.D., (U.S.M, Hattiesburg) Work: Teacher at Park Tudor School, Indianapolis.