“Westerners have the clocks, Africans have the time.” ~ clock at ICU Guesthouse
Mr. Buligwanga and I sat in the shade of the mango tree, sipping chai and chatting for hours. We talked about agriculture, but Mr. Buligwanga’s concept of farming goes deeper than his knowledge of seeds and soils and tools. For him, as for many other farmers around the world, he has little need for clocks because his personal timeline is tied to that of his crops and livestock. Farming is a matter of understanding time in terms of seasons and life-cycles, where there is little need to hurry unless a storm is approaching. Seasons become years, years become decades, and at Mr. Buligwanga’s age, the decades of farming stretch so far back that a few hours spent sitting with a curious student seems like no time at all.
He spoke of his farm as a part of his own life-cycle. He told me about the legacy he hopes to leave for his community, and about how the seasons have changed since his childhood. We discussed the ways in which a person may find fulfillment in life. He challenged me to envision my life at future milestones, and to think about how people and environments will shape the life I lead.
When our tea was finished the old man leaned back in his chair and said, “So Juli, I believe you had some questions for me, for your research?”
I smiled to myself, realising that he had been trying to test the patience of The Young Westerner, just as I had been trying to learn about the livelihood of The Ugandan Farmer. It would seem that I passed his test. I pulled out my notebook and asked him the formulaic questions he was expecting, but I had already been getting answers for hours.