Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Ndere Center

If you are ever in Kampala, I highly recommend that you attend a performance at the Ndere Center in Ntinda (www.ndere.com). A member of Life in Africa told me I should go, and I went, thinking it would be a little local thing. No, indeed. It was a drop-dead professional performance, something I could readily imagine at Zellerbach, held in this beautiful outdoor ampitheater with hills in the background (and as night fell, lightning flashing behind the hills).

Not only was it a beautiful setting, they served terrific food as well. Long tables were set up all around the ampitheater and discreet waiters came by to take our orders for drink and food, or you could go to the buffet if you wanted. I ordered fish and chips, not expecting that the fish would be served head, tail, scales and all. Delicious, and obviously fresh.

The Ndere Troupe performed for over three hours, featuring dances from all over Uganda, with different costumes for each. The picture below shows a dance in which the women started each with a single jar on her head. Then two jars. Then three. Then four...I really wish I could have a better picture to show you, but I think you get the idea.

They even had all of us mazungos dance. The troupe director invited people from each nationality down on the ampitheater floor. We shook hands with each other, and then we danced in a circle--well, jiggled, mostly. One of the troupe members pulled me to the middle of the circle on the ampitheater floor. All I can say is that I tried to pretend like there was no one watching, as the saying goes. It didn't work very well.

I wish to point out that the people from the UK steadfastly refused to come down for this part of the evening. Part of imperial privilege, perhaps? Or are they just smarter than the Aussies and the Americans?

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