I stumbled across a journal I kept from my trip to Africa last year. It’s made for some great reliving in my jetlagged state this morning. Here’s my favourite excerpt:

Godwin grew up on one of the larger islands in the lake, and he still lives there. He’s just completed building his first house, and lives there with his mother and two sisters. He has a canoe made out of a eucalyptus tree that he uses to get to and from work – about an hour paddle in each direction. He told me he’s planning on marrying soon, as soon as he can afford a good dowry for his girlfriend. He said he’d like to pay 4 or 5 cows and the same number of goats, but that it was difficult to save enough money to buy the animals. Wealth matters in your family life here – he told me his father was wealthy, and as a result was able to afford 18 wives. Unfortunately, this spread his father’s fortune very thin and Godwin himself was not left with much when his verile father died at the age of 96 after fathering about 80 children. I’m not sure I believe him or not – I told another one of the staff members here about it and he said he’s going to find out if it’s true. The fact that it’s even remotely possible seems other worldly to me. Polygamy seems very common in Uganda – the muslim influence – but Godwin and I both agreed that one wife was enough.

Having just arrived back from another trip through Europe, it’s highlighted the value of keeping a journal like this as a record of the sites, sounds and most importantly, the people you encounter. It’s worthwhile keeping a journal in the context of a PhD too – there seems to be a lot of encouragement for including some reflective writing in a thesis these days, and if it helps me get to the word limit I’m more than happy to do so!


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