Skip to content

Ugandan paparazzi

January 14, 2013

One thing I wanted to use this blog for was to highlight  a few differences between life here and life back in the UK. And one thing struck me today which I thought I might write about:

Now, correct me if I’m wrong, but when I left the UK, I presume it’s still the same now, it was unacceptable to approach a young boy in a shop who you’ve never met before, take out your phone, and start taking pictures of him without asking the parent’s permission. I’m guessing nothing has changed substantially in that regard since we left?

Not here though.

This afternoon on two occasions I turned round to see someone taking pictures of first Josh, then Dan. Once the person had even put Danny onto a toddlers bike thing in order to make it look even cuter. The second person was trying to tickle Josh to make him smile (and, if you know Josh, you can imagine how unimpressed he was by a Ugandan stranger even attempting this)

It takes just hours for a parent to leave the UK, but much, much longer for the UK to leave a parent. Inside I felt so cross for them daring to infringe my kids’ rights to privacy. I felt really angry that a stranger could do this. I felt like exchanging a few harsh words, asking them to delete the picture, and storming away.

Of course, I did no such thing. Because each time I feel like this I remember that we are novelties here and even in Kampala most have never seen anything quite as weird and wonderful as Josh and Dan, and people are fascinated and excited and even proud of them. I remember that Western attitudes to privacy and image-rights are non-existent here (yet?). I remember that we are the visitors here in this culture, not the owners. And I remember that the boys’ novelty-factor also gets us into many situations and opportunities that we would have no access to if, to put it bluntly, their skin was black.

So, I allowed them to take their photo, and carried on with the shopping, seething on the inside but smiling on the outside. I suspect that the day the inside and the outside behaviours match is either the day to return to the UK in defeat, or the day we become fully contextualised in Uganda.

I’ll keep you posted…



From → Uncategorized

  1. Tim permalink

    A very difficult one, but I think you’re erring on the side of wisdom. I wonder if D will end up not ‘minding’ as much as J in the long run?

  2. Fiona permalink

    Hi Chris, loving reading your blog! This one made me wonder if this is just the reverse of what we (Westerners) have been doing for years wherever we’ve gone around the world, and whether your reaction (which I’d share) is what others have been feeling for years? The technology may have changed, but maybe the Ugandans who were so fascinated by your boys that they wanted to take photos of them are just repeating what our behaviour over the decades has taught them is normal and acceptable? Just a thought…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: