Fort Portal Secondary School, Mon June 30

Several of us went to Fort Portal Secondary School (FPSS, private), where Joshua Kagaba is the headmaster. Joshua was one of our Ugandan visitors last year. He’s a remarkably energetic and successful entrepreneur, farmer, politician and educator. Last year in the US, in a fashion typical for him, he wangled a flight in a private plane owned by one of the Weston parents. More about Joshua in the Tues July 1 entry.

Cort and Cindy paired up to meet and interact with FPSS students, and Debra and Kate did the same with other classes. I took photos of all of them along the way and answered a few questions. There were some notable questions.

More than one student asked if it’s true that the world will be destroyed in 2012 when it is said that an asteroid will crash into us. Apparently this has been in the Ugandan popular press recently. We answered that there are millions of objects in space that might hit the earth, and scientists all over the world are working more and more closely and energetically to detect them and find ways to fend off those that could threaten us.

One student asked, "How long does it take for a black man to become white?" I answered, about 200,000 years. That’s about the amount of time it’s been since black humans migrated out of Africa into all other parts of the world (100,000 years might be more accurate). Those people who lived for millenia in the northern climates gradually evolved to have white skin, the better to absorb the essential nutrient vitamin D from the lowered amounts of sunlight. I stressed that we are all really the same, and that the differences we perceive are mostly superficial. I said that blond hair is now predicted to become extinct in the next few hundred years, as humans across the globe mingle and take on features that resemble those of Ugandan people more than northern people. That answer seemed to resonate with the listeners.

Some students are quite challenging in their questions, others were ironic and humorous. Not all were positive, and I take that as a good thing, in line with anticipated independence of thought and eventually of action.

One student in particular caught our attention as he would have caught anyone’s. Akugizibwe Israel has withered arms and deformed legs. He moves himself around with considerable difficulty. And he is exceptionally clear headed, well spoken, and thoughtful. He’s the chairman of the school’s student council and serves on numerous educational and social initiatives, some of them at the national level. He commands everyone’s respect and admiration. There's more about him in the Weds July 2 entry. Here he's seated on a platform, gesturing with his feet as he speaks with the visiting Weston educators.

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