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The chicken or the egg

Tanner Roark

By Tanner Roark, 2016 Noble-Watoto Fellow

Posted Feb. 15, 2016

If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.

— Nelson Mandela

This week I felt like one of the main characters in Alfred Hitchcock's "The Birds." Buloba Chicken farm has 10,000-plus chickens divided between two large barns. As you can imagine, there are a lot of eggs to collect. The eggs are divided between children's villages and the surplus is sold to the public. One of the barns is mechanized, thanks to a generous donation from Big Dutchman. The other is run by hand for training purposes. The mechanized barn makes Buloba one-of-a-kind in Uganda. The eggs are laid in nesting boxes that slope toward a conveyor belt that delivers them to the collector in a manner reminiscent of the chocolate factory episode of "I Love Lucy."

Safely delivering 130 trays of eggs on bumpy roads is no easy task.Safely delivering 130 trays of eggs on bumpy roads is no easy task.

I have been working on learning some Luganda phrases and words since I have been here. It's always fun to see the surprise on someone's face when I tell them "Good Morning" or "See you tomorrow" in their own language. I still have a lot to learn, but I've come to realize that a lot of things are universal. For example, the grunt someone makes when they need help carrying something heavy, the laughter after something funny happens, the affirmation of a good plate of food.

I borrowed a traditional Buganda kanzu from the bride's brother.I borrowed a traditional Buganda kanzu from the bride's brother.

I also got the privilege of being invited to a Ugandan Introduction. My friend Phoebe has a sister who will be getting married soon. The Introduction is a Buganda Kingdom tradition in which the bride introduces her future husband to her relatives and village members. It was an awesome experience, and I was even honored as a special guest. The whole function lasted a little over seven hours. I will never complain about a long ceremony in the United States ever again.

I'm still truly amazed by the people I am surrounded by in Uganda. One of my favorite things that people say to me is "You are most welcome in this country." It seems very simple, but hearing something even this small has a way of making you feel like less of an outsider. All I can say is "Weebale." Thank You.

Gifts of cement, rice, fruit, furniture and meat aren't complete without some fireworksGifts of cement, rice, fruit, furniture and meat aren't complete without some fireworks.

About the Author

Tanner Roark is a 2016 Noble-Watoto Fellow working at Watoto Child Care Ministries in Uganda. Roark is from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, and has one semester left in the master of international agriculture program at Oklahoma State University, where he focuses on international agriculture development.

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