To a passing traveller there are like two look-alike elephant teeth. They stand tall and motionless on opposite sides of the road, as if holding hands, joined by a white line running across the road. A feeling of speechless greeting towers upon them. Oblivious to their importance to human kind, to rain and the soaring temperatures, they remain firm against the wind and passing traffic.
These two gigantic white circles have been part of me ever since I can remember. Born and brought up in the south, my parents took a painful decision to send me to school two hours’ drive north from the age of five. My education was paramount, and the countless journeys I have made across that line are part of my appreciation of the world and I am very proud to have been part of the middle of the earth.
As a child, they were just two circles we went by on our way home from Masaka to the capital city Kampala. I can still hear the words of my father as a custom “Wake up; we are almost at the Equator!. With sleepy eyes, I made an effort to have a glimpse at these two historic circles so relevant to the existence of modern man. As I went through education their geographic importance became more apparent.
When I was growing up in the 1970s, just a few years after Uganda got independence from Britain, they had lost their sparkle. They just became any other spot in the world, neglected and in disrepair with over grown bushes penetrating them. With no tourists, the locals were not aware of their importance to the rest of world. They remained resilient, through two internal wars, respected even by the war troops and flying bombs.It is hard to imagine that although looking depressed they were completely unscathed.
I now live in Britain and can appreciate more this spot I took for granted for half my life. Not only does it divide the Northern and Southern hemispheres but it is part of me. It is the most significant place as I fly into Uganda from England, from the North to the South of the Earth; I have to cross the Equator to reach my family. Living in the West has opened my eyes as to how lucky I am and respect these two circles even more. Effortless and penniless I can get to this place which many can only dream of. My British born children will always have something to tell their children and grandchildren “we crossed the Uganda Equator, the middle of the Earth”
Published(text) in Between The Lines,Citylit 2011