Uganda is a country in the Eastern part of Africa blessed with good weather, green and lash vegetation and beautiful and friendly people whose infectious smiles have touched and blessed so many people. Like any country craving for perfection, my country is never left out. I have grown up seeing so much going around from young girls and elderly women selling vegetables and disgruntled and youthful men drinking their lives away.
The great river Nile cuts through the country with its tributaries refreshing lands before finally reaching Egypt. The second biggest lake in Africa too makes a strong case of how my mother land should not worry much about water. i do not even have to mention the other water bodies to make everyone understand that Uganda is not just blessed with water but also fertile soils, where anything can grow, precious minerals wild life which includes the largest number of mountain Gorrillas.
Just a brief insight into a country whose problems with food, infrastructure health,education to mention but just a few. The Question is why then does a nation blessed with nature find it 'self in such a situation. Our people are so creative but finding the perfect bridge from creativity to opportunity is what should count. I am a sports lover and I follow European soccer quite a lot especially the English premier League and i have heard so much said about my favorite team Arsenal with the coach always defending his players from the uncompromising media. According to him whenever the question of when the team will fulfill its undoubted potential comes up, his answer is always about the great atitude and atmosphere within the team and it is just about time. Unfortunately the world is rich with so many examples that could be good lessons to people in charge yet this seems to be hardly registered in form of achievements. I mean how do you explain a country with diverse natural resources and talented people never reaching their potential. Under the sun you find brave women and men daily selling fruits, vegetables even little children. Most of these could be pilots, doctors, politicians, entrepreneurs you name it. They are forced to live with their great attitudes in a great atmosphere for less reward and their bright candles seem not to burn longer than the matches that lit them.
My curiosity as a child as what was chocolate made from took to a small wooden shade with different vegetables, fruits and yes cocoa. I could not believe my find I asked the lady how much it would cost me to get one of those cocoas. Well i could not afford so I saved up and came back to buy the biggest of all. I anxiously split it open and leaked away the seeds. To my disapointment it tasted nothing like choclate. well I that will be a story for some other time. What has remained a burden though is the lady who sold me the cocoa. she is still in the same place selling the same products her older kids two boys went to school from her sweat and they are both without jobs because she could not afford University and with her last three boys struggling to stay at school because of the same problem. The vision upon my life is taking me places and I get so many encouraging me and thanking God for my life and many praying for me. I would like to dedicate this to all the women and children under the sun as me and the team at Ludigo creations, of which one of the young boys the son of this precious lady is part of do our part to bridge potential to creativity and opportunity. Let's change the statics, let's turn a little boy and girl's curiosity to find the link between cocoa fruit and chocolate and make this world a better place. Let us keep these candles burning longer for many who take the sacrifice should live long enough to be appreciated. Lets change little girls and little boys tribute to their parents into appreciation for they will still be living. I am blessed to at least tell my mum that i love her many don't and it's not Aids that is just a symptom. Without opportunities for one to fulfill his or her potential, dropping out of school is inevitable making jobs hard to come by and prostitution and so many immoral acts become a sad reality. For God And My Country amen
A Chance to Dream
It has been a while since i last came on here, I felt best to take a break as I prepared for a project that would surely involve every bit of me. My mental strength was to be tested and having this in mind surely gave me the right preparation. I have seen, lived and also coordinated projects in slums before. Why is this different from any of what i have experienced? Will start with breaking it down for you, I lived in one of the biggest and not so popular slum in Kampala as a young boy. My dear grandmother used to sell liquor and it was also home for her. It was not a pleasant experience being young,looking back now, I feel it was quite crucial in my development. My mother moved her to the country which was more spacious and safer. Fast forward as a young man at University, in my Christian group called a cell we reached out to a crowded home in a slum buying medicine and food items for a lady looking after over eleven children in a very small shelter. Most of these malnurished children belonged to young prostitute mothers who barely knew the where abouts of the responsible fathers. With such experience I still have never gotten used to the living conditions of people in Slums. Through a lovely friend Kim from Canada,I was again on another mission. Seeing children running from one end to another with torn clothes worse than my rugs, yet with big smiles beats my understanding. Kim introduced me to Sam the coordinater of Kids Club an organization that runs programmes that include sports and Music to mention but a few. It is quite refreshing to know that young Ugandans are doing their best to allow children to be children. The adults too look on as they go about their daily chores. Katanga Slum is one of the very many found in Kampala the capital of Uganda. The dusty streets of my beloved city to a certain extent make one feel that they are intended to strike the balance between such terrible living conditions in slums and the enviable neighborhoods where the rich reside as well as the commercial buildings. Yet for all the potholes and poor drainage even in the city can never be enough to console these people whose situations are without color.
'I believe!' he seems to say
By 12:45 pm on the 26th of march, I was already at this small centre that is used for both Church and school. Armed with powder paints Paper and colored pencils, my first class was slowly coming together. Like we had agreed a week before, I would work with the music class first. While waiting for the rest, we broke the ice with introductions singing as well as dancing. Unbelievable moments that made me feel like being young again. If only it was that easy. Well it all got more interesting with storytelling which got every body's imagination wild. Most of these lovely children wanted a chance to test their imagination by making up a story. One of these stories was rather strange, surely broke my heart. This story was about a Dinasour that infected the Elephant with HIV Aids. Every one burst out laughing as this little boy shared, including yours trully. This was to later convict me heavily. It all made sense, the plight of people living in such terrible conditions that include drugs, lack of proper hygiene, and yes the HIV Aids virus that has become so normal to these innocent young souls who laugh about it in a made up story a sign of a deeper lying problem coming to the surface for sure. I was to later learn from Kim that as we all had a lovely time, a little child was dying in his bed of this dreaded virus. He had not eaten in 3 days and his frail figure in one of the tiny rooms in this slum had left Sam speechless and confused. He is well respected by almost everyone and he should know better than any of us. Unfortunately this is a situation no one can get used to no matter how long you have seen it happen. Not even Sam.
Dreams getting color in Katanga
First time handling paint and brushes and the best part is no rules you're drawing is to represent your imagination. Colors to bring life and also signify a deeper longing for a destiny much more appealing and worthwhile. Everyone has a right to dream for a future not necessarily as bad as their situations are. Our country has the youngest population with up to 51% under 15 years and with almost no parents many of these youngsters could only be left with night mares. Most of them forced to grow up so soon because of situations whose solutions become so elusive with every passing day. Hope a forgotten word in their vocabulary indeed. A world so deem and full of night mares can crave for color to ignite dreams that could change their situations.
more color lets share it.
I stood with my mates on the roadside yelling at each other on top our voices on seeing a car come by.
"That's mine no I saw it first, ok thats mine..." All of us as youngsters sharing interests. We started making cars using bottle tops and empty small boxes. This moved onto wire cars balls using plastic bags, the list is endless. A childhood mixed with experiencing all the small things in such a lovely neighbourhood, living in a slum for a little while and the country side as well. All contributing to what i strive for daily. I am called to use all these experiences and testimony to engage young ones in schools, as well as the comunity which includes slums. An hour spent with lovely children can turn their night mares into colorful dreams. An hour spent with these youngsters could save them from getting into trouble which includes abuse, drugs name it. Revealing my dreams that have come true and art as well as sharing bigger ones practically surely makes all these moments worthwhile. Organizations like Kids club are doing such an awesome job and need prayers and support. Teens Uganda wow i would never do this without such amazing people driven by compassion that only comes from God. In Painting dreams i leave you a hint of me dreaming. A child out there deserves this chance too.
Commissioned paintings come in handy and this one has surely tickled my fancy bringing back all the childhood artistic memories. As a youngster in school I always took time drawing cars on almost every blank paper I came across. It became some kind of obsession that also turned out to be some kind of competition between me and my friends especially Ssekamanya who seemed to have a lot more space to draw. This obviously piled more pressure on us, yours truly drawing in my mathematics book. It was somewhat naughty but a priceless memory not surprising that mathematics remained my achilles' foot throughout my school life. I look back and think for a moment what was, where I am and what kind of car i would love to own. Many come to mind, in the sports car category the Buggatti Veyron, Zhonda, Ferrari and Aston Martin. And now for our dear roads in Kampala a Range Rover Vogue Sport and Audi Q7 to mention but a few. Typical Boy dreams.
Lightening quick Veyron oil on canvas
My brother Nicholas entrusted me with this beautiful task which has been such a pleasure. What an experience it has been with every brush stroke causing so much sensation and excitement. Going about the job with as much concentration as possible for yours truly who easily gets carried away. I have had and still have so many dreams. This surely is one of the biggest. Like a typical man whose toys are closer with a little bit of fantasy, I desire to own or drive one of the best there is. Painting the fastest car and also the most expensive does not necessarily mean that I get to drive it now. It's half realized never the less knowing that I only have to aim the highest i can and falling shot is victory all the same.
Such a dream will not bring me fulfillment at all if along the way my ultimate mission is never fulfilled.
Two worlds coming togther, me dreaming with color and a little girl and her friends happy to have a balloon or a tin to mix her colors. Humble beginnings never underestimated.This is what i bring to the table Use it Lord. Use it for your glory Amen.
A great thank you to Sam, Kim and the kids Club for making this happen. It is only the begining. Another great thank you to my team Allan,Reagan and Shai Richards may God bless you. Would never do this without anyone of you.
WATOTO CHILDREN'S CHURCH NORTH
Last Sunday the 30th of September I was blessed to teach at Watoto children's Church at north. It is policy for the church to have someone come to help with the children and was caught by surprise. Having got the contact through the Children's pastor at North two weeks earlier this was bound to be an opportunity worth taking. The theme was making goals which i felt was quite appropriate especially with the children starting school the next day the 31st of January. By 7:45 am I was at the Church primises ready for the 8:00am service.
doing a class at Watoto Chidren's Church.
Faith and creativity does not get any better. Because as an artist I work in such that with these two in good measure I feel stronger to produce work knowing that someone out there will appreciate my effort. And because of this I could use my story to plant an important seed of victory in these youngsters. I felt fired up for my maiden experience in front of these youngsters.
I felt led super naturally to make every moment count. With use of images that included drawings that I made specifically for this class I did my best to keep the children attentive. It has been a long time coming. I had a few stories to share from my experience both as an artist and a little boy craving for identity. I felt led to let them know where you are before knowing where you are going. This i later discovered that I needed to be reminded where I stand as well. Pretty cool learning from what you're teaching right. Well at least it was a personal reminder of how important for us to understand the simple dynamics of progression through one stage to another as we mature to what God wants us to be.
One of the drawings i used for the class.
As a little boy I was quite fascinated by how the chicken we kept behaved. I spent so much time to trying to make sense of their behavior. I took a pick of mother hen with its cute little chicks. I was always anxious as to when those eggs she was sitting on would hatch. It felt like my fingers were always cross in anticipation of when those little chicks would come to life. It was not long before it happened and now the fun of following mum and her lovely little chicks got me into some kind of trouble because she was so protective. One thing stands out from that memory and that was her expertise in feeding them. She would stop occasionally to scratch for seeds and worms. She would make sure they watched her as she did her thing and gave them a chance to do the same with their little cute feet. This now makes a lot of sense. I will conclude this story with a few Questions, how often are we willing to let the younger generation through the door?
Do we always leave the door open for more to come in?
Do we always keep the rivers and streams clean as they flow along to bless and refresh more lands?
This is the seed i left in these youngsters. I am not sure how much will come out as long as I keep planting. The one who has authority for growth will see the rest through.
IN THE STUDIO
in line of beauty soon to be unvailed now in the studio.
It has been a long time coming and finally all is falling into place. The first wood cut prints of 2011 are shaping up. Many of you who might not know about wood cut printing this is your chance to learn something about it. Unlike painting and drawing, with this kind of medium an artist can achieve a variety of effects with every work printed using the same image. Original prints of upto ten can be produced using the same wood block. As shown in the image above, all is set for the first layer of the subject to be printed onto the black part of the paper. The same process will be repeated with every layer printed after a new pattern is cut onto the wood.
Now that all is set these new babies in the studio to become a marvel not only on the eye but with all the inspiration behind every drawing in form of stories. The cool thing is growth in work and i would never look forward to any project without challenging myself enough. Am looking forward to surprising myself and finding something new about myself as i step onto a new platform of beauty and fantasy. The pleasure of marrying the unseen with images and color is incomparable knowing that my identity as an artist will make a lasting impression to an audience so unpredictable. Am looking forward to sharing this new project with every one of you.
My Name is Ludigo Andrew Salema and i am Uganda artist the founder of Ludigo creations. I mostly work with oils and acrylics. I am currently using art to create a platform of sustainance through engaging young people both in school and out of school in healing projects. These involve both performing and visual arts. Recently opened up a small gallery in down town Kampala. I am also the creative arts director of Teens Uganda www.teensuganda.org
LUDIGO CREATIONS GALLERY.
As a little boy i was told that when you dream about something good or bad it means it will not happen in the real sense. It was quite confusing, why then did i wet my bed just by dreaming about it. The answers i had to give when asked in school what i would like to be in future were quite interesting. First i thought of being a Pilot, then a doctor and obviously my grades in the required subjects were never going to get me any closer to these elusive dreams. The fun i had in art classes and the pain i endured from the punishments given for drawing cars and people in my mathematics books kept rubbing in a new found dream that took me a while to consider.
As an artist with raw talent and a deep struggle to portray the kind of feelings visually it became apparent that may be the best way out is to own a gallery. That way no limitations to what i display, well the journey towards chasing this dream has taken me through situations good and bad and i believe that just like any other artist the best thing you can do for yourself is to remain true to yourself.
Ludigo creations Gallery is not just a gallery, it's a platform for healing and self discovery. It is a place for testimony where not just my journey as an artist will come alive in images and color. It is a place where young talent will not have to first sell a piece of art to feel valued but one where stories will be told and celebrated knowing that through this, dreams will come alive. Seasoned artists too blending in will give a chance for the youngsters to flex their muscles with naivity and experience coming to the fore.
The place was opened up on the 9th of November in the heart of Kampala city. The excitement of knowing that this was only a dream and now it will only get bigger was never imagined. In total it's taking 5 of us to run the place with yours trully cordinating all the projects. Services offered are framing pictures, Selling greeting cards, Interior and exterior design, graphic design and paintings on sale. All these designed to make opportunities of expression available for whoever is involved as per the vision.
ACHIEVEMENTS SINCE WE STARTED.
Reagan, Allan and Hamza at work.
These young men have experienced the unfolding of events at the Gallery since the opening. Work starts as early as 7:30 am with a devotion that ensures God's favor upon everything we do. Reagan finished his high school as well as Allan. Hamza has two classes to go and is awaiting is mid high school examinations. A combination which whose significance is bound to release these youngsters to the biggest of stages.
The sleek framing gear all the way from Australia has turned out to be a master stroke. All made possible through my art sales cards as well as donations. This has made it possible for us to deliver services with excelence. The higlight obviously is the 25 frames that were done with precision and total dedication quite a test for the lads cutting their teeth at what is definately a new experience for them.
Painting the nursery School.
Another stunning test out in the sun and it is time to appreciate the studio a lot more. Painting on large walls in the sun is bound to test even a seasoned Artist like SSentongo Amos from Art Punch Studio. The good news is that God answered our prayers for a over cast which comes in handy with the task that we had obviously under estimated. Me and Amos out lined the drawings as the lads follow through with the painting. Team work is the way to go knowing that this should not take a all week to be done. Such images with simplicity play such a significant role in the artisitic journey of the youngsters blessed to walk into these walls. I speak blessings upon all that we have drawn and indeed to God be the Glory.
First Layer done in 2010 ready for 2011.
All is set for 2011 to be of color and versatility. As an artist i feel i have made so much progress and there is no rush as regards my next project. I believe that with every passing day it gets even better. I miss the studio sarroundings which is definately firing me up into the right direction.
Look out for new stories as the journey continues. With every sale made contributing to a lot more than imagined. So amazing to experience healing and pass it on through color for redemption or hearts.
Back to my first love the only way i thought art was done as a youngster. And thats by pencil, no wonder i found it hard getting used to writing with a pen. Any way the beauty of drawing potraits for people and knowing that services will be appreciated is rather facinating. Partnering with seasoned and experienced artists majorly in potraiture like James Mulindwa is such a pleasure. This not only offers variety of distinct styles to our clients but also a chance to sell art to as many Ugandans who are not easy to impress into collecting art.
Our first T shirt commisioned work.
The variety of services offered are designed to not only raise as much revenue which will come in handy in facilitating our community outreaches, but also create room for as many young people to be invoved and be empowered. The confidence drawn from from doing artistic work at a proffesional level is a sure way to a liberated future that will engage our audience as artists.
This is trully going to be a year of activity and as dreams unfold, color will reign through gifted hands empowered not just to change their situations
A week to behold after polishing every item on the program, the day has finally passed. All started with a graduation ceremony with the top class from the Nursery section awarded with certificates of excellence promoting them to primary one for the year 2011. A colorful ceremony with the youngsters clad in academic gowns was quite a spectacle. The climax of the moment was sharing the cake that was cut by a cross section of the lovely children, school director and the Guest of honor which not only brought excitement among the watching parents but will leave a lasting mark in the hearts of these achieving youngsters. A mark that will ever emphasize the true value of education as per the theme of the day, and also confirm how valued their potential is for the long term sustenance of family and a nation thirsting for purpose driven leaders. God fearing leaders whose priority is to live behind a legacy of worship and love.
The color song by the primary one Angels captivated the audience with its simple analogy based composition in which different colors represent humanity and how important each one’s personality in talent and commitment paints a master piece of togetherness and appreciation.
Lunch was served at exactly 1pm and the concert kicked off at exactly 2pm. everyone was in good spirit and the excitement of each individual that was waiting for their chance to come on stage was hard to contain. The highlight of the afternoon was a cover of one of the popular song titled Mr. Money by Bobi Wine a very talented Ugandan Musician. The grade six class did the song which spells the evils of money and how far one can go just because of money.
Another highlight was the traditional dances that were not only entertaining but also had a theme behind that helped the audience connect well with the survival ways of their ancestors as well as how time has changed so much around us. With the theme being education, everyone must have left well sensitized on the true value of well educated individuals.
The afternoon was crowned with Christmas carols by the school choir. One of the major features of the day was the children’s Exhibition that was showcasing a year of hard work with the Christopher House foundation an organization of young people that helps out not just in Visual arts but also performing arts in different schools. This was a God Connection for me to meet these guys and came as a relief knowing that am not alone on this journey. God is indeed raising up young people in my country to take responsibility of our Nation through our gifts so that with vision our nation will not just be known as the pearl of Africa but will be a pearl shining bright for the long sustenance of the people true Worship indeed.
What motivated me to mobilize a team of people for such a project is not only based on pride. I believe that having left primary school more than ten years ago, a lot should have changed. Especially at such concerts which should be intended to show case what the children have achieved over the year. With due respect to everyone that made a speech, I feel the children should feature more. Not that whatever was said is not useful. I know for a fact that much of what was said should be reserved for an audience that will make the necessary implementation for example at general meetings. This day should give a chance to youngsters to express themselves. Unfortunately this makes my low light; all the speeches were good but unnecessarily interrupted what could have been a perfect spectacle of pride in talent. To God be the glory for all that went well. A video will be made and the plans are help in raising awareness as well as fundraise for the school’s creative arts. This is definitely part of the vision and also a gift to a school that has opened its doors to kids from different backgrounds including Orphans sponsored by small organizations. Single mothers struggling to keep their children in school while running small businesses. Children in this situation have Kids First to thank. Kids First is a NewZealand based organization run by dear friends Sunny and Sarah Prabhu. They sponsor over eleven children in their program in Bunga hill primary School. We intend to use art in all its forms for the benefit of our young people in schools and on the streets. Knowing that by hearing their stories through innovative projects stigmatization will be tackled, self esteem will be boosted healing will come forth and dreams will unfold. The biggest chunk of our population is made up of children below 15 years and the countries future is in their hands. Next year should be better.
Special thanks goes out to Shai Richards who has tirelessly put is weight behind this project, Teens Uganda for endorsing everything i am doing, Debie Van Den Brink from Canada, Tunde and Vian Wamala a team that has brought forth such amazing presence with commitment and dedication to make all this possible for God's glory. Not forgetting my Brother Allan and of course Mulondo Brian i love you man.
The 27th OF NOVEMBER JUST AROUND THE CORNER
It’s now four weeks since we started work with Bunga Hill Nursery and primary school. What a pleasure it is to work with such a lovely school blessed with brilliant and welcoming children. The school has over two hundred and ninety children such a big number for such a small school. With classes from Nursery call it preps to primary seven call it grade Seven the later having completed the national exams leaving us with classes up to grade six.
The theme of this year’s celebration is Education and with items that include songs, Dances and Mimes. This is definitely the biggest local project I have ever worked on boasting of original compositions and could never be any better without my treasured partners. Shai Richards, working with mainly with grade six, Debie from Canada helping out with the poems, Vian helping out with the drummers, Teens Uganda volunteers Kikaziki Julian and Shua Michael. We have worked alongside the teachers of Bunga hill Nursery and Primary school this all time and what a priceless experience it has been. As we draw closer to the 27th of November, our job is to choose the final items for the concert. Tomorrow the 12th of November is the dress Rehearsal.
From 9am, books will be put aside and all eyes on stage as all the youngsters showcase their best as they free themselves of any nerves and stage freight. Education is the theme and this gives a chance to the children to celebrate while sensitizing their audience on the values of school, children’s rights, the fear of God as well as HIV and Aids.
God is working in the lives of these young ones and their confidence has grown immensely. Their eyes so bright, smiles so genuine in reflection of deep lying Joy. Their appreciation so heartwarming and their naivety and raw Talent an inspiration.
To God be the glory
Since i came back from Australia on the 29th of September a lot has happened, in fact i hit the ground running. Coming from a culture in the fast lane, back home where we take it easy felt so strange. I underestimated the implications. With a lot of unfinished bussiness, both personal and work related my character has been tested my focus too.
Meeting after meeting and plan after plan. My priority was always Bunga Hill Primary school and i have not been dissapointed. The welcoming administrators has been a treat and work can never be any easier than this.
The school end of year concert is fast approaching and my role is to work alongside with the teachers to make this a memorable event. My team includes Shai and Vian both with Valuable experience having worked with the Watoto Children's Choir.
Bunga Hill Primary school is a small day school with beautiful children so warm and welcoming. Their interest in our involvement is such a relief and all looks promising. The Deputy Headmaster wasted no time in introducing us on Thursday last week. The teachers are so busy preparing for the end of term exams and are quite impressed that we can help out which makes us feel much needed. The theme of the concert is education and the items to be presented are all original compositions and include Poems, songs,dance and a mime.
The bright red uniforms and infectious smiles of the children all blending with the sweet voices is priceless. God is really at work using us for his glory and without his presence in this we can not feel the amazing grace that is so sufficient wherever he takes us.
Today the 11th of October has been such a pleasant day. At exactly 4:35 pm we arrived at the school, the three of us and got to work straight away. The children knew what they were doing and all we needed to help them with was to instill freedom and passion in their perfomances, In their singing and Dancing