a day without dignity: shoe shopping in gulu
This post is a contribution to Good Intentions Are Not Enough’s A Day Without Dignity Campaign.
A Day Without Dignity is a counter-campaign to TOMS Shoes A Day Without Shoes “awareness raising campaign” (commerial). On or around April 5th – the same date as A Day Without Shoes – we’re asking aid workers, the diaspora, and people from areas that receive shoe drops and other forms of charity to speak up in blogs, on twitter, or at school.
Check out the campaign post for a roundup of submissions from across the globe discussing the problems surrounding unnecessary donated goods and evidencing the universal availability of shoes locally.
Since I recently wrote about TOMS shoes and other gifts in kind, I decided to spare you another preachy post and instead “celebrate” a day without dignity by going shoe shopping in Gulu.
If it’s a Payless Shoes-esque shopping experience you’re craving and standard black school shoes are your look, Bata is the store for you.
Perhaps all you want is a basic pair of flip-flops. Any of the supermarkets around town carry sizes to fit whole family.
For a wider array, peruse the numerous second-hand shoe stands throughout Gulu that stock everything from sneakers to stilettos.
I settled upon this fine pair. Rather Uganda-chic if I do say so myself. All in the name of supporting the local economy, right?
The campaign asks that at the end of every post, the author suggests to their readers one thing they can do that would have more impact than walking around barefoot to “raise awareness.” I like this challenge. It pushes us to move beyond cynicism to dream creatively about how we as a global community can do better. So, as an American living in East Africa and longing for a transformation of the white savior-poor african relationship that all too often dominates campaigns like A Day Without Shoes, here is my “one thing” for today: read a book by an African author. And don’t just read Things Fall Apart. Discovering post-colonial African literature and works from the African diaspora has transformed how I understand my experiences in East Africa perhaps more than any other single influence. It restores texture to the images of war and poverty we in the west see on a daily basis and gives voice to stories that are often never heard. While I certainly would not consider myself well read in this genre, I will recommend a favorite of mine - Zenzele: A Letter for My Daughter by J. Nozipo Maraire. Kick off those shoes and enjoy.