Skip to content

a day without dignity: shoe shopping in gulu

April 6, 2011

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. 

Join me.

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. 

If you’re after something a bit more…sparkley…the local beauty parlor offers a host of bedazzled options. 

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.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. April 6, 2011 8:55 pm

    Great post and wonderful suggestion at the end. Reading more African literature has been a project of mine, too. I recently read Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and absolutely LOVED it. Thanks for your recommendation – I added it to my list.

  2. Pop permalink
    April 7, 2011 2:33 am

    Delightfully written and very thought provoking. Thanks !

  3. Tracie permalink
    April 7, 2011 4:17 am


    I recently found a copy of ‘Zenzele…’ on the shelves of the Commons’ bookstore & snatched it up right quick! I remember you telling me I had to read it…now I will bump it to the top of my priority reads.

    Miss you & your intriguing thoughts & mad carpentry skills.

    Love you.

  4. Kristin permalink
    April 7, 2011 5:11 am

    oh for sure those are Uganda-chic…and just plain chic.
    would you ever consider the bedazzle variety? I totally wore those glitter jellies back in the day…some even had disney princess faces on the top.
    good to chat with you for a bit today!

  5. Allyn Krzymowski permalink
    April 17, 2011 6:45 am

    Here’s a shoe shopping photo from Bolivia (photo of a another SALTer). Flip Flops, sandals, and bedazzled heels were the thang in Bolivia also.


  1. A Day Without Dignity | Good Intentions Are Not Enough
  2. a day without dignity: shoes in karamoja, uganda « kiss the joy as it flies

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: