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Saturday, October 2, 2010

Robert Kawadwa Matovu

It is Saturday night, and only a few of us are in the dorm (for that is what Economica II is), most being away for the weekend, I guess.  Having bought today some smoked pork with which to add flavor to my ciorba de varza, and a salami and some cheese, I went at about 6:00 PM to the kitchen on my floor, and started to prepare my supper.  I realized I had forgotten to buy bread, but, I had wine, meat, cheese, and soup.  I'd get by.

The kitchen is almost at the opposite end of the hall.  I was heading back to get plates and napkins, as I had decided to eat at the kitchen's table, when a man came from the stairwell, and started to open the door.  He and I spotted each other.  He was African.  (That meant he looked American, to me.)  I was curious, so I greeted him, "Hello. I am Professor Duncan McDougall."  By now he was unlocking his door, the very next room to mine, though on the far side of the stairs from my room.  "I am Robert," he said, with a British accent.

To make a long story short, Robert brought the bread, and we shared a most interesting conversation over supper in the spartan kitchen on our floor.  Robert is the son of Byron Kawadwa, "the most famous playwright of Uganda."  Robert is 37, and is pursuing at FSEGA a masters degree in international business.  But his background is in theatre and drama, in rural developmental work, and in NGOs that work with the children of HIV-infected parents, or having HIV themselves.  Robert's wife and two children remain in Uganda, where she runs a small business.  Robert "left the bush and came straight to the airport to fly to Cluj" last December, and expects to remain here for over one more year.  His famous father died when Robert was three, murdered by "one of Uganda's brutal dictatorial regiemes."  (Perhaps, the notorious Idi Amin.) 

Though I did not mention it to Robert, I was reminded of Ovidius (Ovid), the poet banished from Rome by Caesar Augustus to Tomiş, now Constanţa, Romania, for "the crime of poetry."  Honest artists run afoul of politicians. You can almost postulate that.

Robert has hopes of one day earning a Ph.D.  And, he is a Mormon.  In my experience, that fact alone makes his ultimate success highly probable.

I suggested that Robert contact BYU, and see if they would be able to support him through a doctoral program.  I must say, I hope they will do so, for I met tonight a gentleman with a kind heart, and an active mind, who had to leave our table at 7:00 to attend a religious conference of Mormons, here in Cluj.

1 comment:

  1. What a great meeting! Thanks for sharing this, Duncan. A few years ago, I met a remarkable man from Southern Sudan with the name of Daniel Akau. At the time, I was teaching playwriting at the University of South Florida. I asked Daniel to come speak to my class, and he made such an impression that one of my students, Mason Wiley, formed a non-profit called BEAD (, whose main goal is to bring development to impoverished areas in East Africa. I believe that every meeting is an opportunity. Perhaps you could put Robert in touch with Daniel and Mason by guiding him to the BEAD site? Keep up the good work, amigo. La revedere!


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