Dari Kampala Ke Kuala Lumpur

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Clare shares her stories and photos from home. With audio.

The story of a solitary instrument helping a solitary girl find her way into a feeling of ‘home’ again in her days and voice— that was through no credit of our own.

It has become inconsequential to us whether or not this studying-slash-living experience means anything to this flock of foreign students. Yet, we still expect them to come to our shores…which leaves us with the question as to what role we have to play in this story?

Clare mentions the collective feeling of foreign students who anticipate their fresh chapter here, only to be “shut down” and resigned to each other.

But she also speaks adoringly of the friends she finally made in her third year of life here. It seems as if we lack the initial enthusiasm to connect to the throngs of new faces, but yet have the capacity to become wholeheartedly great friends with these new faces, eventually.

When this flock of 86,000 students graduate, will they still be able to take more with them on that flight home, other than just a certificate? Will they, like Clare, return to Kampala, and speak so fondly of Malaysia?

“[In fifty years], I would have expanded a family from Malaysia into Africa. Just by them knowing that they have an ‘aunty’ in the land of the Lion King whose door is always open to them, just like some Malaysians opened their homes and hearts to me…

Whatever I am to them, their family will be mine. African culture is like that. Am I making sense?”


For this story, Clare unearthed a few gems from home and put them through the scanner to share with us. The slideshow and audio interview on left describes her home as filled with music. This playlist is a sampling from Kampala.

Pata Pata by Miriam Makeba
Makeba herself pauses in between singing in rapid Xhosa to drawl in English: “Pata Pata is the name of a dance [...] And everybody starts to move as soon as Pata Pata starts to play [...] The dance keeps going all night long till the morning sun begins to shine – hey!” This, incidentally, perfectly describes Clare’s family’s house parties, where relatives would usher the children to click their heels and turn around in step to the dance.

On Entre OK, On Sort KO by Franco & TPOK Jazz
A classic Lingala drinking ballad by the favourite musician of Clare’s father (who also doubles as their family DJ) this famous song is heavily associated with a good night out. Franco made Congolese rumba famous and “molded” Clare’s father’s taste in music.

Jalousie by Madilu System
Jean de Dieu Makiese was given the moniker Madilu System by Franco himself, and he dominated the Congolese scene from the ‘60s to the ‘80s, with and without Franco. Madilu System and Franco & TPOK Jazz have grown on me the most. Listen also to his song Aminata, shared earlier in this series.

Umqombothi (African Beer) by Yvonne Chaka Chaka
From what Clare tells me, Yvonne Chaka Chaka is kind of like the Siti Nurhaliza of Africa. “She made my childhood with her beauty, grace and caring nature. She is a true diva— even today,” Clare gushed to me.

Joanna by Kool And The Gang
Clare’s youngest sister was named after this Kool And The Gang song. Joanna is Clare’s third sister who might be headed to Malaysia too in a few years, getting the chance to experience Malaysian living-slash-studying for herself.

Redemption Song by Bob Marley & The Wailers
The family’s favourite Bob Marley song, and finally, something mutual from our past that we both knew the lyrics to back and front!



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