Its great meeting you FRANNIE THORBURN -POLO and your view on connecting ideas and collaborating African and Global Cultures is amazing. I greatly appreciate your scope and perspective as to your Weaving Cultural Trails project. It embodies retracing roots, ancient traditions, and historical African Anthropology. Searching for a cultural and moral identity through creative ways.It’s a creative spiritual journey to unity, to beauty and to freedom. Your Weaving Cultural Trails message is pregnant with meaning and reason . REVOLUTIONARY. Such a great idea reveals your positive character and ingredients of peace within you as a person. Powerful Traits. I am overjoyed to converse with prowess and to profile you Frannie Thorburn -Polo and your legendary project- Weaving Cultural Trails. ( Blurb by Mbizo CHIRASHA).
TIME OF THE POET. You said your roots are in Uganda, where exactly in Uganda and to which tribe are you connected to?
Frannie Thorburn-Polo. I was born in Uganda, in the city of Kampala in 1955. My tribe, or blood line is very thick with variety. My father was raised in Kenya by parents that originally came from Italy and Austria. My mother was born in Canada and her parent’s bloodline is Irish and English.So to answer your question, my bloodline is very mixed, but my heart and soul belong to Uganda.
TIME OF THE POET. What inspired you to start the Project Weaving Cultural Trails and What are your achievements so far?
Frannie Thorburn-Polo.My inspiration has evolved through my life experiences. The people of Uganda, as everywhere, are rich with a unique and diverse culture that has sustained them and molded them to-date. As we can see in today’s world, there are still the old traditional ways, and modern day traditions. What I have noticed through my years of travelling is many countries that still live with old traditional ways seem to be adopting more and more of the modern worlds desires and lifestyles. I am not saying that this is bad, but what I fear is a loss of traditional ways and beliefs in pursuit of the modern world’s luxuries and conveniences. I understand that poverty and hardship is more prevalent in “developing countries” as they are called, but what is maybe not so evident is that the “modern world” has also some serious problems. One of the main differences between modern society and old traditional ways is the breakdown of community living. This rich existence has been forsaken due to the pursuit of modern conveniences and unnecessary luxuries. This trend I believe has created many negatives that influence the modern world culture. One of these is the breakdown of community and family. Today the modern world has a more individual and self-reliant existence. For example, old people are not respected as senior members participating within the family, once their children leave home and create their own family, they become independent and self-reliant from their parents and their grandparents etc… They are put into old age homes, and in many cases forgotten, they play no role anymore within the family. Why is this, my guess is because there is no place for them in the family home, and it is inconvenient. The trend now is for both parents to work full time jobs, so there is no one to look after them.
Homelessness and drug abuse has become a very serious problem here. I believe this could be exasperated by the lack of community support. People are so busy making money to have all their “things”, and have little time for the community, in some case sacrificing their own families. So the cracks in modern society keep getting wider for the lost and lonely to fall into.
Due to the belief that we need all these modern gadgets and luxuries, we have created an economy, a society that is reliant on people constantly spending their money. The modern world has become so expensive to live in, so now both parents have to go to work as everyone in the family needs their new gadgets. If this trend stops, this big economic machine crashes, and we all fall down, just like Humpty Dumpty; it’s now a catch 22. What has evolved is a society that has become self-reliant, introverted and cut off from each other leaving a lot of lonely and lost people within these communities.
I believe that priorities and values have become skewered, and that the world is chasing a money God, and forgetting what is really important.
So by bringing people together from diverse backgrounds in an atmosphere of fun and laughter, I’m hoping we can learn about each other and our diversities. Through this I’m hoping that old traditional ways will be appreciated along with the appreciation of other belief systems, religions and values. The hope is to gain insight into what is really important. What values and behaviors can we all adopt and share with each other to help create a more balanced, peaceful and healthy environment for humanity?
Through these exchanges the hope is that new friendships evolve and new doors of opportunity can open based on equal footings. The hope is that this will bring about a more peaceful existence built on foundations of acceptance of our diversities, respect, trust and equality for all.
As with everything, there are negatives and positives, but by sharing our ways with each other we can gain insight and learn from each other. We can also open new doors to find solutions to challenges, and new opportunities; whatever that may look like.
TIME OF THE POET. Weaving, the prefix to the name of your project for sounds artistic, do you have any background in any form arts, poetry, writing and design, give examples?
Frannie Thorburn-Polo. I cannot say that I have education in any form of artistry. My artistic abilities are based more on integrating things I like from different cultures. Examples are my fashion statements, mixing up recipes by incorporating different foods from different places, collecting different music from different cultures. I really enjoy writing though. It is something relatively new that I have developed a passion for, but I have no education in this subject. My blog site is called Fran’s Journal. You are welcome to have a look at it. https://fransjournal.com
I have not done too much with it in the past year or so as we have been in the process of selling our home in Canada and moving to Mexico. Hopefully once my life is somewhat back to normal, and this COVID madness has calmed down, I can become more involved in what I want to do with my life.
TIME OF THE POET. You are great traveler, how does travelling grow your perspective, your world and the tourism component in Weaving Cultural Trails?
Frannie Thorburn-Polo. Most of my life I have been travelling, whether its back and forth from boarding school, going on safaris with my father, or travelling to different countries with my husband and family for work purposes.
Growing up in Uganda I was blessed to live in a community that thrived on its diversity. There was diversity with the people and religion, and there was a respect towards that diversity. This allowed me to grow up feeling very comfortable within different cultures.
As this was my reality it has allowed me ever since to travel and live in different cultures and feel comfortable.
It was while living in Canada that I became aware that this was not something everyone was comfortable with. My community in Canada became a popular area for East Indians to move into. While I was very excited about this, as it gave me the opportunity to meet new folk and explore their shops and bring in new spices etc. into my home, most people around me felt very uncomfortable about this change.
This was an awakening for me. But it was when I went back to Uganda on one of my visits, and was having a conversation with a gentleman about some of the cultural differences. I mentioned to him about how the old people were put into old age homes, and as mentioned earlier, in many cases they are forgotten. This gentleman was totally shocked and disturbed about this. He could not grasp this concept. This is when I realized that I felt it was important that we come together to learn from each other. You see, I can see in Uganda how the Money God has become a dream and a reality. So I feel it’s important to understand that sacrifices will be made in the pursuit of this Money God. My driving force behind my dream is for people still living within their traditional ways to understand and appreciate what they have now, and not to allow the Money God to blind them so that they lose their way in exchange for modern conveniences and luxuries.
TIME OF THE POET. How are you copying during these times of COVID and how does affect your projects and What are you doing to help vulnerable communities during these bad times.
Frannie Thorburn-Polo.At the moment I am living in Mexico in a small fishing village. I have only been here since January so I’m still a newbie and busy learning the language and finding my way around a new culture.
We have been very lucky living here as there does not seem to be much of COVID 19 in the area.
Although the village has shut down except for the essentials, life goes on very much the same. The village is fortunate that one of the big expensive hotels here, “4 Seasons” has contributed funds for buying food staples for the people. This has been a real blessing for the whole community.
We are involved with the people on our street and have rice and beans to share. My husband goes out fishing with my neighbor to catch fish so that can be given to those in need. At this point all is calm in the village, and things are beginning to now open up, hopefully by the beginning of June we are back to the new “normal”.
As for me, I am helping to take care of the street dogs as they are a forgotten species here. I am doing what I can to feed and take care of the dogs on my street in particular.
I think it’s time to bury beliefs of superior, primitive, modern and under-developed cultures. I think it’s time to appreciate and treasure Mother Earth’s diverse cultures; to develop an open-mind and willingness to learn from each other.
Weaving Cultural Trails is my vision of where humanity can begin to start a healing journey and bring about hope and peace here on earth, where we all live.
Weaving Cultural Trails is about breaking new ground to find healthier ways forward through the sharing of Mother Earth’s cultural ways in an atmosphere of authentic appreciation of our world’s diversities.
By hitching a ride on the back of Cultural Tourism, Weaving Cultural Trails vision is all about diving deeper together into all cultures living and breathing here on Mother Earth. This adventure is all about talking, laughing, singing, dancing, story-telling, sharing food and traditional ways with each other on an equal footing. It’s all about opening new doors, and allowing guests and hosts into each other’s homes and communities. It’s where new seeds of friendships and possibilities and opportunities can be given a chance to sprout and grow. It about cutting down and burning misunderstandings and mistrusts, and instead weaving cultural bridges built on foundations of Acceptance, Respect, Trust and Equality.
By creating opportunities where tourists, travellers, guests can come and stay in a community with a family; during shared times with guests, hosts and community members, stories and singing and dancing can take place, all around the table while eating traditional meals cooked by hosts and guests. Eating food together always performs magic. It breaks down barriers and makes room for fun and laughter, and allows new doors to open.
I was born and raised in a most spectacular country, Uganda East Africa. In my adult life I have had the privilege of living in and experiencing a few different cultures in the world. I have grown and been molded into appreciating the beauty and excitement of a variety of cultures. It is from my life’s adventures that my flavours for food, fashion, music, reading materials, new friendships and love of diversity has evolved. I am comfortable to call myself a diverse citizen of Mother Earth even though my roots will always be rooted in Uganda.
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MBIZO CHIRASHA IS the Freedom of Speech Fellow to PEN- Zentrum Deutschland,Germany. 2019 African Fellow of the International Human Rights Arts Festival in NewYork, USA.Literary Arts Activism Diplomatie. Globally Certified Arts Mediums Curator and Influencer. Internationally Published Page and Spoken Word Poet. Writer in Residence. Arts for Human Rights Catalyst. Core Team Member of the Bezine Arts and Humanities Project. His illustrious poetry , hybrid writings , political commentary ,short fiction , book reviews and Arts Features are published in more than 400 spaces notably the Monk Arts and Soul in Magazine in United Kingdom. Atunis Poetry.com in Belgium. Demer press poetry series in Netherlands. World Poetry Almanac in Mongolia.Poesia journal in Slovenia. Bezine Arts and Humanities Webzine in USA. The Poet a Day in Brooklyn ,USA. Litnet Writers Journal in South Africa. African Crayons in Nigeria. Poetry Bulawayo in Zimbabwe. Pulp-pit USA.the FictionalCafe international Journal , Texas USA. Best New African Poetry series in Zimbabwe, Zimbolicious Poetry Collections in Zimbabwe. Co-edited Street Voices International Publications with Andreas Weiland in Germany.Co-Edited Silent Voices Anthology, a Tribute to Chinua Achebe.
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