Burundi II, Democratic Republic of Congo II, Kenya II, Rwanda II, and Uganda II
Bigira Kirokiro – Earth Man – Ooops!
By Jheri St. James
“My name is Bigira Mustafa David Prince KiroKiro, but please call me Kiro. In 1992 problems between the Hutus and Tutsies in Rwanda, Africa threatened my life. Since I was a Zairian national who couldn't return home due to problems with the Mobutu regime, I came to the United States where I received asylum. I used to have a store in Costa Mesa, California called AFRICAN CORNER. It is now in Fountain Valley, California. I sell African art, jewelry, incense, reggae accessories and tobacco pipes. I love the United States of America. It has been so good to me. I thank God every day that He brought me here to live safely with all you guys!
"I love Africa too. I love the people, their joy, their ability to pick themselves up from a disaster, find something to laugh at, and go on. People everywhere have problems but sometimes I think Africans have a few more, especially the children. On my last trip to Africa they touched my heart. I have to do something to help them. I've asked for help and it has come in the form of THE MOSES KAZIBWE MEMORIAL FUND FOR AFRICAN CHILDREN. I am proud to be a part of this organization.” (www.themosesfund.org)
This Earth Man is a whirlwind Common Ground 191 collector, who travels extensively in Africa in pursuit of his humanitarian works. Kiro has been an active collector for our project, providing soils from five countries—Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda! His writings about each collection are a nostalgic shorthand travelogue that evokes many images in few words:
- Burundi – “Gitega (Nyamugari) – My home town—playground. Back yard. After 35 years, the first time to be back in hometown. Special—special day 4 me.” – July 2008
- Democratic Republic of Congo - République démocratique du Congo – “Goma Kivu – Birere – I used to have shops at this place 17 years ago.” – July 18, 2008
- Kenya – “Nairobi (Kibra) – My friend’s home Nubian.” – July 21, 2008
- Rwanda – “Kigali (Nyamirambo” – My sister, Halima Kirokiro’s back yard soil.” – July 10, 2008
- Uganda – Kampala (Mbuya Kinawataka) – “My brother’s home, Hassan Kirokiro, back yard.” – July 19, 2008
Kiro’s life work is a tribute and memorial to the life of Moses Kazibwe, whose story can be seen below:
WHO WAS MOSES KAZIBWE? At the age of 18 in 2002 Moses left his family and friends in Kampala, Uganda to come to Colorado to study computer science. His intention was to eventually return home as “the African Bill Gates” to help Africa and his friends. Everyone believed he would do it because he was super-smart, but more important, he cared. After a few months in the United States, he died of complications of sickle cell anemia. Although he was only 20, over a thousand people traveled for hours to attend his funeral. Everyone we met who knew him called himself Moses’ friend and spoke of a personal loss. His death as this nonprofit was being incorporated inspired us to dedicate our work to his memory. THE MOSES FUND is a 501(c)(3)in Costa Mesa, Orange County, California that was created to help children in Africa.
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THE POWER OF Oooooooooops!!!
Kiro doesn’t remember the first time he called Ooooooooooops!!! It’s been a few years. He does it both here and in Africa. But in Africa Ooooooooooooops!!! is his mission. He goes everywhere calling Oooooooooooops!!! Those of us with him do it too and people respond. Together we Ooooooooooooops!!! in a joyous frenzy.
Sometimes Kiro says it means, “Be strong. Be loved. Be seen and recognized.” Other times he says it means, “We have a voice together.” He also says it is the love he feels for the person or people in front of him. Every time he’s asked he has another good answer.
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Bigira Mustafa David Prince KiroKiro or Earth Man as he is known at Common Ground 191, is a special collector in our project. Many of our soil samples have come from sites of horrific slaughters, and we all know Africa has seen her share. But Kiro’s soil samples have come from personal places in his life, members of his family’s yards. This speaks to a humble life, a life of gratitude for the simple joys of living on Our Mother Earth. Thank you Kiro. Gary and I are looking forward to meeting with you soon to expand upon the friendship you have offered through two-cup jars of soils of your Africa. Bless your good work always, all ways.