A Wish for Lasting Peace in Uganda, the Pearl of Africa
I started this project in 2014 as a personal challenge. I wanted to see if it was possible to speak to one person in each country of the world. Talk to them about their daily lives. Our commonalities, rather than our differences. I assured them they could respond in any way they chose. Because the focus is on their words, I only identify them by their first names. To date, I have spoken with people in 60 plus countries with the help of friends, family, neighbors, and colleagues. I still have a long way to go.
My limited knowledge of Uganda conjures up nightmarish news coverage of Idi Amin and the atrocities of his violent reign during the 1970s. Decades later, when I saw the film, The Last King of Scotland,” I was reminded of Amin’s cruelties and how horrific the world seemed when I was a teenager.
Yet after Amin was deposed in 1979 and his predecessor reinstalled, the violence continued. Robert, my contact for this post, was a child then. One of his childhood memories is watching two of his school-aged brothers being taken away and forced into the army.
Robert told me that Uganda has changed since those days. Today, it is prospering and at peace.
How I Met Robert
Robert is a journalist who writes for Tuck magazine, an online publication based in the U.K. After reading an article of Robert’s, I contacted him. Graciously, he agreed to be interviewed for this blog.
Robert was born in a small town called Katooke, five miles from the capital of Kampala. He was the fourth of seven children. Five boys, two girls.
All photos are either from Pixabay or are Robert’s, used with his permission.
My Conversation with Robert
Tell me a little about your childhood.
I grew up in a family where everything was okay. Things turned when I was 11, during the Bush War of 1980. Village children were forced to join the army, women were raped while their husbands and children were watching. This is just a little about my childhood in Uganda.
What is your ethnic heritage?
I am Muganda by tribe, from Bantu, and from Nkima (monkey) clan. My king is Mutebi the second.
What is the best thing about living in Uganda?
Uganda was nicknamed the pearl of Africa. It is always green. The people are not hostile, they are friendly. We don’t have the seasons of winter and summer.
Look out a window where you are living and tell me what you see.
I am seeing a beautiful green hill full of trees and plants.
If I came to your home for dinner, what would you serve me?
I would serve you Matooke (crushed bananas ), yams, whole chicken, groundnuts, sweet potato. By the way, l have to serve you only local food to mention but a few.
“In the house, there is no way,” This means whoever comes or knocks the door is an important visitor who should be cared about.
Tell me something about your culture few outsiders know about.
In Uganda, we have independence day every 9th October but still on 8th of October, it’s the independence of Buganda kingdom. So it’s so interesting.
What worries do you have for the future of your country and its people?
Embezzlement of funds and corruption. And a culture that has been eaten by western culture.
What gives you hope?
To see every day we have newly born children free from diseases.
What is your opinion of the United States?
It’s heaven on earth!
What is your impression or knowledge of Chicago?
It’s the area for only black people.
Please share a quote that inspires you.
“In life some must be prepared to face obstacles, criticism, hate, persecution, betrayal, and whatever weapons some people use to make others miserable. Standing firm after passing through such trials makes one the conqueror.”
What changes would you most like to see in Uganda?
To see that power is shared among the people. To see that presidents leave power without force or wars.
When you are away from Uganda, what do you miss the most?
Local food and fresh weather.
What brings you peace?
A noise-free area.
In the home of the coward they laugh while in the home of the brave they cry. — Ugandan Proverb