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.
Yet just a few days ago, I read that Hussein Amin — one of 30 children Amin fathered — complained to the British newspaper, Guardian, about inaccuracies in his father’s 2003 obituary in the paper. I wondered why he was objecting so long after Amin’s death.
Then I read that Hussein Amin is planning to run for Uganda’s Parliament in 2016.
I hope, as we enter the season of peace, that history will not repeat itself. That peace will continue for the people of Uganda.
How I Met Robert
Like Sylvain, who was my contact for the post on Congo, 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.
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 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
All photos are either public domain or the property of Robert (used with his permission).
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