In 2014, I packed my whole life in 2 suitcases and a bag …left home (Uganda), left everything I knew, my friends, and my family; for the USA to pursue a post graduate degree. Little did I know about the adventures, escapades and the growing pains that awaited me.
Do I have any regrets? NO! Was it all flowers and spices and all things nice? NO!
Any Afropolitans or immigrants or non-white expatriates (in many spaces, this term is only used to refer to people who identify as white. I use it to include all people) have a story to tell and here’s a little bit of mine.
My 7 lessons:
- My mother was not the best cook in the world. Her food was darn good though – May her soul rest in peace. In my language (luganda), we have a saying ‘atanayita yita yatenda nyiina okufumba’ – directly translated would mean if you haven’t really travelled, you will think your mum is the best cook in the world. In a nutshell, travelling has exposed me to so many cultures and ways of doing life that are different from mine and I am a better person for this.
- Anti-Black is a real thing. Being born in Uganda is a gift because everybody around you is Black – for the most part. I didn’t have to navigate biases based off of my skin color everyday – I was just living life. Leaving the African continent is another ball game. Becoming a minority in non-Black spaces has opened my eyes to so much injustice that I now have names for things I couldn’t name before. Just so you know… A Black person can also perpetuate anti-Black sentiments.
- Opportunity and exposure is what separates those who have resources and those who do not. We all seem to internalize the wrong message about under privileged societies or what we term as ‘poor’ countries. I come from what people will commonly refer to as a ‘poor country’. Interacting with different cultures around the world has taught me that the only difference between what we term as the ‘the rich’ and ‘the poor’ is opportunity and exposure. Period!
- My parents gave me the very best and I am truly grateful. My sister (who now also lives in the US) and I have conversations around this. Seeing the world at large, away from home, has made us realize that we got a good upbringing through the sacrifices made by our parents amid a not so perfect family.
- Religion is a human construct. This one is a sore spot for many Africans and I have probably opened pandora’s box. You’ve got to do your own research on this as this is a lesson I have learnt from being curious about so many religious practices around the world. Many of them perpetuate patriarchy and misogyny. (Just so you know, I was raised by a muslim dad and a christian mom – they couldn’t agree on where to tie the knot so they had a civil marriage.)
- Kindness is a vibe. My mother, bless her soul, always emphasized the message of being kind to me. Sometimes I hear her voice whisper this in my ear when I am about to go off on someone. Kindness has become the most precious thing to me as I navigate this not so perfect world. Be kind to someone today. Be kind to yourself – always.
- Community is valuable. I cAnNot StReSs tHis eNouGh! My favorite definition of community is from the Collins dictionary – ‘Community is friendship between different people or groups, and a sense of having something in common’. Before I moved, I probably took community for granted because it was handed to me (through school, neighborhoods, family and friends). Whether you are living in your birthplace or faraway, community is essential to living a fulfilled life. Find your community.
Thanks for reading this far. I truly appreciate it. If you want to connect, leave me a message. I’m always happy to expand my community.
Changing the narrative. Telling my African story