We were living in the UK, my Mother had gone back to Uganda (UG) for… well their generation didn’t go back home for vacation. They went to build “the house” (as in the dream retirement house), deal with the relative who’d “chopped” the money, that was meant to build “the house”, buy land, sell land, see how that business was doing, visit an ailing relative, you get the picture, it was never a vacation.
Exporting Africa to Europe
Mother always returned to London with roped luggage full of our mother country. This was a running theme in African and Caribbean communities. I think flights from Uganda arrived on weekends and Mother would wheel her little African mountain out of Heathrow Terminal something. Us her children all nicely lined up would feel the disapproving looks from the locals that said, “the villagers have arrived”.
For a whole week, the living room floor would be filled with goodies from UG. Mother would say, “but I packed… where is that… did that house-girl not bring my…?” This aunty or that aunty would swing by for her basket, mats, mini wooden stools, musical instruments, cultural stuff for an upcoming wedding, funeral, food, herbs, the list went on.
Some foreigners in Africa
Anyway, before one of these mighty returns to the UK, Mother was standing in a long queue, inside a bank in Kampala. Outside the temperature was probably around 27 degrees, not sure if the air-con inside the bank was working. I could imagine my mother thinking her whole day was going to be spent waiting in the bank while she had things to do. A Muzungu (Whiteman) walks into the bank, everyone clocks him. It’s fact, everywhere in the world we all stare at foreigners, even if we’re pretending not really looking.
This Muzungu dude in UG, I imagined him to be slim, tall, in the late forties, leather weathered skin, longish brown hair, he’d be wearing a loose light blue shirt, cream-colored trousers and a cotton scarf around his slim neck. Head held straight he walks past everyone to go to the front of the queue. I swear if I’d been there, I would add that the woman at the front of the queue stepped aside to let him conduct his business.
How to annoy a diaspora in Africa
A trigger goes off in Mother’s head. She walks up to the dude, I believe he was about to begin his transaction with the cashier. Mother gives him a piece of her mind and asks him to step back to his place in line. You can imagine the “Urh!” (that’s a high-pitched jaw-dropping “Urh”!) from the Africans. And from the dude, “you beep, beep beep, who do you think you are?!”
Listen, I don’t blame the dude. I’ve jumped queues many times. However, in this context, every UG in that line knew that, that dude’s actions did not work but they all stood aside and allowed it to happen. Therefore, we as Africans must be accountable for the stories we allow to happen on our soil.
We’ve built Embozi, as a space for Africa to share her journeys and experiences as a collective. So many of us are collecting our stories but they’re scattered across all the social media platforms. Only those with many followers, likes, and shares are being seen. Let us come together to empower each other and move as a collective.
If someone had filmed the above incident and posted it on their socials, no matter what language you speak you would have understood the story and possibly connected it to your own journey and experiences. Therefore, we ask you all to bring to Embozi, stories that are visual, so that the world can see what’s happening where you are.
From UG, the word Embozi, means, “what’s the story?” … They will abuse me for this translation. In my defense, the word Embozi can also mean, what’s the news or what’s the gossip?
Share your story
Embozi is an African hang-out for anyone living, working, or traveling on this great continent.
Warm and kind regards,
Lovinsa Kavuma (Founder) and the fabulous Embozi Team.