Dear reader, my name is Uganda. Today is my birthday, and I am turning 58. Well at least that’s how much history can remember; deep down I know that I am way older than this. Infact, I feel immortal. I stay in Africa, been here most of my life and I must say I like it here. Depending on where you are, the sun rises each morning and sets each afternoon just the same almost every day. My skies have known rainbows too. It rains but doesn’t snow. My skin glows when it has drunk enough water, it gets green with grass and many forest species. I am vast. Very deep and shallow too. I am friendly if you don’t hurt me, however I have thorns too if you must get violent.
Enough about me let me tell you about my people. Their skins are dark brown and light brown, black strands of hair complete the look. The men, they like to go bald, ah but these millennials, you’ll find them with afros and cornrows or dreadlocks. If you ask them, they’ll tell you, times have changed, and really, I am okay with that. My men are quite strong with egos heavier than rocks, massage those egos and you have them at the center of your palms. My women, ah… God is such a show off. Have you seen the sunset reflected on their backs each time they bend to fetch water? The women are beautiful mostly when they wear their plain skin and braid their thick hair. But just like men, they have learnt to paint their bodies from nails to lips to eyes to the lashes, it’s all colorful. And if you ask them, they too will say, times have changed, a little makeup never hurt. Also, I am okay with this.
My children are innocent and filled with curiosity, and quite clumsy. The tenagers are embracing growth slowly by slowly. Let me brag some more. My people are quite ripe with their raw talent, we have unsung legends! When my people tickle their voices to sing, any disease could heal. We’ve got artists and writers, sportsmen and dramatists too.
Back to me, lately I have been thinking about me. Come to think of it, I don’t even know what my name means; I mean who even named me for starters. The Christians, they call it baptism. So was there a sort of celebration upon my baptism or did they just take me for a joke and decide a celebration was not worth it?
Being me has come with a lot of ups and downs; you know how people always assume that the good outweighs the bad? I honestly feel like if you put mine on a scale, they balance!! I have had some good years and some terrible ones. There are days when my people think about what’s good for me and on other days they think about what’s good for them. I wouldn’t want to call that self love. Anyway they have always fought to own me, like I am merchandise with a cheap price tag! I can’t lie to you; I love the attention because I mean it’s always about me. My leaders, my people, my minerals, what I have to offer, what I stand to get- tell me you wouldn’t enjoy being me.
I am writing to tell you my story. Many people have tried to rule me since my first birthday in 1962. Many of them were short lived except one who has been at it for the last 34 years. I have seen conquerors rise and fall yet one day they were a force to reckon with. And I am no fortune teller, but we all know the human life span has a curve that ends with a not so gentle slope sometimes.
Back to my story, I am proud of my people for leaving most of their culture behind, they now wear cloth and shoe and sleep in brick and cement structures. This may seem normal to you but there was a time hides and skin covered only the private parts and shelter was either in caves or under grass thatched houses.
Also, they embraced one God and the rest has been history.
And so my dearest readers at 58, you may think I have seen it all. I kid you not, it feels like the show is just getting started. A better story makes the headlines every other day; some headlines make me want to step on the rest of their heads. ‘Uganda discovers oil’ ‘Uganda ranked 10th in fighting Corona in the world’, ’Uganda’s Joshua Cheptegei beats another 15year world record’ of course, there are pretty nasty headlines too ’Chaos as the country ventures into elections’ ‘Corruption eating away at Uganda’s economy’ ‘Makerere Ivory Tower Burns down’ ‘Uganda still grappling with gender based violence’.
But today is my birthday, and it comes once a year. My people get so excited and throw parties celebrating liberation from colonialism. And I laugh at them, when the wind is blowing the trees, yeah that’s me laughing. I laugh because this liberation seems like such a badly written story… a story for another day. Today, sing me that song that starts like this, Eh Uganda, Mungu Imarisha… Don’t sing it in English. Pour me a glass of redemption, hopefully, I can save my people.
Tell whoever is responsible to preserve what’s left of me. Till next 9th October, I remain yours faithfully.