The last six days have been journey of rediscovery through thought about my home.
For a long time I had thought of myself as a Ugandan, not much as an African until one day, I watched Nancy Kacungira’s TED talk about telling African stories. She narrated her experience living in the diaspora. Of how almost all non – Africans thought of her as an African and not just a Ugandan. And that’s when it hit me. I let my mind drift to a land of unanswered questions. What made me African? What is it that I knew about Africa as a continent that is my mother land. How do I relate with other Africans other than fellow Ugandans.
I was born and raised in the capital of Uganda, Kampala. For a long time, up until my teenage life, I had never really travelled out of Kampala except for the few times I had to visit my ancestral home for funerals. And those were the least of times. So, I basically knew very little to do with anywhere but Kampala.
In school, we learnt a lot about the scramble and partition of Africa by the colonisers, the capitals of the 54 African countries, The major atrocities of our land; colonial and post colonial wars, genocides and apartheid and African heroes like Nelson Mandela and Bishop Desmond Tutu, amongst others.
I didn’t really heed to these things but I didn’t have much of a choice because cramming them was the only way to get promoted to the next level. To me, these things felt like a movie because of the way they were taught. Even the teachers didn’t seem to relate to any of them. To me, they were just statements to be copied from the blackboard and on to the exam paper.
In my heart of hearts however, I had the yearning to know what the Africa out there felt like.
Mid way high school, I acquired a smart phone and just like any other teen, facebook didn’t survive me. Out of sheer curiosity, I searched for my name, “Pius Miti” and I was blown away. There was one other guy with that exact name from Lusaka, Zambia. Same spelling and punctuation. Was this a sign from the gods for a lost brother?
How could two sets of parents on entirely different corners of the planet, different backgrounds, culture and lineage think about the same names for their baby boys?
Now don’t get me wrong a lot of people across the world have similar names and that’s a usual thing. But my name is “Miti” which if precisely translated to Luganda, my local language literary means trees. Not woods, trees. It’s everyday that parents name their sons after trees. Even more unusual for it to happen twice with the second name. This couldn’t be a coincidence.
So as expected, with the hungry dog seen born excitement, I immediately got to the keyboard and direct messaged this “brother” from Zambia.
Me: Hi! How do we have the same names? Do you know my father from Uganda? He drives a small white corolla.
Miti: Hey. This is weird. Lol. 😏 Is he famous?
Me: Yeah, but only at home. Our neighbors hardly know his name. Can I send you his pic?
(Sends pic immediately lest he says no)
Miti: Oh you didn’t wait for my reply, Your that punctual… Huh😂😂😂
Me: Please tell me how you know my father or how you got my name. I’m freaking out. 🙏😵
Miti: Wait, is that his head? Looks too big to be real.
Miti: Bruh, calm down. I’m not in any way affiliated to you. I don’t know who you are or who your dad is…
Me: Then why did you call me bruh? Huh?
Miti: Forget it, that was a mistake. Shouldn’t have said it.
Me: Which clan are you from?
Miti: Good night, man. You need to rest.
I sent Miti quite a number of texts for a month, everyday until he decided he had had enough and he blocked me. Too bad I will never know why this guy has my exact names.
Later in my late teens when I started listening to a lot of African Christian music, I discovered a Zambian artist called Pompi. The dialect and accent he pronounced words with sounded exactly like the Baganda of Kampala. It hit me again.
All Africans are in a way related to each other. We share a lot of cultural diversity in space and over time. The creation of countries that stems from colonial territories is all a hoax. We are not really different. We all are one Africa. The traits of the outsider that we adopt (and this is inevitable) make us think we are different but it’s upon us to rediscover our history and live an Africa that we envision.
Our minds are locked up into thinking we are different because of the African diversity. But in this very diversity we can find unity if only we choose to celebrate it.
I will end this with a quote from Bob Marley, “Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery. Non but ourselves can free our minds.”
Thanks for being part of the #UgBlogWeek. I love you all.