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#Ugandaesque: Khakis aren’t Mandatory in #Uganda

I first arrived in Uganda in August, 2009. I had just finished my B.A. in International Development at McGill University and I had planned a year traveling around the world, with my first stop teaching English and French at a local Ugandan school in Kikaaya, on Mityana Rd. Little did I know that my 3-month planned visit would turn into the 3 years I’ve now logged in Kampala.

I was so excited and so naïve when I first came to Uganda. I’d been dreaming of coming to Africa ever since I was a little girl, and when the plane started descending toward Entebbe Airport, I felt like my heart would burst with joy! I had buzzed my hair in preparation for washing out of a bucket in the village, and I was dressed head to toe in Khaki, because like all Mzungus, Hollywood had taught me that khaki is like a mandatory dress code for the continent of safaris. I was confident that my time in Uganda would be incredible, but I didn’t know yet how. I had a few impactful moments along the way that made my life in Uganda what it is now.

First, I was seated on the plane beside Isaac Mulindwa (of Silk Events, PAM Awards, etc.) and he offered to show me the town, so a couple weeks after settling into Kikaaya village life, I caught a taxi to Kampala to attend a Bebe Cool launch put on my Silk, and that was my first step into Kampala’s music industry. I ended up moving into Kampala and managing Crystalklear music studio throughout 2010, which is how I met several of the celebrities whom I’m working with today, like Bobi Wine and Iryn Namubiru.

Then the type of crowd I fell into was so Ugandan. Like all things in life, there have been good and bad side to that. I’ve never been on a safari or even to Big Mike’s, but I can introduce you to some good bufundas around town. I’m just recently doing more work with international agencies, but I worked up to that through all these local-local jobs.

I left Uganda at the end of 2010 and came back in 2014, but I was never settled back in Canada. Through that time, I gained a Master Degree in Communications, and my thesis specialized in cross-cultural proposals. I worked for a year and a half in the communications industry in Canada, and then I left it all to come back to Uganda. I’ve been given opportunities to do such interesting work with so many remarkable people since I returned. It’s been an incredible journey. Along the way, I’ve learned some Luganda, and really so much about the way Ugandans think… In fact, in some ways I am starting to think like a Ugandan! For example: I now expect plans to be derailed when it rains. I no longer accept the first price I’m offered. I’ve come to feel very comfortable and safe in Kamwokya ghetto. I’ve become used to sitting side saddle on a boda and chuckle when I see white people holding on for dear life. I’ve become used to seeing the extreme differences between rich and poor, luxury cars bouncing along dirt roads, but it still hurts my heart to live with the inequality.

I’m not sure yet how long I’ll stay here, but I will always keep my mind open to new and different thinking, because it has been so rewarding to have my mind stretched by Ugandans.

Anne Whitehead
Anne Whitehead is a communications professional based in Kampala, Uganda at Whitehead Communications. Visit www.whiteheadcommunications.com or connect with her on Twitter - @whiteheadComm
http://www.whiteheadcommunications.com

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