By Pearly Gasha
To imagine that 58 years ago the Pearl of Africa gained her independence leaves my mind running wild with thoughts. Of course, I wasn’t born yet, but a part of me low key envies the people that had the honor of witnessing this joy. I imagine their hearts bursting with pride.
As for the leaders at the time, they must have felt heroic. Don’t get me started on all those that lived during the colonial times because am certain that freedom must have finally felt like a breath of fresh air. But I also imagine them wondering about readjusting their lives from what they considered as the norm. You see, when you start to find comfort in your place of discomfort, it can be tricky to find your way when the tables turn for the better. Anyways, enough with the imaginations, that’s not my story to tell.
Let me share my fondest memories of what I’ve experienced in my not so many years of being a citizen.
Disclaimer, for some strange reason, every time I think about Uganda, the word heritage comes to my mind. This happens whenever I think about our culture and its diversity; not forgetting the social scene, music, and food. But allow me to specifically share with you about the kind of sunshine and warmth Ugandans ooze alongside our amazing dining experience.
I’d like to believe that in Uganda we don’t just eat food but rather we experience it. Thankfully, it is a nation that has been so richly blessed with a variety of food that also enriches particular cultures. In the western part, “akaro” (millet in English) that goes well with “eshabwe” made from cow ghee is not just a tradition, but a heritage for its people. Growing up, I’d look forward to the festive seasons or those random big Sunday lunches. This is because that meant there’d be a whole lot of food.
The other thing I find extremely fascinating is the generous portions of local food that restaurants in Uganda serve. You’ll walk in one-minute starving to death and walk out in the next, not wanting to smell the food. This one time a friend and I decided to try out a new restaurant in town and my oh my; we later realized we had overestimated our hunger. Let’s just say we had to be carried out of there😂😂😂.
During my childhood, I looked forward to the festive seasons so much that I was always counting down especially for Easter and Christmas. We’d wake up so early to prepare like ten dishes and the meal would later be served close to evening time. A heavenly cup of milk tea would follow soon after.
Uganda is one of those places where you’ll spend an entire day preparing a meal that will last a few hours in your tummy. The thing is, it’s not even just about the quantity or variety of cooking the various dishes but rather it’s about the bonding and stories shared during the process. You’ll find the aunties trying to tell the younger ones’ stories of what it was like growing up in their days or trying to share tips and hacks of how they prepared their meals as well the experience of lighting fires with stones. Its moments of hearty laughter amidst plenty of storytelling that make it worthwhile.
I also like the level of hospitality, warmth, love, and joy that Ugandans embody. It’s one of the places that a tourist will easily navigate. All you need to do is hop on to a bike aka boda boda and you will find your way to the deepest corner of the nation or wherever it is you are going.
That being said, as the Pearl of Africa celebrates 58 years of independence, I know we are not without fault, not a perfect nation but I believe that even the bumpiest journey eventually leads you to happy places.
So today, I’ll turn a blind eye to the dark spots and celebrate how far we have come and all we are blessed with as a nation.
For God and My Country; Happy Independence day!
2019’s award winning blogger for World Bank’s annual Blog for Development competition, Pearly is passionate about writing, reading and networking. She has practiced Communications since 2016, actively doing Digital Marketing and offering PR advice to various clients. Check out her blog here.