Essays, poems and Stories of an African-American

Thursday, 7 February 2013

Thomas Rogers Muyunga Mukasa on: Filling the vacuum in the Diaspora; lessons for persons of Ugandan descent




There are points I want to bring to the minds of readers of this very important paper. The paper is both a notice-board and a cultural manifestation by Ugandans in the Diaspora. There is a self evident belief and confidence we humans are capable of. It is what makes us get aware of our surroundings and seek to utilize them for our benefit. We get exposed to human life and cognizance that we could have made it better were we to be given a chance     (second chance). This does not mean we were failures in a pre-Diaspora life.

True so much could have been destroyed but there are those who are in the Diaspora knowing they came to pursue full life's meaning. A moving target. There are also those who still look at life from a bitter angle. Persons who are still bitter and angry at what they think is 'not' good in their eyes. Amidst all this the Diaspora offers stimuli of vast characteristics ranging from visual, aural, sensory to tactile that was not possible in Uganda.

We come to learn skills to manipulate the stimuli for our good. This is what improves our competences. As we gain and improve on our competences we are improving on our resilience as Ugandans in the Diaspora. We are able to socialize, have homes, have permanent addresses, engage in home-making, get children to schools, engage in community services and contribute to the hosting Diaspora.These are the soft milestones we should celebrate everyday!

Ugandans were missing out in the Diaspora until around 1970s. Regime changes contributed to this. Many countries have contributed increasing numbers of their people in the Diaspora.

Uganda, a late 20th Century Diaspora bloomer has a unique typography in the various host nations. Whereas other countries may boast of learned, professional, skilled and economic immigrants or visitors to host countries, Uganda has only contributed such calibre in the later years of the 20th Century.

The Diaspora is a patch-work of communities with roots of countries of origin. These communities have gone into a range of specialties which offset dislocation issues and act as survival mechanisms in the Diaspora. A cursory exploration of immigrants from Africa in Australia, UK, Canada, Germany, France, Italy, Sweden and USA into who is working where will give you a picture of what am arguing. Just ask yourself: Who are in the auto-parts garages? Who are in the health-care services? Who are running worship centers? Who are running refugee support centers? Who are running eating places (dunkin' donut for instance)? Who are running hair salons? Who are running thrift shops? Who are running small business centers (photocopiers, sending mail, fax and stationery)? Who are in hotels?

One will find an established network of who is who and this will have a leaning towards countries of origin. It also makes community networks a potential for establishing thriving businesses and livelihoods. This brings me to two concluding points: Western medicine meeting African medicine and the concepts of human development. NB. In applying the term 'western,' am only trying to contextualize and locate Africa and the influence that impacted on it between 1300-2000 from Europe. Africa in this paper is taken to mean; Sahel, Islands and Sub Sahara Africa.

Back in Uganda a child who was rather precocious, inconsistent, in-disciplined and highly active was encouraged up to a point. Oh! The switch or rod or the stick was never far away in case of 'indiscipline.' In the Diaspora we have been exposed to research and care for problem children (children with adjusting problems is a friendlier term). We have now been taken through an understanding of ADHD (Attention deficit hyperactive disease), we have also come across information on effect of saturated sugars in sweets and puddings on under fives. Many stories of children who are overly active after a high sugar intake are rife. We can now relate tolerably and know how well to treat our ADHD children. We have learnt this parent- filial tolerance and now have improved on our ADHD awareness.

Between 2007-2009, I happened to visit returning child soldiers or former abductees in Gulu, Uganda. A friend told me a story of a family that had resorted to locking up children as treatment to ADHD. I shared with him a similar experience in Mukono (Uganda). I have another friend of mine from Teso who had done his PhD thesis on this condition among children. He had therapeutic sessions he conducted for parents and community leaders. Hopefully, Soon many families will adopt practices that regard their ADHD children positively.

I am an un apologetic social justice believer. I am a human rights advocate and want to end with a point on sexuality, orientation, gender and identity (SOGI). Recently, we have read about a gay Ugandan-Swede couple who formally exchanged vows. I have friends who cast a vitriolic salvo at this happening. I also have friends who say in the interest of dignity we need to look at the humane picture. What will it take to look at those who do not "appear" like the rest to be seen as human beings who deserve dignity, respect, positive regard and tolerance? As an end-to-HIV-specialist-activist I believe formal marriage is a path to reducing on number of multiple concurrent sexual partners and this is a crucial lifestyle goal in preventing HIV /STDs.  Ugandans are now able to travel to other countries and assimilate in the first world. It is my hope that this will encourage openness to tolerant practices and encourage re-assessment into what is blocking our understanding of other human beings, not only for Ugandans in the Diaspora but for anyone.

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