As a first-generation American whose parents fled Uganda to escape persecution, my impressionable five-year-old mind struggled to comprehend the cultural shock that left me torn between two worlds, neither of whom fully understood or accepted me.
I never felt American enough because of my distinct East African features, and never quite fit in with my Ugandan heritage because my American accent which made me sound like a foreigner betrayed me. As a result, I found myself on a steep mental journey into an unknown world in search of where I belonged. This struggle persisted until the age of 19 when I made my first trip to Uganda. As I alighted from the aircraft in Kampala, I remember feeling a sense of inner peace and plenitude as tears rolled down my face. For the first time in my life, everyone I saw had high cheekbones and enlarged foreheads that looked just like mine. Now I could finally and completely emerge in my mother tongue “Luganda”.
My search for self is undoubtedly the reason I started E’kubo Project; a non-profit organization that literary translates to “the journey” in Luganda. The original objective was to give other first-generation refugee youths in the United States an opportunity to connect with the language, culture, and heritage of their ancestral homeland through organized visits, but this plan has since metamorphosed into a project that now seeks to address health and other social issues plaguing less privileged and financially handicapped communities in Uganda.