“If you’ve spent more than a month in Uganda, then you’re a true Ugandan,” said William, our guide at Sipi Falls. I have officially surpassed William’s 1 month mark, and am onto my sixth week in the country. In my weeks being here, I have traveled, experienced, and learned so many things. From waterfalls in Sipi, the Source of the Nile in Jinja, the best food in Mbarara, and a boat ride on Lake Bunyonyi, my time being in Uganda has been a full immersion experience. Though I have had my fair share of tourism experiences, I also think about William’s notion of what encapsulates a Ugandan.
In today’s social and digital age, I find myself only posting pictures of aesthetic, iconic moments; not my daily “life”. Upon writing this, I looked through my camera roll, found nothing that matched such an aesthetic, and felt like I had nothing to share. In reality, I gain something new everyday and have such a full heart of memories to give.
For the last two weeks, I have really been making myself at home in Lira. Despite my difference in appearance compared to most residents of Lira, I am beginning to resonate with becoming a true Ugandan. Familiarizing myself with the markets, streets, and familiar faces has made me gain such a residential perspective of life in Africa. There’s something so raw and real about buying everything fresh from the market, seeing friends at church, maintaining our own garden, and going on walks around our neighborhood.
To me, Africans and especially Ugandans, embody resilience, strength, and pride in everything they do. While attending church last Sunday with friends at Victory Outreach East, we sang so many songs, calling out to Jesus, “We look to you for love in our country, we do not look to you for riches.” This country asks for love, peace, and contentment, not monetary profit. Though still developing, Uganda has the kindness and strength faded out from many western countries. This is also represented through the symbolism of the nation’s flag: black for the color of its people, yellow for the sunshine, and red for the color of blood the brotherhood shares with the rest of the world. “People from every nation and every tongue from generation to generation,” the Sunday congregation sang. Being a part of such a community gives me more satisfaction and honor to represent Uganda and Christ in everything I do.
“For when we have faith in him, we become confident in all circumstances.” 2 Chronicles 16:9.
I believe I am already a changed person through my experience in Uganda. Perhaps it’s the difference in the English spoken, or the lack of processed sugar in my food. Nonetheless, I stand taller, I am humbled, and I carry confidence- to me, that’s what being a true Ugandan is. It is embodying the colors of the flag and keeping one foot moving forward at all times, like the crane in the center of the Ugandan flag. Maybe it takes more than a month to gain this, or maybe it just takes the right support system to help cultivate this. I aim to reap more of the energy, confidence, and lifestyle true Ugandans have in the rest of my time amongst them. Here’s to being a Ugandan for one more month!
By Sarah McCord, Fellow ’22