By Jane Nannono
The first exile lasted twenty-one full years! It happened merely because my country, Uganda, East Africa, could not give me a decent pay as a medical doctor, and the tools that I needed to perform my work were inadequate. No doubt, I could not achieve what I wanted in life in such a limiting environment. I had to look for opportunities elsewhere to realize my full potential. I ended up in Botswana, a middle- income country in Southern Africa. Botswana is regarded as an oasis of good governance and prudent management of the natural resources for the good of every citizen. I must admit that I practiced the best clinical medicine in this country while at the same time supporting my three children at the University of Cape Town: the top university in Africa.
I returned home over a year ago. For the twenty-one years I was away, I made time to visit home at least every two years. I could stay for one month or so but looking back now, the visits were not long enough to prepare me for what I have come to call my second exile. To my shock and amazement, I have returned to a country changed beyond recognition! I believe that no aspect has been left unchanged; some changed for the worse and a few changed for the better. Daily, I struggle to make sense of the chaos floating around me. It is the result of a combination of many factors. In the urban areas, Uganda has slowly but surely become a technology-driven country: the internet and Social media have changed how people do things, move, and communicate. The young, connected generation has become insensitive and impatient. Over the twenty-five AM and FM radio stations and eight or so television stations, the youths are preoccupied with money and wealth. They want to earn fame and fortune quickly and a number are ready to try any trick to earn it. Do not get me wrong, at their age we also had high hopes and expectations but were prepared to work hard to achieve them.
An Alien at Home
Their language is foreign to me, their attitude about work and savings are different. Sadly, most of them relate happiness to money instead of taking money as a tool to make one’s life comfortable. Money now controls their lives. The traditional values and principles, as I know them, have been grossly eroded. Compared to my second country Botswana, the Batswana are still community-orientated and still have high ethical values. They continue to harness the diversity of cultures, languages, and traditions and become united with a common heritage.
One of my worst nightmares is moving from point “A” to point “B” in Kampala, the capital city. There are too many cars in one small space and one gets caught in the tangled traffic for a simple thirty minutes service! We are often advised that if a place is changing you, to your core values, you should pack and leave before you lose yourself. Having said that, I know that East, west, home is best so I have had to trust myself to rise to the huge challenge of turning home into the place I want to be.
Finding My Comfort Zone
I have been able to look up other returnees like me to find support. It was not surprising that they also felt like foreigners in our country. Things are done completely different here; from outright exploitation to complete disregard of the known rules. After the initial shock and denial, I have opened myself up to learn and thrive while holding on to what I cherish and want to conserve.Alvin Toffler, the sociologist and writer said: “The illiterates of the 21st century will be not those who cannot read and write but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.” Click To Tweet
I learn something new every day, unlearn what is no longer true or relevant, and relearn what is still true and relevant. In this era of information overload, I have to decipher the information for quality-absorbing what adds value to my life. The wisest among us learn from the experiences and mistakes of others, so I am ready to learn from the young and old. I am becoming a keen observer of my surroundings to help me understand the environment. It is the only way I can control the controllable. I am determined not to be defeated by this second exile.
I know very well that change is an integral part of living and has to be embraced to thrive. To succeed, I need to remain positive in action and attitude and to ask for help and advice from other returnees.
Charles Darwin (1809-1882), the English Biologist and Naturalist, said: “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one most adaptable to change.”
I remain hopeful that despite the avalanche of changes around me, I can curve a path through then go on to grow and develop while at the same time helping and serving others.Charles Darwin (1809-1882), the English Biologist and Naturalist, said: “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one most adaptable to change.” Click To Tweet
I am a Ugandan medical doctor who has lived and worked in Botswana for twenty-one years. I recently retired to Uganda, my home country. I have been a voracious reader since childhood. I am a published writer: The Last Lifeline (2012) And the Lights Came On (2016) both fiction novels and available on Amazon. I also write short stories, and two of them were among the 52 from 14 countries published in the first Volume of The Anthology of The Africa Book Club titled: The Bundle Of Joy. I am finalizing my third fiction novel. Since October 2016, I have been running a blog to build up an audience for my creative work. Its link is: “A Page from Munaku’s Book.” I am a mother of two amazing boys and one daughter.
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