I am African. I am Ugandan. This is what it says on my passport.
I am a woman. This is what it says on my birth certificate.
But no one buys it.
I am buying vegetables outside a supermarket in Mukono, central Uganda, and a woman from my clan, the Bazigaba, finds me choosing green peppers. You can cook? She asks. I have been back in Uganda for 7 years and two weeks. I still cannot cook, but I can feed myself. I have learned that these are two different things.
I felt this process was parallel to the internal destruction of identity and beliefs that accompanies true introspection. With every question, you draw back to another more basic, more devastating question. From “who do I want to be?” to “who am I anyway?” This kind of questioning leaves you at the edge of a very dangerous precipice and you know it will be a painful fall, but you do it anyway.
Performing has put me to task to keep writing and produce new and original work. I often borrow from these pieces to develop something deeper and more satisfying to the mind and soul. Performing has also helped me develop my voice as poet by sharpening me against other poets.
I find writing for the page more challenging but, by far, more fulfilling. I feel the page expresses my intentions with more sincerity. But I do not prefer one over the other. More people have been moved by my performances than by my written work.
My story with Africa started with rejection. I still ask myself why her? She is not really my mother, sister, or friend. We have very little in common and only blood has tethered me to this woman who, I often imagine, disregards my being.
My mother tells me I was an easy birth and a quiet baby. I think, even then I did not want to be a bother and from then my story was a search for belonging. But you already know my story because it is that of so many Africans who migrated and lost themselves along the way. The difference is details.