What makes you Ugandan? Is it the tribe and heritage you came from? Is it the passport and the nation IDs that you always flaunt in the faces of authority when out of the country? Is it your ability to feel pride when your country is mentioned? Or is it just knowing that you hail from a country crowned in divine beauty? What truly makes you Ugandan?
What is it about Ugandans that makes us unique, that gives us that ability to stand out from everyone else? Over the weekend at midnight there was this awful silence that seemed to have hit the city and many of the hang outs around Kampala. The country’s pride and joy, the Uganda cranes had just lost a game to Egypt in the African Cup of Nations becoming the first country to drop out of the games after a very spirited fight.
You see Uganda hadn’t qualified for the games in decades so this was the only chance after finally making it past whirlwind qualifiers in 2016 meaning everyone was excited and happy about it. The first game against Ghana literally dampened the moods around after Ugandans spent a whole day sharing their support and love for the national team all over the internet dorning the team’s jersey on their way to work and staying out to make sure they catch the game. Uganda lost to Ghana that night too after a small mistake by one of the players that enabled Ghana win through a penalty.
Yet, in the last half of that game Ugandans still had hope for their team, they chanted from miles away alongside the very few other Ugandans in the Libreville stadium in Port Gentil Gabon. The feeling of patriotism when the Ugandan anthem was played at the stadium, the surreal feeling that the rest of Africa was focusing on the pearl. You could feel the resilience sip into the players who fought very hard to bring something back home with them no matter what came their way, but all to no avail.
The last game against Egypt was supposed to be the stepping stone into more games, yet all that hope was dashed no matter how hard Coach Micho’s boys fought. Several Ugandans held tight on their seats, hugged pillows and said prayers to make sure the Cranes made their way to the top with at least one goal to gain more points and stay in the AFCON games.
The pain of losing that Saturday night made its way in bashing that came the next day and the “well we were not going to win anyway..”
People forgot why the team went to Gabon in the first place, to showcase what Uganda is made of. The team lost but they showed how good they are when they work together under a well organized leadership. So what makes you Ugandan? It’s the spirit of oneness, one that looks beyond tribe, beyond origin and beyond all the political parties/ religions that keep separating everyone from who they truly are; a people who are warm and welcoming.
Ugandans are a people that celebrate life with its fullness and showcase beauty wherever they go. That’s the Ugandan spirit, that is what makes us truly Ugandans.