Richard Mugera and Nakku Senkeeto at 20th UNAA Convention
Richard Mugera and Nakku Senkeeto at 20th UNAA Convention

I met Nakku Senkeeto on the first day of the UNAA Conference. To be specific, she was the first person I introduced myself to. However, it took four tries to arrange a sit-down conversation with her. Between speaking to young entrepreneurs looking to invest in their homeland, and being mobbed at her booth, it was not easy to catch her idle.

You see, Nakku falls into a new category of migrant population called reverse migrants (PDF). After 27 years in the states, Nakku and her family decided to take the plunge and seek greener pastures in Uganda. A graduate of Regis College and George Washington, Nakku, according to Vijay Mahajan, a business professor at the University of Texas in Austin, is contributing to Uganda’s burgeoning “Africa 2” economic sector. It’s a group of upwardly mobile middle class of Africans that are positioning themselves outside the $1 a day earnings threshold that most of Africa’s general population falls into. They are highly educated employees and entrepreneurs who are rapidly expanding the private economic sectors in Uganda.

We sat down for an in-depth chat on her life and times in the States, her family’s decision to move back and the future of Uganda in general.

Here’s a little nugget. If you listen carefully, you’ll notice that Nakku’s accent traipses between American and Ugandan accents with a tinge of British. She attended boarding school in Britain.
DAW: Nakku Senkeeto (mp3)

  1. I like this interview and I like Nakku…I know her since childhood (we are childhood family friends and neighbors in Uganda) and she’s always kept her head up with great respect…I remember her coming back home to Uganda on holiday, from the US and she was a great girl..never polluted by the western life..never larger than life. Her interview is so positive and a reassurance for us who’ve tried to return home and failed but still wish to try again. I went home for 5 months last year after 8 years, try to settle in but didn’t succeed so well. I came back but still hope to return. thanks Nakku for always being a ” African Superwoman” (Alicia Keys)

  2. I will add one thing:
    Nakku’s statement that the Uganda education system is very theoretical..mostly true, although that doesn’t make it entirely worthless as she seems to portray it. The problem is mostly to do with the availability of resources (particularly books) and the fact that it’s a foreign system almost taught in the abstract. One example I always give to people is learning about apples in nursery (kindergarten) school when i had never seen an apple, in fact never saw one until I was a teenage and they were imported from Kenya. Which is the difference with the US system that she prefers, because here they are teaching about their own lives and day-to-day activities and items not British systems. Also, there’s plenty of resources especially hard copy and electronic books that children can refer to.

    Still, Uganda’s education system though tough is very competitive and this explains why many Ugandan (in fact African) students excel once they come to the US where they have plenty of resources. In fact Nakku’s own brother, a prominent Lawyer in Kampala is entirely a product of Uganda’s education system and should be an example to Nakku that not all is lost in our education system. The problem is when the education consistently seeks to “westernize” even as it transforms now…and looks at solutions from western education instead cultivating a home-grown system, which will in fact lure people into thinking about developing opportunities in their own country rather than seeking opportunities abroad. Whereas Nakku has sought to use her foreign education for the better of Uganda, she could also think of training her children to seek out from Uganda’s education system and transform the US understanding of Uganda. It would be better than completely abandoning it for a “US life in Uganda”..but then again, don’t we always talk about individual choice? As for me, I am working very hard to ensure that my Us-born son gets the opportunity of attending King’s College Budo in Uganda, which made me what I am today. The challenges there prepared me to face the world as I have.

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