I have a problem.
I have no idea how to describe who I am. No, it’s not like I fell and hit my head and woke up to find out that I have no recollection of my life. Rather it is more of a deeper existential identity crisis.
I know the things I have done. I know what interests me and a vague understanding that my passion compass points to Africa, but it does so without regard for a specific field of practice. I am passionate about Africa in all its aspects; from technology to its youth, from entrepreneurship to good governance, from its creative ability to its athletic prowess, from its literary genius to its commercial farming potential.
Thing is, I’ve come to realize that, for whatever I am passionate about, I’ve jumped in with both feet. I start things with no intention of abandoning them. In all the above ways, I’ve created, cofounded, joined, participated in every which way that I can. As a former Olympic hopeful, I wanted to be Uganda’s first Olympic decathlete since John Akii-Bua in the 1970s. As a creative and photographer, I’ve always been passionate about Africa’s captured image and her agency. As a technology enthusiast, I’ve been fortunate to cofound Hive Colab and watch young technologists crafting Uganda’s future digital economies. As an entrepreneur, I started UMPG as an opportunity to show that African farming & manufacturing doesn’t have to end at the export of raw materials. And as a writer, I’ve waxed poetic about the ‘Africa Rising‘ meme so many times that I begin to wonder if I am repeating myself.
But lost in all of that activity is the definition of who I am. I simply have no idea how to describe myself. A recent trip to Dallas, TX – my former hometown – left me speechless on a number of occasions. Friends that I have known for nearly 20 years still start conversations with “so what exactly do you do?” This after years of explaining to them everything that I do. Things are further exasterbated by my fellow Ugandans. To them I am American, yet I know that my heart bleeds fully Ugandan. As a Diaspora, I embrace the two sides of me equally but self-identify as Ugandan.
I am starting to think either I suck at my own 30-second pitch or that I don’t belong in a clearly definable category. My father once said I’d be a “man for all seasons,” but that in itself isn’t a satisfactory label that I can hand to people and say “here, this is me.” To which they would nod approvingly and quiz me appropriately.
What box do I belong to? If you know who I am, can you please write my 30-second pitch please? I am thinking that perhaps asking a general audience can help me connect the right words into a coherent sentence. I keep dodging this question when asked because I really don’t know how to answer it. Ping me in the comments if you have an idea.