“I didn’t really understand the magnitude of the occasion – I was just excited to go home.”
56TH INDEPENDENCE DAY ANNIVERSARY BUILDUP
When Uganda attained her independence over five decades ago, Siima Sabiti’s mother, a young girl at the time, admits she did not really understand the significance of independence. Her biggest change, though, was having to learn a new national anthem after having previously sung the British anthem all her young life. Siima, who is the editor of Flair for Her, a Vision Group magazine, shared her mother’s experience on Twitter using the hashtag #MyUgandaAt56
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During one of our many conversations recently, I asked my mum what it was like to witness Uganda gaining independence from Great Britain. It was one of the most fascinating conversations:
“I was just a young girl when Uganda gained Independence. I remember that schools closed, so we got to go home. I didn’t really understand the magnitude of the occasion – I was just excited to go home.
My father was the Superintendent of Police and Prisons, Bugisu district. He was one of the first people to own a TV in Mbale town, and even had a gramophone. Your grandfather would play records and teach my siblings and I how to do the twist.
When I got home from school, the independence celebrations were in full swing. There were people everywhere, dancing, beer bottles in their hands. Others were drinking buseera, indali and kwete. Not that Smirnoff Black Ice of yours.
As kids, we were thrilled because we were allowed to drink soda until we couldn’t drink anymore. We danced kadodi all night.
We started dancing from the Bugisu district administration offices all the way to the High Court: the flag hoisting was to take place behind it.
Your grandmother had just given birth, so she couldn’t enjoy the celebrations. Your grandad still picked her up in his car, took her to watch the Union Jack [Great Britain flag] come down and the Uganda flag go up.
The celebrations continued through the night and into the next day. I remember waking up and finding the house full of relatives who had travelled to celebrate the occasion with us. The day after independence, we watched TV and that was pretty much it.
Life more or less went back to normal. Being a child, I didn’t understand the significance of independence. In fact, the biggest change for me was having to learn the Uganda national anthem. I had been singing God Save The Queen all my life!”
If you know anyone who was around during that momentous occasion back in 1962, talk to them. It’s amazing what you will learn.
Do you, too, have a story related to Uganda’s independence that you would love to share with us? Get in touch with us:
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Oh, by the way, you can also check out our collection of Uganda’s history in pictures HERE.