Three haircuts and different colour tints, binge eating, terrible mood swings and interrupted work schedules later, I still don’t have a passport, and I will not get it.
It is a no deal, the passport officer put his foot down; no Ugandan passports shall be issued to my kind- don’t ask me what kind that is.
Even after that recommendation letter from my place of work, and another from the Prime Minister, and a meeting with the Minister of State for Internal Affairs, he (the passport officer) wasn’t going to be swayed.
He said to me that he could give me the passport, but then he would have to give up his job since he was sure they would fire him any way. Must be tough, his job. Maybe I should have known earlier on that meeting with him, and or his people, every once a week for the last three months with a different and “more Ugandan Girl look” wouldn’t help any. Now that I think about it, I could have instead invented a new name, as one of his people had hinted, and denounced my dead mother, since as it is, she is the major reason –bless her- why I couldn’t get the to-die-for passport.
And what is this big sin she committed, which now, more than 20 years later I discover that I have inherited? She was Ugandan of Rwandan origin; her great grand parents were Rwandan- that is the major ‘stain’.
See, she could have had me with a Munyakole, Muganda or an Acholi man, but that is not important now because she chose to name me-, names that are, according to everyone at Internal Affairs office, a label of my Rwandaness. It doesn’t even help matters that she decided to have just her side of the family- who are in every way citizens of this country- raise me. I have, until recently (now am confused), lived, loved and generally carried on as a Ugandan. Because that is who I am, right? No one at the immigration office cares that I hold a voters card and have been voting since I turned 18.
Maybe one doesn’t really have to be Ugandan to vote in this country after all considering that one of the staff members informed me that any one can get a voter’s card, and just about any one can forge a birth certificate and basically any one can lie about being Ugandan and with legal backing.
And that they, because they are the professionals, know how to tell a non-Ugandan a part from a Ugandan, (little miracles!) and no, according to them, I am definitely not Ugandan, because look at my surname! Did some one mention that this country is devoid of geniuses?!
I have tried to adopt a sense of humor about this whole circus that not getting a Ugandan passport really was. Because, lets face it, you do not have both the passport officer- he seems like a good man by the way- and the immigration office lawyer- who always came off as absolutely uninterested in my case- ask you to apply for Ugandan citizenship then turn around (literally), and in the same breath, assure you that it would still not be easy for this citizenship to be granted, because, hmm, you don’t exactly have any grounds on which to apply for it. You are, in other words, not exactly a non-citizen .
And it is at this point that the lawyer, almost serious for once, advises me to get myself a Ugandan man, trick him into marrying me and then make sure that we are a happily married couple for the next seven years. And then, only then, shall I qualify as a Ugandan.
Who knew that I- with all my independent woman rhetoric- would one day need to be defined by a man who, poor soul will actually be doing it involuntarily?!So I have had to not take this learned person’s advice, after all, seven years of marital bliss is a lot like those fairy tale stories from which I stay very far.