Memoirs of a Ugandan Slum Dweller: Part II

by James Tayler


**Cross-posted from The Age of Zinc**

I was born in the central part of Uganda in Bweyogerere, which is in Wakiso district outside of Kampala. I grew up in Naguru, which is in Nakawa Municipality. I grew up with my mother and father but when I turned ten my mother separated from my father. My father was working on long distance business so most of my time I spent with my mother.

My father was working with the Uganda Post Office, working at the post plant that is located in Bweyogerere, but moving around a lot to different areas. I knew him well, he used to come back and then we would be together. He was providing for us because he had a good salary. But he then went bankrupt after being falsely arrested when a generator was stolen from his workplace. He spent time in Luzira Prison until the real thief was discovered. The incident took a heavy toll on my family. My father, who had also been a storekeeper and bookkeeper, took to farming when he was released from prison and found it difficult to make a living.

I have two brothers and one sister – we are four. I’m the first of the four children of my father and fourth of the twelve children of my mother. I grew up with very many siblings but my first three siblings we are from different fathers so they stayed at their own father’s home. When my mother separated from my father, I stayed with a total of six.

Where I was born is not a slum but a semi rural area. But when I was growing up, after the separation, we moved around and at one time lived in government quarters. After a period of time we were evicted and went to the slum areas in Naguru Go Down, which is also in Nakawa. We lived here for some time. When I grew up I got married in the slum of Kamwoyka. I’ve lived in Kamwoyka for 17 years now.

In the settlement there are many different people. Some people are civil workers who could go and work to help their families. Initially my mother was working with the Ministry of Sports but because she had a lot of responsibility with all of us children she could no longer work. So she started her own business – she’s a market vendor in Nakawa. When she started, she couldn’t support us much because she was just learning the business. She was cut off (from the civil sector) so she had to look for a solution for herself. She had to find out how she can survive.