“Nature has taught and helped me so much in my life. I don’t know how many times I’ve thanked it.”
My name is Manda. I am 73 and from Uganda, Africa.
It is said that Uganda is the Heaven of Africa, because of its people and climate. My life there growing up was fantastic. I had parents who loved me like anything. I’m sure every parent does the same thing, but my parents gave me a beautiful and loving childhood. My parents always told me that after I was born, there came a lot of luck and happiness in the family. My father encouraged me a lot. He told me; try and be a very good hearted girl, try to help, think positive and be humble. He also told me that nobody could steal my luck.
When I was very young, about 8 or 9 years old, I used to watch Hindi films and wanted to become a nurse. Because I wanted to help the sick and poor people who were suffering in the hospitals. As I grew older, I wanted to be writer. When I used to read anything good, I thought I could also do the same and write to show my feelings to the world. But, I was a day dreamer, which was no good for me. It meant I didn’t concentrate in school especially. I day dreamed a lot about my future and where it would take me. I was very good at playing badminton and tennis. I also loved dance and drama. Even though I was not clever in my studies, I was voted as head girl in my school (1966), because of my nature.
I used to always love nature. Nature is always teaching me so much. Time never comes back and whatever situation you are in, it is not going to be forever. My home in Africa was by the river, so every night I would watch the sunset and sit by the water. When the sun comes down, I thought to myself, nature is telling me: do every good thing you wanted to do and finish in time.
I then got married to a handsome and smart man who was in love with me. I couldn’t believe my luck.
In 1971, general Idi Amin came into power in Uganda and we had to leave the country. He was a cruel man. Everybody was frightened of general Amin because we didn’t know who would come to our homes at night and maybe kill us. I had one son born in Africa before we had to move, and one son here in England. Both were such beautiful children.
When we came from Africa, we didn’t know or have anything. Because we weren’t allowed to bring anything back with us, and I only had £200 and some gold. At first, I was fed up of the weather in England. It was too cold for me to go outside, because we came in the winter. I then found a job, in a textile factory, where I worked every day. I had a good English friend who encouraged me so much; how to work, how to do the shopping and speak better English. So, it became easier. And we were happier to settle in a safe country.
As years went on, I became a grandma to 4 children, which makes me very happy. It was as if it was my new birth. Only people who are grandmas can understand this and how precious those children are. I was so lucky that I could do everything and anything for my children, there was no restrictions. The happiness that I got in my life, I wanted to give to my children, my daughter-in-laws and my grandchildren.
Nature has helped me so much, that I don’t know how many times I’ve thanked it.
Live for everday. Second by second. Don’t go to the past and don’t go to the future. Because if you waste today, you don’t know what you have lost.