Pattaya City Expats Club (PCEC) had two Ugandan ladies, Lydia Nankinga and Juliett Nakyonyi, gave a spirited and informative presentation at the Club’s February 9th meeting. These lovely young (20-ish) ladies have been in Pattaya for a grand total of four months, but have already ingratiated themselves not only by their regular attendance at the PCEC’s Sunday meetings, but their active participation at St. Nikolaus Catholic Church (members of the choir, no less) and recently joining up with a local thespian group. And this is on top of their day job as English teachers.
Both Lydia and Juliett arrived from Uganda four months ago to teach English in Thai primary schools. Prior to coming to Thailand, they both graduated from university with education degrees and had two or three years of experience teaching in Uganda. Their primary reason for coming to Thailand was economic – the money they earn here helps support their siblings (each has 5) and parents back home. Though, it’s pretty apparent, that these ladies have a huge spirit of adventure and hearts ready to serve. There is no doubt that they are making the most of their time here in Pattaya.
Their PCEC audience now knows a whole lot more about Uganda than they did before. Uganda is a land-locked, tropical country of 46 million located in east-central Africa. While the economy has been growing, four-fifths of the population are engaged in agriculture. Christianity has the most followers in Uganda (more than 80%) with Islam the second most popular (14%).
Much like English-speaking Filipinos, Ugandans have dispersed to various parts of the globe in search of work. This is facilitated by their knowledge of English, which is used as a common language (along with Swahili) in a country where there are 40 different tribes and languages. The use of English, of course, comes from the British rule over Uganda for many years. And the one good thing, though there probably are several others, that came from this was the introduction of English as the lingua franca of the country, which has enabled Ugandans, including Lydia and Juliett, to seek employment outside of their own country.
Of course, they noted, most Ugandans would be happy to stay home if they had a good job. But that is hard to come by in a country that has a birthrate that is second only to Nigeria. The average Ugandan family has six children and an astonishing 50% of the population is below the age of 15. Compare that to Thailand where the birthrate is now under two per family. It all adds up to a lot of mouths to feed, children to educate and jobs to create. It’s an impossible task they believe for any economy, hence the need to find work outside Uganda.
Lydia and Juliett spoke on the history of Uganda since its independence from Britain in 1962. Besides the infamous president Idi Amin Dada, there have been plenty of coups (some presidents lasted only a few days), until the most recent president who has been in office since 1986.
Politics aside, they made Uganda sound like a lovely place to visit, with mountains, rivers, waterfalls, abundant wildlife and ten national parks. Lake Victoria (the largest in Africa), the source of the (white) Nile River, borders the country to the southeast. They also discussed the tribal differences of the various regions and its respective culture.
Of particular interest was the ladies sharing photos of their families. Houses in Uganda, at least those of Lydia and Juliett, are comparable to those in Thailand. Comfortable, though small by western standards since eight people would be sharing the living space.
The finale of the presentation, which was a large portion of it, was an introduction to the music and dance of Uganda. It is lively, with plenty of hip and body movement. Four expats from the audience joined the ladies on stage, but it was evident it might take a little practice before they are able to move their hips like the Ugandan ladies. The rhythms and sounds of Ugandan music are analogous to reggae, not really so unfamiliar to many of the expats in attendance. For a taste of the Ugandan music Lydia and Juliett shared with the PCEC, go to YouTube and search “Kyarenga.”
After the presentation, the MC brought everyone up to date on upcoming club and other events of interest followed by the Open Forum, an opportunity for those in the audience to ask questions or provide comments about Expat living in Thailand, Pattaya especially.
For more information about the PCEC, visit: www.pcec.club.