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Reconnecting to Uganda Through Food

My father was born in 1942 and grew up in a sleepy Ugandan village along the shores of the river Nile called Budondo. Located roughly six miles from Jinja, he often told us stories of studying his homework by candlelight and walking several miles each way to school. Sometimes, when we hear our parents tell these stories, we don't believe them. Or, we think they're exaggerating to prove a point. But, having visited the Budondo several times, I can confirm in 2023, there are still people likely studying by candlelight and walking several miles to school.

My mother grew up in the capital city, Kampala, in Nakulabye. Living on the doorstep of Uganda's largest and oldest institution of higher learning, she was destined to attend Makerere University, where she met my father.

My father was Busoga, and my mother was Baganda, meaning they came from two different tribes. Despite initial disapproval of their relationship, they married and in 1975, they fled Uganda and the dictator Idi Amin for Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A.

As my father advanced in his career as a Cardiologist, we moved away from Chicago, to the cornfields of Central Illinois, to an ultra-conservative, white community.

Cooking Ugandan food was a way of reconnecting to the land that my parents had left. And served as a pathway connecting us to our ancestors.

Decades later, I started cooking dishes from my childhood for my family to tell our children where my side of the family originated from. As I write this note about my parents, I want to know how our children will remember us and whether they'll carry on the traditions of cooking these same dishes passed through the generations.

Ugandan x Gujarati Supperclub

Sunday, April 30th, 2023

6:30 - 9:00

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