Business and Finance
Solomon Mwebya: a glimpse in the life of a Ugandan serving in the British Army
Multiculturalism. Assimilation. Diversity. These issues are often discussed in current political debates and are highly relevant to life in modern Britain. Over the past 65 years, waves of political and economic immigrants have enriched the cultural composition of the United Kingdom, London in particular. In 2011, David Cameron famously stated “multiculturalism has failed”. Whether or not one agrees with this claim, it originates in the observation of the marginalisation of ethnic minorities from mainstream British society. How can one gauge the extent of such a social divide? Political scientists have found that better social integration facilitates political involvement. Voting, for instance, is not merely representative of an individual’s preferences, but also their social context, and their sense of belonging to the wider community.
Where do you come from in Uganda?
I come from a small village called Kawulu in Buikwe District. But I spent most of my life as a young boy on a small island called Busagazi, in Lake Victoria. In Kampala, I lived in Makindye.
When did you relocate to the UK?
Officially in 2007, after I spent a lot of time working with The Pearl of Africa drama troupe by Molly and Paul travelling in many countries helping charities to raise funds for destitute and helpless children.
What is life like as a Ugandan in the British Army?
In the beginning, life in the British Army was challenging, as everything was new. Different culture, different language and different people from all over the world. But I found it easy to get along with my colleagues because of my personality and because Ugandans are naturally humble. I was also keen to learn everything that came my way. Life as a Ugandan in the British Army is an adventure worth ‘giving a go’.
Why did you decide to join the British Army?
I decided to join the British Army because I wanted to be the best. All the advertisements have a quote saying ‘British Army, be the Best’. I saw an opportunity to try something different, like traveling the world, working with the world’s most elite units and get educated, but also to get experience, confidence, and meet new people from all walks of life.
You started an association that brings together Ugandans in the British Army. Tell us about it and its objectives.
Meet the Soldiers is an association that brings together all Ugandans still in service and those who have served in the British Army, to get them to know each other and share their experience in the service. In 2009, I represented the Commonwealth soldiers on the Queen’s birthday, which was one of my best moments in the British Army. This event led me to think that I had something to share with my fellow Ugandans and encourage them to work hard.
Our aim is to help other fellow soldiers, and also those who have left the Army, whatever situation they might find themselves in now. We also want to encourage our fellow Ugandans out there to join the Army and get experience, get educated and create for themselves opportunities for the future.
We want to act as an example to the community and pass on the discipline to the youth to show them that we are not only useful in the army, but also in the community when we will leave the army. We are aiming at getting together with other Ugandans serving in the army in different countries, not only Great Britain.
A group of you attended the UK Convention last year, what was your experience?
I mobilised a group of Ugandans serving in the British Army and It was a great feeling to be hosted as Ugandans in the British Army. The warm welcome made us feel great and happy to know that we can be of great help to our community.
As Soldiers we were grateful to hear from different dignitaries from the government including the First Lady’s report about Karamoja and we were inspired to think how we can give a hand of support to the first Lady to help the destitute people of Karamoja. As Ugandan soldiers in the British we would also like to thank Mr. Mutenza for promoting togetherness among Ugandans regardless their political, religion or tribal affiliations. Uganda Convention provide a platform for exchanges of views and networking to Ugandan Diasporas on matters of common interest and concern to them. Also help the Government of Uganda to better understand and appreciate the expectations of Ugandan Diasporas community from the land of their ancestors and more importantly, acknowledge the important role played by them in Uganda’s efforts to acquire its rightful place in the comity of nations.
What advise do you give fellow Ugandans who want to join the Army?
I want to let the fellow Ugandans out there that they can join the Army any time, it’s also very important to join the right Corps. Some of our fellow Ugandans are educated and intelligent but they don’t know which Corps to join. I want to let them know am here to help. They can contact me any time by email: firstname.lastname@example.org. I also want to advise those Ugandans who join the British Army with hidden Agendas that they will be suspended forthwith as the British Army has a strict code of conduct which obliges all its members to follow.
What have you learnt?
The list is endless as are most of the topics. But to mention a few, I have been Sky Diving and last year I was privileged to work as a guard on the 2012 Olympic Games.
To conclude, I want to thank Promota Magazine for giving me an opportunity to share some of my experience in the army. I also want to encourage the youth that they still have time, and they should use it wisely while they are still young and strong.