For children born of African parents in the UK or brought to the UK as a minor they sometimes can easily get confused when it comes to adapting to their natural culture inherited from their parents or conforming to an environment that allows them to find their own path more independently. This is the story of a young African girl who grew up in south London, expected to be pregnant at 16 or die before the age of 21 but despite going through a tough upbringing in a poor and often violent environment she still managed to find her true identity to beat all the odds.
Caroline Namugabi was only 5, when her mother brought her and her siblings to the UK from Uganda. Her mum was a single mother who dreamt of a better life for her children and she thought she could achieve that in the UK but things took a different turn most especially in the life of Caroline while growing up in a strange land.
In the 80’s it wasn’t easy being a black kid let alone “fresh from the boat”, as a black kid most especially ones from Africa, they are often subjected to series of bullying and harassment in the neighbourhood, at school, for example, being referred to as “monkey’s”, assaulted, kicked out of play grounds and many other racist gestures even at home. At a time her step brother tried to rape her and it was a taboo to report or come out and say this in public, but there is a limit an African child can take before the survival instinct sets in.
With little self-esteem and struggling to cope at school, Caroline decided to go to the extreme by joining a gang to escape the prejudice in the society. The young African church girl finally found solace in the life of crime and violence, she started hanging out with the wrong crowd, getting involved in fights and carrying weapons hoping she will get the respect and power to fit into the society. She ran away from home at 15, to live with a man who constantly abused her before she finally escaped the event that set the stage for a new beginning in her life.
After running away from an abusive and child molesting relationship Caroline had no where to go, going back to her family was not an option as nobody wanted to have anything to do with her. This was when it dawned on her that she had made a wrong choice as all her friends are either pregnant, killed or in prison. As she sat crying at a bus stop to ponder on her life then an angel in guise of a lady approached her and asked her what she will like to do with her life, Caroline responded with confidence that she will like to go to the university to further her education but she doubt if that dream could come through because of her exclusion from school, she had no qualification i.e. GCSE to further her education.
Caroline was placed in a hostel and because of her inquisitive nature of always asking question and genuine interest in people she was advised to read psychology in the University, after she enrolled for an access course. The time she spent at the university was a wonderful experience and life changing for her because she went through the toughest time of her life but it paid off at the end. As she was able to unpack the Art of Psychology, by so doing she got to clearly understand the whole process of her upbringing, culture, and social networks, how it affected her, and the role they played on what and how she saw the world.
Caroline did not just stop at achieving a degree in psychology she went further to write a book on the “CHALLENGES OF IDENTITY A PSYCHOLOGICAL PERSPECTIVES”. In her own words in the book she explained: “I was challenged to write this book because of what I saw and learned within my environment, my work, and community. As I reflected, I felt there was a lack of understanding, what identity was on a baseline level and on every level that related to a subject (individual/person/human being). On further reflection, it dawned on me that our social networks society alongside cultures and family has a big influence in dictating for the most part how one defines them as we learned via the research noted within this book. In my travels I then found the topic of race and class to be salient factors that contribute to the subject of identity across the globe. The impact on me from the proceeding narrative made me want to explore the subject of identity, by this I felt the world needed to know the impact that psychology, has had towards identity hence why I explored perspectives of different studies and research in psychology to unpack this notion. As noted elsewhere above, also my lived experiences with identity pushed me to explore and understand the subject alongside my psychological profession.
Caroline is currently a Professional Psychologist/McKenzie Friend at Law, representing people in courts, and advocates cases for low-income people within the community. She is a Multiple Award winner in Leadership and Community work and among the special honours and awards she had received includes WAW honorary award and a Leadership BEFFTA Award, for her outstanding work of mentoring, Motivational, counselling, and youth work in the community. She is the Founder of the Uganda Youth Forum (UK), Buganda Kingdom Deputy Youth Representative in the United Kingdom and Northern Irelands, Founder of Think Tank 720. A proud African who loves seeking for more knowledge and she is working towards writing more books in future.
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