Saturday August 2 2014

A peep in the life of an African migrant

Yasin Kakande, pauses with a copy of his book

Yasin Kakande, pauses with a copy of his book during the interview. Photos by Rachel Mabala 

By Othman Semakula

Yasin Kakande’s biography, The Ambitious Struggle; An African Journalist Journey to Hope and Identity in a Land of Migrants, weaves the story of an African childhood haunted by poverty and ignorance but he later lands in the ambiguities of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), only to hurdle through a life that is just but imaginable.
Kakande, 33, encounters a difficult life in the UAE but recounts numerous triumphs against a closed society, punctuated by racism, press censorship, sex trade and the all-powerful oil Sheikhs.
His story lifts the lid on the booming sex industry, occasioned by Ugandan girls lured by imaginations of a better life only to be trapped in misery, self-pity and disrepute.

Kakande’s life shared between Uganda and the UAE, is relayed in this 282-page book printed by the Florida Academic Press.
He summerises the Emirates as a portal of the world’s poorest and most aspirant migrants, who thrive amid racial abuse and discrimination.
As a journalist, Kakande tackles subjects that are close to his line of duty and uses that vantage point to write vividly and powerfully on them.
His accounts of UAE’s sex industry for example, chronicles a harrowing and shameful narrative traced on the graffiti printed on mosque walls where phone numbers of pimps are scribbled to the red light districts.
The book recounts Kakande’s life in six sections, with the first and second section deliberating on a childhood laced with poverty and loss of relatives to HIV/Aids.

In the third section, he discusses his work in the UAE, but also explores the challenges of racial profiling and religious discrimination that plays daily in the face of immigrants in the fourth and fifth sections.
In the sixth section, he compares culture and governance in Dubai and Uganda with the epilogue returning the narrative closer to home and his family, writing about his mother’s terminal illness.

However, the powerful story slightly gets lost in a not so-tightly edited copy, exhibited in some sections of the book. For instance, whereas the grammatical errors and poor punctuation might be forgivable, the story gets boring by repetitive narrations, exported in other sections of the book.
Such repetitions, which the editor could have avoided, make the story unnecessarily long.