Margaret left Uganda as a teenage girl of about 16. It was around that time when people moved for their safety. Children were picked from school to go and meet their parents across the border. The 70s were known for this. If your parent for one reason or another happened to be a threat to the peace of the president, it was safer and better for you to pack your bags and leave lest you became a statistic. Margaret was that child.
A member of the Buganda Royal family, her parents thought it better to send her to England to continue her studies from there. A place she stayed till she finished college. She later went to France for further studies but returned to the UK thereafter.
She then moved to Kenya for work and while there, she observed a number of things that shocked her. Much as she was Ugandan by birth, at the time she moved to Kenya, she was from the UK. She was treated differently. The colonial effect on Kenya was bigger than she had ever imagined. “In Kenya, I was working for an international organisation. Kenya was a bleeding child. They were still living as if they were still being ruled by the British. They were very afraid of the fact that someone was coming from Europe. I was addressed as a white woman.”
This left a mark on her.
Later, she moved to the United States for work, a place she was to stay for over 30 years till she retired recently.
“While in the US, I had a child; an African America but he did not have literature on Africa. I decided I would write children’s literature for him. I decided I would do that for him. I did. I also picked on poetry but I soon realised that not many people took up poetry.”
With the experience in Kenya and the lack of the relevant literature in the US, she decided to write the stories herself.
“I decided to write something African. Something beautiful about Africa. I picked an interesting subject; romance. Africans don’t write a lot about romance. It is an African thing. A number of the authors I was reading at the time were writing trilogies. One particular author was writing about her experience in Nairobi. I thought I could do the same as well.”
As a child, her father had made it known to her that as a member of the royal family, she had a responsibility to the people of Buganda. One of the responsibilities was to master her language. Herself having become a linguist, she fell more in love not only with Luganda but also a number of Ugandan languages. To see that there were no stories about her rich Ganda culture and the African story as well was something that bothered her.
“The stories surrounding Africa tend to be negative. I wanted to bring out the positive side of the African life. There is not enough content on the good African story. Today in the US, you have a lot of fighting especially among the African Americans. The only way to bring up a black child is by telling them good stories about being black. About being African. They need to build their self-esteem. And you do that when they are still young.” She started the journey of being intentional about African literature.
“I decided I had to teach my son about my African roots. I had a good childhood while growing up here in Uganda. Even when I was away I had something to look back to.”
When she embarked on the writing journey, she was going to write about the good stuff. “Romance is good. It brings out the good things about people. People don’t realise that when you write romance, you solve a lot of problems.”
In addition to romance, she picked up history another topic that many are not writing about. She is deeply concerned that most migrant parents do not tell their children the full story of their mother countries. The same way she is concerned about African writers who are concentrating on writing text books whose demand is limited.
“If we don’t write these stories, I fear we shall lose them. If we continue to write, the immigrant children are eager to learn about their past. Most of the literature in those (American) libraries have the negative stories which push people away.”
Upon her retirement, Princess Margaret Mazzi Wampamba returned to Uganda. “I am settling down but once am done, I will be writing some more. Now that I have more time on me, I write as much as I can.” She promises.
She has so far published two of THE REPORTER TRIOLOGY. The Virgin Journey & The Waiting.