To leave home is not always an easy choice and for me migrating from Uganda to a new country was a matter of my own safety. Before coming to North America, I lived in Nigeria as a refugee for 7 years. I was then granted citizenship in Canada, living there for 9 years. But as my journey continued I landed in Binghamton, NY to continue my education. I kept pieces of my culture alive and intact as many immigrants often do. In Ugandan culture and in my tribe, Batooro, names hold value. After a child is born, a ceremony is held to give the child one of 12 pet names usually passed down from a family member. People refer to each other by their “Empaako” or pet name and it allows others to know what tribe you are from and is very endearing. While in Nigeria, my best friend's mother referred to me by my pet-name, "Akiiki" which made me feel at home. Even without my family and culture, hearing this pet name meant I was loved and cared for. I traveled back to Uganda after my years and was able to get wooden keychains with both me and my daughter’s pet names. These are treasures that allow me to show my daughter the importance of names. In remembrance of my father, I gave my daughter Maria the pet name Atwooki. One of my values is to make sure my daughter experiences the richness of Ugandan culture despite not being raised there. Having a pet name is fundamental to our tribe so passing down this name was just one of the many treasures of the Batooro culture I can share with her.
– Story Owned by Goretti Mugambwa Story Written By: Autumn Baker, Theresa Grillo, Deborah Adeyemi