Howard Zinn once said, “Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience.” These words captivated me in such a manner that they pushed me to reflect on the world that we currently live in, a world festered with bountiful distractions and hinderances to the life of not just the young people but the adults (25-40-year-old) too. These hinderances have come in many forms. The consuming technology which was originally designed to keep us together, continuously splitting us apart, endangering our livelihood and relationships with each other. I believe these medias such as Instagram and Snapchat and others are creating an ever-growing antisocial pattern of behaviors amongst us and it’s going unnoticed.
Alcoholism and drug dependency which have been glorified not just by the western media and my generation, with this belief of “immortality” or “strong livers and brains”. We remain unaware of the dangers of the substances we put into our bodies and how they will affect our future. These factors have begun to create a society of people with mental illnesses, ranging from depression to suicidal tendencies. It has brought about a sense of mistrust between the African males and females due to poor relationships and a general attitude of hatred towards loving one another.
Many people have moved away from Uganda, especially for studies, but have not returned to help develop the country, our homeland is being forgotten and yet we have so much hidden opportunity here just waiting to be taken. My hope is to able to waken the mind of our young geniuses to work hard and push towards creating opportunities here because sooner or later it will be us to take over and carry our country. In regard to that, I am hoping to remind them of our unique, blessed heritage and not envy the Western culture which has severely shown its weaknesses throughout the years.
As much as my poetry is directed towards the younger population 15-30 years old, I want my books to shape the minds of the older generation too. I want to remind them that the world is changing and that the old values, as helpful as they were, need to adapt to the changes of today, if they are to continue to raise bright young people. The older generation has used religion and marriage to an extent that it’s inhibiting the true potential of many young people. This has also been shown in Uganda’s political struggle, the previous generation has run the country poorly and is soon going to leave our Pearl in an irreversible state of debt and murder.
I have personally witnessed these events, remaining silent but worried for my peers. I have watched my family members die from alcoholism and drug use, which is a recurring theme in my family. It may just be the young mind not coming to terms with the consequences of our actions, or it may be my rapid maturity, but I believe it is a cause for concern.
Growing up in a country filled with high teenage pregnancies, prostitution, corruption and poverty, it becomes so part of your world that you can choose to see it as unchangeable or even normal. However I decided that I am going to use my poetry to expose the lies and systems of the world to ensure that the young ones do not fall in the same traps that we and our parents fell into. These systems start from religion, racial inequality, outdated sexist mentalities etc.
The upcoming problem in the world has been unemployment. The biggest issue I will always fight against, is studying to become a worker. I believe we should be setting up new ventures in Africa, in agriculture and technology, because I know Africa is the true hub of development. However we remain stuck in the idea that all the riches are overseas, this can be attributed to the Western Media portraying out continent as poor or “third world”. As a young student, I always question the material I am being taught from high school until university because I do not want educational institutions to drain away my out-of-the-box-thinking and my ability to be an individual.
As a reader, I have been influenced by non-fiction books which tell the stories of our world as it is, by people who have been through great trials to gain a deeper understanding of how the world works. Some of the books which inspired me to expand my knowledge of the world was World Without Mind: The Existential Threat of Big Tech by Franklin Foer. In this book he describes the dangers of the upcoming technological industry, monopolies and their effect on us, with emphasis on Google, Facebook and Amazon.
Man’s Search For Meaning by Victor E. Frankl, taught me the true meaning of love and suffering. In this book he says that only through suffering and finding purpose in suffering can one achieve happiness. He goes on to describe in detail the use of logotherapy, which a school of psychology and a philosophy based on the idea that we are strongly motivated to live purposefully and meaningfully, and that we find meaning in life as a result of responding authentically and humanely to life’s challenges. I was able to relate deeply to his words after the loss of my father and it helped me gain a deeper understanding of what love truly is and how the world of today has twisted it’s true meaning.
Throughout my summer of 2018, I met various people who have influenced my work and the purpose behind my poetry. My grandfather, Hon. Amooti Musoke (ex-Prime Minister) taught me the value of service above self, he implemented the idea of putting the people around you before yourself to create a better world for everyone. He gave me a motto to live by: “Simple Living, Higher Thinking” as said by Gandhi himself.
Another person who has influenced me deeply has been Peter Kagayi, after a brief meeting with him, I understood that there was someone out there in the world who possessed the same mindset as mine. His poetry book “The Headline That Morning” reflected a lot of the thoughts and experiences I have witnessed and think about on a daily basis. When I Learned that someone had the same thoughts as I do, it allowed me to keep pushing even further and write a second book.
Some of my greatest inspirations have been the female members of my family, from my mother to my aunts who have raised to be the upstanding man I am today. They told me that I should never conform to the crowd, because that leads to trouble. I must always think with my God given intuition to distinguish rights from wrongs.
Other inspirations have come from comedians, such as Trevor Noah, Dave Chapelle and George Carlin. Musicians too have shaped how I think, from Bob and Damian Marley, to the new age rappers such as J. Cole, Vince Staples and Nas. These artists have aspired to be themselves and relay messages of truth and individuality to the world.
My recent crossings with death in my family have woke me up to reality, from my dear uncle John Kwame Musoke’s passing in December 2017, to very own dear father’s passing in April 2018. These experiences (in particular my father’s death) changed my mentality and my drive towards life. They shaped me into an individual who will always seek to tell the truths of the world as I see them, as displeasing as it may be to many. I see myself as someone who does not follow crowds or adhere to trends. I strive to be better and keep improving myself every day, because I learned that life truly is too short. These experiences have taught me to never be afraid to speak my mind. My aspiration is to be a leader and an inspiration for the generations to come, my generation and the generation carrying the world right now. These are the events that led to the liberation of this African mind.
Poem by Adam Kassim, from the collection”WAKE UP- Thoughts from an African Mind Liberated”
Cover image: Basseck Mankabu.