On a sunny Ugandan afternoon. My family and I arrived at Para safari lodge. Para is a popular tourist destination known for its beautiful scenery, swimming pool and overpriced soda’s.
While my mum was at the reception getting our accommodation sorted, my dad and I decided to take a seat outside by the pool. The air was humid and the pool was surrounded by overly excited white Europeans and Americans.
We were seated waiting to be served. A gentleman approached us. He greeted us with a fake smile and proceeded to ask us whether we could move inside as the poolside was reserved for guests.
I looked around and noticed that not only were we the only Ugandans excluding the waiters around the pool. We were also the only black people around the pool.
Furious. My dad asked him why is it we were being asked to go inside.
The gentleman exaggerated his fake smile and said again that the pool area was for guests. Only this time he added that it was for guests sleeping at the hotel. He said guests who are only visiting for the day were welcome to sit inside.
This man had not offered us anything us anything to drink nor had he even bothered to ask us where we were from.
This man was Ugandan.
Trying to avoid a scene, I picked up my glasses and prepared to make my way inside. My dad continued staring at the man. He laughed and asked the man why he simply assumed we were not guests at the hotel. Not waiting for a response, my dad proceeded to educate the man on effects of colonialism.
Defeated. The man let us be.
Already irritated but still hungry my dad decided that we would have our lunch at Para and find accommodation elsewhere as it was clear that we were not considered “tourists.”
We made our way to the dining hall.
Outside. The tables were neatly arranged and decorated. The tables faced the lake were guests could watch the ferry float by while having lunch.
We got a table.
As we got comfortable. Another man approached.
This one was serious.
He greeted us and then asked to take a seat inside. He said the chairs outside were reserved for their guests.
There it was again.
This man was also Ugandan.
Exhausted from the previous incident, my dad picked his keys from the perfectly laid out table and walked out the door.
We drove back and had lunch in Masindi.
I have always known I was black. This has never been a problem for me. However, that day. In that hotel. In my country. I felt black. I felt different. I felt unwanted.