Tijuana: Edwin introduces himself to his students in an English language class and asks which country they think he belongs to. After giving dozens of states, students give in and ask him to reveal his birthplace.
He proudly says he is from Uganda. How is Wakanda? Asks a young fan of Black Panther. Uganda is actually a country in East Africa, with a population of just over 42 million.
If you’re the one who read this interview and don’t understand the title, it is actually saying, “Welcome to Tijuana, my hometown.” It is written in Swahili, one of the official languages of Uganda. If you need more references, the phrase “Hakuna Matata” is in this language.
Edwin Moissegua spoke with El Sol de Tijuana about his life in this border town, where he had arrived for nearly five years.
In which city and in what year were you born?
I was born in Uganda on December 8, 1992. I was born in a very small town in Uganda, called Mbarara.
Why did you leave your country and how did you arrive in Tijuana?
I left my country in search of an adventure. I wanted to be able to learn about other countries, learn new languages and discover new cultures. When I got home, I realized I wanted more, so I left again and ended up in Tijuana, where I decided to work.
Before arriving in Tijuana, did you hear anything about the city?
He had heard that it was the busiest border in the world and very dangerous. So I was actually a little scared when I first got here, but I still wanted this adventure.
I arrived in 2016, has it taken me time to adjust to city life and get a job?
It really took a while to adjust, especially to food! In my country I did not eat spicy food, so I was a little surprised how many times you find spicy food on the menu. Also, of course, the language. I come from an English speaking country so communicating on the street was a challenge for me. Luckily, there are a lot of English speaking people here so that helped a little. About work, I already had one upon arrival so no, that wasn’t a challenge.
What do you love most about Tijuana and what do you hate the most?
I think what I love most is the variety you will find in the city. There are a lot of people from different parts of the world, so I think this is amazing where you can interact with people from different places in the same city. I also love the hospitality of people here. Lots of people have welcomed me and made me feel at home and that is something that I will always be grateful for. I think that’s something I really like.
When your family and friends ask you about Tijuana, what do you tell them about the city?
I tell you that it is the city where you can find the best tacos in the world. Seriously, the tacos here are really good. My brother came here and enjoyed them, I hope my family will come and try them one day.
I was a presenter in Uganda. What are you missing the most from there?
I was a presenter and music director. I think this is what I miss the most, obviously here I am doing something different and missing out on my previous life. I also miss my friends because they are people I have known all my life, but I also made very nice friendships here. Most importantly, I miss my family, but I try to talk to them as often as I can.
Finally, would you like to say something to the people of Tijuana about immigration?
I would really like to thank all the people of Tijuana for their kindness and hospitality to all who come here from other parts of the world. I have met many people from Haiti and they all said they were treated well during their stay here. As a foreigner, I also think the love I’ve received so far has been exceptional.
And I would say the same to all Tijuana residents, if you ever find yourself in Uganda, my home is your home, gladly.