Why journalist Mansoor Ladha wrote a memoir about his search for belonging
Mansoor Ladha was living in Nairobi, Kenya, in 1972, when Ugandan president Idi Amin expelled residents of Indian descent, which triggered a mass migration and acts of violence across the entire region. Ladha had to decide if he should stay in Africa or come to Canada and start a new life. He shares his journey, and chronicles his successful journalism career, in Memoirs of a Muhindi.
In his own words, Ladha discusses how he wrote Memoirs of a Muhindi.
A story that needed to be told
"Lots of books have been written about East Africa, but not many have been written by East African Asians. I felt there was a need to write about our experiences in Africa, our accounts of our childhood community and the hardships that we faced. This book is a story about a brown person, first living in a black society in Tanzania and, later on, in a white society in Canada. It highlights problems of settlement, displacement and search for a home. This story reveals how a person's skin colour can make a difference."
"This book has been in the making for almost two years. Whenever I had an urge to write or I saw an episode that would go well in the book, I would jot it down. I talked to some family members for insight into my childhood episodes and about my family and so on.
"I usually wake up around 6:30 a.m., that is my best writing time. But there were many occasions when I took my laptop and went to the public library. I almost had a reserved table. I would sit in the corner and write for three or four hours at a time. I found it very peaceful and very enticing to write there."
"Home is where I can get a sense of belonging and am accepted by the majority of the people living there. I wish we lived in a world that is borderless, where every man, woman and child is an accepted and equal human being, where citizenship, ethnicity and colour are irrelevant. But so far this remains a dream. I do not want to be a dweller of several lands but accepted by none. It's a question of being accepted."
Mansoor Ladha's comments have been edited and condensed.