Books·How I Wrote It

Why journalist Mansoor Ladha wrote a memoir about his search for belonging

Memoirs of a Muhindi shares Ladha's journey from Kenya to Canada in 1972, and how he built a successful career as a journalist.
Mansoor Ladha is the author of Memoirs of a Muhindi: Fleeing East Africa for the West. (University of Regina Press)

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."

Mining memories

"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."

Finding acceptance

"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.

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