One – from How To Talk To Crazy People by Donna Kakonge – Free

I manage to stay well for six months without medication and without seeing a psychiatrist. In the newsroom, I make friends with Rosie and Diane, who I know from my undergraduate journalism days at Carlton University, and Mary, who I train as an editorial assistant.

In the spring, Rosie decides she wants to spend the summer in Ottawa. She sublets her spacious one-bedroom condo to me for three hundred dollars a month. It’s furnished; I only need to bring my clothes. In the Annex, just steps away from the St. George subway station, and decorated in dark green, like nature, the condo is perfect for me. My regained independence and my Sunday brunches with Diane and Casey, another new friend, make life very stable.

Despite all this, I do not enjoy my job at the CBC. It’s mundane and dull.

I need a challenge. I make plans to go to Uganda, a country I always dreamed of returning to. I was just a baby the last time I was there and have no memories of the place. My dad discourages the visit. He warns me I will get killed. This does not deter me because he tells me this while drunk.

The only way I am going to be allowed to visit Uganda is to lie, so I tell my father that I’m going with Emily, a white friend from work. Emily really does want to go to Africa, but can’t because she doesn’t have the money.

Convinced that I am going with Emily, my father gives me the money to go and sets me up with my Uncle Edward, head of the biochemistry department at Makerere University in Kampala, the capital of Uganda, to be a lecturer in the mass communications department.

I’m all set to leave at the end of September 1996, in time for the school year to start at Makerere. I will teach radio and television.

I give my notice to the CBC just as a permanent editorial assistant position opens up, a position many people thought would be offered to me. Instead, Mary, who I trained, gets the job. But that’s okay. I plan to get other work in Uganda and hope to freelance. I contact media outlets in Toronto and buy a Hi8 camera so I can do video work.

My friends from the CBC throw a going-away party for me, and my entire family comes to the airport to say goodbye. I fly British Airways, business class after I complained about not getting a window seat.    I board the plane in a good state of mental health-without medication and without the care of a psychiatrist-just by being free.


Author: kakonged

I am an author, journalist, teacher, and lawyer who lives in Toronto, Canada. This picture is a selfie that was done on Saturday, February 24, 2018, nearing six years of my being dreadlocked.