I want to be Alan Rickman when I grow up.
I want to be statuesque, sexy and formidable. I want to speak by barely moving my lips with a commanding tone and a glint in my eye that makes the minions shudder. I want to be authoritarian, but loved by everyone; superior, but humble; wildly passionate, but dignified.
I still haven’t figured out how to morph from a squat medium-brown 30-something African woman with an identity crisis and a chip on her shoulder into Severus Snape, but I’m sure it will work out.
Do you remember what you wanted to become when you were a child? I remember all the boys in my class wanted to be lorry drivers and pilots and all the girls wanted to be air hostesses, nurses and teachers. Nobody wanted to be a president, a priest or a king.
In high school these dreams changed drastically. Most of my peers thought the fulfillment of their raison d’etre lay in becoming engineers, doctors, pharmacists or lawyers. No one wanted to be a teacher. We were told teaching was for second-class citizens. For those who didn’t pass the national exams as well as they had hoped and had to settle for second best. Nurses were called failed doctors and lorry drivers were school dropouts.
Our ambitions were shaped by the experiences of our mentors, most who were Ugandans that attained maturity in the 1960s and 70s when doctors were treated as royalty and almost every budding politician and national leader had a background in law. Explaining to these people that what I really wanted to be was a playwright was beyond their comprehension. I was harangued by my teachers to pick a combination of subjects that would give me the upper edge in my university applications. Literature, history, economics and divinity were my best bet if I was to become a lawyer or an important social scientist, they said.
– No, I want to do music, literature and French.
– Music, literature and French? Why? You can’t become anything more than one of those silly singers if you do that!
– I don’t want to become a singer. I want to write. I want to write plays.
– Plays? Look, you can do that in your spare time. First earn the money as a proper professional and then you can think about your fun and games. After all the money your parents have spent on your education you want to throw that away to jump around on the stage?
I did what they said and became a proper professional … and I hated it.
I am determined that my dreams will not die and the social dictates of what and who I should be will not define me. I attempt to recreate myself every 2-3 years. To dream better, to dream bigger and to ultimately live my life my way fulfilling that which I was meant to be.
Who knows where my dreams will take me next? Maybe I’ll be an archeologist’s apprentice, maybe a game park ranger. Perhaps I’ll become a gym teacher or self-help guru or a beloved writer of children’s books. Maybe I’ll head back to my first love, the theatre.
Or maybe I will become Alan Rickman when I grow up.