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A Citizen of Nowhere Part 2

Little Thing of the Month: Voice

Her voice commanded attention. Any word uttered by her was hard to miss.

"I have a home in every part of the world," she said when I recently visited her in the small town of Kleve situated on the German-Dutch border, where she lives. Tyra Kaddu Mulindwa was born in Berlin to Ugandan parents. For a 21-year-old bachelor student at Rhine Waal University, Mulindwa was exceptionally well-traveled. She shared that she had been to Canada, Germany, Belgium, Netherlands, Hungary, Austria, Tanzania, Kenya, South Africa, and Uganda.

She didn’t tell these names like a grocery list. Instead, each word she said had a different voice as if trying to express the sound of the country or the experience she had. She spoke “Canada” with love, “Kenya” with thoughtfulness and “Uganda” like a bold statement. Uganda as one may pronounce, for her it would be YOO’ganDa. It was the first thing I noticed about her.

For many years, Mulindwa lived in the German capital with her aunt while her parents lived in Uganda back in Africa. Even her boyfriend lives far away, in Canada. To meet her loved ones at least once a year, she ends up traveling a lot to different places. Mulindwa smiles and admits that it is not traveling but the destination that she enjoys the most.

Fluent in German and English, the exposure she gained by going around the world reflected in her personality of an international person. Her looks revealed the global influences as well. On the day we met, she wore an ink-blue trench coat, long braided African hair with shade of lilac and a printed scarf tied around her head. Quite young, she had already transformed into a truly striking and independent woman. She acted with poise but spoke with firmness. These years of traveling and living by herself early inlife gave her a chance to explore the places she went to but also who she was as a person.At twenty-one, she had found her voice. Little did she know; it was quite literally so in her case.

Mulindwa always made her choices fiercely and without any regrets. But on this journey she also had bittersweet experiences.

She shares her first encounter with nepotism back in Uganda.

It happened when an acting audition from a South African movie came her way. She had always wanted to become an actress when growing up. She made sure to participate in every school play. “I remember I auditioned,” she toldme. “They came to my school. I had to pretend to be twelve years old and I was thirteen.But I looked like sixteen because puberty came really quickly to me. I was good, but oneof the girls auditioning was the niece of the movie director and she got the part.”

Mulindwa was heartbroken. The experience, she said, helped her to learn how to deal with different kinds of people. Her acting career might not have worked out, but her voice found the place it deserved.

She soon became the lead voice of the radio show KinderBlast in Germany. Every day she would interact with hundreds of listeners and her five other co-hosts on the show. She recalls this to be the best time of her life. It comes as no surprise that she realized quite early that her voice, metaphorically and literally, matters to the world. Now, she contemplates how acting would be different and that it consisted of several factors such as how you look, how you behave and how you act. But on radio, she could be herself.

She speaks fondly of radio but acknowledges the significance of other media today, mainly television and Netflix. “Radio is not dead,” she says. “People still make a lot of money working on the radio.” She grins and adds, “Actually, I’ll go back home and write this in my diary today. I’ll find a job on the radio again.”

Her nomadic life gave her the voice of a global citizen that made her shine. In the end, It worked out better than she had thought. Rumi once said, “What you seek is seeking you”; isn't it true?

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