Dreaming of Africa

Ugandan flag

As I left the plane the first thing I felt was the heat.  Even at this time of the evening, and although it was already dark, such a contrast to the grey gloom of the English winter from which I had come.  The dusty atmosphere, visible in the lights of the airport, and the sky full of stars provided the final confirmation if it were needed that I was no longer in London.  I had finally arrived.  I was going to fulfil my dream.  I was about to start work in Africa.

That’s how I always imagined I would start a travel novel.  Whilst mostly true, I have to admit the initial feeling was one of relief.  Relief that after a missed connection (entirely the fault of the airline I hasten to add!), I had reached my destination at last.  Thanks to that certain airline, I wasted a day of my life I will never get back…the night was spent in Doha airport, the morning flying to Nairobi, where I whiled away the afternoon until I could eventually get a transfer to Uganda – my home for the next three months.

Nairobi airport

Unexpected trip to Kenya!

Doha airport

Spending the night at Doha airport

More significantly though, relief that after years of toiling my way through the tedious corporate world, I had made the courageous but necessary (for my sanity at least) step towards doing something different, to feel a fulfilment that my previous career had never given me.  I was now doing something I loved for a company I loved, with people I loved (OK, liked a great deal!) but most importantly for people I loved.

I’d been to Africa on numerous occasions over recent years, and had fallen for it in a big way.  The people, and the children in particular, capture your heart like nowhere else.  I knew I couldn’t spend the next three or four decades working in an office for a faceless corporation where politics reigned and ‘playing the game’ was the only way up the ladder.  Now I was playing a different game, but one that bore immediate results.  I’m not referring to scorelines, but to the smiles on the faces of the children I work with.  Instantaneous feedback – much quicker, more reliable and infinitely more satisfying than any of the computers I had sat in front of in my previous life.  I was an IT Consultant.  I am now a football coach, working for my beloved Arsenal, and my brief was simple.  To teach Uganda to play the Arsenal way!


Posted on April 30, 2012, in 01. Dreaming of Africa and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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