A Ugandan’s Journey to America, “The Road to US Citizenship”

Posted April 28, 2011 by Ugandan Diaspora News Team in Featured ~ 8,281 views


By Jannet Lwanga | Ugandan Diaspora | Seated among the 600 immigrants from more than 20 countries at Worcester Mechanics Hall, Here I was, joined by other immigrants, clutching the American flag and reciting the Pledge of Allegiance before what was a record crowd. A world away from my native country of Uganda which I left five years ago with my green card in tow, and just about to commit myself wholly to my new adopted home by becoming a naturalized citizen of the United States.

We had driven from Boston for about 45 minutes to get to Mechanics Hall – an acoustical masterpiece – ideally  in the heart of New England – Worcester, Massachusetts. Worcester is 40 minutes from Boston and Providence; an hour from Hartford and 3 hours from New York City. This great hall has 19th century elegance, modern amenities, superior acoustics and is internationally regarded as one of the world’s great halls for its inspirational beauty.

The Naturalization Ceremony was officiated by a Federal judge who must have common law jurisdiction and before whom the oath of allegiance is taken and a Clerk of the Court who makes record of the act of naturalization and grants certificates of naturalization.

“As children you learned different languages, you ate different foods, you might practice different religions, you lived in different places but now you are all citizens of the United States. We are all Americans. Together we stand as one people defined not by blood or race or a tribe or wealth but by a fact of citizenship,” said the U.S. District Court Judge. He gave a few notable examples of persons who immigrated to the USA but later become famous from sports personalities to Secretaries of state. He said that we had endless possibilities now that we are USA Citizens. The ceremony ended with a recorded greeting from President Obama welcoming all of us into the American fold.

Since I came to the United States it was a dream to become a citizen one day. The day was very beautiful. I thought it would be simple, but it was not so simple. It was a journey, an achievement. I could tell by the look on most of our faces, how proud we felt in this defining moment of our lives. Every one of us in that hall had a story to tell. The silent stories of having made it this far and the wonderful feeling of accomplishment, to be told “We are all Americans” in every sense of the word, to say the pledge of allegiance and to see the moving images as we watched a short video of “America the beautiful” all this was very heart warming.

“I think I finally wanted to commit to this country, given all the opportunities I have gotten here. It is a big shift for me. Uganda is and will always remain home. It is where I came from, where I grew up. But the  US has given me a sense of destiny by opening its doors and celebrating our diversity. Out of many we surely one!.”

Now that I am dual citizen I will offer some explanation why I it mattered so much to become a US citizen.  I could not let another election go by without casting my own vote. I had missed voting and adding  my voice to the many that supported the Change that swept across this great nation when Barack Obama was elected. Seeing how significant the 2008 Presidential Electionswere in the History of America, and knowing that I was not part of that defining moment, I always felt that something was lacking.

Watching others cast their vote when I could not, felt as if “it was a privilege yet it is a Right. Therefore, knowing that I will be exercising my right to vote and to serve on a jury as an American citizen has made me feel a sense of achievement that indeed this is the land of free and home of the brave were my civil liberties will always be protected.

“Therefore It’s was a good move. Even more so, as we head into the 2012 election knowing that my vote is definitely going to count this time round.”

Here are some photo highlights from my US Citizenship Swearing in Ceremony:

About the Author

Ugandan Diaspora News Team

Ugandan Diaspora News Online is an independent, non political news portal primarily aimed at serving Ugandans who work and reside outside Uganda. Our aim is to be a one stop shop for everything Ugandan and the celebration of our Ugandan heritage.

One Comment



    Thank you for a wonderful recap of this incredible journey of becoming a US Citizen. It never occured to me to narrate my journey but your piece has brought out the nostalgia of that day and I will tryto recll all the events and write something for my boys and future grandkids.
    By the way you looked beautiful and beaming!
    Nice Pictures.

    Denver, CO.

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