Where are you from, and how did you come to be in Slovenia?
I am from Uganda and I moved to Slovenia at the end of 2014 to join my boyfriend, who’s now become my husband.
How do you keep yourself busy here?
I travel a bit and I hold meetings and am passionate about talking about Uganda and some of the countries I have been to, to students or a group of people ready to travel to Uganda.
How is your Slovenian, and how well integrated do you feel with Slovenians?
It has taken time but I am improving each day with the language. I have a couple of Slovenian friends and so far I have got all my educational documents evaluated in Slovenia. I was worried that my education wouldn’t be recognised, but it was and my MBA still stands.
What has been your experience of culture shock?
Ah, this has been asked of me many times, and I have to think about it now since I’ve have spent some time here and travel a lot, things which shocked me are not issues anymore.
But I have to say that it was shocking at first when people seemed to either fear sitting near me or kept a distance. I kept on thinking what had I done or how I looked to be intimidating?. I came right from Africa to Slovenia and I didn’t know anyone or anybody except my husband, who is not very outgoing. I feared people more than they feared me. Someone even shouted at me at Zvezda Park ... if I was looking for ships. Now I laugh at all this because I don’t have time for such kind of people.
And of course I can’t forget the winter and summer. So hot and so cold for someone who is from Uganda, with an average temperature of 28 degrees. I come from central Uganda. The equator line is literally five minutes’ walk away from my home.
Also, although I’m not very social I came from an environment where I knew my neighbours and they knew me even when we lived in different houses. Now I live in a block but it took me time to know the people next door. Still, I feel accepted here.
Among other projects, Catherine also runs an Etsy store selling handmade African inspired products
Is there an organized African community in Slovenia?
Now this is a very interesting question. There quite a number of people who have opened up organisations relating to African communities and so on. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs also organises an African Days event every year to try to introduce the African countries to Slovenia in business perspective.
There’s nothing else that puts Africans together as a group for now, but I created a Facebook group for African Women in Slovenia where we help each other with information and we are few so we kind of know ourselves in a way. But as Ugandans living in Slovenia, we have a WhatsApp group and we meet every year for lunch to welcome anyone new and also to catch up.
Other things to mention are the Inštitut za afriške študije, the Afro Studio Black Diamond hair salon in Ljubljana, along with the Afriška Trgovina Petit Afrique store, and of course the restaurant Skhuna, on Trubarjeva cesta and the Nigerian Chamber of Commerce.
Why did you start your YouTube channel?
I realised that people know so little about Africa as a continent but they seem to talk about it in general. I want to show that there is more to Africa than the wars, hunger and diseases.
Some people know me as a person who talks about the effect of voluntourism. I am vocal about it because a big number of people don’t have any idea that charity and volunteering is more beneficial to the person doing it than the person they think they are helping.
If anyone is interested in learning more about Africa, then I recommend they subscribe and follow it, here.