Easter became meaningful and momentous for me in 1993. My only daughter was born on Easter Sunday, just as tulips were bursting out of the ground and kids were scoffing choc eggs.
April is always sweet, sunny, promising, and also gusty, rainy and treacherous. I get contemplative at this time, think about my past and present, ruminate about what the future holds, ask myself searching questions.
This year, these keep spinning around my head: why do so many Britons still treat me as a baleful outsider, assume I hate “their” country and enjoin me to go back where I came from?
Do Peter Hain, (now a Lord), Amanda Platell (Daily Mail columnist), Matthew Parris (Times columnist), or Boris Johnson get ceaselessly pursued too by jingoists? They were all born and raised elsewhere, except for Johnson who was born in the US and raised in both the UK and US. White migrants, you see, are kith and kin. They can do no wrong, whilst we are forever on trial.
I write this column partly out of love and partly out of vexation. It is a tribute to my adopted land, where, like millions of other migrants of colour, I face myriad struggles, yet do now belong. The irreversibly prejudiced cannot snatch away that attachment or the birthright of my mixed race family.
I lost my old country, Uganda, 50 years ago. It’s been a tumultuous journey, full of storms and tragedies and, also, good fortune. I met my beloved English husband four months after the father of my son went off with his young lover. My boy was 10. My beloved nurtured and loved him as his own.
Our girl came after two miscarriages and many tears. I was 43. NHS staff never gave up. The birth was long and traumatic, but hey, by then I could have an epidural! She arrived safely and I was overcome with gratitude. My own mother nearly died of meningitis when I was born and was plagued with illnesses thereafter. Our NHS has kept me and mine alive and well for five decades.
I treasure my English, Scottish, Irish and Welsh friends who stand by me always. I have access to beautiful art, incredible theatre and literature. I am free to think and speak and be myself. Back in Uganda, people were never free, not under the British, nor under black leaders.
I entered the dynamic public space, became a journalist at the age of 37, found my voice and vocation, got to live a big life. Back in Uganda, I would have become a teacher or lecturer, nothing more.
From a café on the pier in Deal, Kent in early April, I looked out at Dover and the shimmering sea, and thought of the migrants dying, crying, striving to get to our shores.
They want what I have. They too would thrive and be forever indebted to this everchanging, diverse realm. But the forces of darkness are ranged against them. I filled up with tears.