Starting my new life in Uganda, I have to go through all the standard proceedures of setting up a life in a new country: find a house, get a phone and in Uganda you now have to register your sim card.
So I went to the MTN shop, armed with passport and passport photos (one thing any registration processes in South Sudan have taught me, is do not go anywhere without at least 4 passport photos – everyone loves a good passport photo).
At the MTN shop I was given a form to fill out, with all the classic fields – Name, Date of Birth, Nationality etc… Under nationality I wrote “Austria” and handed it back to the woman behind the counter with my passport. She then started searching for something in her blackberry. After a couple of minutes of searching she took her pen and proceeded to do the following with my form:
SHE CROSSED OUT AUSTRIA AND CHANGED MY NATIONALITY TO AUSTRALIAN.
I proceeded to explain to her that I was in fact Austrian and not Australian. I also pointed out that she was holding my passport, so she could even verify it if she wanted to.
No madam, I do not find that country in the list on my phone. Therefore, it does not exist. This is the way that is spelt in my phone so this is how you write it in Uganda.
Ummm, in fact Austria does exist. It even features in Uganda’s history as an NRM External Committee meeting was held between President Museveni and he and his fellow comrades held a high level meeting at the Gasthaus Leopoldine Baier in Unteroiberndorf in 1985.
Yes, Gasthaus Leopoldine Baier in Unteroiberndorf – it does not get more Austrian than that.
It took some back and forth and some convincing, but now, unlike my Kenyan Resident Permit or my South Sudanese Driving License, on my MTN registration form in Uganda, I am Austrian and not Australian.
Well, to be precise, I am
Austrian Australian AUSTRIAN
On The Great Austrian Australian Divide, this was definitely a small victory for Austria.