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Ugandans Divided on How to Celebrate Oscar Win

Celebrated actor Daniel Kaluuya’s recent win at the Academy Awards on April 25 has united and divided Ugandans almost in equal measure. The controversy is not over whether Kaluuya, who won best supporting actor for his role in Judas and the Black Messiah, is deserving of this success. He has undisputed talent, clinching major roles in blockbuster films such as Get Out, with a number of others, including Black Panther 2, lined up. Rather, Ugandans are engrossed in a debate over whether Kaluuya’s success can be claimed as a win for Uganda, the home country of his parents, or whether he should simply be celebrated like any other international star. Some like to own the British actor as a Ugandan by descent, while others point out that had he been born and raised Uganda, his super talents likely would not have been fully realized. It is a debate that spotlights the complexities of diaspora identity, as well as some of the missed opportunities by African countries to nurture their own artistic and creative talent. Born and raised in London, Kaluuya, 32, rarely misses an opportunity to celebrate his Ugandan ancestry and heritage—even mentioning Kampala in his Oscar acceptance speech. “My family is from Uganda. I come from a big Ugandan family, it is no joke, my mum is one of 22 kids and my dad is one of 49. My family sperm is literally about that life,” he said during his Saturday Night Live monologue earlier this month.