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My Descent Into Hell: Understanding My Ancestors' Trauma

“I see a smooth ancestor. He’s the one who told you to write this thesis. Now he’s locked you in a room with all your ancestors who are still suffering. They tell you that their pain is too much for one person to bear and have told you to leave. The door is open but you’re not leaving.”

Writing up my thesis on the intergenerational trauma in Ugandans, I found myself physically unable to write. It was Halloween when my body started to shut down – two migraines in a month, chronic fatigue, muscle weakness, inflamed joints and a screaming pain in my ovaries that kept me awake at night. After several blood tests doctors couldn’t find anything wrong so in an attempt to understand what was happening to me, I had consulted a healer and this vision of my suffering ancestors came to her. Through my research I later came across the concept of transposition in the offspring of holocaust survivors – a permanent state of having one foot in the past trying to work through their parents’ trauma. As the child of Ugandans who fled the Idi Amin regime, living with my parents unresolved trauma was familiar.