Alice N. Muwonge: New Oakland Arrival

Spotted in: Downtown Oakland

Occupation: New Oakland Arrival

What are you up to today?

I'm meeting up with a friend, Sarah. She invited me for coffee, so I'm going to a cafe that I'm trying to find now. It's called the Bittersweet Cafe.

What's your occupation?

Well that's very interesting. I studied statistics, and I'm currently in transition. I just moved to Oakland. I got married in January, and I'm from Uganda so I'm just trying to find my footing right now—like a suspended vacation. I'm interested in numbers, I'm interested in fashion, so most of the time you'll find me doing a couple of things. I like to make people feel good, I don't do it professionally but I'm interested!

You like to make people feel good with your fashion or just in general?

Just in general! Like back at home, my friends will always consult me about what they should wear. And I like to get into people's minds and just ask them, how do you want to feel? I also recommend things from their closet. So usually I dress according to how I feel. I think fashion is very exciting, and it should be personalized.

How how are you liking the move? What drew you to Oakland?

I love Oakland! My husband is Ugandan by descent, but he pretty much grew up in America. He moved to the Bay Area six years ago for work. He was living in San Francisco, but when I was going to come over we decided that Oakland is a city that we would relate to. And then when I came here it was really nice! I like the diversity in the area, I've met a couple of people on the street who are very interesting because I like to take walks. This whole town is interesting—the boutiques! So I feel like I love Oakland. I can relate to it.

You said you studied statistics, was that what you were doing back home?

Well, that's what I studied, I dealt a lot with numbers back at home. I was doing sales administration account management. I am like . . . you know how you're new in your career and everything and being out of school for four years, university and everything? But I've always had a thing for fashion! Since I've made the move here I've been contemplating it. It's like a new canvas ready to paint, I can pretty much jump into anything! I don't know if I'm going to get a job in the fashion industry, I don't know if I'm going to get a job in administration or statistics. I'm just hoping that one day when I wake up and I get my CV, and I just walk into a place, it will be the place for me.

How long have you been here and what places have you found that you enjoy here?

I got to the U.S. last December. It was almost two days of flying from my country! I left a bit to go to DC for the holidays—my husband has a couple of relatives there—and then I came back here. I've been to the Jamaican restaurant Kingston 11; they have amazing food.

I just walk! I've been to Lake Merritt, and the farmer's market. Sometimes I just get on my feet and just find a direction and walk for as long as I can GPS my way back! [laughs] There are a few boutiques that I really like. Shoe Groupie just down the street has interesting stuff. It's very cool. And this one over here Viscera I really like their theme, and I'm always drawn to clothes! [laughs] I've also gone to the Union Square area in SF—Macys, and I bought a couple of boots from Nordstrom. There's also a park that I like that's right by the Walgreens. I like to walk and just sit there.

Any interesting cultural things you've noticed out here?

Culturally I haven't interacted with too many people. I've go to church, it's called Convergency Church and the people have been wonderful. When I first came here, I had my hair in corn rows, they were very slim and then they became bigger. And so I had people stop me on the street and they're like, hi, how are you, and oh my god you have amazing hair! I was in a restaurant with my husband and then someone just asked me, oh your hair where did you do it? And I said oh, from back home—I just came here.

I find that people are very interesting! People are very warm and out there! There was another time we went to my husband's friend's bar called Raven in SF. I had my hair in an afro and I had a couple of people ask, do you mind if I touch it? [laughs] I was like, oh ok sure go ahead! So I think the people are really warm, which is relatable from back home. I've seen the diversity in the different people—it's amazing. I love it.

Glad you're having a great experience out here!

Ok the other interesting thing is—when I tell people where I come from, they kind of tell me, so you've been all the way in Uganda this whole time? I go, yeah I have! Well, I've traveled out of Uganda for a bit, just for a few weeks, but the furthest I've been is South Africa. So they're like, oh wow! You speak very good English! And I say yeah, because we're an English-based teaching community! [laughs] So that's why my English is like that. It's interesting because people find my accent very different, which is because we have a British system back at home so I pronounce words different. So sometimes I'll be having conversations with people and they're very keen on how I say words. They're like, oh say that again!

How would you describe your personal style?

That's a tough one! It changes a lot, but I'm the type of person who likes to push the limits a bit, just according to how I feel. I like to be very expressive with my style, I like color because I believe it brightens up my day. I also like prints—partly because I'm African, and prints are the in thing right now. For you to be able to wear them you have to be bold and be able to push the limit a little bit. I also like denim.

My style is dress how you feel. As in, dress how you feel in the sense of how do you want to feel? You know when you're having a low day or something like that, I want you to look in the mirror and be like, daaamn . . . I like what I look like! [laughs] So when you're finally at work and you've gone the extra mile and you're like, wow you look good, I just know I'm in a good mood! I think it's therapeutic for me, dressing up. Even when I'm going out on a Friday night or something, my fun moment even with my friends back at home or now, is doing my makeup, or doing their makeup, or picking out clothes or going shopping for the clothes! [laughs] I think I love clothes and shoes! I could literally just buy clothes and shoes that I just look at and never wear. I'm like, I like these shoes, they give me life! [laughs]

If you like this article, please share it! Your clicks keep us alive!