Maj (Dr). Ivan Edwards was born in Uganda, and speaks fondly of his motherland. He says that he is proud to have set foot in the USA, and given the tools to become a doctor and a senior military officer.
He shares his sentiments of an underlying “racial bias” in a country in which he was born and having to explain to folk that he is as much a Ugandan as they are. Here is the story of his upbringing and his life experience as a Ugandan.
My story would be incomplete without some background information.
I was born at Mengo Hospital in the 1960s to biracial parents—an amorous product of mixed heritage early European settlers left on the Ugandan landscape.
My father, Teddy Edwards (now deceased), was half English and half Ugandan. His father, Charles Edwards, from whom we derived our last name, was an English settler who left Europe in the early 1920s for Uganda. Like many settlers before him, Charles Edwards loved Africa and Uganda in particular. He romanced and settled with a Ugandan woman, Julie (from Hoima), and raised a family. Charles never returned to Europe. He didn’t have to—and didn’t want to. He had found his new home, Uganda. He died in the 1950s and was buried in Uganda.
My mother, Ludmilla Nabisooli (still living in Uganda) is half Czech and half Ugandan. Her father, Jaromir Skrlandt, left Europe after World War I. Upon his settlement in Uganda, he fell for a Muganda lady and their offspring included my mother. To no surprise, Jaromir never returned to Europe. He learned Luganda and Swahili, and spoke Luganda so well that the native speakers gave him a Luganda name. Jaromir, like Charles, had found his new home. He died in 1970 and was buried in Uganda.
My father, Teddy Edwards, was a successful Workshop manager at East African Breweries—later renamed Uganda Breweries (following the collapse of the East African Community).
In all ways, we were raised in a good home environment. I attended good government schools for my entire primary and, later, secondary education.
However, we didn’t escape the tribulations of Amin’s dictatorial rule. In the early 1970s, my father was falsely accused, beaten, and imprisoned (without trial) by Amin’s henchmen—a common practice in the bloody dictator’s regime. Without the intervention of Brig Bogere (a military physician under Amin’s administration with whom we had developed close family ties), my father would have been killed. Though he was released alive, my father didn’t leave the death chambers unscathed: he permanently lost sight in one eye and had multiple welts and wounds from the brutal lashes he received while in confinement.
While my father was unlawfully detained (and without his income to support us), we endured some hardships. My mother, single-handedly, took charge and helped raise us through those rough times. How she did it…to this day, I don’t know!
In a way, we were not permitted to dwell on the dire circumstances but on the good possibilities that could, one day, become reality.
Some instances were too painful to bear. For instance…the two separate times when my father’s life was almost extinguished. Twice, he was shot at. One incident involved a man who, without provocation, brandished a pistol in my father’s face (in public) and pulled the trigger. Fortunately, the dislodged bullet grazed my father’s scalp…and, somehow, my father managed to escape with blood pouring from his injury. The other close encounter involved a home invasion in which armed assailants—and the one with an AK 47—shot my father twice in the arm and torso. Fortunately, again, my father survived. But that wasn’t all!
That same night when my father was shot, my mother was shot too, in her pelvis–at point blank by the same assailant with the AK 47 rifle. To this day, I cannot describe the feelings I felt brew inside me. To see your parents bleed all night from gaping bullet wounds—and you could do nothing but clamp towels on them to stop the bleeding . . . with nowhere to go and no one to call since there was a curfew and travel restrictions in place . . . that is a nightmare I wish no one ever gets to experience in this life . . . ever! And to suffer such brutality without the protection of a police force and/or the services of a humanitarian body (let alone a basic ambulance service) in spite of being innocent law abiding taxpayers and citizens was mind shattering!
Naturally, no police investigations were ever conducted. This was our own ordeal to handle.
Though my parents eventually survived their injuries following prolonged treatment at Nsambya Hospital, our lives were changed forever. My father kept a very low profile in society, and avoided public functions. My mother sustained permanent internal injuries—which, to this day, limit her full physical functionality.
Indeed, from the era involving the expulsion of the Asians in 1972 and through Amin’s tumultuous rule and up to the UNLA liberation war in 1979–including the rapid and unstable post Amin regimes that followed–we, like all Ugandans then, saw it all. The seemingly endless wars, the daily politically motivated and sometimes random killings, the curfews, the sugar and essential commodities shortages, the long lines at fuel stations, the notorious panda gari exercises, the blatant nepotism and corruption…these experiences, and many such others, were, unfortunately, part of the Ugandan experience then.
In 1988, I left my motherland of Uganda for the USA. I was in search for a better life, and wanted an opportunity to develop my potential.
There were obstacles to overcome in the US: integration in a land with freedom of speech—a foreign concept I never quite experienced before. But, the US embraced me well and gave me the opportunity and tools to succeed.
I studied medicine because I felt obligated to heal humanity’s wounds in a personal way. Maybe, subconsciously, I chose medicine because all I had seen prior was human pain and suffering—and I wanted to be on the end of the other spectrum delivering relief and hope. And, today, I am a doctor. A specialist in Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, I treat people with bone, muscle, and nerve issues—including pain.
The call to serve in the US military evolved over time. I felt indebted to serve a nation that truly believed in freedom, justice, and liberty. Maybe, subconsciously too, since I had seen what a military should not be, juxtaposed what it should be (to serve and protect its people), could have been the impetus for me to join the US military.
So, after completing medical school (Midwestern University), I obtained a direct commission to the rank of captain in the US Air Force Reserves. Later, with residency training completed, I was promoted to the rank of major (a field grade rank that begins an officer’s rise to seniority). My duty in the US Air Force Reserves is that of a Flight surgeon.
I have returned to Uganda a few times. The last time I visited was in 2004. The scenery has changed over the years. Not surprisingly, the narrative of the young generation today is different; the generation today does not know (though it has heard) of the injustices our people suffered for decades. I love Uganda, and always will!
Through my experiences, I have learned some valuable lessons. Determination and a desire to excel (coupled with faith) have been the ingredients to success in my life. I learned that one’s experiences can propel one to succeed. One develops determination to go forward one step at a time and never look back or slow down. The desire to excel and achieve results, despite odds and roadblocks, is the vision one has to look up to. One has to change from a course of destructive negativism to that of constructive positive change. Destructive habits and traits have to die, and new ones have to be developed.
Awards & Recognition
HealthGrades Honor Roll
Dr. Ivan Edwards is a HealthGrades Recognized Doctor.
Physician Reported Awards
Patients’ Choice Award, 2008
Patients’ Choice Award, 2009
Compassionate Doctor Recognition, 2010
Patients’ Choice Award, 2010
2008 ~American Academy of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation
Here are some more links about Major (Dr) Ivan Edwards:
The Uganda Diaspora Network is a forum aimed at bringing together Ugandans who live and work abroad by celebrating their contributions overseas and also encouraging them to give of their time, talents, ideas and expertise whilst inspiring the next generation of Ugandan leaders.
Every year the Ugandan Diaspora Network will organize an annual Social Networking Gala and will also produce a quarterly publication highlighting the successes of the various Ugandans residing overseas. Please send us those inspirational stories and philanthropic work involving Ugandans abroad. We shall share these stories using this platform that is rapidly growing and expanding. The Next Diaspora Social Networking Gala will be Held on 30th December 2016 at The Kampala Serena Hotel.
the story is touching but ended with encouraging & constracive phrases. big up & thankx 4 de encouraging wrds. U too thankx 4 picking out such a person.
sorry missed out a “t”, it is constractive
Thank you much!
That’s a nicely made answer to a chnlienglag question
Moving and uplifting. Keep up the work, Dr!
Thank you sir! Together, we can accomplish a lot. Keep up whatever you do as well.
I have read Dr Ivan Edwards story and greatly sympathise with what his family had to go through. I was a student at the University of Dar es Salaam during part of the time Amin was in power, and fellow Ugandans seeking refugee told us horrible stories.
Thank you for your kind words. We can use what we go through to make us better and stronger. One of my favorite proverbs is: storms make oaks take root.
I’ve liked your story and i would like to cordinate with u iam the chairman of uganda youth action plan.
Thank you abundantly! I am yet to figure out a way I can co-ordinate with the readers here. I shall discuss this with the appropriate facilitators and/or moderators of this forum. Communication will be forthcoming.
Thank you for sharing this inspiring story. It reminds me of what we went through in Uganda years ago. Today, our children and our grandchildren cannot fully grasp the realities we faced then. God is good!
Thank you, sir! I agree, we need to keep the narratives alive. One of my favorite sayings is: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” (George Santayana).
Your story about Dr. Edwards is spot on. I have known him for almost a year now and can tell you that he inspires me daily. You could not have chosen a better subject to profile and hold up as an example.
Thank you Dr. Cramer, my colleague and friend. Your daily words of wisdom bring joy and light to my heart.
Hi ivan its Mario, how are you doing hope your okay, anyways I read your journey accomplishments and I must say its fantastic, its good to see how far you have come, achieving evey step of your journey, it is a major sacrifice you have made it. My dad says wayy to goooo soldier!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Thank you Mario. The strength and support from family (like you) are crucial elements in one’s life.
je dÃ©couvre ce blog grÃ¢ce Ã « mon beau sapin ». j’ai dÃ©jÃ quelque une de tes pages dans fluide glaciale ou l’echo des savanes peut-Ãªtre, je ne sais plus. je suis sÃ©duit. en plus j’adore les patates.je vais vite marquer cette page et suivre ce blog quotidiennement. merci
I am very much pleased with your story Major! Your story is very educative.
It confirms how far Uganda has come from! Please do not stop at that, but try to to support in any way you can to ensure that your home land does not go back to the” dark ages”! Uganda must move forward not back word! Ugandans in the diaspora must not be deceived by opportimists who are after their selfish gains! The strugle for a better and developed Uganda continues! Keep it up major, I request you to send me your person e-mail! God bless you!
Thank you, sir! We love Uganda so much that we cannot let it stagnate or backslide into what it was. Our efforts to improve Uganda … even more–must continue. After discussing the idea of email communication with the appropriate people, I shall disclose how best we can go about this. Thank you again!
your experience is so sad.but for uganda to develope we need ugandans like you back here..telling a story of what happened can not help anything.what positive change can you do for uganda.
I agree. Before we can do anything constructive though, we need to talk about our experiences, identify and then define the issues at hand.
Dialogue is important. Communication of ideas in a free speech and free press atmosphere (rights which many Ugandans today should realize were NOT there and were alien to us) is fundamental in our quest to make Uganda better. After we talk about issues, we then need to set concrete goals and find ways we can accomplish those goals.
The exodus of many Ugandans needs to be tackled (first and foremost) in dialogue. Why are many Ugandans exiting and deciding to stay overseas? Economic reasons? Social reasons? What can be done (on the home front) to avoid this or even address this? Why are Ugandans not united? Why is corruption rampant? These, and other many other, probing questions have to talked about (without delving into the divisive politics…which I will refrain from discussing).
So, to answer your question (in a less winded way)…what I can do for Uganda now is to share my story, challenge everyone (young and old) to get an education, exercise faith, honor, and integrity, reach for the stars of opportunity, and be the best he/she can be.
I am honored to have met Dr.Edwards, this story has encourage me to believe that anything is possible. This man inspires many people by his gentle words and compassionate heart. The history behind his life is amazing. Keep up the faith, and continue to share your story.
Thank you Ms. Kimberly! Your words of wisdom are inspiring.
Thanks my brother i am proud of you,we really had hard times but with GODS BLESSINGS and our parents support we have accomplished a lot by believing in our
selves , helping one another and most of all being good Christians
Indeed, William–faith, family, and not taking NO for an answer (with a devotion to excel) has moved us along. I appreciate you brother!
Congratulations Capt. Dr. Ivan Edwards. In life we cannot choose where we are born, when or to whom. Yet we are created in God’s image for His own glory. Genesis 1:26-28. Thanks for giving us insight into your life. Very sad circumstances of violence yet inspiring.
Rev. Nakawombe, thank you for your endearing words. God bless you!
Would be a great honor to meet you. I just PCSd from RAF Lakenheath to Edwards AFB. Not that many people that I can speak or relate to about the motherland
Indeed! Thank you for your service!
Maj.Dr.Ivan Edwards, How wonderful!!! Praise and glory be to our God for preserving your lives in such difficult times.Thank you for your dedication to study in order to fulfill your obligation to heal humanity’s wounds.I know your love for God and compassion for His people has contributed a lot to this achievment blessed be the name of the Lord.
Please allow me to say that It’s people like you who make us proud to be Ugandan’s and I pray that God continues to bless and direct you as you touch people’s lives, May He also continue to protect and prosper you with all your loved ones .Keep up the good work. With best wishes in all. From Pastor Harriet Kisaakye.UK
Thank you for your kind words. You have always been a blessing! Thank you for your dedicated service in ministry!
Keep up the good work you do! The job to unite and challenge the young and old to dream and achieve the best they can–must continue.
allâ€™uomo (il quale, nella sua storia, biologicamente non Ã¨ mutato dâ€™una virgola).Un affermazione piuttosto forte. Sei sicuro? Vi sono (non che ne sia esperto) delle teorie di certo diverse. Alcune si basano, credo, su questioni immunitarie (ed il giÃ citato Diamond ne parla) altre richiamano questioni di altro genere genericamente legate al cervello.Un Sorriso
There’s also eBrary, which we subscribe to at Swarthmore — it’s a more user-friendly product, with some extra whistles and bells. It’s not perfect, but I’ve found it a good deal less sucky than NetLibrary. But it sounds like it’s not as widely known.
For those seeking to contact Maj (Dr) Edwards, email can be forwarded to the following address: email@example.com. Attn. Sec. Susan.
This is NOT Dr. Edwards’ personal email. All email will be carefully screened, and then forwarded to him. Not every email received will be responded to.
Also, email with attachments, solicitations, offensive and vulgar material and/or language will be deleted.
Thanks Ms. Susan!
Oh our blessed Brother, we deeply love and we thank God for your glorious Testimony & rich life. Remember where we all come from but I really thank God that the best is yet to come my dear Dr. Ivan! This time round when you come to Uganda please dont forget to come & see me & our Family. – Rev. Dr. Grace Kityo , Kampala, Uganda.
Thank you, sir, for your kind words! You are a deep and inspiring minister. I will definitely come and see you and your sweet family when I come to Uganda. Best regards!
Ivan, thanks for sending me the link to your story. Glad Wanda and I had a part in your spiritual journey as well. Our KLA days were from 1981-1985 – working with pastors all over the country, investing in awesome students at Makerere, and starting that Mengo-Kisenyi church. Our kids (Amy and Jon) still consider our Bugolobi home their favorite place when growing up – even with the nightly “popcorn” and daily military checkpoints to and from their school just above “bat valley.” We stay connected with many Ugandans across the world. Since leaving KLA, we have lived in Kisumu, Alaska, Nairobi, Mumbai, Brussels, and now work in 7 English-speaking nations in the Caribbean region doing advanced leadership training in managing conflict and team-building. Everywhere we go, we find the Ugandans. Keep in touch – blessings! Ron and Wanda Sommers
Ron and Wanda
Thank you for playing a part in my spiritual journey! No words can describe my gratitude in knowing you. It takes knowing and allowing strong and stable leaders (like you) to enable growth in one’s life (mine for one). Your world wide crusade in developing leaders is highly commendable. Keep up the splendid work.
I am deeply moved by your story. As a Ugandan living in the US, I can see alot of similarities between my earlier childhood experiences and all that you went through. Like you, I witnessed panda gali [sic] and many of the atrocities of the 1980s and even the 1990s. One important lesson I picked from your story though is that ability to be resilient and to not let your past experiences determine your destiny. Thanks for such an inspirational message.
Thank you Mr. Lubowa. I am glad to hear that our stories have similarities. As a people, we are strong and resilient. We have seen and gone through a lot. Through it all, we have learned to survive and excel.
Dr.I. Edward,i have felt too sorry, and concern for the problems you went through, there fore,i kindly request you to remain calm and keep up your job.When i read a bout the suffering of your parents i felt sorry for you because the suffering was beyond.Amins regime was not good a tall,many people suffered and others died,so,i thank god to hear that you survived through all those problems. So,i am encouraging you to put more efforts in your job and, thank the Americans who embraced you so well,i strongly send my vote of thanks to them to up lift the standard of your living,Uganda is a little a bite stable,i hope it will not be upset .So Dr. i thank the creator to bring you to that wonderful life.
I do not have much wish you a long live in America.
Thank you for sharing your thoughts, Mr. Mwesige. Tied to what you expressed, I think what is needed in Uganda is a memorial wall (like the one in Germany) that our children and future generations can look to and learn “lest they forget what Ugandans have seen and gone through.”
Like many folk, I am grateful for the life and opportunities the USA has provided me.
Dr. thank you so much for your response,i am very much exited about it,i hope,if God allows,and we get a better chance like yours,probably we shall not let our children suffer the same fate,it is nice to hear from you,and what i have to say is that you are already my friend.
I have other friends,in U .S.A and here in Uganda those who came from America, UK,S.Africa,and other countries,so, you are now one of them,and i am hoping to get a chance to come a broad too,please! pray for me.Looking forward to hear from u soon and wishing you and every one there a merry Christmas and prosperous new year 2012.
Hi Dr I’ve read the story en its all true .Remember every ward u say .God bless u doc thax
Dr Edwards, i am a Ugandan who has lived in UK for the last 25 years. I am a serving police officer in the met and have been for the last 12 years. i specialise in rape investigations and due to my life style i haven’t been in contact with my roots. New year resolution is to find myself and get a drive from those who inspire me. A friend mentioned this site. I would like to say that I have so much respect for you and you have given me a boost to aim higher. i will consider pursuing the next rank in my career. God bless you and your family.
I humbly thank u for the great road map to our loved nation.
we are so grateful to hearing of your successes.
Thank you Thank you & may God bless u abundantly.
This is way better than a brick & mortar eslnatishmebt.
Rep Wilson, if you are watching, I just left Vermont where I covered Bernie Sandersand the other congressmen. I also covered the story of Tom Salmon switching to the GOP.There is more sanity there than you might think.I will report with a recap soon.The tide is turning, people are awakening.Don’t back down.
I love reading these articles because they’re short but informative.
Very touching story. Keep up.
Oh my goodness, Dr Edwards!
So much pain and such resillience. I cried a little, as i read your story. You are such an inspiration. God has truly turned your scars into stars. Your story has given me hope to just hang tight and not be discouraged. You have made fellow ugandan immigrants proud and deeply inspired. Thank God, for your awesome family. Wish you God’s continued peace and success in all you do.
Dr. Edwards thank you so much. Thank you for showing us God who lives; a heart in you that continued believing; and that resolve, consistence and commitment to being productive is rewarded. Thank you also for sharing a painful story. Thank you for remaining strong, stronger and vanquished. Even before Uganda finally decides to have a place for that memorial you talk about, you have it built already by the works of your hands and in your heart. If one day you have been at a gathering hosted by the Stokes family in Bbunga-Ggaba, we could have met! Webale nnyo mukulu!
Your comment..yeah those were hard times went through a lot