By Bayan Nalubwama
Ever since Ghana started encouraging black Americans to return to their African countries in 2019, some African American celebrities like actor Idris Elba and Rapper Ludacris became citizens of Sierra Leon and Gabon respectively. Other personalities decided to trace their ancestral roots and homes in Africa and many have succeeded. Oprah Winfrey successfully traced back to three countries which are Liberia, Zambia and Cameroon. Actor Samuel L. Jackson discovered his ancestry in Gabon and many others are still in the tracing process.
27 year old black American beauty queen Ashlie Watson is not different as she chose Uganda as her country of heritage.
Born and Raised in New York- Long Island, USA, Ashlie is a writer, poet, Mental Health advocate, founder of Ashlie Watson Foundation, former Miss New Jersey Earth 2018-2019 a contest that she believes opened up her heart on humanitarianism.
She is the reigning Miss Global Uganda 2021 and she is currently representing Uganda at the ongoing 2021 Miss Global beauty pageant world finale in Bali Indonesia that will happen in November 2021. She is flying both the Ugandan and American flag.
Speaking to Ugabuzz, Ashlie revealed that she choose Uganda as her ancestral home because she is an offspring of slaves and also because the earliest human bones were found in Uganda.
“As a black American native, I am a descendant of slaves and always knew that my Heritage and roots were in Africa. With the campaign to welcome blacks around the world back to Africa I had to choose a logical country of Heritage to adopt. It is official that earliest human bones were found in the Nile Valley, the source of River Nile is Uganda,” she said
“For a descendant of slave ancestors, it’s only logical that my ancestral roots are connected to Uganda hence the reason why my adopted country of Heritage as a black American Woman is Uganda,” Ashlei added
The beauty queen also says that representing Uganda in Bali is a dream come true as she has always yearned for an opportunity to represent and celebrate her roots and heritage.
She started her philanthropist duties in 2018 after being crowned Miss New Jersey Earth but formally registered her foundation “The Ashlie Watson Foundation” in Uganda in 2021.
Ashlie chose to register her foundation in Uganda to help her fulfill her duties as Miss Global Uganda 2021. Watson says that as a Black American woman, she always wanted to celebrate her African heritage.
She particularly chose to advocate for mental health because while as a child, Ashlie was a victim of bullying.
“I was a child who grew up with bullying, self-doubts/loneliness then learned to love myself through my talents and surrounding myself with knowledge. I learned to control what I could and pray my way through what I couldn’t. My source was my spiritual principal and strong foundation of affirmation.” She said.
When covid 19 hit the world, Ashley took the forefront and helped people go through the process. As a former mental health victim, she says that felt the impact of the virus on the people.
“When covid 19 hit the world, the pandemic opened my heart even more. I saw firsthand how this virus affected people’s lives, not just financially but mentally! Suicide rates rose drastically especially in the youth. Depression and anxiety rose as well. As a young who struggled with both, I want a platform where I can give hope to people. Many young people feel as if their voices aren’t heard. Mental health has always been stigmatized and I would like to talk about my own battles and how I overcame them.” She revealed
The Ashlie Watson Foundation uses poetry, mentorship, motivational talks, inspirational trainings, biblical trainings, personal financial material help and ant bullying campaigns to empower women and youths mentally and economically, advocate for environmental protection, helping the needy, addressing period poverty and fighting bullying.