More than 400,000 Greek citizens have fled their country to escape the grip of the economic crisis in the past decade. The vast majority of them migrated to the wealthy economies of Europe, the US, and Australia, seeking a future which looked completely unattainable in Greece.
But that wasn’t for Panos Karakitsos. The young man left his hometown of Ioannina two years ago to go and live in Africa, despite his uncertainty over what kind of life he could forge there.
The young man’s family was reluctant to accept his decision at first, worrying about him being in a strange land they knew nothing about. But they also knew that Panos would be unhappy living unemployed — and with no real prospects — in Ioannina.
Karakitsos has indeed made a new life for himself in Uganda. After he traveled to several countries in Africa, he found that in Uganda people tended to be friendly and open to foreigners, and he could walk around without a care.
Yes, he was a white man, but his demeanor is very unlike many tourists who have visited the country, who can at times have what is perceived as a snobbish attitude.
It wasn’t long before the young Greek man’s friendly, happy-go-lucky demeanor made him stand out, and some people approached him and asked him if he wanted to work as an actor.
So far, Karakitsos says, he has had small parts in movies and plays, and in video clips of local singers, and he has also starred in advertisements as well. Now the young immigrant can say with a smile that people recognize him on the street, and he feels like he has become one of the locals.
After two years in his new home, Karakitsos looks happy. In fact, he discovered that life in Uganda actually has some semblance to Greece, since one of the mottos of the Ugandan people is “Take things slow,” much like the “Siga, siga” (σιγά-σιγά) that Greeks like to say.
Perhaps most unexpectedly, the young Ioanninan discovered that poverty in Uganda is different from poverty in Europe. Unlike Europe, he says, here, if people have food to eat, water to drink and a roof over their heads, they are happy.
Using his motorbike to get from place to place, Karakitsos says that he can stay wherever he likes. With the little money he makes as an actor, he can have a good life, enjoying the natural beauties of the place and the friendliness of the Ugandan people.
It may not appeal to everyone, but for this intrepid young Greek, moving to Africa was the ticket out of a life of uncertainty and into one of adventure and success — on his own terms.
Currently, Karakitsos is planning production for a short docu series travelling on a budget around the beautiful landscapes and villages of Uganda. He promises a full authentic travel experience that you can help fund here.