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The Proud Fathers walk: The genesis of fatherhood restoration in Uganda

When someone whispers to you that only 5% of fathers in Uganda are actively involved in the lives of their children and that 30% of households in Uganda are headed by women, you may easily scream out loud, stop, take a step back, sit down and ask God, ‘WHY?” (Of course you know what kind of ‘why’ I mean!)

Yes, it is no longer a hidden fact that majority of men in Uganda are running away from their God-given duties and responsibilities, finding softer grounds and leaving the hard-work to the women. It is sad to know that about 40% of fathers are aware of the existence of children they have fathered but choose not to take part in their lives. And that is just another of many stats I could pull up to drive the point home. It is indeed saddening.

 

But why should we stress about fatherhood anyways? Good question. Allow me elaborate…!

Uganda, a country governed by, above all, God has, for many recent years, been a composition of calamities that many Ugandans have chosen to call the worst. We have witnessed rampant kidnappings recently and murders of senior leaders. We have seen strikes across many fronts and circles and clashes amidst tribes. We have been infiltrated by western LGBT movements and so many other uncultured and uncouth lifestyles. Betting and gambling has become a lifestyle for the youth. Pornography and sex-tapes are spreading as fast as wildfires, and social media is increasingly becoming the death of families.

But guess what, all these above are carried out by people who should be having a mother or a father, and the father being the pillar of the family. The family is indeed the nucleus of society and this country at large. This means that if we have better families then this is reflected with a better society. Charity begins from home, right? And that is why the First father, President Y. K. Museveni declared 2017 and the following three years as years of the family! In this declaration, the idea was to redeem family orientation to better the nation. As Family Life Network, we believed we could not do this without redeeming the pillar of the family…the father!

On 23rd June 2018, we had a walk from the ‘City Square’ to the Kololo Airstrip grounds. We chose to call it, The Proud Fathers Walk and invited all fathers out there who believed they were proud to be called fathers and proud of fatherhood in its entirety along with their families for a celebration of true fatherhood. It was on this day, specifically during that walk that I asked myself,

“How many Ugandan men out there can proudly say that they have done a good job being fathers to their children?”

“How many fathers can easily call up their families and jointly have that walk as a family?”

“If we cannot raise millions of fathers to take that walk then, as a nation, don’t we have a problem?”

I saw how bright Elly Tumwiine, The Chief Walker’s face was. You could easily tell he is a proud father. I was pleased and humbled to walk with him and other proud fathers. On that day, I made a vow to be the best father my children will ever ask for. And that is a commitment, a declaration I am proud to make every year. It is not just because I want to be in the 5%…nooo! I also want another father to look at how I am managing to be better father so that they too can make that commitment. I want them to appreciate how I father my family so that next year, they too can proudly take that walk. And the, at the end of the day, we shall have more fathers joining this walk, changing for better and changing Uganda.

If all of us fathers can be better at our God-given job, then I believe Uganda will be in a much better position. But this starts with you!

We live to daily learn something new. For example; fatherhood entails being the Protector, Priest, Prophet, Provider and Presence, the 5Ps of fatherhood! If we can turn around and become the fathers that our forefathers were for us and our fathers, we can teach these young men that hard work is not in betting, that unemployment does not mean to rest on your laurels and wait for the next person to rob from. We can also be there for our daughters and teach them about self-worth; that they are better than being referred to as ‘Silly Slay Queens’, that they can pursue their career dreams, that ‘shisha’ is not the future! We should embrace social media but with those 5Ps, we can learn how to make it be a bridge and not the sword that slices us apart.

To my fellow men; the reality is that women want us to be the men we are supposed to be. Let us not be deceived by unrealistic feminism. While being hosted on NTV Uganda’s ‘MEN’, Dr. Stephen Langa, the Executive Director of Family Life Network became an inspiration to the other panelists. In his discussion, it was clear that focus has been on the girl child so much that we forgot to tell our boys how to become men! And maybe that is why we have been seeing so many young men choosing not to be the men they are supposed to be; ignoring fatherly responsibilities, refusing to seek for employment, choosing easier life options like gambling, theft and drugs, and so much more.

Tweddeko!

I hope to see you next year at the same walk!

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The beauty of being born in this “shit-hole” Uganda

In late November, my family grew bigger with the arrival of my second daughter. It was great news for all ears, for all those I managed to call with my Airtel 30-minute “free calls”. I managed to be present to witness this event; to witness the arrival of my daughter into this Uganda.

Of course it was an amazing moment! Forget the fact that the hospital had run out of private wards and we had to embrace the wailings of other expectant mothers in the ‘general ward’. Ignore the fact that we had to wait for the mid-wives and doctor on duty to arrive for over an hour even when the ones who were signing out were still present…but could not help since they were “no longer on duty”. We still got our daughter despite the bag of harsh words the mid-wife used against my wife, even calling her lazy and unserious for not pushing enough. It was a beautiful moment. A sad moment though, for the two mothers who lost their babies because they were, according to the doctor, ‘tired’.

We paid the hefty bill and prepared to head home.

And it was all smiles and phone calls all the way home. Ignoring the fact that on the way out a ‘boda boda’ man hurled all kinds of insults at us for possessing a second-hand small car that he had brushed whilst dodging the huge pothole in the middle of the busy Jinja ‘Highway’. We simply could not stop smiling even when we had to ‘snail-drive’ through the jam because an old trailer truck had failed to ‘climb the hill’ on this ‘highway’. It was still ‘full-smiles’ even when a sizeable number of youth used the opportunity to hit the streets and complain about the age-limit bill and how they felt Mukono should be cut off from this “unfair government”. I probably only lost my cool when one of them chose to have my mother-in-law’s phone, boldly going ahead to tell her that, “I am simply borrowing it to make calls to employers to get us jobs but I will not return it because the jobs might never come.”

We chose to ignore that, consoling ourselves with the fact that the phone was an old cheap Chinese ‘SamSum’ which could no longer display anything.

 

The toxic fumes and the riot noise, the chaos and the imported tear-gas, and the few damages on my second-hand car were part of the welcome party for my daughter but we were determined to ‘cry off’ the tear-gas and continue smiling all the way home.

So yes, I have heard the anger expressed towards Donald Trump for calling ours a ‘shit-hole’ country. We should be angry with him. We should be angry with him for speaking facts. The truth indeed hurts and we should be truthfully hurting. We should be mad because what he is saying is real; we have barely nothing to appreciate about our roads, streets, drainage, sugar prices, water and electricity bills, BOU pens, Entebbe’s security, Kawempe’s situation, the formalin saga…you know I could go on and on for more than two pages!

 

But we also know how to smile. We know how to find that smile amidst the s**t. We find that happiness even after a bitter Cranes defeat with Zambia. We know how to get another concert after WizKid fails to show up. We know how to forget the Don Zella-Zari feud and get our groove on. We hit the streets for the City Carnival even when we feel that KCCA has been majorly political in its decisions. We have learned how to find fun in dodging the city road potholes and jumping over dirty open manholes. We look for the joke in the BOU Pens and Muhanga’s goats and find meditation time in UMEME’s load shedding. And oh yes, we always find joy in laughing at Zimbabwe and its Mugabe… (okay, that was before the ‘coup’, but you get the point!). We have surely mastered the art (and science) of finding beauty in our ‘shithole’ country.

We have that strength, resilience, patience and special form of love for our country. We have that bond that unites our differences, and a unique package of hope for a better future that makes Ugandans different. Which American can possess these? Name one American politician who can take in as much tear-gas, baton-beatings and police pick-up rough rides as Kizza Besigye has? Which American can go through what we go through and still live to see another day? That is the beauty of being born in our Uganda, and I am proud to be in this ‘shithole’ country.

 

Finally, she might never go to those ‘sick’ government schools nor use the government hospitals, whose doctors are often on strike and whose drug stock-levels are often in ‘negatives’ but my daughter will certainly have to find her beauty in this Uganda just like all of us have. Her future is ‘bright’!

 

Bonny Tamale is a professional marketer & Social Media Specialist

 

Treasures And Myths: How Buikwe ‘Gave Birth’ To River Ssezibwa

Uganda is indeed blessed with nature and my daily prayer is that we are able to appreciate and ‘conserve’ these treasures.

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The Ssezibwa falls, located in Kayanja, Mukono

The Ssezibwa falls in Kayanja, Mukono district are indeed a beauty that, to me, ‘seems’ virgin. I couldn’t help but make sure I take as many photos as I could, and also, most importantly, learn as much as I could. It was a weekend trip worth taking with my family, a trip that could, eventually lead to a few discoveries hidden behind a beautiful story with different shades of truth.

The story of Ssezibwa, according to a senior traditional healer I met there, begun about 200 years ago in the era of the Buganda king, Ssemakokiro. In this era, access to hospitals was highly limited because of the, bad road networks. (And of course there was no ‘medical concierge’ app so please do not go there.) And because of this, Ssalongo Nsubuga Ssebwato, of the ‘Mamba’ clan and his wife Nakangu, from the ‘Kibe’ clan would end up in a dilemma and tragedy that would give birth to the geist of this story. The two were residents of Kawuna village in Buikwe.

When Nakangu was due to give birth, she set off for long journey to the hospital. Five miles into the journey, she decided to take a ‘short cut’, having realized that she might not make it to the hospital. However, even with the short cut, she was forced to stop, lie down and push new life into the world. A set of twins, Mubeeya and Ssezibwa – a girl and a boy, were brought forth!

At this point, I interrupt and ask my narrator if Nakangu had thus given birth to mere water, a question, which is on your mind right now. He cared to clarify…

The human twins did not make it. However, it’s the ‘placenta water’ (Amniotic fluid) poured that sunk into the ground and later sprung out to form two separate streams of water; Mubeeya and Ssezibwa. Of course I posed for a few microseconds to rationalize but I did not interrupt him.

According to my narrator, Mubeeya, the girl and Ssezibwa, the boy had actually travelled together underground but had to separate. Mubeeya settled in Banga village, Nyenga, still in Buikwe while Ssezibwa chose to travel farther.

Along his journey, the great Ssezibwa was approached by a number of tributaries, which asked him for permission to join him. (This consultation, according to the narrator, was spiritual)

He allowed some and refused some. It was his choice. But it is these very tributaries that gave him the strength to conquer more spirits that did possess the various landscapes through which he travelled – including the Kayanja rocks where he showcased his mastery in form of a beautiful waterfall before moving on to finally rest in the Kyoga.

John went on to let me know that Ssezibwa is a humble, kind, listening and giving spirit. On any given day, you will find a couple of people consulting with the spiritualists in this place for his blessings. They are thus asked to offer eggs to Jjaja Magobwe, a spiritual head of the Mamba clan or wash off from the falls or even carry the water home for blessings.

However, no mother of twins, a ‘nalongo’ is allowed here because being a male, he cannot ‘work’ on his ’mother’.

Ssezibwa has also now allowed tourists to visit, which he had earlier forbidden. (This makes it clear why the place is so ‘virgin’). After a lot of consultation, Micheal (not real names) was also permitted to have the place enclosed off for resort purposes.

He has however, recently become angry and dirtied the waters because of a spiritual wrangle between Bambejja and the Mamba clan, a case that is now in court.

According to the Bambejja, the cave where Magobwe is worshipped is supposed to be for the sun god, Musoke. You will thus find a yellow cloth over the cave and ‘obusumbi’

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Opening to the cave which, according to the Mamba clan is supposed to host Magobwe

(local pots) with two openings in the cave. The Mamba people claim that the sun god can not be kept in a cave and that, the fact that Ssezibwa is from the Mamba clan then, the clan spiritual leader, Magobwe should be residing in the cave. (Do not get tempted to ask me what the two spirits in question say about this.)

 

Away from all that, the falls are definitely beautiful and are a breathe of freshness. Micheal has established a ‘resort’ with board walks, accommodation and camping facilities. The place still needs a lot of facelift for comfort and I hope to see that when I next visit.

My next stop will be Gulu village in Ssaza, Mukono district. If you know the story of the first two Baganda, kintu and Nambi and how they ran away from ‘heaven’, this is one story you should not miss because this is the place where these two fell after their escape.

[Want to sponsor my trips? Reach me on 0704818626

A tribute to Joan kagezi…

It’s just one second. Only one…I doubt it’s even enough. No am sure it’s not. But it’s quite long. 
So I look at him….closely. The determination in his eyes, the strength of his motive written across his masked face. What is he thinking at this moment? About his kids back at home?? About the very next moment? Or maybe his mind is set entirely on the large sum of cash balance awaiting him after the job well done. He is a very strong man, I bet he has 5 acres of farm land back at his home. Very young and able….if he was president, he would be so vigilant. 
But well, I have no time. I must… But wait, did I send that email to frank?? Oh no I did not. It’s going to disrupt the entire process for them. And oh, I didn’t send mum her rent….and forgot Grace’s shoes at the store, and the meeting tomorrow with judge Timothy should have made things more clearer….Bob, Chris, Esther at church….The entebbe errands….my daughter’s medication prescription in the bag…sooo many things I haven’t yet done. Can’t this just wait one more day?? 
I ddnt see this coming. Not like this. Seems like yesterday when mum gave me a present for my 5th birthday. How time flies so fast. And maybe I deserve to have said goodbye to her. But not her alone. How about my childre-…they are going to be alone??? No, parent??? I didn’t grow up like that?? Oh this life. They don’t deserve this. But it’s too late now. Or maybe it’s not.
Can’t God stop this?? This man has a mission but, can’t he change his mind?? Can’t he miss?? Can I fight him?? Isn’t there anything I can do to stop this?? Or maybe i should have done it hours ago. Maybe i shouldn’t have used this road today. Maybe I shouldn’t have bought groceries here today. Maybe I should have stopped at that gas station before. Maybe I shouldn’t have handled that case. Maybe I shouldn’t have even been a lawyer at all. But here I am.
Looking at him…so close. So ready and willing. It’s like he hates me. And maybe he is right to do so. But what so bad a thing did I do to him?? Oh wait…he was sent. He maybe has no idea why he has to do it. He just wants the money. So…who sent him?? Who did I do wrong recently? Couldn’t they have called me and told me about what I did wrong?? I could have apologized. But then again, I shall never find out. 
And now I have to bear the pain of a metallic component through me. Does it hurt? Does it pierce as sharp as the dreaded doctor’s injection? Does it feel…oh nooooo…..
I just felt it…it must be just that. 
He must be happy now. 
Eight times. 
I never felt the pain for the second one. I think it’s the confusion; the panic, the cloud of absence and not being understood by everyone looking at the other me…the one on the floor, the silence of my screams as I try to answer my daughter’s cry, the absence of a wave back as I try to wave to Grace and her guards around my other me.
The priest used to preach about the soul, the spirit and the body. I knew about it to. Scientists disputed it though. I wish I had the power to tell them now. To explain to them that…I felt it all. I felt the stinging sharpness of that metal as it crushed through the very first core of my skin, through my bone tissues that science explains so well and…through my terrified soul and my ever strong spirit. I did hold his hand I remember; trying to pull him back and look into his eyes as my other me, my third, fell…but I could not hold onto him. He looked into my eyes though. It’s like he was saying to me; my job is done;I am rich now; I did what I had to do….and he ran away.
It took me a while…but now I know. I clearly understand. There is no need for an explanation because I have it all with me. It’s me…I felt it all. The doctors will tell little. I can explain it better….but I think I cannot be heard now.
My prominent strong voice… is gone. My hands…can wave no more. My perfect smile…can be seen no more. No one knows am here and yet I was…just a while ago. Just a few minutes ago. It’s all gone. Like I never was there. Or maybe I was but…am now not. It’s like…a family picture on the wall, with my face cut out. No more to me?? To all I did? All I have been??
So is this what they call it?? The switch over. This is how it feels like. This is what it is. And i always wondered. But now I know. I do know so. Although I would love to tell all of them…even these ones using gloves to hold my other me…that, I am indeed alive. Am here. 
And for you my children, I always shall be…even when you cannot see.