One of my brothers, Apollo Wesuta just sent me a message about her passing. At first I was stunned, shocked really. However, she is in the age group for our parents, our mothers (Apollo's and mine). Perhaps a bit older. She taught all our families in that school in that village. You have never met a more dedicated teacher. She taught generation after generation in P1 and P2 (Gr 1 and Gr 2) in a village school with nothing but her creativity. Usually most of us left for city boarding schools. What a wonderful woman. Non, I refuse to cry for her. In fact, I will celebrate her life. Year after year, she taught the kids from the same families. All our older siblings. Even after we were put in boarding schools far away from our village, every Christmas holidays, we all came home. And we always found her. You would find few from Bududa District who were not taught by her or their parents or their kids now.
It had been a while before I had gone to look for her. So this one time in October 2000, when I took Rebecca home for the first time. We had taken a Pick Up truck of school supplies for that school. But never mind the supplies. The kid wanted to meet my first teacher. So we went into P1 and lo and behold, Mrs. Masette had returned from retirement to teach. Her house was right across from the school anyway. Rebecca took off her shoes and she sat on the mud floor. All the other kids were trying to pay attention to the mulatto kid. But the kid was so focused on learning everything (she was not even 3yrs old yet but could talk like a radio). At one point, Mrs. Masette mentioned that she would get jiggers for taking off her shoes. Even the driver was furious. The kid replied, do they have jiggers? then I want them too. So finally she asked Mrs. Masette, how can you teach them about the colours of the rainbow when they have no crayons?
When we walked to the truck, Mrs. Masette told me "I think I did well with you". Next thing, the kid and all of us walk into her class and give out the crayons, writing books, pencils and then move to each class all the way to P7 for each class and what they needed. NON, this is not bragging. When you have been given a gift of education, you usually should give it back. Well, our kid refused to wear shoes for most of the time and usually gave away all her clothes (we returned with only the clothes on her back). Mrs. Masette taught something that I think most of our family has never forgotten. YOU MUST REMEMBER WHERE YOU COME FROM AND ALL THE PEOPLE WHO SHAPED YOUR LIFE. She was a very strict teacher. Never hit a kid (unlike most Ugandan teachers, well I never got hit). She talked to each kid and tried to understand each kid's circumstances from home. I was bullied a lot and she always knew it and took me aside and just told me to BEAT THEM WITH GRADES.
My last memory of her is wonderful. She got to see the results of her hard work. Her children are also doing very well in the world. Mrs. Masette, I will always tell the girls about you. I know you are resting in the arms of the angels. Your work will live on forever. Thank you, thank you.
What I find interesting with our first teacher passing away at this time is our family is having a family re-union. This year also happens when our father passed away in 2000 when we were in Bududa and so all our clan is already travelling home for that re-union and I guess a day or two earlier for the funeral will mean that she gets the entire clan that she taught at her funeral. OH, this God works in amazing ways. She saw us running out of that school to drive to the hospital so fast when our father was being taken there and she was at his funeral. Life comes round full circle. Only angels walk on water. She walked on water and air. Not a coincidence at all. Life is awesome.
By Martha Leah Zesaguli (Nangalama Makhame)
Born and Raised in Bududa, Uganda