On Saturday January 10, 2014 our family, all our relatives and the entire clan is gathering for a memorial of this wonderful man. It has been 15 years since he died. Some of you have seen me writing about my father. Incidentally, while our family and relatives drove to the village, they also had to bury Mrs. Joyce Masette on Friday January 9, 2014. The timing was out of this world. I have my orbituary about Mrs. Masette and some of you have read it.
I want to tell you some things about my father that I have never said before. You all know that he was dedicated to education, job creation, rural development and looking after our elders (these things I have said already).
The first time my father hit me, I went into total shock. Well, he had never done it before so I was thrown back. One of our maids was doing something with my knuckles. I had never had anyone do that to my knuckles (you know when you make them make that noise). Oh, for me, it was the most painful thing in my life. I ran screaming into his office crying like the child that I was. He told me to stop being a baby. Then grabbed a ruler and hit me on my hands to show me what pain was like. I had never felt such pain. It was awful. Please do not crack the knuckles of your kids. It is a lot more painful than you would ever know. The next time he hit me, I, well, I had kinda killed 2 baby chickens and it was not my fault. But we had 12 perfect chicks and then while chasing them back into their house, these ones sorta ran into my legs. 4 slaps on the butt.
Growing up in a country which delights in beating up kids for discipline, it is amazing that I can now write that my parents never hit me. Violence breeds violence. Sure, I had my ears pulled sometimes and my cheeks pinched just because I was cute but father did not believe in using a cane to punish kids. He would talk until you would want him to just hit you and get over it. He had a tongue. When he would get frustrated, he would sometimes say "Why am I surrounded by imbeciles"?. My big sister (bad mommie) keeps saying I must not say it but frankly, so many times I use it now.
I remember one time when I was very young. In Kenya, father was always called when illegal Ugandans were arrested in Nairobi. He would always bring them home. We never knew who would be home for supper. One time we kinda rebelled. Well, we had our tortoise in the pool and we could not swim in it anymore. We were not allowed to go to the river because we would fall in and did not know how to swim. We could not play with the baby porcupines because their mother had done something (no elaboration needed). We were just a miserable bunch and our dog had been poisoned. We were taking out our anger out on everyone in site. So he sits us down and talks. "Everyone you meet in your life has been sent to you for a reason. You must thank God for sending that person into your life. You must respect everyone. You must be kind and compassionate. Without kindness and compassion, the world is nothing. Never ever disrespect anyone in your life". Then we got packed off back to Bududa and he followed soon after. I wish he had not.
So since our family house was the center of the village, all the kids played there. Our life was pretty good playing dodge ball. Till this one relative who is hard of hearing and blind comes along. One kid yelled EXCUSE. The game stopped. The gentleman did not understand English and he got livid. "Those kids called me eschuzi. I am going to report them to the chief. I must see the chief.". His walker took him just down to the shop where our father was sitting. The gentleman told his story of how the kids had insulted him. Father called us all there. When we heard the reason, we giggled and nearly died of laughter. BIGGEST MISTAKE OF OUR LIVES. We had to fetch water, sand, stones and so much more. Main reason, we laughed at the elder's complaint and did not take into account that some of our people did not understand our language. Of course father knew our game but we got punished because we laughed. The moral of it all was, always beware of where you are, who you are, who you are with, who they are and what they understand in their own life. YES the chief of the village was also this man that still remains a legend on our village.
I miss you father but I know you live, you live and you will always live in all of us. Your grand children have your DNA and I know you are proud. I cannot be at home for the memorial but you understand why.
Forever loved, and Never to be forgotten. You live in me. You are the reason why I am a fighter. You wanted your daughters to be strong women and you succeeded in this work that many other Ugandan fathers must do.
Martha Leah Zesafuli (Nangalama)
Born and Raised in Bududa, Uganda