Thursday, February 16, 2017

Strong men raise great daughters - #Uganda #WomenRights

My mother left my father when she was pregnant with me. They had adult issues.

She left with a fat stomach.  She left behind Wamono, Nakami and Wandeka and only got away the one in her belly.

I hear that father had paid 3 cows for dowry when she had gotten pregnant with the first born.  He took off to UK for his education and left her with 3 kids.

He returned home to his wife.  So when Things fell apart, she left with nothing.

My first 2 to 3yrs, I was raised by mother's family in Bushika.

When I was about 3, father drove to our village and took me away from my mother and grand parents.  He had been too proud to claim the cows.  Mother and grand mother were devastated.

He did not even take me to Bukirimwa where my grand father Weboya and kukhu Nakami had gotten to love me.  He drove me to Busoba to Mayi Umusoba's family.

I had never been in a car my whole life. I puked in his car.  He got angry.  But mayi umusoba talked to him gently and told him to drive me to the river and help him wash the car.

When we were leaving Bushika and mother was crying, the elders told her that I was gonna be sent to good schools and get a good job and care for them all. No mention of getting a husband.

Mayi umusoba tried to eat me one day.  She is umusiyende and her nail had scratched me when she was bathing me and then had taken my hand and sucked the blood. I screamed like you even had no idea. This umusiyende was gonna eat me.  I hate cannibals.

Later that night, she put me in her bed and sat by the bed. She did not sleep all night. I was very sick. My temperature was low and I was shaking like a leaf. I knew the next day she would have to carry me on her back to Bududa hospital for needles. I hated needles but hated her sitting by the bed all night.

I got well.  She was told to put me in Magale boarding school in P3. She refused.  Mzee was working in Nairobi so he could only dictate from a distance.  Turns out I was still wetting the bed and mother feared putting me in a boarding school till I would stop wetting the bed.

My mother had a teaching certificate from Nyondo TTC but mzee did not allow his women to work. Even we had people showing up daily to go digging with us and harvesting. I think they were spying for father on his wives.

Fast forward. When God wants to punish you, He finds a way.  Mzee was punished by bearing beautiful daughters. It just about killed him.

"Mayi Leah, I am not paying for the best schools for you and your older sisters so that you meet nice boys. I am sending you to school so that you can get a good education, a good job and never ask a man for pocket money".

You see, father had done it.  He had seen it all.  He could not bear to see his daughters grow up to depend on a man or have their kids taken away.  He did not accept dowry for his girls. He had tried with one and sent it back.

It seems easier to judge our parents but they did what they knew best.  Our father was no angel but one thing for sure, he believed in women's rights way before Uganda passed a law to allow women to retain assets.

At father's funeral. His will was read out loud.  He had left land for his sons and daughters. A bit strange for him to leave land for the girls.

When it got to my sister and I, "for mayi Nakami ni senje Leah, I leave nothing. I have given them something no one will ever take away from them".  You would have liked my father.  Nelson later explained to us that we had been given education.  All our siblings also got the same but particularly the 2 girls...the old man still smiles.

My fight for education was born in me. My passion for educating girls is based on a well researched fact that even in the most despotic regime, in the poorest country; if you educate a girl, the payback is immeasurable.

Martha Leah Nangalama
Moncton, Canada

But like all Ugandans, boarding school happened. I had stopped wetting the bed.  So this one time father came to pick me up from Namugongo PS in grade 5. There was a gentleman in the car and he asked why there was a bucket in the car. Mzee told him "you will know in about 15mins".

From Namugongo to Kireka is about a 15min drive.  The gentleman said "I now understand the bucket".  In those 15mins I had filled the bucket.

Bus rides, train rides, airplanes and even boats are hard.  I told some friends to stop using flash on websites and some told me I am bad with computers.  Okay maybe I am bad but moving objects cause motion sickness.  I even always had to drive the boat or else.

I took some courses in Human Computer Interaction (HCI) and finally learned about flash and colours.

The average person spends 5 seconds on a website unless you do well.  So blue writing on an orange background is like "what the hell are you thinking?"  Bloggers need to stick to the suggested templates because work has been done for you.  Do not mix colours and use moving images.  You might lose that minority audience which might be the audience you need.

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