Tuesday, March 7, 2017
Happy Mothers' Day to all the #Uganda mothers
It has been a bit strange today for me to get Happy Mother's day from family and friends in Uganda because apparently the International Day is March 7th or 8th when in Canada it is usually in May. So I now have to say that I was blessed by one of the best mothers in the world. Her picture is attached.
Mother was born in 1939 and you can imagine how old she is. She is alive and well and her brain even shocks me till I ask her how her boyfriend is and she gets angry on the phone and shuts it off.
For you to understand the plight of Ugandan mothers is only to read the media stories from Uganda of how many women die in child labour daily. Something like 19 women die daily while giving birth.
I was privileged to be born of a woman who was staying with her mother (my grandmother was superb) and even if it was a safe home birth, they rushed me to Bududa Hospital the next day to have the medics check me for having 10 fingers and 10 toes and ladies and gentlemen, I had both.
Then the hard work begun. Some of you will remember that my mother left my father with only the clothes on her back and a big belly then she lost me when father drove to her village and threw me into his car. So technically I know more about father than I know about mother. But some things about my mother are stuck in my memory forever.
Being a woman in a culture which gave no land to girls, she had to dig people's gardens to earn money to feed me and clothe me. I remember when she finally got a really good job and had to grow tomatoes and soya beans for some rich man, plant, weed, harvest and sell them in Bushika market. Of course she always took me with her into the gardens she was digging. Then harvest time was truly a bonding moment. She used to bring water and salt to the tomato fields so I could eat tomatoes as she picked baskets of tomatoes to sell for her boss.
My brother Richard and I used to get sick a lot (this after I had gone back to Bukirimwa, dad's village) and every month we had malaria. Every month she had to come with her sister (mayi Asinasi) so they would carry two kids on their backs all the way to Bududa Hospital for needles. The needles were always 7 days. One time we got terribly sick and the attending doctor told mom that they had to take us to Bubulo hospital. So mother and her sister carried us to Bubulo. We are talking about walking 10kms to Bududa from her village then Bubulo was another 30kms. Not once did they put us off their backs. They always just carried us and followed the doctor instructions.
Mother also used to sew all our clothes. That was something that no one knew she could do. Our uncle Esau was a medical officer in Bududa Hospital so he always found money to buy material so that mother could sew for us clothes for school.
Being taken from the village school where mother could walk and come see me at school and my siblings was not easy on her. Then one day it was boarding school in Kampala which was very far away from Bududa. I think Kampala is still far away from Bududa. I was excited and did not understand why she was crying when she was saying goodbye. Oh but to see your child go so far away is traumatic for a parent. I half died when Rebecca went to Toronto.
Then that day came when I had to fly to Canada. She did not cry. I was beside myself because I knew it was going to be even more far away. She did not cry and I think it is because she knew that I would refuse to go if I saw her cry. So of course I also did not cry. We saved the tears for later. What a strong woman. The only person who is stronger than my mother is the woman who raised me but that is a story for another day.
Fast forward - mom flies to Canada and it is one of the biggest snow storms ever in Toronto in all my years here. I was 9 months pregnant. After all the hardships she had seen, she was stunned that I was waking up every morning and cleaning all the snow off my car and driving to work with a big belly. She was shocked that I had no driver or maid. She was shocked at the fact that it was so cold and I was not fazed. She was shocked that I worked till the day I went into labour. She was shocked at so much. In reality, she should never have been shocked for she had suffered worse and in my case it was a choice because the company would have let me off work anytime before baby came.
Some 6mths later when Rebecca and I flew to Heathrow with mom to put her on the connecting flight to Entebbe where my sister was waiting for her, mom asked me "how did you do it?" My reply "but you did it with nothing and so I do it". When mother returned home, she told all my relatives not to take Leah's money for granted. Then she explained to them what she had seen in Canada for 6 months and that was likely the best thing that ever happened. The old woman does everything for herself even at her advanced age for she had seen that others could do it.
Now to imagine that women have nothing. Nothing. And still carry pregnancies knowing they might die while delivering a new life into the world. The world is not fair. Uganda government is despicable for the deaths that occur daily while pigs come leaders and women rights advocates become gluttons and ignore the plight of the women in Uganda. How many MPigs women do we have in parliament and how many of them have children? Are their offspring of a superior race to the other babies being born? Our mothers had nothing and did the best with nothing. These gluttons have it all and choose to fly to Hamburg Germany to deliver babies while our own deliver babies in bushes.
How can a Christian school ban breastfeeding and these sycophants say nothing? This is a big story. Suspending a mother for breastfeeding a 3ths old son and no one thought anything of it was truly shocking because I breastfed till age 3 for the kids and would have quit any job which did not allow me to breast feed. WAIT, I did for one year and then pumped milk. Sure, those teachers could also pump milk but do the places where their kids are kept have fridges and hot water to warm up the bottle?
How can a mother be violently arrested in Kampala with her kids being thrown onto a police pick up truck with the babies being violently mishandled and these pigs say nothing? AND did we hear any of them protest about Baby Ryan being killed by KCCA?
So how many of your children must die by this government you call your saviour till you wake up and realise that our mothers have sacrificed their lives to give us life?
So in Heathrow airport while hugging mother to put her on her flight to Entebbe, I asked her "mayi ne wakhola shina nga bulamu bwaba buwangafu?' Her reply "imbwo wele uwanjetta. Khukana khwekhutsowisa umwana yangaba inga uli umutambi unyala khushikhola". That is The Labour Of Love. "How did you do it when you had nothing at all?"
Loving and wanting to raise a child without anything but doing it is the labour of love.
Congratulations to all the mothers and all those who support mothers who work for nothing except THE LABOUR OF LOVE! AND that is how it shall remain. Love is very powerful lest we forget. I am who I am because one woman lost everything and gave up everything to make me. Happy mother's day Loda Buteme. How is your boyfriend by the way?
In case you run into my mother, she only likes Pure Milk, Nile Special, no porc but likes matumbo and matooke. She does not eat from strangers though and does not ever accept money from anyone.
Martha Leah Nangalama