When I was young, my parents struggled to ensure I survived. I was a very sickly young kid. In fact, many people in my village, Nawaka, never thought I would survive the many sicknesses that were inflicted on me. I would  hear some say, “Why did God create this one?”

But God, to whom all time belongs just ignored them. For most of them, God knew they would not be there when I struck 75 on 27th July 2024.

My parents did not lose heart. Father, Charles Afunaduula Ovuma, had been a medical assistant with the Kenya African Rifles in Nairobi, Namungalwe Namusagali and Jinja (in present-day Gaddafi Barracks and Jinja Referral Hospital). Mother, Stephanie Kyabwe Wabiseatyo, was a nurse trainee at Mulago Hospital when Father got interested in her in early 1949. Father was an Anglican protestant. Mother was a Catholic.

The two parents ignored their religious differences and pooled their health skills together to ensure that I survived.  So when Father breathed his last on 25th December 2007 and Mother breathed her last on 7th February 2016, they left me breathing on. I am now the oldest man in Bulawa, Nawaka Village, Ikumbya Sub-county, Luuka County, Busoga.

The explanation is God.

When both my parents were alive and living together, it was in a polygamous family, in which my mother was the eldest of the mothers that my father had assembled. At one time there were 8 mothers under one roof of a house with 12 rooms.  The house still stands on the biocultural landscape of Bulawa, Nawaka, but it has been greatly improved by  Charles Afunaduula Ovuma’s children. As I write the children are working on installing solar electricity in it and planning to supply piped water to it. They have waited for the government to do these two essential acts to no avail.

All the parents in Charles Afunaduula Ovuma’s house wanted their children to build their houses in Bulawa or Bugonza before they left the above-ground Earth. Some children listened and started to transform their village with their small modern houses. I was one of those that listened. And I saw the wisdom of building a house in my village when I retired from public life. I had grown up hating urban life. Even when I lived in Tanzania and Kenya, I preferred rural life. It seems I was pre-adapting to retirement life in my rural setting.

I have been telling my children and brothers that they belong more to their village than Kampala, Iganga, Luwero, Kamuli, Jinja, Kampala, Mbarara or Gulu, where some have decided to build.

I tell them, “East, West Home is Best. When calamity strikes we all end up in the village. Our friends and others converge in the village to condole with us. Let us transform our village by totting it with our modern houses.”

I tell them this, although my first house, which I built in the early 1980s, was a thatched house. I can’t tell them to replicate my story because the spear grass (olubembe) and reeds, which I used as construction materials, have virtually disappeared from Nawaka village.

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Written by Oweyegha Afunaduula (3)

I am a retired lecturer of zoological and environmental sciences at Makerere University. I love writing and sharing information.

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