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UGANDA: There are no steps in our family – Bamasaba

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Traditionally and back in #ThemGoodOldDays, we had no step mothers. They were all our mother. We also had no cousins. They were all our brothers or sisters.

STEP is alianating. So is cousin.

In Bududa where I was born and raised, we called people the following names:

Papa refers to all the brothers of your father. Should your father die, these Papas will raise you as their own.

Mayi refers to all the sisters of your mother. Should your mom die, her sisters must raise you as their own.

Yaya is used as a sign of respect for all your brothers and sisters, some of whom might be the other Papa or Mayi’s kids. They are your siblings.

Khotsa is uncle and only used for the brothers of your mother.

Ssenje is auntie and only used for the sisters of your father.

YAYA is the most powerful word in our culture. It is used for your siblings older than you. However, we also use YAYA for younger siblings as a sign of respect. The young always beat the drums as the older ones dance.

YAYA is used for good friends too. For example, you have no blood connection to me yet Ilike you, I will likely call you YAYA as a sign of love and respect.

Imagine my shock one time when I flew home and one of my sisters announced me to her rich family “This is my cousin Leah”. I do not think I will ever recover.

I have also seen some of my younger siblings post on Facebook “she is my step sister”. Idiot, were I a step, would have I paid for your education from K to University?

Then one time, a child introduced me to her friends as Auntie. Seriously??? I am your mother for crying out loud. When my sister died, I raised you like mine. I am your mother.

I cringe every time I use the word COUSIN. My cousins were always my siblings and to this day.


Try living the life where your family distances you by using concocted English names which never existed in Bugisu the land of slides on Mt. Elgon.

TILL FURTHER NOTICE, you are my brother, sister, papa, mayi or yaya. There shall be no compromise unless I am vibing you. In which case, I will call you DARLING.

***the one and only. Your memory keeper. All others are fake.

—— AUTO – GENERATED; Published (Halifax Canada Time AST) on: December 14, 2019 at 04:34PM

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