I want to tell a story; the story of an African woman who tries to break barriers and come out of the vicious cycle of poverty caused, sustained, enjoyed and sponsored by her husband. I am therefore buying a sense of humor but I will weave this story with metaphors, enrich the content with irony and coat it with sarcasm. I will then present it to the readers via social media. If one of your weaknesses is inability to read long posts, do not go further than this.
In my country especially in this year of “hakuna mchezo”, unemployment and under employment are real but surprisingly some people are thriving and they are not worried at all. Those are the artificial elite of Uganda, their wealth is seasonal and not this climatic season but the political season. They remind me of what president Barack Obama insinuated to the Republican Party policy particularly to John Mccain; “Give more and more to those with most hoping that prosperity will trickle down to the poor”. Is that not capitalism? Well in Uganda we also have our own “isms” and these are; tribalism, favouritism, and of recent we added racism (courtesy of Kiprotich. Racism means the act of participating in athletic races).
Back to Uganda, one time we were ranked the happiest people in East Africa which some envious people, probably it was Kenyans attributed to our poverty. They claimed that we are poor because we are happy. In return for the insult, we annexed Migingo Islands then went ahead to send our own Munyoro, Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta to become their president.
Back to happiness, I think that we are happy because we are poor.
No competition, no money, no worries. Can money be a problem if you do not have any? Of course not although somewhere in the article I will contradict self but come on, the pastor who preaches that money is source of all evil collects it every Sunday.
Back to our poverty, unemployment and happiness. We are going to handle these topics one by one and by the time we are done we shall have realized why this poverty is not going away soon. Buckle your seat belt, tulla okalile, tuwaye.
Wakauna Simon was born in 1981 the same year as Woniaye Jackson. Wakauna’s father was the defense secretary of the village as well as night watch man at the Nabisolo Primary school where his children attended their school. Just like Wandali his elder brother, Simon did not go far with his studies. If you asked him a question like how far did you go with your education, the answer would be like one of the cartoons. Wakauna did not go far with education because the school itself was not far from his father’s home.
Wakauna dropped out of school immediately after circumcision and married Nambuya who dropped out due to sight complications. One funny thing about Nambuya is that since quitting school she has never complained about her eyes. After all she spends most of her time on the daily routine of garden to kitchen to the well back to the kitchen then bed. All they can do at night is reproducing.
They now have 8 children and if it was not for the nurse who chastised her husband at the last maternity engagement that almost cost her a life, Nambuya would be counting 10 citizens to her name. After all the Bible calls on us to produce and fill the world. By the way, it is worth knowing that Wakauna’s dad inherited a lot of land from his own father. If it was not for his wife bearing only boys, he could not have sold off almost all the land to pay for “fine” to redeem his sons who keep impregnating school going girls. If he had girls we would call that “imali” but. God chose otherwise.
Wakauna’s first-born was one of the brightest children in their class but envious neighbors bewitched him. Now he is on the streets of Mbale. He smokes those long cigarettes. His follower, Bessy recently dropped out and Wakauna made a fortune. From his 16 year old girl he got fine of 1 million and was later given 3 goats and 1 cow. In fact he is just waiting for Jussy to make 16 and also bring home some fortune. Wakauna has convinced his wife that he will be the first person to become a tycoon courtesy of their girls.
Nambuya is a quiet woman, she has been so since her childhood. When her husband boasts of making a fortune from trading her girls, she never replies. In fact she holds back the tears all the time she imagines what life her children are going to lead. What bothers her most is that her husband is proud of keeping their children in the same cycle as themselves. She has never seen any value in goats that can replace a daughter more so no man has gotten rich courtesy of marrying off their daughters. Having witnessed two of her nieces graduate last year, Simon is challenged that they are not likely to witness the same in their own home.
Under such circumstances and give a scenario like the above, a family like one of Simon will always rotate around poverty. All they do ties them to the same spot, same poverty and lack. And because the young don’t have elder siblings to look to, no inspiration shall move them to know the real value of education. Breaking such a barrier sometimes takes more generations.
Now that I am almost making the mandatory 1000 words for my article, I will not talk about happiness and unemployment as I had wanted. These are supposed to be topics of another day. The story behind Nambuya’s bitterness is that she is normally seen as the only failure in her father’s house. For while her sisters persevered and completed education, she had eloped with a son of the village chief. It is no wonder that whenever there are functions in their home, her father is ashamed to introduce her as his child.
This is not the same sentiment her mother holds but she feels the pain her daughter has to go through. There are times when her mother wishes that Nambuya is not invited for some family functions because even when they are speaking Enlglish, it is only Nambuya who will not understand everything that they will be saying. In family gatherings, her opinion is normally brushed to the side.
If Nambuya could only push back the time to 1999, she could have waited a little longer than sleep outside her father’s house, she could have listened to her mother or could put aside her pride, she could have stayed longer in school.