When the Tears Gashed; God does change hearts

I looked at the women throwing their arms in the air as they sobbed and I cried.

Growing up, I knew that my tear pot was dry. I hardly cried however bad the situation was; what is worse than the death of a loved one? Even in death I never cried. Surprisingly I shed a tear whenever someone threw a kind gesture my way. Like a lady giving up their seat on the bus for me. Gash! That got my eyes wet. But I was always quick to wipe my eyes clean for I hated to be drenched in an emotional sea.

In 2009, a friend of mine, Pamela, lost her mother. She died of stroke. It was absurd. It really was, but while everyone broke down at the news, I remained standing. I had no emotion in me to evoke tears. I tried, I really did. God can testify to that. I remember searching my entire being for tears to cry but found none. All I could do was give words as soothing as honey to the now throbbing hearts. That came easy. So rather than fake a sad face and drench fake tears, I resorted to being true to self. I comforted them.

***

I sat at my father’s burial like a spectator. I was like a clueless (female) spectator in a stadium save for this situation, I knew that the lifeless figure in the casket was of one of the major contributors to my DNA.

A few days before; I was at enjoying my long form-four holiday at an uncle’s place (mother’s in-law and long-time business partner). It was one of those lazy afternoons. We had just downed a heavy village meal when it started raining. I sat down on a mat, in a smoke- filled kitchen with other ladies among whom was my cousin brother’s new bride and my cousin sister. Twice, I attempted to reject my mother’s phone calls because of the heavy downpour. But she insisted. I figured it must be something serious, so I picked up the third call. She demanded that I go home immediately. My efforts to establish what was going on without asking much went futile.

I looked straight at my cousin who sat directly opposite me, giving her a look that something was wrong. She returned the same look. Confused, I looked away. I looked at her again as if to insist. In my head I was thinking; “you don’t understand. Something is actually wrong!” she did like before. I left it at that.

Shortly after, I announced my departure. My cousin pretended that she needed a break from the boring village. She escorted me home.

Mother sat quietly and very composed in one corner of the sitting room. In her company was her best friend. I greeted them and headed straight for the bedroom to drop my bags. She called me back and attempted to break the news. I had no clue but I expected the worst.

“Martha, your father has died.” She managed to say before she burst out weeping. I didn’t move. I showed no reaction. Perhaps she thought I had not heard. She attempted to repeat herself but the weeping could not let her. I moved away.

I headed for the bedroom and started arranging irrelevant things for the situation. My mother came to check on me to ensure that I was okay.

Then thoughts started racing through my mind, “this is news about your father, why are you not crying? I even had the audacity to ask myself how I felt. Truthfully, I had such a numbness that I felt no remorse whatsoever. Some of our neighbours were shocked at my not being sad. I also found myself bizarre. The worst of it was that in such situation when everyone was feeling sad on my behalf, I just laughed. I countered their sympathy with a genuinely big smile as a said it was okay. My mother questioned what had happened to me that it made me so stone hearted. I could tell from her tone and gaze that she feared my state of emotions. She looked at me so strangely like to say she knew me not. I am an only child who has been raise single handedly by my mother. Ironically, I wondered if I would cry if she had died. My mother’s only consolation is that probably it was because I had hardly known him through my life. There was a lot of truth in that assumption.

The body was to be laid to rest in Jinja, at the ancestral grounds. My mother and I travelled from western Uganda through the night. It took us more than 9 hours to arrive. Somewhere during the journey, I wondered if I could put my faith to work; I wondered if I could pray and bring my father back to life.

It was my first time in Jinja. The cultural differences and language, everything was new to me. I remembered some of my favourite articles in newspapers when writers would go to new places. I felt like a tourist. Or a writer on an escapade. Thankfully it was only in my thoughts- otherwise how ridiculous!

People went out as others came into the house. Most of them women; who were dressed in gomesis. They threw their hands in the air and wailed. I sat quietly as I observed. Time and again I tried to meditate the pain of losing my father. Instead, I got agitated by the mourners’ wailing, so dry void of truth. Most of them were simply making noise to fill the air but their faces were as dry the face of a desert. Now that hurt me. It was at this moment that I cried. I shed a few tears. How could they pretend to cry? What were they doing making noise the whole evening anyway? Clearly they were not hired mourners- just members of the vicinity. This is my father’s death they are dramatizing! That did not go well with me. After a few drops of tears however, the tear pot dried again. If I so loved drama, I could have desisted from wiping tears off my face and ensured that my mother saw them. So that at least she knows that I cried for my deceased father. I cleaned them off anyway.

Years passed. I do not know how the story changed. All I knew was that I cried at almost everything. Yes, I remembered asking God what was with me that I was so unaffected but sorrow- emotionally. Though there are those times when I wished I could go back to the girl who never got emotionally socked up. I cried when I lost something; cried when I failed to beat my deadlines; cried even when I didn’t know why I was crying. I was about to tell God to take this ‘weak’ personality back to where it came from. But then I tried comparing which of the two is more human. I would rather I cry than be void of any sorrow. Yes, I know we have to be strong, if I could not cry for my father then surely I can manage to tame tears and stupid emotions.

I recently went for an interview- which I passed- I was asked a personal question that made me cry. So much to the shock of the panelists. So now I can say, the tears gashed. Perhaps God filled an otherwise dry spring of tears.

The night before the interview, I received a call informing me that a very close uncle -the same as earlier mentioned- was fighting for his life in Nsambya hospital. He had been battling illness most of his life, but he was a fighter- he had many come backs. I prayed to God so hard that night for him to live. I was almost sure God had answered my earnest request but was disoriented to get news of his demise at dawn.

The next morning while the rest of the family travelled from Kampala to western Uganda for burial, I took the opposite route- to Mukono for the interview. I was a few minutes late.

I am not the kind who fears interview panels. I was very prepared. I had read the requirements and criteria over and over again to ensure that I clearly understood what I was in for. I had even rehearsed the interview questions and answers in my head. I knew they would ask me about my seriousness or commitment.

However, I was shocked when half-way into the interview I broke down crying; bringing discomfort to my formerly tough-faced panelists. I could see some confused faces. They did not know why I was crying; later on know what to say! The more I tried to explain the more dump stricken I became with streams of tears rolling down my cheeks. I decided to keep mum and sobbed till I was quiet enough.

The question about my commitment had been asked; I wanted to summarize how for the sake of this interview I had abandoned my mourning family, with the intention of taking a bus later for a five-hour long journey alone that night. Instead, I sobbed.

I was shocked at the transition from a stone-heated girl (as they called me) to an emotional drench. I recomposed myself, gave a small explanation and went on with the interview. But of course the incident changed the atmosphere in the room.

The only reason I can give for this is that God gave me a change of heart.  Ezekiel 36: 26 says, “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you a heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” What more can I say?

courtesy photo

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When God personally extended his hand to me

I never forget my Identity card; but this one Monday morning. I forgot it in a cross bag I had carried the previous evening while going to a friend’s place. Her hostel security is tight. However, I was particularly not comfortable my leaving Identity card with the guard on duty that day. He looked a bit shady to me. Thus, forgetting the very identity card the next morning after the evening scenario was very unfitting.

As fate would have it that same morning, the company security office woke up to be tighter at my than before; whoever did not have a valid identity card could not access the company premises. The security enforcer stood, smiled at me –he knew personally- and expressed his regrets for he was under instructions not to let people like me in. Which I respected; the only way out was to board back home and pick my card.  This also meant that I had to miss the morning meeting.

That particular morning I was lucky to have two cars at my disposal. But now I was about to spend twice on transport.  I had not only forgotten my identity card but also my colleague’s SD (camera) card which was more troublesome.

I told God, “This is unusual, moreover on a Monday morning. Whatever your plans, let your will be done.”

God’s plan it was indeed. A few minutes away from home, I realized that it I did not have the keys to the main house. I proceeded anyway, fully knowing that God had a reason for this drama.

I had a hint; it was about my prayer life. I know people who make earnest prayers. I have tried, sometimes I feel like I have prayed and believed to the best of my ability and yet reap no results. I had been asking God why he does not answer even when am sure He is listening.

Today was show time. I got home, opened the store, and started praying. Crazy right? You are supposed to be in a meeting, your colleague is waiting for her card to go to hit the filed and you are busy praying for God to bring open the house? What a  waste of time! I imagined someone telling me that. I remembered that the truth of the gospel is foolishness to this world. So I went to pray.

I asked God why he never answers me. I told him about the bragging of some of the preachers in town. They say I just said this and there was my answer yet we are both children in the kingdom, believers! How much more do I have to believe until I receive? I reminded Him that even when he used Moses to perform some of the greatest, God helped him to believe by showing signs and wonders.

It took a while, at some point I just became silent but continued in prayer. Meanwhile I kept running back to check on the door to see if God had already opened it. I mentioned to him that I know I cannot do it on my own, but He had the power to do anything. If he wanted to send the two cards through air, I was ready to receive them. If he was going to make me go through the closed door, or wall, I was ready, if he wanted to open the door and let me in, I told him it was all up to him for he is able and I believe he can do anything. All I wanted was to get my cards and go back to work and only him could help me for he is my father.

It took a while, many times a thought told me how foolish it was to stand and wait for God to come open for me. I reassured myself that I was praying to a living God. I reminded God of His promises, gave Him examples of how I felt oppressed in prayer, and acknowledged his Almighty power, acknowledged my weak prayer life and reminded him how he promised for me to ask anything and I would receive I went on confessing his promises.

Then, I remembered that God passed through many ways. True, I had options he could use, but he had more. I saw a small rusty key on the floor. I picked it and tried it in the door. I would say, I could not believe it opened yet I expected the door to open whichever way God preferred. I rushed in, picked the cards and ran to work.

I told the incident to all the believers I knew of at work and other who cared to listen.

I kept the small key and tried it later in the door but it did not work. It is not that I doubted the Lord’s power, but I was testing and proving that it was indeed only God who reached his hand to me at my time of need.

I called, believed and he answered. Mathew 7:7

Jesus is Alive

Jesus is Alive

God is not dead!

*PS please click on the highlighted words for scripture reference.

I cannot believe I had pity on a rat!

Baby rat- courtesy photo

Baby rat- courtesy photo

There are some things I cannot tolerate in a house; rodents top the list. Then come bugs, cockroaches and all skin biting, blood sucking creepy-crawlies.

But just the other day, I was surprised at my reaction towards a little pink-skinned rodent in my room. On a fine afternoon, I was busying myself with some work. The corner of my eye caught a vague image of a fast-moving black creature. I was almost certain it was a rat. However, part of me reasoned that it was a hallucination. But I was certain my suspicions of a rodent were true. I got up, scouted around to trace the trail of this black bodied creature since I had only caught a glimpse but got none. I sat back and went back to my work though this time part of my conscience was watching for this dark creature.

Before long, the four-legged thing cropped from underneath the wardrobe. My first reaction was, ‘Oh, it looks adorable!’ Well it was a baby rat. With a small body, parts of which were still pinkish. I could almost read all its reactions.

Baby rat- courtesy photo

Baby rat- courtesy photo

It crept under the door and peered through the corridor. I could hear a few footsteps. As the giant footsteps -in its perspective-came nearer, I could see its body trembling with fear. Then it dashed and hid on a wall adjacent to the door. In a little leap it stood in its hind legs, rubbing its little face with the fore legs as it pondered the next move. I felt sorry for it. For a moment, I felt its pain; it wanted to go out but feared the giant humans. Then it crept back underneath the wardrobe.

At this moment, it hit me that a rat had just run back into the room. I wanted it out of the room but my wishes had just been bogged down. I though aloud;

Did I just have pity on a rodent? Small, and innocent as it may look, it will not be amusing when its hunger drives it to nibble my stuff. But well it was already gone.

I had just had pity on a rodent! Maybe I should blame it on the many animations I have watched.

I pray it does not feed and bulge from in here.

Gosh rodents!

Professor Kanyeihamba: How many last terms do you want Museveni to have?

Shawn Diaries

Reading the good Professor’s opinion in the Sunday Monitor dated 18th May 2015 did not shock me at all. In all fairness the good professor needs to rest from the struggles of this country so that he is remembered as a gallant son who fought against misrule in this country. He needs to give a gift to himself by retiring fully from the contradictions that he is laboring to make in the evening of his life. Professor Kanyeihamba is a good man and no doubt about it, a distinguished former Justice of the Supreme Court, one whose profile will not be distorted by historians, but only if he comes to his aid.

I am reminded of an incident when the good professor cried on National television recently after the Constitutional Court registry staff failed to receive his petition. He said;

I usually cry for the death of my relatives…

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UCU sleeps in uncertainty tonight

This picture is making rounds on whatsapp with in the UCU circles

This picture is making rounds on whatsapp with in the UCU circles

Students and staff of Uganda Christian University are uncertain of what they will wake up to tomorrow morning as rumours of a planned demonstration led by the guild president continue to cause unrest among the population.

While addressing the staff and students’ community during lunch time communal prayers, the Vice Chancellor Dr. John Senyonyi said he learned of the plans through a post on Facebook last evening.

Senyonyi revealed that the Guild President Arthur Baliruno had written to the Mukono District Police Commander early this week informing him of a demonstration come Wednesday morning.

Senyonyi was bitter that the president did not follow university policies provided for demonstrations. “The guild did not follow what has been outlined in the policy,” he said. He warned that should any damages or injuries occur, they guild president will be held directly responsible.

According to the university policy, whoever plans a lawful demonstration should write a proposal to the Director of Students’ Affairs (DOSA) at least 48 hours before the due date. This letter should include the names, registration numbers of the students and the total number of those planning to demonstrate. The DOSA shall then grant or deny permission to the proposal.

“If he wants to call a demonstration it is not bad, but he should follow procedure.” Dr. Senyonyi said. “I believe in dialogue not in meetings where you ambush people,” he added.

The demonstration is allegedly about the closure of all of the university gates, forcing all university users to use the main gate. The Vice Chancellor explained to the students’ community that it is a measure levied to curb terrorism as advised by security officers.

“If you want us to open the gate, then assure two things; one, get permission from the police and two, tell the Al-Shabab not to attack us,” he retorted causing some students to feel sorry for cursing the security measure.

Shortly after the Garissa attack in Kenya, Uganda Christian University started receiving terror threats from the Al-Shabab. This unrest cold give the terrorists an advantage over the university security.

If the demonstration/strike pushes through, it will be the first time ever that Uganda Christian university students demonstrate or strike against the authorities.

Most of the finalists are opposed to the demonstration/strike because they are worried of losing time or wasting tuition.

Others argue that the reasons are genuine but could have been addressed better.

For the guild on the other hand, they say they have pitched ideas long enough but nothing has been done about it and it is time to use other means.

It is less than 12 hours, let us see what tomorrow brings.

SPINAL BIFIDA; the medical condition that will ruin your imagination of having bouncing babies

Thirteen month old Christian Odoch was the first patient I encountered with spinal bifida. He was brought to Vision Group premises by Ayo Pamela who says she was abandoned by her husband as soon as she gave birth to the boy. He has a large swelling on his lower back in a shape of a head. This swelling grows bigger as he grows. Ayo needed the media to help her campaign and raise shs.60m for her son’s operation in Nakasero hospital.

The local musician in her mid-thirties says her music- which is her main source of income- has been on a stand still since Christian was born, ultimately shrinking her income.

Palma, as she prefers to be called, (says she) gave birth to Odoch in Kotch-Goma in Gulu hospital. However, the toddler had such worrying complications that they he was referred to Mbale regional referral hospital. There was no solace and she was further referred then to Mulago National Referral Hospital. At Mulago, the equipment to efficiently carry out the operation was missing. She says she was then referred to Nakasero Hospital.

I took it up, and decided to look into the facts of the matter.  One of the doctors who tended to her at Nakasero hospital spoke to me on grounds of anonymity. He contradicted many things like Palma is not the mother of the child. He also said the father of the child, a UPDF had not abandoned them financially as she claims. “In fact, he called recently to find out how far we had progressed,” the doctor said.
After an interrogation over phone with Palma, I resolved that relations did not matter here. Rather, Odoch represents many sick babies that I did not know about yet. I decided to find out more about the illness and how much it has affected Uganda.

I then met Dr. Michael Muhumuza, head of Neurosurgery Mulago hospital. If Odoch is lucky to be operated on, Dr. Muhumuza’s hands will do the healing craft.

So what is spinal bifida?
Spinal bifida is a neural tube defect. Dr. Muhumuza says, “Spinal bifida results from having low folic acid levels at conception.” Much as the disease can be detected within six weeks of pregnancy, “not much can be done to revert a fetus that already has neural tube defects.”

The disease manifests as a swelling on a baby’s back, halting proper development of a baby’s spinal cord. It defect weakens children’s lower limbs leaving them ridden in wheelchairs all their lives. It also permanently weakens the child’s ability to control the flow of urine and feaces; medically known as incontinence.

Odoch has a small opening on his anus where he is able to defecate from. That is the case with all patients of spinal bifida. Palma says he can take even two weeks without passing stool.

As you can see, the child becomes “a burden the mother, the family and to the nation at large. The expense of taking care of them is high. This would rather be avoided.”

Just a dose of folic acids

Over the years, this condition has become very common upcountry. Ironically, it is a rare condition in countries like China and Europe where green-leaf vegetables are grown on a smaller scale compared to developing countries like Uganda.

All sexually active women are prone to the defect. Medics advise that a good dose of folic acids in the body three months to the conception is the only simple prevention to the otherwise costly defect. Thus it is important for couples to plan for pregnancies.

“That is why it is good to sit down as a couple and plan when to have a baby,” says Dr. Muhumuza.

The ward at Mulago National referral hospital is small. Once an operation is carried out, patients are discharged. Surgery only helps to close up the swelling but cannot cure the disease. Dr. Muhumuza calls on expectant mothers to visit antenatal clinics as frequent as possible. This is because the earlier the defects are detected the better.

At Mulago hospital, the surgeries are carried out free of charge.

when are Uganda get a t-shirt to promote your country?

Now this is patriotism. Join the campaign…

scare-a-hero

THERE is a group of people out there, prominent among whom are Tourism aficionados Amos Wekesa and Stephen Asiimwe, who have offered themselves up to be walking advertisements for Uganda to the international community in the simplest way possible.
These are people who travel frequently outside of Uganda through airports and other such communication hubs that are frequented by large numbers of other people who are likely tourists or, at the very least, travellers.
They are also people who by nature gain public attention merely by virtue of their presence alone.
Their simple activity: Wearing a Uganda t-shirt.
Prominently.
Amos’ rationale makes sense and if you try it out you will find that it works out just fine: turn up in your Uganda t-shirt in front of anyone who hasn’t heard of Uganda before and they will ask, “What’s that?”
That gives you an opportunity to deliver a well-rehearsed marketing pitch for…

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Who is Jamil Mukulu and is why is he such a threat?

From a local boy he weaved his way into terror networks and unleashed terror on Ugandans. Born on the first of January 1964, Jamil Mukulu embarked on his journey into Islamic extremism as as a member of Salaf Sect in the 1990’s.

Born Daniel Steven, a Catholic, Mukulu later converted to Islam and quickly got involved in terror and built contacts with other terrorists in the world. While in training in Khartoum, he became close to the leader of Al Qaeda, Osama bin Laden before he shifted base to Afghanistan. He later also established contacts with Al Shabaab as soon as it was aspiring to become Al Qaeda’s arm in East Africa.

The main aim of Islamic leaning terror groups is to replace secular governments with Islamic ones.

In 1992, Mukulu was part of the Muslim youths who clashed with police at Old Kampala Mosque which left four policemen dead. Although this was seen as an isolated incident in reality it was the start of the Allied Democratic Forces which Mukulu would head in the future.

Years later security forces spotted a rebel training camp in Buseruka, Hoima district. It was raided and believed to have been decimated but survivors escaped to the Democratic Republic of Congo from where they regrouped, trained and received supplies from terror sponsoring states like Sudan. It is from DRC that they launched their first attack on Uganda in Kasese, 1996.

From then on, UPDF fought the terror group. To contain them UPDF had to cross into Congo in 1998 only to get ensnared in the Congo crisis. From its  save havens, ADF  set up cells in Kampala which it used to set and detonate bombs in entertainment places wreaking havoc killing tens and injuring hundreds.

Efforts to eject them from the thick jungles were futile but at least Uganda security staved more attacks from 2000.

In February 2011, Interpol released a red notice for the arrest of Jamil Mukulu in connection with the June 1998 Kichwamba Technical Institute massacre, in which about 80 students perished.

Their mode of operation is highly clandestine.

Their activities have since been on the low, because they have been fighting more of defensive battles in Congo against the UN and Congo forces.

Mukulu who was Jamil has been imprisoned in the national prison, in Luzira at one point has managed to keep the army and police on their toes by disguising with many faces.

He has several passports and permits from different countries. He has a British passport as a British national under the name Kalagire Pantaguli. He has a Kenyan driving permit, a Tanzanian passport and over four Ugandan identities.

From December 2014 and early 2015, the ADF has been named in rampant killings of leaders of Muslim sect leaders in the central region and businessmen. These are said to have been killed because they refused to co-operate with the rebel group.

Jamil Mukulu was also named to be behind the rumours that spread early this year on whatsapp claiming that the minister of Kampala Frank Tumwebaze had been fired.

Currently, it is still a speculation that Mukulu was arrested last week in Tanzania.

World-wide terror groups have in recent years suffered major setbacks after their top leaders are killed or arrested. It has happened to Al Qaeda, Hezbollah and Al Shabaab. From these examples the merchants of terror become less effective after the death of the top commander. Though they survive under new leadership their vision is blurred in effect scaling down on attacks. But as one terror group is about to be written off another and a more lethal one springs up. The ISIS became a threat almost immediately after the death of Al Qaeda boss Osama bin Laden and groups like Boko Harama are allying with it. Unless totally whipped out ADF remnants can also mutate into something else.

WHO IS JAMIL MUKULU?

Leader of the ADF