by Ronald Asiimwe
October 26, 2016
On July 30th, I travelled with Dr.Bartha to my ancestral home in Igorora, Ibanda district (about 250 miles from Kampala the capital of Uganda) in western Uganda. This was Dr.Bartha’s first time of visiting my ancestral home after two years of being in touch with him. He woke up very excited ready to get on the next bus to Mbarara. Mbarara is the main business city connecting the rest of western Uganda to the capital Kampala. It was very hard getting on the bus to Mbarara as people fought to enter the bus and get the “best” seats in the busy bus park located in the heart of Kampala city. After a 5-7 minutes battle outside the bus, we finally made it inside! The road from Kampala to Mbarara is a bit smooth so, we had a good bus ride. We arrived in Mbarara (the land flowing with milk and honey as people from this place refer to it) at about 4:30 pm in the afternoon. A brother of mine Geoffrey was waiting for us in the main bus park with a car.
We set off from Mbarara to go to my village in Igorora (about 40 miles from Mbarara). It wasn’t long before we arrived in my home town and headed straight home. At home, we found my 70 year-old dad, my sister, neighbours and other guests from Church waiting for us. When the car that brought us arrived, it was like as if the queen of England had landed. People and children from the neighbouring places gathered around the car to see a “Mzungu” (local word to mean “a white man”) in their village. Such a thing hard never happened in this place the time I have been there. The dining table was congested with all kinds of food stuffs ranging from tea to food. Among the eats we were to enjoy were ground nuts, yellow bananas, milk, black tea, mashed green bananas (common and main food for people in the west), chicken, beaf and beans. Ms Lovinca, Ronald’s former primary school head teacher at Igorora primary school led the prayer to usher us onto the table. We ate, laughed and enjoyed the moment.
On Sunday, we were lined for preaching at an Igorora Church of Uganda, an Anglican episcopal church located about ½ a mile from my home. Praise and worship was done in the local language Runyankole. The music was very organized with local drums and a piano. The people sang with joy and excitement. Those who were not drumming were clapping their hands hard. Dr.Bartha preached from 1 Corinthians 13:12-13 and I was his translator since majority of the congregants including the pastor couldn’t speak English. In his sermon, the good doctor called upon people of to have the “BIG PICTURE” and that is, Jesus Christ in their mind, to love one another and wait patiently to see Jesus face to face. The service took exactly 2 hours and it was done.
In the evening, I and Dr. Bartha embarked on a village tour to visit the families of the vulnerable children in the Hope Family Foundation Uganda project-a ministry that I started to help the poor and vulnerable children in my community with school fees and some other social needs. In most of the homes we visited, a high level of abject poverty could be sensed right away on arrival in the home. Some these children are total orphans. Their parents either died of HIV/AIDS or other diseases and most of these children live with guardians or relatives who are unable to aid them with school fees and even other home basic needs like clothing and food. I decided that I will go back to the USA and try to raise some funds from my friends and my small job to support these children (my village mates).
We also visited homes of several key people that played a bigger role in my growing up as a little child. These included the home of Mr.Samson 74 years of age-a former sub-county chief, teacher, school administrator and now a retired civil servant. Samson is a great story teller; he enjoys teaching children using old-time stories of hunters. As a child, I remember Samson for one thing; everywhere he met me, he made sure he would ask me school related questions especially questions from mathematics. He used to emphasise counting and would tell me stories with figures in there and then ask me to come up with an answer. Whenever I failed, Samson would give me home work and I had to report to him the answer the next time I met him (whether he came home or on the way!). Samson was very delighted to host us in his home. He had these words to say, “since Dr. Bartha has entered my house, the whole of America is here”. In this home, we also found my very first nursery school teacher Mr.John (Mr. Boy as we used to refer to him because of his short and small size). Mr.John taught me in 1995 as a little child (5 years) starting school. I remember by then, he used to tell us that he was 72 years. He could not walk by himself so; he had to be carried to where we were. He prefers to be called “Mr. Century man”. He greeted Dr. Bartha and was extremely very excited to speak his little English after very many years.
We also visited the home of Ms. Lovinca retired head teacher with the government of Uganda. She was also my former primary school head teacher at Igorora day primary school (1995-2002). Ms. Lovinca was very glad to show I and Dr.Bartha around her home and her cows on the farm. Unfortunately, she told us that one of her cows was stolen a week before we came. I refer to her as a mother because when my mother passed away in 2001, I was in primary six. My father was in the capital city Kampala and cared less about children. It was Ms. Lovinca that literally took me and my two other siblings and started paying for our school fees. With her help, I was able to top my school and sub county in the 2002 Uganda Primary Leaving Examinations. She is the one helping out to coordinate the children of Hope Ministry to their schools. Finally, we visited Mrs. Margaret (mama Cris I prefer calling him; Cris is her only son) who was a great friend of my mother as well. Whenever my mother would go away on business trips, I would stay at Margaret’s home. While at his home, it rained heavily and we had to be there a little bit longer than we had planned. The rain finally ended and we walked back home in darkness because it was at night.
The following morning, we were off back to Kampala. Our next journey would be to Bukedea in eastern Uganda. This is the home of Dr.Bartha (Dr. Okia) here in Uganda. Okia is a Teso word for “medicine”.