Back to the future

1938. Eastern Uganda. The lithe 30-year-old mother of five is stranded. She just cried her eyes out. She looks over at her children ranging from 10 to two years old,all sitting quietly. They are dazed.

The mother suddenly stops sniffing. She has sight in only the right eye. That doesn’t matter now. The only person whose opinion on that mattered has logged out. Her husband is laid out in the big family house.

The women wail. The men speak in hushed tones. The January rains have been particularly brutal this year. The banana plantation at the back of the home has been hit. There are only a few matooke in there and even feeding the mourners, who will continue to come for the next six days is still a puzzle.

The widow has no time for self pity. She grabs her gomesi around her and stands up. She snakes through the throng on her left and right, her feet leaving marks in the red Busoga dirt. She heads to the Chief’s home.

The nuns from the Catholic church, who have been given lodgings by the chief, will surely help. They are always talking about the merits of a Mzungu education. She doesn’t know it it then, but this trip will culminate in her children all leaving home to learn at the feet of the White man.

She knows what the villagers say behind her back. They think she’s crazy. Some say she killed her husband. Many do not understand her obsession with education. She is ready to do anything to get education for her children.

1930s Uganda is still too virgin for many to look that far in the future, but this newly widowed mother knows it will be the educated that will take over the country. The British empire has grown too big to survive. One day the White man will hand Uganda back to Ugandans.

The twins will live long but they’ll die decades apart. The youngest will become a sought-after economist. Gideon, the second, will die young. Ignatius will travel far off and live in a cold country.

The 30-year-old widow has no time to explain all this to her detractors. They think she has a nut loose, anyway. She has seen the future and she’s going to grab it with two hands.

One good eye and five children to raise, it is time to harness the future.

 

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About Steven

It wasn't me; arrest the voices. It was the voices in my head. Sike! I am Ugandan first. I care for development in my country. I am a curious observer second and I care to know what you think.
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