RSS Feed (xml)

Powered By

Skin Design:
Free Blogger Skins

Powered by Blogger

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Looking at the women’s cause

If there is anything Robert Bake Tumuhaise’s latest release does more, it is pushing for the cause of women, writes Dennis D. Muhumuza.

Tears of My Mother is a story of a woman who has long travailed but eventually prevailed. It is the story of a woman in a male-dominated world who despite being scorned and ridiculed for her barrenness clings to faith in God until her 40 years of patience pay off with her delivering a child who, as the subtitle reveals makes history by becoming the first female president of Uganda.

Here I could not help but indulge my curiosity as to what President Museveni might think of a title like this. In painting a character like Nyantahurira who personifies today’s political mafia that run the system, the author is speaking for Ugandans displeased with corruption and all the ills that have contaminated and stagnated the country, for which we would be justified to demand that it is high time the mantle passed on to a female leader. After all Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Joyce Banda are doing well in Liberia and Malawi respectively. And with tested women like Winnie Byanyima, Julia Ssebutinde,Rebecca Kadaga and Beti Kamya we would be spoilt for choice!

Feminists would love this novel not because it bashes men (it has its share of female characacters with unenviable foibles) but because of the way it depicts the steadfastness and pragmatism of women. Through its two central figures Hannah and her daughter Nyamishana, the endurance, resilience and fortitude of a woman is persuasively brought out.

They are portrayed as assertive in an inspirational way, challenging today’s patriarchs to give the girl-child a chance and tap the woman’s potential in the development process. Hannah becomes a pacesetter when she defies the position her prejudiced society has assigned women, choosing to see unlimited possibilities for her daughter, delivered shortly after the death of her husband. When the elders pick a name with negative connotations, Hannah rejects it and names her daughter Nyamishana, which means sunshine.

This sunshine in Nyamishana’s personality is what dispels the darkness that threatens to destroy her. She comes out of prison and makes history by occupying the top office in the land. Nyamishana’s self-belief is nurtured by her mother who gets her to confess every day that she’s destined for greatness.This is confirmed by a prophetess who appears on the day the child is named and proclaims that Nyamishana would “grow into a warrior dreaded by everyone” and liberate the nation. You wonder if this bit was inspired by the Biblical story of angel Gabriel telling Mary she would birth a child (Jesus Christ) who would redeem the world.

Then again, the prophetess could be a symbol of magic realism in which case the gods are responsible for Nyamishana’s success just like Ihuoma in Elechi Amadi’s The Concubine has no control over her conjugal life seeing that every man that comes into her life is destroyed by the powerful sea god.

Tears of my Mother, can as well be classified as a historical novel since it begins by taking us back to the last quarter of the 19th century when a real-life famine, Rwaramba, devastated south-western Uganda, turning some of the natives there into cannibals.This famine coincided with the arrival of the Europeans on their civilisation/colonisation mission in Africa. Anyway, the reader gets an inside-out glimpse of what traditional life was like then with its legends, myths and endless rituals.

Published by World of Inspiration, the 138-page novel is simple but captivating. If you are not into sophisticated humour, you will find “Kay the rib-cracker” hilarious. But the touch of experimentalism is what makes the novel uniquely fresh. The author blends fiction-writing techniques with those of non-fiction; switching from unpredictable manoeuvres that characterise most novels, to the motivational style he is known for in his non-fiction works such as Tapping God’s Blessings. 
It reminds me of Irish writer James Joyce who distinguished himself with the characters’ inner thoughts and memories are transcribed as they arise. Maybe we can as well coin a name for Bake’s new style.

--First published in Saturday Monitor, Marh 9, 2013

Echoing a melody of honesty and sincerity

Anna Adeke. A young ambitious woman, she has set her eyes on the leadership of Makerere University. Dennis D. Muhumuza writes that the budding leader believes that ego-centrism in leadership is Uganda’s biggest problem and she strives not to fall victim. 

The 2013/14 Makerere University guild presidential race has nine contestants, but it was evident from the rally I attended at Nkrumah Hall on, February 21 that the real contest is between NRM’s Boniface Okot and FDC’s Adeke Anna Ebaju, the only female contestant.

As she awaited her chance to speak, Adeke looked so innocent and vulnerable that for a moment, I doubted her ability to express herself.  But the moment, she took to the stage, she became a different creature altogether. With a dramatic flash of her party’s V-sign, she threw a few punchlines deeply into the microphone while droves of her supporters exploded, singing her name and waving her posters atmospherically.

“Anna Adeke’s heart quivers with a beautiful melody of honesty and sincerity, therefore, I will not only talk the talk but walk the talk,” she said and paused for effect. “ Anna Adeke has gazed at the star of political activism in an endeavour to deliver Makerere from shameless and vicious demons of greed and maladministration…”

The third-year Law student is by all accounts a gorgeous woman but that is quickly overshadowed by the content of her character when you get to meet her. It is her capability and intellect and not her sex appeal that will certainly influence students to vote her as the fourth female guild president of Makerere after Juliana Norah Njuba in 1987, Sarah Kagingo in 1998 and Susan Abbo in 2007.

Her assertiveness and persuasiveness reminiscent of Cecil Ogwal’s in her heydays have been shaped by her political pedigree right from Kireka Grammar Junior School where she was head girl, to Our Lady of Good Counsel Gazaya, where she was the treasurer of the Young Christian Society, and a class prefect at St. Mary’s SS Kitende. Adeke who touts herself as “A Dependable Servant” is presently the legal advisor of FDC Makerere Chapter.

“I’m a woman whose mind is a sanctuary of a clear conscience,”she says, “I have come to bring accountability to the Guild, and to give it meaning and a new face.”

When I ask how she is going to turn around the volatility of Uganda’s oldest and most prestigious university, which has since become notorious for its striking students, she drinks from her bottle of mineral water before answering: “There is a huge communication gap between the students and the University Council. I will bridge that and consult comprehensively so that students will no longer feel that they are not heard.”

She will also get to invoke her gregarious and charming nature, which those who know her attest to. Her roommate in Africa Hall, Miriam Amoro calls her a friendly, considerate and generous woman who keeps her word and is easy to get along with.

“She is capable of moving mountains for whatever she sets her mind to,” says Amoro. This is echoed by Carol Adyero, who studied with her in secondary school. She says: “Adeke is not only a nice girl with humanity, she is also very brilliant, open-minded, hardworking, resilient, and a go-getter who is not afraid to make decisions and take a stand.”

Adeke who hails from Soroti District is determined to stay true to her name, which means “For God” or “godly” in Ateso. The 22-year-old says her deep sense of destiny won’t even allow her to indulge in endless attentions from men. This is why she is looking forward to returning morals back to the Ivory Tower, first by setting an example of what it means to dress decently and by demanding the implementation of the policy against sexual harassment, which was enacted in 2006, but has somehow remains redundant.

How will she balance a demanding course like Law with administrative responsibilities should she win? “Leadership is not necessarily an impediment to one’s academic excellence. It is about service but it’s also about exemplariness. I must excel somehow,” she says, alluding to Prof. Peter Anyang’ Nyong’o (now Kenyan Minister for Medical Services and Secretary-General of the Orange Democratic Movement) who in his time at Makerere became guild president and also got a First-Class degree.

After university, Adeke sees herself very active in national politics. She wants to be part of the solution to ego-centricism in leadership which she believes is Uganda’s biggest problem. She hopes to set an example of servant leadership that inspires others to aspire for greater ideals. Is it then the time for a woman to lead Uganda?

“What Uganda needs is good leadership regardless of gender; we need politicians with a deep sense of nobility and virtue,” she avers. “So the question is the moral question in leadership, not the gender question.”
As a lawyer in prospect, Adeke is inspired by “astute lawyer” David Mpaga, and as believer is drawn by “the compelling story of Mother Teresa”.

She will not reveal much about her parents except that her mother is a business woman and her father, an accountant. She relaxes by listening to the music by Diana Ross and reading African literature, particularly the works of Ousmane Sembène, Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche and Chinua Achebe.

Her last word: “Dream big. We are in a life full of possibilities.”
Julius Mutabazi, Coursemate Makerere University.
She is a politically virtuous lady and a paragon of integrity. The Guild institution has increasingly become bedevilled with deplorable corruption. It’s literally an arena of self-aggrandisement by the Guild Executives. Perhaps Anna Adeke is the great beacon light and the oasis in the desert that will restore credibility by digging the wells of accountability and transparency there. She’s authentic and a genius with a deep sense of destiny.

--First published in Sunday Monitor, March 3 2013