Verbatim: I was told by my late father James otto that I was born on 11th November 1977 a date I doubt first because my mum was killed by Karimojong cattle rustlers in 1987 she could have known the dates better.
Secondly my elder brother David also told me that my father told him the same date as his birthday but that id fine, it doesn’t matter because years move in a linear manner and not in a round manner for a birthday to repeat itself. It’s just human codification for ease of reference in passports, documents but today it’s about my life, my journey, hustle and rise to fame.
Here we go…………My childhood was the most difficult that I think no one reading this post has ever gone through a similar experience those who knew me from under fifteen years can testify.
My father separated with my mother
at the time I was born that is why my mother called me “Odonga” meaning
let him remain with me. Secondly my father made a decision i term the worst to
take me with him to my step mother at the time of divorce.
LESSON 1: Mothers die with your child don’t ever allow your child to grow up with step mother the world would rather end.
My Dad got arrested by the UPC government in 1980/1 and spent 5 years in Luzira Prison. I was left with a step mother who is still alive. My late mother did not know my whereabouts and even if she did she probably had no authority over my custody.
Five years of my dad incarceration, I visited hell on earth. My eldest brother Tadeo went to Negri Boarding primary school and my second bother David was “deported” to the village and that marked the end of his educational life since he dropped out of school in P.7.
LESSON 2: See what education has done it has now, give education your best because it can replace empty head.
I remained alone to a young step mother about 27 years old, a teacher who locked me up in a room from morning to evening as there was no one to look after me and had a single meal to take me through the day.
5 years later I occasionally climb through the vents to see my friends playing in the compound and that feeling still sends a chill down my spine. Needless to say the room (prison) was not self-contained she would return to get the room in a mess and a stick would do the cleaning.
Years later around 1984 I joined Negri primary to start my education. Primary 1 and I was about 7 years this was the first and last memorable time in my life. I saw my late mother who took advantage of a visitation to pay homage to her son whom she had not seen in years and yet he had grown up and now in a boarding school from “Prison” that house! Mummy was tall and beautifully dressed in a brown outfit that we popularly referred to as “maxi”.
Memories: She lifted me high as I
smiled with joy and as time passed by I gave her a long list of things to bring
for me on her next visitation, little did I know it was the last time I setting
my eyes on her.
LESSON 3 : In life when hugging a dear one please bear in mind that it may be the last time ,give it your best .
Uncle Paul years later came and told me my mother was dead, it never bothered me because I had not bonded with her so I continued playing. She had died of bullet wounds.
If I can recall when I am not surprise to say my formative years right from P.4 to S.4 was the worst superintended by my step mother. extreme use of manual labour was the order of the day indirectly used to torture me in the name of hard work. Each one head a drum of water to fill before going to school and our morning started as early as 5am to 7 am where we had to fill the 200liters drum with water almost daily before going to going to school. At school I was always looked tired and worn out to learn.
Whereas the week was tight, I never wished for weekend to come because I truly knew the hoe was waiting for me. We dug from 7am to 7pm at my stepmother’s home to an equivalent what a tractor would plough. Village matters who had a chance to see us toil in the morning wondered in the evening as they returned from their daily chores too of how 3 little brothers could do this work.
Rationing food, starvation, washing plates, pounding, cleaning the house as well as washing her clothes and those of all her sisters who had migrated permanently to our home too was on our daily menu of to do work. Guess what they sat crossed legs and watched movies as we hustled with the chores.
LESSON 4, Don’t let visitors at
your home turn your own children into slaves.
My luck came when I got a vocation to join a seminary that had no option of day schooling, my brothers were not allowed in boarding school .And that finally made a difference in our eventual academic performance.
I remember my stepmother calling my elder brother at 8am to slash the compound yet that was the day he was sitting for national UCE examinations. He had already fetched his morning routine 200litre drum of water citing trouble I quickly joined him to slash the compound. 15 minutes non top exam time was drawing closer yet he had to run for about 8kilometers to catch up with exams. Definitely he reached late and …………only wrote his name to show presence but had to fail this complicated chemistry paper which he hated most.
LESSON 5: don’t use work as punishment
or a torture tool.
I completed O’ Level and A’Level respectively and joined University where I graduated with a degree in social sciences. My graduation was not attended by any of my parents, lost in thoughts I walked from freedom square typical of Lumumba character filled with courage to go pick my degree. There was no voice to celebrate my win, not even ululation from my dear ones as they read my name.
I stood behind other grandaunts with no penny in my pocket only for one kind old man Mr. Odida Francis opted to buy me a gown. He decorated my soul and took me over for lunch at tick hotel in Kawempe. Well there I truly enjoyed the chips and chicken. I felt the world ahead of me before I left that place and took my degree home to my father and stepmother.
My stepmother who also had 5 children was never happy for me having attained a degree. It seems to have created more tension and unease as I waited for a job. After some time, my stepmother told me that I was to them with home chores. Guess what? collecting residues of food from Sacred heart girls secondary school to feed the pigs besides cutting grass to feed the Friesian cows at home.
Because I did not want to disappoint my Dad who had already lectured me on Pope John Paul II’s missive towards work, I opted to secretly get a teaching job at Atiak technical that was displaced in Gulu town and there I taught English and used proceeds from my wage to hire another young man to do this donkey work of delivering pigs food.
Words reached home of my evasive
and negative attitude to work and a big conference at home hot and chilled than
that of the 1884 berlin conference or the 1914 Versailles peace treaty. They
urged and resolved that I stop teaching and concentrate on feeding the animals
since I had just graduated and too fresh to take on any job. It was a hard
decision but I continued teaching secretly.
LESSON 6 men when you are in a second marriage or polygamous marriage beware and warn yourself that love for the children may follow the love for their mother, for the woman you love most you will tend to love her children more “mutatus mutandi “..BEWARE.
I later started doing the job of collecting pig food, at wee hours cutting grass for cows in distant locations. This did not help. In life some people can never change and can’t be amused if their objective is to harm. Another meeting was called over this new development of me cutting grass from far and rules changed and they started designating places that I should cut grass.
That the issue was to deal with was pride of having a degree and not mere cutting grass or collecting pig food. For me I was obtaining the desired results others were looking at the means.
The next morning my step mother told me there was good grass at the current Acholi Inn Hotel and I was told to go and cut grass there, mind you this was a ground where few graduates sat and analyzed global trends, the pressure was building on me. Secondly that the food at lunch time at the girl’s schools was more so she had talked to a staff that I should be there at 12noon and pick food as girls dropped since there was competition for the same food by others.
Her children where much younger and in primary and secondary school and would have been the best for such jobs in my opinion.my options where getting limited.
I remembered Dr.Simba in a political science class wondering ; what would the importance of education be to those at home if graduates are not seen as role models.
I gathered courage and told my step
mother two things one, please let your children do it, secondly even if the
pigs food would make the pigs grow like a balloon being blown I AM NOT GOING
LESSON 7 when life seem empty when you feel there is no point in going on push a little if nothing changes you have to make a decision.
My stepmother broke down in tears shouting that I had abused I hurried to the house before my Dad could drop home for lunch break that would be bad I knew if he found me home.
I packed my things in a Kavera (Polythine)
bag off through the backyard going to…………. “I don’t know where”.
I reach town boarded a vehicle to my mother’s clan home, where I was received and felt so loved for the first time in years
LESSON 8: there are times in life you have to learn to make fast decisions, a bad decision is better than no decision at all.
I later went to the village to visit my cousins and maternal relatives the first time in 22 years of my life what a feeling of joy and welcome. I broke down in tears to know there were people who loved and cared for me, I met my late mother’s sister and uncles I had to become a baby and cry a bit. I saw my younger sister struggling preparing sorghum bread for lunch with smoke blowing in the entire grass thatched house I could hardly breath. I ate lunch and asked for a hoe to go digging I knew I had in built capacity to work. She looked at me in the eyes and said “its dry season”
LESSON 9: In life no matter the spite, ridicule, hatred, abuses, aggression towards you, jealousy etc. just know you are loved by someone, there are people who love you, who don’t sleep thinking of you so please love yourself don’t give up .
I later saw a vacuum being the only graduate in the village I contested for parliamentary elections 6 months after university and defeated the incumbent minister of education Hon. Alfred Ogaba and became the first elected member of Parliament Aruu county Pader district in 2000 at the age of 23 years. The record was set and I became the to be seen as one of the youngest Member of parliament in Uganda. I have never worked anywhere since and this was my first job.
To-date I have been an MP for 18 years thank God, I have 6 children (4 girls 2 boys), my first marriage failed. I went for a Master’s degree at MUK and another Degree in law from UCU. I am now an advocate. I live in a comfortable house of my own, drive and a few businesses, I now employ about 30 Ugandans on full time basis. while in parliament given my childhood memories I choose to speak for the oppressed and would prefer that I be the last on the list of oppression.
I am very sensitive to my children issues when my two older daughters come to stay with me I keep a watchful eye.
MEN who spend time in bars and come home late and think your wife is good to be with her step children hey…she is probably worse than mine.
LESSON 10: Keep your faith when
there is no room for rationality or reasoning its better to follow your
instincts whatever route you take your God will always be with you. I repeat, whichever
route you take you will see light at the end of the tunnel the rule is simple
endure…endure …endure. because your sufferings will not be in vain.
42 years down the road, my two elder brothers just like me are grappling with life arising from a detented childhood Just like the prisoners during the French revolution. When bastille prison was broken 11 inmates found their way out and fled. Three weeks later they went back on their own volition even when the prison doors where wide open. They had overstayed in prison and gotten used to the system. We had overstayed in the racket of family oppression.
My father died 4 years ago, my stepmother has since become a “catechist” after my father’s death, a catechist with a locked borehole home not accessible to neighbors. Of my 5 step brothers who had preferential treatment in early childhood 2 are drivers, one a lawyer, one a chef and one remains unemployed. I reburied my mother 10 years ago. My story is like of Joseph in Egypt, I rose from grass to grace thank God for my life.
LESSON 11: The stone the builders have rejected has become the corner house stone, don’t mistreat peoples children it will bring misfortunes to yours.
PLEASE SHARE THIS POST I MAY BE A CELEBRITY IN MANY EYES IN UGANDA BUT YOU DONT KNOW WHAT I WENT THROUGH,…. . PEOPLE DONT KNOW WHAT YOU ARE GOING THROUGH…. PEOPLE DONT KNOW WHAT YOUR CHILDREN ARE GOING THROUGH…..PEOPLE DONT KNOW WHAT OTHER CHILDREN ARE GOING THROUGH.
“if there are those who think they have problems see my story and learn that success doesn’t come easy
Touched and Moved by the story this is what they had to sayAnyama Richard It’s very good script for lesson but I hope you are aware of biblical teaching that u shouldn’t revenge, despite of all what was done by your step mother don’t pay her by the same currency in any case her action has made you to move out of your comfort zone to where you are now, food for thought to you Hon.
Oketa Robert Hon go back to your step mother reconcile with her. She might be dying of shame to approach you. Forgive her and pray blessing upon her for God shall reward her according to her deeds.
Lamwaka Susan May the good Lord continue blessing you and keeping you away from the eyes and hands of the wicked ones honorable. It’s also a lesson to many others out there who are self-centered. Education is power.
Fellipe Lobbo Looks
like it’s a “common syndrome ” for us from the north. I’m from Arua, almost
of the same fate but the luck is that I’ve not been to a step mom’s.
Asobasi Richard Carls Life touching story as if am watching a movie…be blessed Hon
David Anyama Gold is tested in fire, thanks be to God that you survived