Just like my mother...

A mother and a daughter who, from a tender age, took to singing, another whose adopted and real daughter also followed in her footsteps, and another whose two daughters strive to keep her legacy alive even after she is long gone

Friday May 9 2014


By Esther Oluka

Keeping mother’s legacy alive
Marsha Walusimbi and Mary Angela Atwijukire

The two sisters lost their mother Sara Katebalirwe last year after she succumbed to lung cancer. At the time of her death, she was operating a bark cloth business making products such as handbags, clutches, and shoulder purses, among other products. After her death, the two sisters decided to continue running the business.

Atwijukire balances the business with school. She is a student at Uganda Martyrs University, Nkozi, while her sister juggles it with her work as the Head of Human Resource at the American Towers Corporation (ATC), Uganda. The sisters reflect upon what kind of mother she was in a special Mother’s day tribute.

Mary Angela Atwijukire
“Mummy was suffering from lung cancer. She had the cancer for some time but we got to find out late.
We had visited several doctors including one at the Mulago Cancer Institute who realised that the cancer had reached stage four. She said that the cancer was difficult to avert the cancer at that point but promised to do everything within her means to help her recover.

So, she started going for chemotherapy but then the cancer spread and ate up the whole of her left lung, leaving just one lung functional. Around the same time, she started having very bad headaches and when she went to do a brain scan, it was discovered that it had spread. She was put on radiation to help contain it.

At times you would see that she was improving and then on other days, her condition would get worse.
It then got to a point where she could no longer recognise people. She passed away on May 27, 2013.

Being friends and working with mummy
I was very close to mummy because I was used to staying with her and would also share almost every detail about my life with her. I will never forget the time I was going to campus and she advised me to get a boyfriend because it would be hard to find one after I left school and started work. We loved watching movies and going for parties together, especially those that she would be invited to.

She loved giving me chocolates on Valentine’s Day and in return, I would give her a frame that contained a flower every Mother’s Day. The best advice I got from her was that whenever I am facing any sort of personal crisis, I should laugh it off and that is what I normally do.

I never let problems wear me down by worrying or crying, instead I joke about them.

For a life lesson, she taught me to work hard and respect employees because you never know how they will help you out in future. As much as it is not easy, I have learnt to face the reality that she is gone and to honour her, I decided to carry on with her Marie-Sar Agencies Limited business, which deals in making products out of barkcloth, as managing director.

Initially, we were running this business together when she was still alive and I learnt how to do a lot of things from her such as coordinating colour, sewing and costing. Her objective has always been to make it successful and that is what I intend to do.”

Marsha Walusimbi

Sisters, Atwijukire and Walusimbi, in the

Sisters, Atwijukire and Walusimbi, in the workshop where their late mother made items like bags and mats out of barkcloth. courtesy photos.

“I learnt so many things from my late mother. One of them was how to sew clothes from bark cloth, which was something she taught me to do during school holidays. The other thing she taught me was to work very hard.

For instance, when orders came in, she would even make me work throughout the night to finish them all in time. She hated seeing us sleep for long hours, beyond 7am, and always expected us to be engaged in something constructive.

I will always be grateful to her because she raised us alone after my father died during my primary seven holidays. She managed to take us to some of the very best schools in this country as well as gave us opportunities to travel to different places in the world.

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