Forget about fetching water, the well was the perfect excuse to play
Posted Sunday, March 3 2013 at 02:00
MY CHILDHOOD. It may be many years past, but Leilah Kalanzi still believes she can achieve her childhood dream of being a nurse. The comedian let us in on her childhood memories.
When and where were you born?
I was born in Nakivubo Mews on December 5, 1979. I was born in a pharmacy. My mother Hajjat Hamida Nalwoga was rushed there when she got labour pains. I have four siblings; three sisters and a brother (now deceased).
Describe your life while growing up.
Life was good, though it had its ups and downs, as you know. I grew up with a single mother, and I think that is why she was very strict.
She always expected us to do things a certain way, and failure to do so always earned one a punishment. She also encouraged us to work hard. She greatly supported my music, dance, and drama activities that paved way for my career in comedy. She was very supportive.
What kind of child were you?
I was very shy though naughty at the same time. I always got caught in a lot of mischief.
One time, my mother sent me to the well to fetch water. When I got there, I found one of the boys from the neighborhood having an argument with one of my sisters.
I got so mad that I hit him with a jerrycan, and then ran off as fast as my legs could carry me.
What schools did you go to?
I went to St. Anne’s Preparatory in Kabowa, and Nakivubo Settlement. Many times, when plays were staged at school, I would always want to participate, but was hindered by my shy character.
My luck, however, came one day when one of the cast members failed to show up and I was asked to “sit in” for her. I did so well, that I was given the role permanently and the person I had temporarily replaced was dropped.
What is your most memorable childhood memory?
That would be how I used to forget to wear underwear, especially when I was going to school in the morning. I would bathe, dress up and then walk out of the house, and then a few metres away from home would then realise I had no panty on! I would then run back home, much to the amusement of my siblings and mother.
And the saddest memory?
The time when my mother was involved in an accident that almost claimed her life. She was returning from a burial when the car she was travelling in was involved in an accident that killed one of my uncles on the spot. My mother had terrible injuries and we spent three months in hospital. I could not imagine life without my mother.
What was your idea of fun?
I loved fetching water. This was mainly because we would go to the well and meet our friends and play. When we got home late, we would lie to mother that there had been a long queue at the well. I also loved accompanying my sisters to their netball games. I was not involved in sports because I was quite shy. I was the chief morale booster as I did most of the cheering and screaming. I also engaged in role play games like mummy and daddy. We would even cook food and eat it.
What did you aspire to be as a child?
I wanted to be a midwife. This was mainly because I loved (and still do) children. The thought of me being the one that helped a mother bring life in to this world really fascinated me and I grew up a strong passion for the nursing profession. However, my dream was hindered by my poor performance in the science subjects. I am considering going back and enrolling for the course because I do not want my dream to simply die away.
Did you crack any ribs then like you do now?
Yes, I did. Many times, I would accompany my mother to the grocery shop, and when we got there, I would dance and make fun, to the amusement of those that saw me.
Did growing up with a single mother affect your childhood in any way?
Not really, because my dad left when I was a toddler, so I never really spent time with him. On the other hand, my mother did her best to provide for us, so there was no gap left for us to miss our father. The fact that our neighbours also had no father figure, meant that we did not have to feel bad from seeing them with their father when we didn’t have one.
Compare the experience when you were growing up with the children that are growing up in this generation.
The children today have too much liberty and I believe this has done more harm than good. Children are left to behave as they please, and as a result, they end up being over exposed, even to content that might be harmful to them, morally.
Parents today are also career- driven and spare little or no time for their children, as a result, they fail to create the much needed bond with their children.
She was a very good listener, very respectful and hard worker, both at school and at home. She was, however, very naughty, quiet and a bit ashy at the same time. Leila loved children very much, and at one point, I thought she would get pregnant along the way and not finish school. This was probably because of the great care she had for children. Generally, she never gave me a hard time, and I am proud of her.
Hajjati Hamida Nalwoga