My Childhood: Bitamazire was ‘too serious to go crazy’ during her childhood
Posted Sunday, January 27 2013 at 00:00
The former Member of Parliament and Cabinet Minister shares her experiences. Though she had no reason to be naughty, her youthul years were not short of fun.
I was born in July 1941, at Mitala Maria in Mawokota, Mpigi District.
I come from a progressive family, of seven. At a time when traditional birth attendants were the main source of maternity care, my mother delivered me in a maternity centre. I was baptised two days later.
In line with the tradition those days, I was taken to live with my grandmother in Kibibi, Mpigi, until I was six-years-old. I enrolled at Simba Primary School for sub-grade school (Primary one to four) and later returned to Mawokota to access a school that offered P.5 and P.6 classes. We didn’t have P.7 those days.
Learning domestic chores
My grandmother was progressive in thought and deed. On a daily basis, I had to report to her whatever we learnt in class, despite being illiterate. She was interested in my friends who always passed by our home for fruits. At 16, I was introduced to traditional values of womanhood. I knew how to prepare the finest dishes, do domestic chores, manage the house and maintain the garden. She also instilled in me the power and value of prayer.
We had what we called Sunday Best, which was a remainder of the gomesi material that the tailor used to make the dress. I treasured it so much that immediately after prayers, I washed, ironed and kept it safe until the next Sunday.
When I re-wind the tape now, I appreciate that firm foundation grandmother laid for me because very few children get such care and nurturing. You can imagine even at 71, with my profile and credentials, I still go to the garden and dig. It comes naturally to me to pick a broom and sweep the compound and put things in order because of that unique up-bringing.
I was a disciplined, humble and obedient child who didn’t get caned. Even then, I did not want to annoy my parents and grandmother because I loved them very much and they loved me, too.
Joining High School
My fondest childhood memories date back to 1950, when I joined Trinity College, Nabbingo. I stayed on for four years and later joined Makerere University, where we spent two years compensating for today’s A-levels.
Going to Nabbingo was a big jump for me. Imagine this naïve village girl coming from a grass-thatched roof to a cemented floor and a bed.
I met girls from Kampala’s middle class families and felt quite out of place. They boasted about nice things like cars and fenced houses that sparked my imagination. I would just sit there, shy and timid, but later life got normal and we blended easily. After all, we were only 90 students.
I wonder why many journalists ask me for the craziest thing(s) I ever did as a child. I also ask them, does one have to be crazy? Why go crazy for sure? I never went crazy, will never do so and can never let my children or grandchildren do. I was too busy through out my childhood to get engaged in naughty things. For instance, at Nabbingo, I was the headgirl. At home, we were always with grandmother. So, where would I get time or even room to do crazy and funny things?
That is why I got my first boyfriend at 30. I had resolved to get one after my studies. And by the way, pre-marital pregnancy was harshly treated in our days. I remember a girl from Mary Stewart Hall was expelled from Makerere for getting pregnant. It was that serious!
May be I took life a little too serious to party. There was Kamulu Club in Mengo, the equivalent of today’s Club Silk or Ange Noir and my peers would sneak there but Bitamazire feared. What if I am caught? What if I get a problem there? Those questions put me off!
Tame but not boring
I did not lead a boring life as today’s child would call it. I enjoyed sports like long and short jump. I was a Girl Guide and an active debater. Is that boring? My greatest achievement as a child is the track-record of academic excellence right from primary school to university, where I was awarded as student of the year one time.
I also managed to make good and lasting friendships across the board. The students loved me for being social while the teachers favoured me for the discipline. I got a call from my primary school teacher when I lost my husband four months ago. That is how formidable my network is.