Matovu’s childhood was tumultuous but enjoyable

Sunday April 22 2012

A much younger Matovu (2nd right) with some members of the Cranes Band.

A much younger Matovu (2nd right) with some members of the Cranes Band. COURTESY PHOTOS 

By Gloria Haguma

My name is Moses Matovu. I was born on June 19, 1949 in Kawempe Division, Kampala District. I later moved to Mengo near Bakuli with my mother at the age of five after my parents’ separation. I spent most of my childhood with my mother.

As a child, I was very stubborn, and always landed in trouble with my mother. She would cane me all the time since I kept on causing trouble. The fondest childhood memories I have were growing up with Captain Francis Babu.

We met after I moved to Mengo with my mother. We lived in the same neighborhood and most of the time we wandered, playing with old vehicles in the numerous garages in the neighborhood. One day, we happened to be playing around with one of these old cars and Babu accidentally hit me with a car door. I lost two fingernails and I bled terribly. I was scared of going home because I knew my mother would beat me. So I got pieces of cloth and tied them around the wound. At the time I actually thought my fingernails would never grow again! We eventually separated with Babu and we met ten years later in Nairobi.

While growing up, I dreamt of taking on a number of careers. At one point, I wanted to be a movie star, then a musician. I also liked playing football because I picked a lot of inspiration from famous football stars like Kadenge of Kenya and Semambo of Uganda. In fact, I started playing football in 1967 at the age of 19.

The person that I am today is mainly attributed to the fact that I grew up with my mother. Mothers are usually not very strict; they are more loving and easy to talk to. I felt very free and comfortable around my mother. We are actually still close even up to today. However, growing up with a single parent was not always a bed of roses. There were many ups and downs. With a single parent there are those aspects that one misses out on, though at the time, I never realised what I was missing.

I attended Namirembe Primary School and later moved to Kibuli Senior Secondary School. At the time, my father was involved in an accident. When I went to visit him in hospital, I decided to stay behind and look after him. It was also during this time that the war broke out between the Obote government and the Buganda kingdom. My education was greatly affected since I was one of the benefactors of the scholarships that were being provided by the kingdom. As a result, I was unable to complete my education. This incident still lingers in my mind up to today.

I think the children of this generation are in a way luckier than we were. They are more exposed, communication is easy, unlike during our time when coming to town was as hard as getting a visa .The days of my childhood were also marred with too much chaos, as governments kept on being overthrown. But the children of this generation have not really experienced much of that since they have grown up with a government that has been in power for more than 20 years.

On the other hand, today’s generation is brooding ill-mannered children. They have no respect for elders, and many parents are neglecting their children. During my childhood, a child belonged to the entire society and every elder had responsibility over every child, which is not the case today.

For fun, we went swimming at the ‘Kabaka’s Lake’ and the funniest part of it all was the majority of us would simply escape from home. Unfortunately, many of our colleagues died as they did not know how to swim.

I was naughtiest during my Primary Four. I happened to be in the same school with Al-hajj Nasser Ntege Ssebaggala, the former mayor of Kampala. He, however, was a class above me. During break time, we (with Ssebaggala and a few of our classmates) would escape from school and roam the town and would not return to school until the next day. As a result we ended up getting caned the following day when we got to school. This however did not deter us from continuing with the habit. Ssebaggala also owned a really nice bicycle and all I did was to clean it and make sure it was well maintained and this earned me a free ride.

My most memorable childhood experience was the time when I was selected as part of the school team that attended the independence celebrations at Kololo. Uganda had just attained independence, and it was a great day of jubilation across the whole country. I was very happy and exited to have been part of it.

Among my milestones as a child include being a good singer. I was actually the leader of the school choir at my school.

The thing I regret the most is having failed to complete my education because of the bad politics at the time. I feel bad about this because, maybe, I would have turned out to be more successful than I am.