Fondest memories and lessons from my father

Sunday June 21 2020

Take care of your children and make memories.

Take care of your children and make memories. FILE PHOTO 

By Phionah Nassanga

Happy Father’s Day. As we celebrate Father’s Day, different personalities talk to Phionah Nassanga about their incredible moments with their fathers and lessons they learnt.

Helen Koyokoyo Buteme, rugby player
As an adult, I am afraid of thunder but as a child thunder petrified me. When I was about five years old, there was a thunderstorm and it scared me so much that I started running around and screaming- literally trying to get away from the thunder. My dad came running from wherever he was in the house, picked me up and carried me around the house, soothing me and letting me know that I am safe. He is not emotionally demonstrative so that is possibly why that memory has stayed with me to date.

There are several life lessons I learnt from my father but the two most important ones that probably define who I am now are; being a girl should not limit my independence. I learnt these through his expectations. Simple things that planted seeds in our (my younger sister and I) minds, for example, he would point out trees suitable for us to climb and as we got older, we were allowed to climb higher or climb more difficult trees.

When his car would not start the girls were called to push the car together with the boys. We were expected to excel in sciences just like the boys, he made for us catapults and bows and arrows as toys but he also bought us dolls. So, I grew up knowing that I could try whatever I wanted as long as I had the ability.

When my brothers were younger, my father was against them playing rugby (I do not know why) but when I started playing rugby almost 10 years later he was supportive and cut out every newspaper article that mentioned me (he still has them) and even came to watch one of my international games in Kenya (he lives in Kenya) and to date asks me about rugby when we talk.
Both my parents raised me to be independent and not to rely on men for financial security.

On joining university, my father went as far as calling me to make me promise to never turn to a man for money. I was expected to call him or my older siblings (two brothers and a sister) to bail me out. He expected me to be thrifty with my pocket money. Although there were situations that required extra money, it would never justify begging men for money. I am thankful that my father ensured that his daughters got the same opportunities as his sons and we were never treated as less important than the boys. The person that I am today does not care about gender stereotypes - I do what makes me happy, I make my life choices and I am fiercely independent.

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Sam Gombya, radio personality
I love my father although I never felt a father’s love. My father never took on his responsibilities; he never paid my school feels or anything, but my grandmother looked after me. I think he did not expect me to be somebody in the future because I was disabled and the only one in his family. But he is there and I take care of him.
However, from him I learnt to look after my children lest they suffer. Paying fees for your children is the best gift any father can give to their children. This will give them a bright future.

Sarah Sentongo Kisauzi, actress
My father is the late engineer Washington Sentongo. It is hard to narrow down my memory of him because he was so many things to me. He was charming and had a great sense of humour.

However, he was also strict especially if you went out of line. He was friends with all of us. My greatest memory is that he structured our house plan and it was his last project before he retired. From him I learnt the importance of self-love, honesty, and finding humour in every day. He taught me that time is life’s most valuable resource, and what I do with it is a reflection of who I am.

My father taught me how to give back to my people and community. He also taught me that family is fundamental, and love is our foundation. He taught me that no one is ever too old to learn, and that we should always be willing to try anything. I also learnt how to balance humility with confidence, and that those two traits would get me far in life. Happy Father’s Day.

Felix Okot Ogong, MP Dokolo South
I have an excellent father. Despite having three wives, he spent time with my sibling and I. He supported each one of his family members and he made sure we all got to know each other. Because of that, I have endless memories with him. He is a storyteller and every evening he would gather all of us for a story. This was hilarious and brought a sense of unity.

He was a good friend of late Milton Obote and one day he invited him home. This felt so good.
I have learnt to be a responsible father, one who creates time for his family despite his busy schedule. I learnt to work for the community because that is what my father was and wanted his children to be. It is this same culture that I am trying to instill in my children.

Ruth Byoona, Director Leader of Opposition office
When I told my father that I had given birth to my first child, he was one of the first people that I invited to hospital. He had made for me omelette and he said, “I made this myself specifically for you”. I was touched by that simple act and moment. My father is studious and an ardent reader. At 96, he still reads newspapers, inspirational books, the bible and numerous legal material.

A worker at his law firm once told me “I wish Mzee could become young and live a full life again”. Daddy gives everyone the respect they deserve no matter their social status, whether a maid, guard or CEO and he will attend to you pleasantly. I have leant to be humble and to always read because it is through reading that we can become better people.

Andrew Irumba, journalist

Growing up in a family of 104 siblings, adopted children and those from our relatives, our father encouraged unity. He would not allow a situation where the other children looked less privileged than his. In fact, many times he would act ‘weird’, that he would first provide for those he adopted then his biological children. Today some of the children he adopted are serving in high profile offices.

Others are successful private business people. From him, I learnt to help those in need. He was a Sub-country councillor for many years, until he died on June 30, 1994. I have learnt to defend the defenceless. He would say; “Don’t use your privileged position against the poor in society, use it instead to defend them. Your position should serve the community, not you alone” My father never answered questions that aimed at knowing the number of his biological children.

Flora Aduk, Communication Manager Nile Breweries Limited

The world’s greatest dad is how I always describe my father, so you can imagine how difficult it is to pick one memory. He is quite something, I know this and all who know me have experienced this. Nonetheless, if I was to pick a moment, it would be when I became a young mother right out of university. Where I thought I was done for it, he stood by me and reassured me that all I needed was him by my side. The look in his face was magical, such a booster! Just what a young woman needed from the most important man in her life.

From my dearest father Michael, the greatest lesson is self-belief and confidence not only in oneself but in one’s children. Every step of the journey, your children need to know you believe in them and most of all that they can achieve anything they put their mind to. And, you must say and show this. Never give up on them. His optimism has made my persona appreciative of life and zealous to create great relationships and contribute to building a better world. Never have I seen such a cheerleader for me.

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