Marian Marjorie Abwooli succumbed to pneumonia on July 2, at Alpha Medical Centre in Fort Portal, Kabarole District. Marjorie, as she was commonly called, who died at the age of 99 years was also the first African woman to become a training commissioner of the Girl Guides, a task she did up to July 19, 2020 when she breathed her last.
In February, Marjorie celebrated her 99th birthday and Girl Guides from across Uganda went to her home in Nyakasura to celebrate with her. It was at that function Marjorie showed her love to the Girl Guides.
In her speech she said, “I’m so happy to see that you have come and I thank you very much for what you have done. I appreciate you young Girl Guides and we are looking forward to a time when you grow up to encourage this spirit and pass on the mantle.”
Marjorie will be remembered for training the first six Girl Guides in Uganda at Lake Ssaka (Crater Lake) in Fort Portal. Among the many is one of the former chief commissioners such as Juliana Bezuidenhout.
Bezuidenhout says she met Marjorie in Fort Portal and enrolled her in Girl Guide activities when she was in Primary Six at Virika Primary School in 1953.
“We have lost an irreplaceable and hardworking Girl Guide even in her old age. Above all, I think people loved her because she was trustworthy. We had selected her to be chief guest for our forthcoming centenary celebrations in 2022,” Bezuidenhout said. “We meant to celebrate her as our heroine.” Many Girl Guides in Uganda used to camp at her home in Nyakasura.
Lover of education
Marjorie was among the first six female students to be admitted to Makerere College ( now Makerere University). With her undying passion for education, after completing college, Marjorie had her first posting at Kyebambe Girls’ Secondary School before moving to Nyakasura School in 1948.
After teaching for those years, she went ahead to establish Kitoogo Nursery and Preparatory School in her home in Nyakasura. This was, in an effort to assist orphaned children within the community to gain a good education foundation.
In her 40s, Marjorie was introduced to Jehovah’s Witnesses by Jill Scrivener who introduced her to Bible study and later converted her to the faith in 1972.
It was her effort after returning from England in 1986, with her husband, they acquired land in Rwengoma and donated part of it to Jehovah’s Witness. That is where Kingdom Hall in Fort Portal stands.
The Kabarole District chairman Richard Rwabuhinga, said Marjorie loved to read the Bible because her father the Rev Yosiya Kamuhiigi participated in the translation of the Bible from English to Rutooro .
“She was from a family that loved God and when she was introduced to Jehovah’s Witness, Marjorie started door to door evangelism,” Rwabuhinga said.
John Atugonza, a member of Jehovah Witness, added that Marjorie taught them scriptures and also recruited many people into the faith. “Her death is a big loss to our faith.”
Loving and hospitable
Her daughters Felicity Batebe, and Christine Komukyeeya told the mourners that their mother was down to earth and loved agriculture.
“Our mother loved making vegetable gardens in the compound. When she visited us in Ghana, she established a garden. Even when she was on duty in South Sudan, mum taught women how to grow food crops. Whenever I plant something at home, I remember her,” Komukyeeya said.
Rukiidii Elly Mwirumubi, Marjorie’s brother-in-law, said when Marjorie got married into their family, “she nurtured and loved us because we had lost parents. Her home was open to us.”
John Kyaligonza, a neighbour, says Marjorie and her husband have a big piece of land which houses a farm. Whenever anyone was hungry, they would go to her home to get free food.
“They were neighbours to the school while we studied at Nyakasura School; we used to go to their home for lunch,” Kyaligonza recalls. “As she grew older when one visited, she ensured that her guests ate some food or drank milk.”
Love for culture
In 1963, Marjorie served as permanent secretary to the King of Tooro Sir George David Matthew Kamurasi Rukidi III.
The head of the Babiito clan, Charles Kamurasi, says Marjorie was humble and loved the kingdom. During her service, she was a known stickler for time.
“When I was a young boy she was installed as permanent secretary to the King. I grew up knowing her as loyalist and she loved Tooro culture,” Kamurasi says.
It is no wonder that the entrance to her home at Nyakasura has Omugamba which is a significant symbol of the marrieds in Tooro culture.
According to the Tooro culture, omugamba is used during the giveaway ceremony of their daughter.
She will be dearly missed.
At a glance
1921 : Born February 28, to the Rev Yosiya Kamuhiigi and Zipporah Kazairwe.
1938 to 1941: Joined Buloba Teachers College.
1941 to 1943: Taught at Kyebambe Girls’ School.
1944 to 1947: Joined Makerere College School.
1948: Taught at Nyakasura School and got married to Rukiidi Jotham Kabuzi and they had five children. She then stopped teaching.
1953: Marjorie undertook one year of Girl Guide training at Foxleas in England.
1959: Became government community development officer of old Tooro district
Among other roles, she became the first African training commissioner of Girl Guides. She also served as a community development officer in the then Tooro District.