Mother of Kiwuunya, would be the right description for the late Penina Basisa Lwanga.
Not that she was the biological parent to all children in Kiwuunya, village in Nakulabye, a Kampala suburb on Hoima Road, but the way she related with countless children over the years in this slum shaped her legacy as a distinctive figure. She gave them shelter, educated, loved and introduced many to religion.
Her house would be nearly mistaken for a classroom given the number of children and people who would hang around for a meal, shelter, church activities or watching television.
In Kiwuunya- Nakulabye (Kato zone), Peninah started a school upon her retirement with a vision to offer affordable education to destitute slum dwellers in Nakulabye. Her efforts paid off, having helped many children get educated and she will always be remembered for that.
The last journey
“Weraba, Tambula Mirembe. Omutonzi abeere naawe” Literally, meaning “Goodbye and safe journey” this was one of the hymns recited by relatives, friends and family gathered at St. Thomas Kiwuunya C.O.U on the August, 30 to say goodbye to Auntie Penina who lived for others.
“Thank you” was the common line used by congregants who gathered to pray for the 86 -year- old educationist who is also the founder of Tezikuba Family School in Kiwuunya, Nakulabye, a Kampala suburb.
George William Ssenabulya one of the beneficiaries of her good deeds expressed gratitude to God for the life of the late and asked mourners to celebrate ,bless and emulate the deceased who scarified her life for others.
Her son Engineer Tony Makanda explains that in 2010, Auntie Penina developed Dementia and she quit her teaching job to concentrate on church and family as she was getting treated.
However, he reveals that the situation never worsened and her health remained stable until early 2018 when she was diagnosed with pressure and she suffered a stroke.
Her condition confined her to a wheelchair and life was never normal anymore. She could never do domestic chores like peeling.
On the afternoon of August 28, Auntie Peninah died in sleep at her home in Kiwuunya. She was buried in Mpwedde, Nakaseke on August, 31.
The servant of God
Her commitment to serving God was immense. At the time she became a resident of Kiwuunya in the 80’s , there was no Anglican church in area and she joined hands with residents to start a church.
In the 90’s she dedicated her home that became a venue for church services and she became the pioneer leader of Kato Zone cell.
She lived to witness the fruits of her hard work that on June 8, 2014 she was part of the celebrants in the first service inside St. Thomas Church of Uganda.
No matter her Anglican affiliation, Auntie Penina did not force her beliefs on anyone.FShe always encouraged children to go to worship places of their choice.
“Yesu alifuga wonna”, the church, family and her close friends praised God for the life of Auntie Peninah as her son Makanda played the church organ in the memory of her mother who helped him learn it in the early 90s.
Basiisa the mother
The last time I met my mother the late Monicah Nanziri, was also my first time to see Auntie Peninah. The sisters lived together. Peninah welcomed me as her own son.
She asked me to address her as ‘mother’ not Auntie. She told me that parenting is a blessing.
When mother’s health deteriorated for several years, Auntie Penina was around to take care of her. Yet this care was not reserved for her sister. She did the same to so many others, until she started serving her own term of health difficulties.
Makanda explains that his mother couldn’t live without children or people around her. Eating a good meal without sharing it with children would fill her with guilt.
She was one who would happily share the little she had. Her efforts towards securing better life for children in Kiwuunya would never end on meals but also sheltered many in her home and educated several from her own coffers.
Introducing them to church was one other remarkable move she took that she could encourage them to join church choir and participate in church cell activities.
Parents in the area would use her to talk to their children and also encourage them to stay in schools, a job she voluntarily executed for her entire life.
It is not by mistake that most people in the area ended up addressing her as either Auntie or Maama Peninah and yes, she was a mother.
She left behind flowers
When humans reproduce, they create life but the importance of our offspring in society goes down to parenting.
At her vigil, all community members lauded Basisa’s children for mirroring their mother’s repute in society.
Her son, Andrew Katumba, a doctor at Mulago hospital for years, has been a mobile clinician to the people of Kiwuunya especially to the members of St. Thomas Kiwuunya at no cost.
Basiisa sired nine children: Birabwa Nakiyingi, Nalongo Lutimba, Damalie Musoke, Engineer Tony Makanda, Engineer Ivan Lutwama, Joseph Katende, Robert Sserunjogi, Andrew Katumba and the Late FD Kavulu.