At the time of death, her vigour had faded but her touch to life, feel of care and love had just begun. Joy Feresta Kabatindira Kahambuga’s nickname was Mukaka (grandmother) and her family donned T-shirts with an inscription RIP Mukaka at her funeral in Muhanga Town, Rukiga District.
Kahambuga, 88, chose to have two Christian names when she was about 14 years old in the great African Revival. She immersed herself in Christianity and preached the gospel, leaving little or no time for herself. She worked so hard that she left no task incomplete which resulted in poor physical health.
“She had broken her back, dislocated pelvic bones and damaged nerves which could not be rehabilitated to normal. The doctors told us that there was no permanent remedy to her condition.
To aid her mobility, she had to use a wheelchair which she loathed and greatly distressed her. For the last weeks of her life, she survived on painkillers because of excruciating pain but she never gave up,” James Mansa, her eldest son says.
Kabatindira was widowed early in her marriage and was forced to become the breadwinner of her two boys and one girl. She raised her children with her Christian values that she refused to compromise on.
“Mum was a disciplinarian; so soft yet tough and focused. When it came to punishment, she always threatened, ‘next time you do it, I will kill you’. She disliked drinking beer and could not allow any of her children to take it or come home drunk.
Once my brother took alcohol with his friends, on return home, she locked him inside the room. He became so hungry that I stole some yellow bananas and passed them to him. I believe that from that, he will never hate me. That is how far reaching the discipline was,” Justus Katungi, her younger son relates.
Although by the time she passed on Kahambuga had lost her speech, she used her last effort to urge her loved ones to love one another, and care for the less privileged.
Kahambuga loved her community and peers who thronged her funeral described her as a great counsellor. Some of the mourners spoke of her generosity saying she always welcomed them to her home and fed them.
“When she became frail, her family stopped her from interacting with many people because they wanted her to rest, this drastic change from her nature probably caused her health to deteriorate fast,” suggests Hope Rwamuhanda, a neighbour .
“Once I came in and she heard my voice she got animated. I was allowed in and she hugged me and asked me many questions. She would look at my face and cry, I felt the love. She was more concerned about how I would live without her,” Rwamuhanda says.
Joy, as her name suggests, gave happiness to her village. She helped the sick, tasked her sons to educate those in need from their village and give jobs to the many children from the neighbourhood.
“She once told them that if we remain poor as a village, they will never enjoy their own riches. She was a Christian who believed in doing good to others,” Rwamuhanda says.
Katungi remembers that after the death of his father Samuel Kahambuga in 1986, his mother opened her home to many other children. “Every child who became malnourished would be brought home. The children would stay with us and mum would care for them until they were well,” Katungi narrates.
The vicar for Muhanga Church of Uganda Parish of Kigezi Diocese, the Rev Justus Mwesigye, who presided over the funeral service at the deceased’s home, described Kahambuga as a true born-again Christian who lived an exemplary life.
The treasurer for Diocese of Kigezi, the Rev Amos Tweiteise who is a neighbour describes Kahambuga as a renowned, motivated, well conformed Christian that made other people love Christianity.
“She encouraged us to love Christianity and its core values, We shall miss her guidance,” Rev Tweteise says.