Farewell to one of Daily Monitor’s greatest fans

Author: Angella Nampewo. PHOTO/FILE

What you need to know:

  • ‘‘To read his own daughter in his favourite newspaper, he must have felt like his cup was full”

In the last decade, I do not remember a day when my father bought a newspaper that was not the Daily Monitor. He swore by it and not just because I am his daughter. Sometimes he was unhappy with our news coverage and he told me in no uncertain terms. Still, he remained a loyal reader.
The octogenarian—he died aged 86—was up every day before 6am in order to catch the early morning Mass at Rubaga Cathedral. For the most part, he walked to the church, 15 minutes away, and back. 

On his way from Mass, he always picked up a copy of Daily Monitor. You knew it was his because he printed his name—Ssemmanda Ssenyonga— at the top in his signature calligraphy. I think he liked the look of the beautiful bent scribble of his hand so much because in our childhood, he used to write on everything—including the back of our school files—where he would inscribe, much to my mortification, IF LOST AND FOUND, PLEASE CONTACT….

On Thursday, November 24, I lost Mr Francis Ssemmanda Ssenyonga. Ironically, by the time he breathed his last, Dad could neither read nor write. In the past two years, illness had greatly dulled the senses of one of the most literate people I had ever met. He could no longer appreciate the daily newspaper he loved and his storytelling was no more. 
Although he was a great conversationalist and a powerhouse of Ugandan history, he was very private too and many of his stories were just for our consumption.
Looking back, Mzee promoted the reading culture before it became a thing. When other parents were probably grooming their children to be doctors, lawyers, engineers, teachers and so forth, Dad purposed to turn me into a lifelong reader and writer. 
Strangely, even though he spoke crisp English and had been educated in the Queen’s England, the first books he bought me were in his native Luganda. As a result, when I showed up at Nakasero Primary School in Primary One, I was mostly fluent in the vernacular, which was frowned upon. Needless to say, I quickly caught up and the rest is history.  

I thank God for Mzee’s life and I am comforted that though he is gone, I achieved something in his lifetime that brought him genuine joy. To read his own daughter in his favourite newspaper, he must have felt like his cup was full and running over. It is a fact he always shared with pride in his networks. And he was highly connected.
I suppose because of his example I came to value the strength of people skills. He knew all the right people in the right places. If you needed a plug to one of the top schools or in a government ministry, he had it. By the time of his passing, he had long retired and he was mostly present in church and community but even there, he made his connections. 

Neighbourhood groups, church groups and others were putting out announcements of his death before I had even found the strength to write a Facebook post.
An eloquent friend helped me to quantify the loss of my dad: A part of my life has gone away forever. Reflecting on all that he did to bring me to this very moment, I came to the conclusion that there was no one more deserving of a tribute on these pages than the man who loved reading, loved this newspaper and strove to bring me up to the standard to occupy this space.

Ms Nampewo is a writer, editor and communications consultant     
[email protected]

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