What you need to know:
- He says although he can differentiate his children and grandchildren, he does not know them all by names.
Contours of well-fragmented rice fields and what remains of indigenous trees neighbour the homestead of Mzee Musa Hasahya.
The home springs to life at sunrise with the chirping of birds and early risers running chores.
Some of the children, aged anywhere between 10 and 13 years, tidy up the compound as others head to the well to collect water.
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This is Bugisa Cell, Mulaga Ward in Busaba Town Council, Butaleja District.
By traditional African setting standards, this is a home of a big man. A number of grass-thatched houses made out of mud and wattle surround a 12 bed-roomed semi-permanent house that is home to Hasahya, his 12 wives, 102 children, and 568 grandchildren.
But who is this man? Hasahya, we learn, is a man of many hats and has been the village chairperson for the past two decades besides other assignments bestowed upon him by dwellers of Bugisa.
We go ahead to pick his mind on the many issues of interest, particularly his large family. Hasahya laughs at the notion of a man having only one wife.
“How can a man be satisfied with one woman? That is a sign of being born a man but with female hormones,” he says as he points to one of his wives, preparing breakfast.
“All my wives cook the same way and live together in the same house. It’s easy for me to monitor them and also stop them from eloping with other men in this village,” he says.
Ms Hanifa Hasahya, Hasahya’s first wife, says their husband takes care of their needs and loves all of them equally.
“We cook, eat, work together and sleep under the same roof. He is a good husband to all of us,” Ms Hasahya says.
At Hasahya’s compound, it is not easy to identify which child belongs to which woman. They bear a striking resemblance and easily gel with each other; more like a school setting.
He says although he can differentiate his children and grandchildren, he does not know them all by name.
The home has all generations. The ones who have started families around the main house, those teeming with adolescence, and others just out of their nappies.
The older children help their mothers tend to the younger ones.
Dozens of others have either got married and have their own families or are working far away.
Born on January 19, 1955, Hasahya married his first wife at 16 years in 1971 after dropping out of school.
“I married my second wife and paid three cows, four goats and a fine of Shs15,000. I later married a third wife and I paid the dowry of three cows, four goats and Shs15,000,” he says.
He adds: “After two years, I married a fourth wife whom I paid two cows, four goats and Shs15,000 as dowry. I continued marrying until the number reached 12.”
Ms Amina Nahiranda, 20, a daughter, who got married at a tender age, says their father brought them up well.
“We grew up as disciplined children. Although he did not have a lot of money, nobody went hungry,” she says.
Ms Zabina Hasahya, 28, the youngest wife, says they might be co-wives but they love and treat each other like sisters.
“The harmony in our marriage comes from our husband whom we also treat as a father. None of us cheats on him; he is 67 years old but he has the energy of a 25-year-old,” she says.
Hailing from a populous Badira Clan, Hasahya’s favourite meal is kalo, sweet potatoes and greens. This, he says, gives him enough energy to carry on his duties.
He says he is happy that in future his children and grandchildren will produce more children to expand the clan.
His grandfather, Musa Hasahya, married 30 wives
“My late father, Mwamadi Mudumba, had two wives but only produced two children. This risked the extinction of our family and clan,” he said, adding that although he is a polygamous man, he takes family as the first priority.
There are no fights among his wives and children, Hasahya says, but in case there is a misunderstanding, he settles issues amicably without signs of violence.
“When one of them gets annoyed, I don’t fight with her, I just console her. I love them all equally and I have time for each of them,” he said.
Hasahya says despite growing up in abject poverty, he ventured into business and turned his fortunes around.
“I became so wealthy that every family whose door I knocked and asked for a bride, they immediately gave me,” he says.
But all is not fine in Hasahya’s big home now. Some of his wives started leaving two years ago owing to his failure to provide basic needs.
Mr Bumaru Hifunde, one of Hasahya’s eldest sons, says his father’s ex-wives started leaving after he ran bankrupt.
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“He had money but four years ago, his cattle business collapsed and women started leaving one by one until they remained six,” he said.
So far, some are said to be married in some parts of Busoga and Bugisu.
One of Hasahya’s former wives, now married in Nabumali Town Council in Mbale District, said she left him after giving birth to two children.
“I am married to another man. If you’re asking about his children, I left them for him. I have no business with him,” she said before hanging up.
Ms Sanda Nabwire, Hasahya’s eldest daughter born in 1973, says: “Our father loves all of us. We love him too because he is a great parent. Sometimes I call him my brother because of his love and care. We joke a lot most times.”
Whilst some of his elder children already have grandchildren, Mr Hasahya says he is still energetic enough to have more children.
“I am still strong enough to add on more wives. My youngest child is just about six years old from my youngest wife,” he says.
When Daily Monitor visited Mr Hasahya’s home a second time on Friday, children were found having late lunch, others were cleaning the compound while others were constructing huts.
His home overlooks Nahagulu Wetland, where his family members eke a living through rice growing and other crops.
Mr Ayub Maliki, a neighbour of Hasahya says: “He is an honest man and full of wisdom; that is why he has been our chairperson for this long.
Mr Maliki adds that Hasahya was the first Muslim from the area to contribute towards the construction of the mosque in the area.
However due to the large number of his children and grandchildren, Mr Hasahya has not managed to educate his children.