Maureen Nassali, 30, restaurant owner (5 years a widow)
“My spouse, Paul Mubiru, passed away in 2009. He was 29 years old and was working as a mechanic. Before he died, I remember one of our neighbours calling me in the morning and asking me to run home in Kabowa, a Kampala suburb. I had just arrived at the supermarket in Najjanakumbi, a Kampala suburb, where I was working as an attendant.
When I got home, my husband was lying in bed. He told me he was not feeling well. To be specific, he could hardly talk or move his body. I immediately called my older sister who helped me take him to Rubaga hospital, where he was admitted. The doctors carried out all kinds of tests but could not identify what was wrong with him. He did not make it after three days.
The news of his death tore my heart. I was very devastated. But then I knew that I had to be very strong for our two children, Martin Mutebi, now seven, and Marjorine Nankya, now nine.”
Life after hubby’s death
When I got home with the children after burying my husband in Mpigi District, I found that most of the property, including our only mattress in the one-roomed house, had been taken. I broke down. I almost went crazy. I did not know where to begin from. Since I was mourning, I did not report to work for two weeks and I was fired.
One particular weekend when I was in the room planning on my next move, I decided to call one of my close female friends, who was aware of my situation.
As we were still talking, she told me about an unoccupied kiosk in Ntinda Barracks that I could take charge of and start a business for myself. She also told me that there were cheap rental houses at the same barracks.
A few days later, I relocated to the barracks. It is here that I had my fresh start. I pay Shs70,000 a month for my house, and Shs50,000 for my kiosk. The small profit from the business is what enables me to look after myself and the children. The children have, however, not reported yet for this term because I do not have enough money to pay for their school fees. But when I get the adequate amount, I will ensure to take them back to school.
Fears visiting Mubiru’s grave
I have never gone back to visit my husband’s grave from the time he died, because I am certain that I will not be welcomed by most of my husband’s relatives who claim that I killed my husband. Probably someday, I will become courageous enough and ignore what they think about me and visit his graveside.
Why I haven’t remarried yet
Of course there have been men who have made aances at me since Mubiru died, but I usually turn them down because I am not yet ready to be with another man.
I also fear that if I went into another relationship, the man will not care for the children because he knows that they are not biologically his. At the moment, I am concentrating on working very hard to make enough income to sustain my children and I.
Gabriel Aridru Gedison Ajedra, Minister of state for Investment (3 years a widower)
“It was February 2011, when the children were returning to school. I was campaigning for the Arua Municipality seat. My wife, Josephine Finia Aridru, on the other hand was in Kampala. She wanted to drop our three children to their respective boarding schools before she could join me in a few days. But before she could do that, I travelled to Kampala, got some money and then headed back to Arua by bus. I told her to drive any of the family cars when she was coming over. I told her to carry some campaign flyers, sauce pans and money.
She set off from Kampala at about 3pm driving my green Land cruiser. She called to inform me that she was on her way, and I wished her a safe journey. At about 8pm as I was still busy campaigning, I received a phone call from a cousin, informing me that Josephine had been involved in a tragic accident and was being rushed to Kuluba Missionary Hospital, about six kilometres away from Arua town.
A friend drove me to the hospital where I anxiously waited for the ambulance that was carrying Josephine to arrive. When it finally came, one of the people who had accompanied my wife came out and headed towards the entrance of the hospital where I had been standing.
“I am sorry. Your wife did not make it,” he said. After he said the words, I remember suddenly hitting my right foot on the tyre of the ambulance and straining it.
I sat on the ground and wept uncontrollably. Family members and relatives began to gather. The following day, as we were making the final burial arrangements, we planned on how to break the news to our three daughters Stacy Avasi, now 24, Jose-rielle Letasi, now 19 and Kim Blessing Alesi, now 14. We had their different aunts pick them up from school. They were really shattered after learning about what had happened. Josephine was buried a few days later and a few months down the road, I was declared the Arua Municipality MP. It was so painful that she was not around to see me win the election.”
After Josephine’s death
Starting life all over again without Josephine was very difficult, especially for the children. I will never forget a time Jose-rielle’s teacher at Gayaza High School called me late in the evening saying she had been crying uncontrollably because she had not been visited. It was already past 6pm but I drove to the school. She was inconsolable when I met her. Out of anger, she said if her mother had only been alive, this would not have happened.
Her words hit me real hard. I was very hurt but then I had to understand that this was only a girl who was still coming to terms with her mother’s death. I was never the same after this particular incident, which made me realise that I should never take my children for granted. Since then, I made it a point to always be there for the children whenever they needed me.
I will not deny the fact that I sometimes get lonely, especially whenever the children are back in school. Whenever I tend to think about Josephine, I destruct myself by either reading a book, including the Bible, or listening to gospel music. It does really help. I have not yet reconsidered the idea of remarrying because I am still healing. Besides, walking down the aisle is something that I am not ready for at the moment, but I might probably consider it in future.
Dan Lubwama, 67, Chief Catechist at Namugongo Catholic Shrine (10 years)
“Betty Nnabaweesi Lubwama, my late wife and I had such a wonderful life together after marrying in church in 1983. We were a very happy couple. Nnabaweesi stood by me through thick and thin even after I was injured in a fatal motor accident that left me partly paralysed in 1993. She passed away in 2004 at Kibuli hospital after often complaining of discomfort in her abdominal area. It was later discovered that she had fibroids. Together, we had raised 12 children, including six from our previous relationships.”
No other woman was fit to take over my wife’s place
After her death, I almost felt as though she was always present at the house we had been staying in together. I could smell her scent, see images of her, dream and fantasise about her very often. It really took me long to get over her death.
I did not remarry mainly for two reasons I had gotten so used to the way my wife used to do things, therefore I felt that no other woman would match her standards. I also thought that I would not be compatible with any other woman the way I was with my wife.
Coping with the loss
Years later after Betty’s death, I was given a job as a catechist at Namugongo Catholic Shrine. Slowly, I was able to come to terms with my wife’s death after growing spiritually at the church. The exposure to the social life in the church and the counselling from the several clergy leaders was also very helpful in making me move on with my life.
Halima Namakula, artiste (20 years a widow)
“My husband died after the boat he was travelling in with 29 other occupants blew up. He was heading to Ssese Islands in Kalangala District, where he was the MP. He had hardly spent a year in the position. After the accident, his younger sister, Gertrude, called me and delivered the devastating news. Our four children, Hem Dee Kiwanuka, Rashid Kiwanuka, Kristopher Kiwanuka and Racheal Kiwanuka and I were living in the United States at the time. Their father had been living with us but he had travelled to Uganda to finish up some projects, and it was during this time that he decided to stand as MP.
Anyway, when his sister broke the news, I remained hopeful when she said his body had not yet been found. My hopes were, however, shattered when his body was discovered a week later. I broke down but still managed to tell the children what had happened. Hem Dee and Rashid, who were already grown up were really hurt because they had grown close to him, unlike Kristopher and Racheal who were still young. We never got the chance to travel to Uganda to attend his funeral service as his body was buried immediately after it was discovered.
Picking up the pieces
Now I was supposed to play mummy and daddy. Fortunately, I was able to meet the family needs since I was working as a care giver to the elderly. I was 34 years at the time. Hem Dee, my first born, was very understanding and often helped out around the house. He was very strong and instrumental in decision making. He became the man of the house at such a young age, something I admired and respected about him. As he grew older, he became a father figure to his three other siblings.
Why I never remarried
I went on a few dates after my husband’s death, but this was after many years. The reason I probably never married any of the men I dated is because I was still holding onto my late husband. The other issue was because I often looked out for qualities that Kiwanuka had in these other men. He was very loving, dedicated and a good father, and yet I never saw any of these merits in these other men. So I just got to a point where I stopped searching and decided to concentrate on being a good mother.
coping after the loss
Alice Nambuya, counsellor at Makerere University.
“In order to cope with the death of one’s partner, widows and widowers should always try to make themselves busy so as not to think too much about their deceased partner. Some of the things one can do include engaging in sports, watching movies or attending social events that will enable interaction with other people. If you are the spiritual kind, seek solace in the Bible or from members of your church.
The other thing one may do is keep the deceased’s property away since keeping it loitering around the house will always bring back shared memories. Also, if you can afford to leave the house you were staying in with the other person for another apartment, go ahead and start afresh. But most important, try and think about the future. If you want to go into another relationship, go ahead. Do not deprive yourself of happiness just because of the past”.
SOURCE: Daily Monitor