The Birth of a Warrior

Kenaniah

When I was 8 weeks pregnant almost three years ago, I started spotting and cramping. Anyone who’s been pregnant before knows that it’s a bad sign. Fear immediately gripped me. My heart rate was suddenly 200 per minute – I think. I tried to calm myself down with slow deep breaths. I tried to convince myself that it was nothing. My husband tried to calm me down. ‘Lala, don’t worry. You’re okay’, he said. How couldn’t I worry? This experience was all too familiar. The memory of an intense, excruciating and fruitless labour brought tears to my eyes.

At the hospital, the sonographer moved her gadget over my gel-lathered tummy forward, backward, sideways, upwards, downwards, inwards…. ‘How are you feeling?’ she asked. I was distracted with trying to read her facial expression to answer immediately. I was looking for a sign, a smile perhaps – something positive to give me hope.

‘You see this?’ she asked with a serious expression. I started to think the worst. With my heart pounding, I leaned over to look at the screen. I wasn’t sure what I was looking at. (Truth be told if I’m not looking at a big head with grown legs and arms, I can barely ever make out anything on that screen).

She pointed and said ‘These are contractions. It’s a threatening miscarriage.’

‘What does that mean?’ I whispered. I knew what it meant. I just didn’t want to believe it.

‘It means you need to see your doctor immediately,’ she responded.

‘But the baby’s heart is beating, right?’ My voice was shaking.

‘Yes.’

That’s all I needed to hear. I knew immediately that this was not a battle I would fight in the flesh.

Fast forward, exactly two years ago, on 31st July 2019, I woke up with painless but frequent contractions. I knew it was time. I got ready, woke my husband up and told him we needed to go to the hospital immediately.

When we got to the hospital, I was wheeled straight onto delivery floor. The midwife on duty asked me to ‘rest’ in one of the rooms – this is where expectant mothers wait as their labour progresses until it’s time to deliver. I told her there was no time for that because my baby was ready to come out. ‘Are you sure?’ she didn’t believe me and I understood why. She didn’t expect me to be composed. Three years before that when I was having my first child, it was a totally different scenario. I think I even spoke in unknown languages to manage the pain at the time.

This time, it was different. I had prayed for a quick delivery and it was happening. The midwife agreed to examine me in the delivery room. She didn’t give me any feedback, but I could see her panicking to get all the requirements in order.

‘Your doctor won’t make it here in time, but we have a resident gynaecologist who will deliver the baby.’

Within minutes, the doctor was in the room and a few more minutes after that my little warrior was born.

I named him Kenaniah (Ken-ah-na-yah) meaning ‘God has established’ and his daddy named him Musinguzi meaning ‘victor/warrior’. Thank you Lord for our precious little one! Happy 2nd birthday my Kenaniah. Daddy, Eze and I love you. X

What’s On Your Music Playlist?

Photo by Malte Wingen on Unsplash

Music is a language like no other. It can lift up your spirits, it can evoke emotions like joy or sadness, and it can take you on a journey down memory lane or create a whole new world in a moment. I choose to listen to music that uplifts me and has meaning to me. The only music I indulge in is Gospel/Christian music. So, here are my current 5 favourites:

I must warn you though, most of them are by Tasha Cobbs Leonard. I’ll listen to her any day. There’s something about her voice and the aura that her music creates.

  1. You Know My Name – Tasha Cobbs Leonard ft. Jimi Cravity

What’s not to like about being reminded that God knows me personally.

Excerpt

‘You know my name x3 …..Oh how You walk with me, oh how you talk with me, oh how you tell me, that I am your own……’

My fave part is the bridge

‘No fire can burn me, no battle can turn me, no mountain can stop me because you hold my hand. Now I’m walking in your victory coz your power lives within me, no giant can defeat me, because you hold my hand.’

  • For Your Glory – Tasha Cobbs Leonard

This song reminds me of the peace and joy that comes with dwelling in God’s presence.

Excerpt

‘For your glory, I will do anything, just to see you, to behold you as my King. I want to be where you are, just gotta be where you are….’

  • Promises – Maverick City ft. Joe L Barnes & Naomi Raine

I started loving this song because of my husband. He had it on replay day after day and I couldn’t help but fall in love with it. It’s a beautiful reminder that God is faithful in every season and makes good on His promises.

The bridge is my highlight

Your faithfulness, it never runs out x 2

I put my faith in Jesus, my anchor to the ground, my hope and firm foundation, He’ll never let me down x 2

  • Something Has to Break – Kierra Sheard ft Tasha Cobbs Leonard

Kierra and Tasha combine their strong vocals to spread a message of hope with this song, especially during the COVID19 pandemic. It was sang and recorded during quarantine.

  • Nothing Like Your Presence – William McDowell ft Travis Greene & Nathaniel Bassey

This powerhouse of a combination put their voices together to remind us that there’s nothing like His presence. I must mention that Nathaniel Bassey plays the sax beautifully on this song. If you haven’t listened to it, do it now.

So there you have it. My favourite songs keep shuffling but these are the current top 5 on my list. What are yours?

By the Time He Woke Up, I Was Dying

‘So, ma’am, what work do you do exactly?’

‘Jimmy, I don’t mean to be rude, but I’ve had a long day at work and I’m not in the mood for conversation. I’m sorry.’

‘No problem, I understand.’

Normally, I wouldn’t mind but that night I was exhausted. The last thing I needed was a chatty Uber driver. Earlier in the week, my boss had caught the attention of a high-profile client. My team and I had the task of coming up with a proposal that the client could not refuse. This particular night, we had all left the office at midnight.

‘It’s the last house on the right.’ I said, pointing in the direction. I couldn’t wait to have a warm shower, wear my comfy pyjamas and retreat under my covers.

Jimmy drove off in his silver Toyota Premio as I was walked towards the door. I fumbled with the keys while trying to open the door. Was I so tired? Finally, I had the right key. As soon as I turned it in the door, I felt a force holding me around my abdomen and a hand over my mouth.

‘Don’t move or make a sound,’ my attacker whispered in my ear.

I started crying. My hands were shaking so bad that I let go of my handbag. While I was still facing the door, he grabbed my bag and I could hear him behind me, rummaging through it. I was thinking of how to get out of this, then I saw a weapon. At my doorstep on the right was a medium-sized flower pot. I could tell that he was much taller than me, but it was the only chance I had. I picked it up quickly and turned to aim high for his head while screaming out loud.

As he fell to the ground, I lost my balance and hit my forehead on the pavement. We both lay there right in front of my house. He was motionless and I thought he was dead. I could feel the warmth of my blood tricking down the side of my face but I couldn’t move. I started to feel extremely cold. By the time he woke up, I was dying. He crawled over to me and finally I could see his face. It was Jimmy, the Uber driver. ‘How?’ I thought.

I saw him trying to stand up. I wanted to ask him to help me but I couldn’t open my mouth. As he stumbled away into the dark of the night, my vision was getting blurry.

Of Loss and Grief

Photo by Mike Labrum on Unsplash

‘J.P wants to see you. She’s outside the staffroom,’ an old school-mate said to me one evening.
It was the day before my 17th birthday and I was walking from the dormitory to the school kitchen for supper. 


‘Why does the school headmistress  want to see me?’ I wondered. ‘She doesn’t just ask to see anyone at this time of the day.’ I met Sister Justine Paul at the staff room veranda. She was a soft spoken, straight-faced woman. I was surprised to see my cousin, standing right next to her. 


J.P (as we called her) got straight to the point. ‘Your mother is unwell. You need to go home. If you need to pack up a few things, you can do that now.’ From the moment I turned to walk back to the dorm to the time I got into the car, I was mute. My mind was racing. ‘How sick is mom that I need to go home immediately?’ I was worried. ‘Is it that bad? Does she want to say good-bye to me?’

Our home wasn’t more than two kilo meters away from the school. In a couple of minutes, we were turning off the main road, a minute or two from the house. It was at this moment that my cousin who was seated in the co-driver seat turned to me and said, ‘Your mom passed away this morning.’ 
I can’t remember if I responded but I can never forget how I felt. It was like someone had punched me in the stomach so hard and was taking out my insides. I was too numb to speak or cry – that is until I saw my siblings and my father. 


I consoled myself in the fact that I had written a letter to my mom about two weeks prior. I wrote to tell her what to bring me for my birthday – she always baked a cake and bought other goodies for me to celebrate with my friends. I also told her that I loved her as I did with every letter. Somehow I was glad that the letter was recent. It felt like I had spoken to her somehow although I hadn’t seen her in 2 months. In a way, it’s like I had the chance to say goodbye without knowing it.


When the burial was over, we travelled back to town from the village. We stayed at home grieving as a family for an extra week or so before returning to school. During that time, my dad’s colleague from the office brought some documents and post mail. I noticed a familiar-looking envelope. It was the letter I had written. She never got the chance to read it. 

Kneeling – A Culture of Humility?

#winterabc2020

I vividly remember the day I learnt about kneeling for my elders while greeting or talking to them, as a sign of respect. Most girls from the central (Buganda) and surrounding regions in Uganda are taught this at a young age. This custom is also a part of the Busoga culture – where I’m from. A girl who greets or addresses her elders while standing is deemed disrespectful and badly brought up.

This custom is not limited to a girl’s childhood. As she matures into a woman, she is still expected to kneel before older people. In rare cases, she will kneel before her husband. However, this is dying out as women are now more exposed to other cultures. Also, mixed marriages have been on the rise. Some men from different tribes and cultures find it strange for their life partner to kneel before them.

To this day, at traditional introduction ceremonies, the bride and her entourage will kneel while greeting her husband-to-be and future in-laws. When she walks over to identify her fiance among the rest of the in-laws, she’ll kneel to place a special identifier (flower) on the lapel of his jacket.

It’s also apparent at some ‘white weddings’, especially at the moment after cutting the wedding cake. One of the wedding ushers will place one chair in front of the bride for the groom to sit. The bride, in her lovely gown, will then kneel before him. She will pick up a piece of cake from a plate that her maid-of-honour is holding and feed her new husband after which he’ll feed her too. Then they’ll both stand up.

Unable to find any Ugandan historical literature on this custom from a native, I settled for a 19th Century missionary’s experience as documented in his book titled, ‘The Baganda: An Account of Their Native Customs and Beliefs’.

John Roscoe documents, “No woman would think of saluting a man standing, and a woman carrying a load would excuse herself from saluting a male friend by saying: ” I am carrying a load and unable to ask you how you are,” meaning that she was unable to kneel to him. If a man greeted a woman thus laden, she would answer: ” I am unable to answer, because I have a load.

The wives of chiefs would not kneel to a man of inferior position, though they promptly did so to an equal. In like manner a man would kneel at once when he met a superior and saluted him, for it was the custom for every inferior to salute his superior.”

This custom has sparked fiery debates about the relationship between traditional African culture and women’s rights. For me, something changed the day a group of girls and I were punished at school for….I don’t remember what. Can you guess what that punishment was? Well, that’s a story for another post, or two, or three. But just in case you’re wondering, yes, I still kneel for my elders – sometimes, lol.

Does your culture require girls/women to kneel out of respect? I’ve learnt that in some cultures, boys/men kneel for their elders too. Tell me about it.

The Notable African Personality I Would Like to Meet

#winterabc2020

At a Virgin Unite and Igniting Change gathering last year, Graca Machel started the conversation saying , ‘I always feel so insecure. You can’t imagine how my tummy is feeling when I am talking to you.’ Reading that statement alone from this formidable woman, makes me feel okay about my own nervousness and insecurities before I speak or meet someone new.

Besides the fact that she’s a woman of class and grace, what intrigues me about Graca Machel is her fortitude. She’s experienced a considerable magnitude of loss and grief but continues to fight injustice and make the world a better place. She served as the first Minister of Education and Culture in Mozambique for more than a decade. Alongside working to end child marriage, she continues to elevate other women to positions of influence.

She was born just 17 days after the death of her father. Being the youngest of six children, I can imagine that her older siblings had stories to tell about their father that she could not relate to. I wonder what that was like for her as a child.

I would ask a few tough questions. Does she still have questions about the plane crash that killed her first husband, Samora Machel, the first president of Mozambique? What questions if any? They were married for about 11 years (1975-1986) so their children were little. Being a mom myself, I’d be curious about what life was like for them thereafter.

I’m fascinated by different languages and I’ve always wanted to be fluent in French. I took a few classes but never had an opportunity to practice. I’m intrigued by Graca’s linguistic abilities. I can understand how she’s able to speak Portuguese, English and her native Xitsonga but French, Spanish, Italian too? I’m amazed.

I would ask her what drove her to eventually decide to marry Madiba after much reluctance. Was it the fact that they connected over being freedom fighters? She was outspoken against the Portuguese colonial government in Mozambique. Or was it the chocolates? Apparently, Madiba wooed her the old-fashioned way, with chocolate, much to the annoyance of his bodyguards who had to deal with his unannounced stops to buy it.

I would then have a cup of tea with her and soak in all the wisdom she’s garnered from her life experiences and her time spent with some of the most influential people in the world. I would take notes carefully, about being a woman of influence while maintaining my femininity and grace.

The End of A Nightmare

#winterabc2020

When I heard my neighbour Redemptor wailing that morning of 11th April 1979, my heart sunk. I had just scrubbed my binika and was filling it with water to boil tea for breakfast. ‘Not again’, I thought as I turned off the tap. ‘Not Billy, I hope it’s not Billy,’ I wondered as I frantically looked for my slippers.

Redemptor had lost her husband, Laubeni and first born son Fred the year before. They both fell victim to President Idi Amin’s trigger-happy soldiers on their way back home from town one evening. When she received the news, Redemptor wailed in a way that I can never explain or forget.

Billy, her 17 year old, was the only living child she had left. I imagined the worst.

Tears were already streaming down my face as I ran to her house.

‘Redemptor, what is it?’ I shouted while entering her house. She was kneeling on a mat and wiping her face with her lesu, unable to speak. All she could do was cry. When I saw Billy sitting on the sofa, I was relieved but still confused.

He was sipping what looked like tea, from a metallic mug. He did not seem moved by what was happening. The truth is, since the death of his father and older brother, he had become indifferent and was quiet most of the time. It was like he had died on the inside.

‘It’s over! It’s finally over!’ Redemptor said, still wailing. I was getting impatient.

‘Redemptor, what is over? What’s going on?’

‘The bloodshed! It’s over. He’s gone. Amin is gone! He fled’

‘Are you sure?’ I whispered.

‘Yes. Lt. Col. Ojok just announced it on radio.’ We held each other and cried together for a long time, both in memory of the loved ones we had lost and in hope of a better future ahead.

When I stepped outside Redemptor’s house, it suddenly started raining. I stood in the rain, still taking in the news that we were finally rid of a reign of terror. It felt like all the bloodshed, filth and evil was being washed off the surface of our nation. I watched as the other neighbours and their children danced, laughed and celebrated in the rain. We could only hope for anything but what we had endured for the past 8 years.

As I walked back to my house, the rain was letting up. I managed to crack a smile while imagining how the future was going to look. Then I saw it, a rainbow. A sign of hope. A sign of new beginnings.

And who knew that I would write fiction based on an actual event that took place before my time?Thanks #winterabc2020. I kept it short because my emotions were starting to play me. I can’t even imagine what it was like for those that actually lived through it.

5 Proverbs in Lusoga

“LuSoga (Soga) is a tonal Bantu language, spoken in Uganda. It is the native language of the Basoga – people who are indigenous/originally from the Busoga region. The spellings and pronunciations of Lusoga words are still often debated among the Basoga. My father has a tendency to mention proverbs that relate to whatever discussion may be going on at the time. Some of the ones below are what I remember him saying while others are from research.

Aghava mwino, tighaira mwino; aghava eliino ghaira ilibu.

Translation: When your friend leaves, they are not replaced by a friend; when you lose a tooth, you stay with a gap.

Meaning: When you lose a friend, you can’t replace them with another friend like the one you lost. They have different qualities, values, and so on.

Mwene mufu, n’agema aghaghunha 

Translation: The owner of the dead, touches where it smells most.

Meaning: You bear the biggest burden and responsibility of whatever happens to you or of whatever task you wish to undertake. If you get helpers to assist you, it is not their duty to perform the most tedious part of the work, it should be you.

Mu kutya Kibumba, amagezi mwe gasookera 

Translation: The fear of God is the beginning of wisdom

Meaning: Without the fear of God no teaching is of any avail.This widely used proverb/Bible verse is what the Basoga use to guide their people to show reverence to God.

Mpa nkughe, ogwo ti mukwano

Translation: Give me and I give you; is not love /friendship

Meaning: Give without expecting anything in return. If you have a ‘give me and I’ll give you’ relationship, that is not true love or friendship. Sharing is encouraged.

Kanhwa kabi, kakwetesa omulogo

Translation: A bad mouth will lead you to being labeled a witch

This proverb encourages people who speak without filters to watch their words, especially in public lest they are called witches. Words can become one’s total undoing.

Phew! There you have it.

Why I Love These 4 Social Media Accounts

#winterabc2020

Picking out only 4 social media accounts was tough at first. Just like everyone else, I follow A LOT of social media accounts. I decided to think about the important aspects of my life and those I’m working at improving. Spiritual/inspirational, family/marriage/parenting, health/wellness, and so on. I picked out those that currently speak into those areas of my life.

Sarah Jakes Roberts

This woman of God inspires me with her messages of hope. Her rawness and vulnerability are a compelling characteristic that make her posts relatable. When you read her posts on Instagram or watch her videos/sermons on YouTube, you’ll feel understood and loved however far you have fallen. The love of Jesus will become a reality for those that have ever considered it as a distant concept.

Eunice Adubango

Eunice is many things I want to be when I grow up. A successful business woman, a life/business coach, inspirational speaker and so on. She’s what I call a well of wisdom. God is involved in every facet of her life – business, marriage, parenting, and so on. Her guidance and posts on Facebook are sometimes a bitter pill to swallow, but her no-nonsense delivery is necessary in these times where laziness is rampant. I read every post and love her stories – she’s an amazing story-teller. She gets me thinking and implementing where necessary!

Susan Mwine Businge

I only started following Susan this year when I heard her story. She’s a determined woman on her way to a healthy and vibrant lifestyle. Susan documents her weight loss journey on Instagram through pictures and videos. She started at 150 kilograms in 2018 and now she’s about 95 kilograms. Just the other day, she posted her before and after pictures. Wow! I was blown away. I’m on a health journey too. I’m not too sure about documenting my own journey yet, but we’ll see. In the meantime, I’ll follow Susan, be inspired and apply those techniques, as long as I don’t have to do burpees!

Sean Cannell

Sean is the creator of Think Media on YouTube. His mission is to help you build your influence, impact and income with online video, particularly YouTube. I started following Sean because I was thinking of starting a YouTube channel, but didn’t know how. In April this year, the Think Media team ran a challenge on Facebook where they went live on video twice every day for a week with in-depth tips and actionable challenges. Let’s just say that you’ll be hearing about my channel SOON!

x

3 Things I Wish African Content Creators Could Avoid

#winterabc2020

Being a content creator comes with the amazing opportunity to share your creativity with an audience. You bring them into your world, take them on a journey and teach them something new. I’ve had the opportunity to consume content from African creators on various platforms and although I’m not the content creator police, there are a few things I think they should avoid.

The Comparison Trap

Comparison kills creativity. There’s no harm in learning a few tips from other creators to make your content better. However constant unhealthy comparison will keep you from focusing on what your audience wants. Be yourself, be unique. You might have fairly similar content to another creator but you can’t deliver it the same way. Your audience will appreciate that about you.

Being Lazy

When you set out to be a content creator, decide that you’ll put in the work to ensure that your audience is served well. There’s a tendency for creators to think about the benefits they’ll get from a content platform before they think about the work they need to put in. Granted, some content creation platforms will present opportunities for your benefit but that shouldn’t be your main motivation or else you’ll get impatient and quit. Put in the work. You reap what you sow.

Selling Their Soul

When it comes to the issue of working with brands and advertising their products, don’t be tempted to do it only ‘for the money’. I’ve seen African content creators on Instagram who advertise products all the time. You can tell that it’s all about the ‘schmoney’. Your followers trust that you will endorse products that are reliable and that you trust. It won’t be long before they recognise that you’re pushing brands for your own benefit without them in mind.

I’ll end by saying that Africans should be proud of their heritage. We have rich cultures and the ability to tell our authentic African stories. We shouldn’t shy away from that. The tendency to make our content westernised is something of which most of us are victims. Can you imagine someone looking at all your content and not even getting a single hint that you’re an African?

Over to you.