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It is painful to share aman – Mrs. Kafeero

By Vision Reporter

Added 12th September 2008 03:00 AM

The late Paul Kafeero’s wife, Dr. Kathryn Barrett-Gaines, popularly known as Omwana w’omuzungu, is a professor of History, director of African and African-American studies, University of Maryland. She lived with Kafeero for nine years, loving and performing with him.

The late Paul Kafeero’s wife, Dr. Kathryn Barrett-Gaines, popularly known as Omwana w’omuzungu, is a professor of History, director of African and African-American studies, University of Maryland. She lived with Kafeero for nine years, loving and performing with him. She talked to Elvis Basudde about their relationship.

Were you living as wife and husband?
Yeah!

How did you meet?
It was purely an accident. Kafeero wrote the song Omwana W’omuzungu and was doing shows with a very light skinned Ugandan woman. She would wear a wig to look like a muzungu but people knew she was a bichupuli. They wanted a real muzungu. Two ladies offered to bring him a real muzungu to act that part if he gave them money. In fact, he paid them a lot of money.

They got a British woman who was supposed to perform at a major show between Fred Sebatta and Kafeero. But on that day, she decided to fly back to England to bury her grandfather. In a panic, they drove around the city looking for a replacement. I was having lunch at a restaurant when these ladies approached me. I had come to do research for my PhD in History and I told them I had nothing to do with music. They pleaded and, since I was already learning Luganda, I accepted, thinking there was time for rehearsals. But they took me to Nakivubo where the show was already going on and hurriedly put me in a busuti, gave me a few sentences in Luganda and threw me on stage.

My first time to see Kafeero was when he came back stage to look at me and see if he had got his money’s worth. He went back to the stage and I was supposed to follow him there.

As soon as I stepped on stage, the whole place exploded like a bomb. The screaming, the noise, the applause, everything was incredible. I had no idea what was going on. I had never heard of Kafeero. After the show, they drove me home. I knew I had big story to tell. But a few days later, they came knocking at my door, asking if I could do another show. That led to more shows and eventually, I found myself falling in love with Kafeero.

What attracted you to him?
How do you explain how you fall in love with someone? There is no way to explain it. But the first time I saw him I was amazed. Kafeero was honest, kind, generous and exceptionally humble. He was a genius, a strong, conservative, traditional man, a real Muganda. He had something that everyone wanted to see.

If you watched his shows, no one in the audience could take their eyes off Kafeero. There was something extraordinary about him that you just wanted to be part of.

Do you have children with him?
No. I wanted to but God was not
willing. It would have been wonderful to have children with him but you cannot question God’s ways.

What was your relationship like?
When I came here, I was a professor at a university. But when I fell for Kafeero, I returned to the US, sold my car and house, resigned my job and returned to live with him here.

We had planned that it would be a marriage with one woman, one man. But soon, I realised that it was not going to be possible. Kafeero had other women; I had to leave. I could not stay and share him. I am an American - we don’t live like that. I cannot have co-wives.

Perhaps your love wasn’t enough?
I loved him a lot but no one shares because of love. It is the most painful thing in the world to share a man. So, men in Uganda should know that you are hurting women very much.

But when you discovered Kafeero had other women, did you still consider him your husband?
Yes. Do you know anyone who has not made a bad decision? Because it was Kafeero and, in the end, it was very good for me, I enjoyed him to my best. That is why it was painful.

How do you get along with your co-wives?
I never knew he had other women before I got involved with him. I didn’t see myself as having co-wives. If Kafeero were here now, he wouldn’t say he had many wives.

You haven’t told me how you are handling widowhood.
I have a very good life. I am a professor,

I live in the US, but I help in taking care of the situation here, through Kafeero Foundation, his children and his businesses. That is how I handle it. I want Kafeero to continue to live.

Are you getting another Ugandan?
Why? Do you think men are
interchangeable, like you lose a vehicle and get another? People are not vehicles, they are not possessions.

How would you summarise your life with Kafeero?
He was the greatest gift from God to me. There is no way I can describe Kafeero in one interview. You have to read the book I am writing about him when it comes out. Kafeero was just a gift from God. It was as if God took his own small finger and touched the earth and just for a moment we had Kafeero! He was not an ordinary person. He was a precious gem but, sadly, too brief.

That is why I still come back to Uganda. I have been here now three times since his departure because we need to make sure that he lives on.
He was important to Uganda and to the entire world.

It is painful to share aman – Mrs. Kafeero

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