Henry Davuga, a resident of Buniiro-Bukose village in Nawaningi sub-county, Iganga district has feet and infected with jiggers. His whole family too is infected. He claims these jiggers have been in the family for ages, writes George Bita
Like the biblical Job who, while having his faith tested by God kept scratching away at his bleeding body sores, Henry Davuga scratches his itching feet uncontrollably.
The oozing bloody tissue from sections of the feet, attracts flies which he frantically chases off. As the day progresses, he seems to care less, as if his nerves have finally got used to the pain.
As he sits under a tree shade in the family compound, the elderly man occasionally doses off before the flies or itch force him to wake up.
Davuga has suffered like this for the last five years. Jiggers have taken shelter in his feet, causing untold discomfort.
Davuga's wife has also not been spared
He is not alone. His wife, Naome Mukyeyaga, and four children have not been spared as evidenced by their cracked feet still carrying jiggers as well as black scars left after extraction of the offensive parasite in the past.
Ten-year-old Roger Bukosi, Julius Motooka 9, Lydia Kawoozo, 20 and Margaret Kafuko, 24 are all suffering from jigger-infestation.
“These jiggers have been in the family for ages and they are passed on from one generation to the next. They are periodical in nature, coming and going away at will,” Davuga says.
He insists that each time they visit the family, the jiggers stay for as long as they please and then vanish mysteriously at their own will.
According to him, some family members have died from jigger infestation, with the most recent being his uncle Motooka Madundu, adding credence to his theory that they are hereditary.
Although Davuga may not necessarily be under test of faith by the almighty, his village mates follow in the footsteps of the Old Testament folks who failed to understand the meaning of Job’s suffering.
Many attribute his affliction to witchcraft, with several appeals to him to consult local traditional healers for a remedy. In fact, a renowned Busoga chiefdom leader even alleged that jiggers are eating away Basoga as a punishment for failing to get a new Kyabazinga (king) after the death of Henry Wako Muloki in 2008.
Mukyeyaga says the only solution is to remove jiggers using safety pins, before they are mature enough to lay eggs and reproduce.
“We tried pouring water on the dusty floor to get rid of the parasites in vain By the time I wake up, additional jiggers seem to have already made their way under the skin of my feet,” Mukyeyaga says.
The peasant farmer, who cannot go to his coffee and groundnut garden anymore, explains that his parents, Henry Mukama and Kampi Tiberowoza, had equally struggled with jiggers.
“I recall those days when the Indians came to Iganga and there was a boom in cotton trade. We wanted to take cotton to the store, but my father had developed itchy and swollen feet as a result of a hitherto strange insect,” Davuga observes.
He says during those days, condemned huts or semi-permanent houses containing a large population of jiggers would be burnt down and new ones set up as a remedy.
“The occupants would be smeared with local herbs to cleanse them of the offensive insects. Then the new huts would be plastered with cow dung and ash to complete the transition to better living standards,” Davuga narrates.
Simon Musasizi, a villager, says people have also shunned the affected family over fears of getting infected.
“Even at the communal borehole, it is common to find villagers declining to use the hand-pump after members of Davuga’s family have used it,” Musasizi says.
Stephen Bagaga, the Nawaningi LC3 chief, says jigger-infestation is a serious problem in the area, with many villagers suffering silently.
“The main problem is some people hate to expose themselves, yet while they hide, the condition gets worse by the day,” Bagaga says.
Davuga's feet have been infected with jiggers, making him very uncomfortable