By Patrick Vidija in Nairobi
For the last three months, Jeff Ochieng has not been at peace. He has been wondering who his father is and now wants to know if there is any chance that opposition politician Dr. Kizza Besigye is his dad.
Ochieng, a 22-year-old photojournalist attached to Standard Media Group, has never met his father and never got the chance to ask his mother who fathered him as she died close to 10 years ago.
After the death of his mother, his uncle, Julius Ombajo, who is an IT expert, took up the responsibility of raising him.
“I loved my mother Elisha Adhiambo so much but unfortunately God did not allow her to live. Probably she could have answered all my questions,” Ochieng said in an interview last evening.
He added that his mother worked at the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), although he does not know in what capacity.
A resident of Umoja Estate in Nairobi, Ochieng went to Umoja 1 Primary School. Eight years later, he joined Maina Wanjigi Secondary School in Eastleigh before going to college to study photojournalism. His job at the Standard newspaper is his first.
Besigye says many people look like him but that does not mean he fathered them. PHOTO/Patrick Vidija
It is at the Standard that he received an assignment that would cause him to start to really question his identity.
He recalled: “I was sent to Kampala on assignment. Aboard the Kampala-bound bus, many people quizzed me on whether I knew Besigye or I if had a close connection with him. What shocked me the most was when we visited a local market and everyone ran to greet me chanting, ‘Besigye, Besigye.’
"They were speaking in Luganda so I could only pick out the name Besigye from what they were saying,” said Ochieng last evening, hours after he sent an email to New Vision about his dilemma.
He said when he was in school, his classmates called him by the same name and since he shared his Uganda experience his Standard workmates have taken to addressing him as Besigye.
“We recently got new staff members from Uganda and immediately they too told me I resembled Dr. Besigye,” said Ochieng.
“People rarely call me by my real name. I am getting so used to being called Besigye that when you call me Jeff or Ochieng, it takes me a while to realise that you are referring to me.”
WRONG FINGER: Besigye says he would be glad to meet Ochieng. PHOTO/Patrick Vidija
Besigye joined the National Resistance Army after leaving a medical job at the Aga Khan Hospital in Nairobi
Ochieng plans to travel to Kampala later this month in the hope of meeting Besigye.
“I am not implying that he is my father, but the aim of my journey is to get his story and find out whether there is a link somewhere. My efforts to find out from relatives who my true father is have been fruitless. Maybe my trip can give me some clues.
"I hope I can meet Besigye to clear my anxiety. If he is my father I will be grateful to have found one; if not, I will still be grateful to have met a good buddy that I look like,” said Ochieng.
Ochieng's email to the New Vision
I am Jeff Ochieng, a Kenyan photojournalist for Kenya’s oldest newspaper.
I am 22 years old and over the past 9 years, I have been persistently bombarded with the question if I am Besigye’s son. I don’t know the truth whether I am his son or not and I am not in a position to answer because I don’t know my father. I have been told we have a striking resemblance and the name Besigye has become my second name.
I have taken the liberty to visit Uganda and try to meet Mr. Kizza Besigye and ask if we are related. I will be visiting Kampala from August 22 and I would gladly offer any interviews if your publication is interested.
I am not saying that I am Besigye’s son, but I am just curious to know why we look alike. I hope I can meet him; maybe he has an explanation as to why I look like him.
In a telephone interview with New Vision’s David Lumu, Dr. Besigye said: “I have never fathered anyone in Nairobi. There are many people who resemble me, but that does not necessarily mean I fathered them. I saw something like that (Ochieng’s photo) on the Internet and indeed the man resembles me. But that cannot make him my son.”
On Ochieng’s planned visit, Besigye said: “He can visit me, but he can be rest assured that he is not my son. Twenty-two years ago I was in the military here; I could not have fathered anyone in Nairobi. I will be out of the country for some time but if he comes a week after August 22, I will be glad to meet him.”