My story is one about an ordinary man who did the smallest things to make my world and that of my siblings extraordinary. My father was born to a beautiful Munyoro woman under a banana tree. She named him, Lugude ku Munyoro Abaganda Baseeke.
Jajja Natalia was telling all those who had scorned her, that indeed her boy was the true son of a prince. Little did she know the name would forever shape every facet of her little boyâ€™s world.
My dad was not ashamed to kiss a bruised knee and chase away â€˜monstersâ€™ under his little girlsâ€™ beds. Daddy says he was not an A+ student, but he did excel. To this day, he tells us it is not the strongest or brightest who excel, it is the amount of effort, focus and thirst for excellence that gets you to the top.
Having inherited my motherâ€™s excellent memory and sharp brain, I added a bad spice of my own making into the mix, since passing exams was customary in my world.
I got bored of things the second I learnt them. My father warned me this was a recipe for disaster in subjects like mathematics that require repetition.
Looking back, I wish I had listened to his voice because I ended up with an Oâ€™level certificate with distinctions in every subject and a Pass 7 in maths.
Because of his hard work, my father got a scholarship to Austria. He learnt a foreign language and attended college where he met and married a bright student from Tanzania. In the early 1980s, we were forced to flee into exile. I was too young to notice the burden that my dad had to bear.
My older siblings tell me they never felt it either; they enjoyed meat on Sunday but mentioned dadâ€™s allergies to everything they found tasty.
How naÃ¯ve! Dadâ€™s allergies disappeared in the 1990s when we became financially stable and had enough meat for the whole family.
My first memory of my father was captured in my sense of smell. My mother often reminisces about the numerous times she would wake up to find Dad cradling my twin brother and I on her breast to feed.
To this day, I associate the smell of Old Spice aftershave with warmth and manliness. Papa knew my dreams before I started having them.
At a very young age, he noticed that I would surely lose my mind with the day-to-day monotony of a desk job, so he equipped me with the tools that would later help me when I found my path.
In 2006, I affirmed my fatherâ€™s love for me. When I was going to give birth to my baby girl, my life was hanging by a thread. All I could think about was the pain my parents would face if I did not make it, so I struggled to stay awake.
Asante â€˜Baby Oâ€™ was born and everyone was happy, but my dad did not move a muscle. When he was asked why he had not shown any interest in the baby, he said: â€œIâ€™m happy Jonâ€™s child is born, but I can only be completely happy when my baby girl is rolled out of that theatre with a beating heart.â€
From dad, I learnt about the purity of the human soul, the belief that people can change for the better. Often people say I am naÃ¯ve and that the world will box me in eventually. My reply is usually: â€œIf 70 years of this hectic and sometimes cruel world havenâ€™t disillusioned my papa, why should I be worried?
On my birthday in 1993 daddy suffered what was going to be the first of many angina attacks. An angina patient lives in constant pain. Any form of excitement ticks off waves of excruciating pain that has the sufferer spending nights with arms raised above the head holding onto walls, or kneeling over a bed or chair. As if the pain was not enough, the comments people made got him down.
People associate angina with wealth, but it is hereditary. My dad was given between six months to a year to live if he did not go for an emergency operation. The doctors said chances of complete recovery were minimal. We started doing everything we could to help dad before the six months were up.
Unfortunately for mum, dad would not let her proceed, and that was the day I saw my mother breakdown. She begged, then threatened, then begged again, but dad would not falter in his resolve. After much persuasion he promised to have the operation when his last child graduated.
Years came and went and dad was still with us. By 2000, the pain was becoming almost unbearable, but daddy struggled on. He kept his promise, we all finished school and concentrated our efforts on funding the operation.
In 2008, at a small get-together Dad thanked his sweetheart for helping him get through those long, sleepless nights and to us all for being patient with him, for giving him the opportunity to finish his parental duties before he embarked on those of his own. Daddy you are our rock. From Fred, Louise, Kato, Wasswa, Anthony, Kiiza, Angie and Natalie.
Dad, you are our rock