Dad was a very unique parent, a tough and non-compromising father who hated laziness and failure.
By Emilian Kayima
Since Wednesday January 30, our family had been in hospital struggling to save the life of our dear father, the pillar of the family from whom we derived inspiration, the one and only Alphonse Ngoboka.
He was born in 1931 and died on Monday February 11, 2019 aged 88. He was battling an ailment that resulted in wounds on his right leg, causing him excruciating pain and fever yet he had no cancer or diabetes. He had a heart condition that we never thought was lethal.
He died peacefully in his bed at his home on Monday morning having been discharged from hospital on Friday. He was hospitalised at St. Francis Hospital Nsambya, where he had been admitted for 10 days.
Nsambya Hospital was almost our home for close to a decade and they did a wonderful job treating him.
Dad was a very unique parent, a tough and non-compromising father who hated laziness and failure. He worked hard to fend for his family.
Every day of his active life, he jumped out of bed by 5:30 am; first to milk cows and go about his other chores later.
He loved prayer. He confided in us that there isn’t a thing he had prayed for from mother Mary that he never attained. “Eating without having worked would only earn you ridicule” he often noted, warning us against laziness.
He loved his children extra ordinarily. He hated wrong and punished those involved, with the speed and intensity of the lightning and thunder respectively. His cane was known by all, children, neighbours and his contemporaries. He was a very strict disciplinarian who hated mediocrity.
While eulogising him on Wednesday after the requiem mass at home, one of the leaders, a member of the family lightly and rightly stated that dad was “omusomesa wa waka” (a home teacher). True.
Dad did not go far with formal education. From what he shared with us, he went as far as Junior 2. He recalled and proudly talked about how smart he used to be at school. His mother loved smartness and sold her cow then, bought him a pair of shots for the uniform in the form of “khaki America”.
He stood out tall and proud! Dad loved his mother and respected her till her death in 1988 at the age of 82.
It was a rule of the thumb: Whoever went against the set rules at home received an instant penalty, the cane.
Surprisingly, whenever one managed to run and seek refuge in the arms of grandma, the matter was as good as settled. He could not cross the line as the “lion” in grandma was watching, roaring with a sharp eye, telling the son to back off.
That was love and respect for a parent. He loved his mother and respected her beyond measure. They were friends as he was our friend too. Dad’s grave is close to that of his mother. That setting, though unplanned is the perfect one.
Dad told us so many focused and strategic stories that shaped our destiny. Some are personal as others are historical realities. We often called him names like Kapo (friend), Mugagga, chairman, and many others.
Dad loved education. He took his first children, all girls, to schools against the norm then. Somehow he refused to bow to pressure by his contemporaries.
While in hospital, he suffered memory losses to the extent that he could hardly recognise us. While he was with his second last born daughter, Anastasia, he recognised that she was not in school and demanded for an explanation immediately. She has since joined Senior One.
I wondered how he quickly connected the dots, despite the existing challenges at hand.
None of us, his children attended nursery school. He taught us for one straight year. There is that Luganda book called “Kisumuluzo”. It teaches reading and comprehension.
Once you mastered the book, cover to cover, he introduced mathematics and we used the multiplication table on the back of the exercise books he had at home. It is only after passing these two that we enrolled for formal schooling. And yes, primary school was a walkover for all of us as we had learnt the basics from “omusomesa wa waka”.
We always reported to school on day one with all school dues paid yet he was a struggling parent, financially. We carried the school fees ourselves, right from primary one to the end.
Those were great lessons. Again, every time we came for holidays and left for school, he ensured that we ate chicken. I have never known the logic, but I vividly recall the wetness of the chicken.
Dad loved doctors. He reported even the slightest ailment to the doctors. We believe that this love for doctors granted him a long life to the age of 88 years yet he battled many ailments in his late adult life.
Way back in 1997, he was involved in an accident that resulted in broken bones around his right hip. That brought crutches into the equation. When he became weaker, he started to use a walking frame until he could hardly use it and got confined to a wheelchair.
Dad had a special liking for staff of St. Francis Hospital, Nsambya. He knew many by their names. Doctors Prosy Ingabire, Anthony Makhoba, Moses Magezi, Raymond Mwebaze, Evelyn Nabankema, Joseph Ogavu Gyagenda and Dr. Peter Ssenyonjo. I can’t forget Dr. Ann Amate and Esther Mbababazi too.
There were a wonderful team of nurses at OPD Theater, the private clinic, those at St. Gonzanga and those at Regina Cheri Male Surgical ward. These are wonderful people that often gave a smile to dad.
The other colleagues from other departments were his friends too; ranging from the accounts section and many more. They all called him “omugagga” as we did. Nsambya is a great family. My little sister Justin was his darling, all through. Thank you Justin and your dear family.
Bathing was a little complicated as he hardly turned his body, but nurses did it. We shall die remembering these good acts of love and responsibility. Every day he wanted to be sure his eyes are fine, thanks to Dr. Baker Kasirye from Mengo hospital and from the great Lugoloobi family of Kaswa in Bulemeezi.
When dad was discharged, having gained some strength, but also having complained a lot to doctors and to us about his over stay in hospital, he was excited.
He reached out to his phone and called mummy, announcing his return with a smile. He warned that he wanted to physically speak to doctor Kalule of Ngeye Health Center in Lwengo district.
These are the doctors that have been visiting him weekly to take care of his physiological and psychological needs; a duty they accomplished very well. He met him and mom as he requested. Probably, he wanted to bid farewell to his people, mom and doctors at Ngeye Health Center.
Surprisingly, after this interaction, he breathed his last in the presence of mom, some of our siblings and family members. We agreed that it was the will of God.
I have no words to thank the different teams from family and friends that came to support us in according dad a decent, deserving and befitting burial.
Our in-laws, members of SHACKOBA, SHACK 90, the media fraternity, Umuganda Savers Association, Imbaraga Family, Tussakimu Investment Club and many others stood with us all through. We cant have enough and appropriate words to thank you.
My entire family will greatly remember the generosity of the Inspector General of Police and the entire security sector. We are indebted to the church. Dad’s friends and contemporaries weighed in too.
Truly, we felt loved. It went without question that we received the best treatment beyond our capabilities as a family. It taught us great life lessons: humility, love and respect for all humanity but above all God.
It will remain imprinted in our minds that values and virtues that define human beings have a strong rooting from home. Dad gave them all to us his children. The living ones are eleven: Suzan, Martha, Agnes, Emilian, Jerome, Matilda, Scolastica, Oscar, Beatrice, Anastasia and Gloria. There are grand children and great grand children in the cue.
To the people that have been our shields from childhood to date, especially during these trying moments, how can we thank you enough? We can only give glory to the Lord and ask God to reward you abundantly. May the soul of dad, Alphonse Ngoboka rest in perpetual peace
The writer is a Senior Police Officer in Uganda