Christman and the New Year is a time to celebrate the family. The New Vision would like to celebrate the readersâ€™ most cherished family heroes. Below Barbara Kembabazi writes about her heroine â€” her mother...
MY family hero is not as dramatic as heroes tend to be. She has never dashed into a burning house to rescue a child or dared a soldier to shoot her in place of another. My family heroine is an unsung hero - one who quietly soldiers on with strength and grace and a tenacity you never knew was there.
We are a family of seven: one father, one mother, three boys and two girls and we have been together for over 20 years. My parents met at college and got married shortly after that. They were really brave because back then it was not the done thing to marry outside your tribe. Then they had us and at a point, my dad had to go to university to pursue a degree and my mum stayed at home looking after us. She was basically a single mother with three children all under five years.
Then came the war and we went to my dadâ€™s village. Even though my mum was of a different tribe, she joined all the other women in preparing meals foreign to her culture. She also learnt the language and now speaks it like a local. But most moving was that she joined in the digging. Her feet cracked and I haave heard they hurt a lot, but she never stopped digging, even for a day, to rest her sore feet. Some of the other women despised her for not having had cracked feet earlier - a bit like a girl whose breasts develop later than others.
My mum studied Home Economics at school and learnt it well. She prepares nice meals and used to sew us pretty dresses. When times were hard and we had outgrown our dresses, she would cut up some fabric and add another tier to the hem to make it longer. After a year, a skirt looked like the now trendy tiered skirts. Then when we would outgrow them, she would cut up her maxi dresses and conjure up two smart skirts â€” one for me and the other for my sister. We never lacked.
My two other brothers were born after that. When they started school, she went back to school for a degree. It was not the days of taxis and boda bodas, so if my dad could not pick them up, my mum would rush from university, pick the boys from school and drop them at home then rush back for the afternoon lectures. It was post-war, so everything was scarce, especially functional shoes. I remember her shoes were slim Italian cream and maroon high heels that my dad had bought her. Imagine walking on un-paved surfaces in such shoes. Isnâ€™t she a super woman?
In as much as my mum made sacrifices to look after us, she never let her dreams die. She won a scholarship to a UK university and returned a wiser woman, having done a few odd jobs to bring back some nice presents for us.
For the last 20 years, we have not had any house help, or random relatives living with us to help with house work. My mum has taught us all sorts of housework (I am a girl and I can slaughter hens). The boys learnt to cook and clean and not be embarrassed about it.
So much for being busy, we all go home to whine about out monster bosses, our brain dead colleagues and our treacherous friends. My mum listens to all the sob stories and sometimes it is like we are playing the same CD or cassette all over again, yet she still listens and is sympathetic and once in a while throws in a soft word of advice, telling us not to hate so much.
We are not a close knit family â€“ the kind who hug and talk and keep in touch. I live in the same city as my brother and sometimes I do not see him for up to two years. When we meet, I will just say â€œhi, how is the family?â€
But my mum is a real hero. She keeps in touch with all of us. Somehow, she is the first to know when there is breaking news. Depending on the confidentiality level, she will spread the good news around. It is amazing that my other brother, who leaves abroad, communicates with her about pretty much anything and the distance does not diminish the closeness. Through my mum, we get to know how he is and we celebrate his successes.
My family heroine prays for us and has accepted us as we are and does not try to beat us into a mould, which is a bit surprising because she has big dreams for us. In a subtle way, she suggests that you take up a course, or buy some assets, or build a house and all the while you will think it was your idea. It is continuous improvement in my family.
Now the years have gone by and my heroine is a styled-up madam. Without much house help, we have learned to prepare light meals so we eat healthier. My mum likes fruits and vegetables and she looks really trim and much younger than her one million years. She is about size 14 and has a nice figure. She has a great sense of style â€” comfortable, but well turned out and not flashy at all. I feel proud walking with her, except when people ask me if she is my sister â€” a compliment for my heroine, but a high benchmark for me when I get to her age.
My mum is a lecturer at a teacherâ€™s university and she walks on average 2km per day, six days a week. The other option would be the dangerous boda bodas and some more walking. Her students always say she is approachable, gives good career guidance and is like a parent to them. One student gave my mum a set of plates and we all know how much teachers earn, so we knew that my mum had made her mark on the world.
She enjoys her work and believes in giving her best regardless of the pay or boss, arguing that we are in this for God. This has imparted to us a good work ethic and without sounding too boastful, at all our workplaces we could easily be the Most Valued Employee. My mum is the glue that has kept us together. Without her, we would not be a proper family. That is why she is the heroine of my family.
Please send in your hero/heroine of the family stories. The article should be between 800-1,200 words, accompanied with a family picture or of the person you are writing about. If you have an interesting story, but do not know how to present it, you can request for a reporter by calling 0414 337 127 or SMS Vision (leave a space) your request and send to 8198.
REMEMBER: Your hero/heroine could be someone still living or someone who has already passed on. Some of the best stories will be read out on Vision Voice between 8:00 and 10:00am from Monday to Friday. The winning story will earn that family a Christmas dinner for 20 family members
Without mum, we would be lost