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February 5, 2023
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Bahima wisdom of empowerment and friendship

By Ronald Ndawula 

About 16 years ago I was invited by my friend Moses for a ‘kuhingira’ function in NGoma in Nakaseke district.

 I accepted the invitation because i wanted to use the opportunity to meet the people of that place to canvass   votes because Nakaseke was part of the original greater Luwero and was campaigning to become LC5 Chairman.

The distance was far and we opted to travel a day earlier so as not to delay and make excuses.

In the morning I went around town talking to people about my political agenda.

Around noon we started organising for the excursion and by 2 o’clock we were almost set we started moving towards the function an hour later.

We reached the rendezvous at around 4 PM and we stayed in the nearby bush because there was no clear paths and we were told to wait from there.

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At first I thought we were organising ourselves so as to go into the compound prepared because in the distance I could glimpse a grass thatched house.

When we waited for 30 min, I asked why we were not going in because it was getting late. Then I realised I was the only person who was worried about time but I couldn’t  clearly understand the kinyarwanda conversations going on.

Then I went to ask my friend why we were not going in?

He then told me there are no people at home! I asked why ? Didn’t  they know we were coming? He then told me they know, but they are coming back from grazing and the function was slated to start at around 7:00pm.

I went back to my place and started reckoning how people on a supposedly big day of the function can decide and opt to go grazing!

It didnt take long when I started seeing cows coming from all directions and it didnt take long to start seeing people appearing everywhere, walking and others riding to come to the venue!

We accessed the compound at around 7:30pm and cant recall the conversation that ensued because it was in Kinyarwanda.

After some few exchanges we occupied our seats and we were given food immediately.

That was my first time to eat a very tasty compound called ‘ESSABWE’ .

After eating, then we entered the speeches. I realised everyone who attends the function and wants to say something is given opportunity to speak!

The function stretched to beyond midnight  and people were giving endless speeches and I was really frustrated because I was not hearing what was being discussed apart from some few Baganda who gave some short speeches.

What took my attention most and the gist of my writing is, everyone who was given a microphone, offered a cow!

That night alone Moses my friend got around 50-70 cows! Since then I have been looking for a Muhima lady for a hand in marriage in vain.

When we were going home I asked whether those donations are real? then I was assured it is and those cows are called ‘EMPAANO’.  

It’s an obligation  to the recipient of these cows to return to each of these donors after the Empaano gives birth.

I took time thinking about this generational wisdom of empowerment and friendship and I appreciated it.

For sure how do you fail to return such a good gesture of an interest free loan.

Secondly, how do you next day turn around to degrade, ridicule a wife who has helped you reap so much In a single night?

Thirdly, that chain of promoting sharing, kindness, good will and development is stronger than steel.

When I looked at the donors themselves, I didnt realise that they had the potential to offer a cow on face value because they didn’t come to the function driving fancy cars , shining shoes and probably doning necklaces and eye glasses. None of them had anything we attach to the money bags around here!

Most of them had only a stick and probably an old and over used round hat and some had slip in shoes made out of old tyres (Rugabire).

Apart from wondering how cheap Buganda girls are at kwanjura, because with a few baskets of tomatoes and 3 loaves of bread you can walk away with one, I kept thinking about the wisdom of ordinary Bahima offering cows to their friends. 

I realised first of all it’s what they have.

Secondly, the ability to focus and patience

The writer is the former chairman of Luwero district

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