By Hope Mafaranga
When Saturday Vision published my story, it never occurred to me that it will lead me to meet the president of Uganda Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, nor did it cross my mind that I will go back to Kampala after 50 years, Yohana Ahuruma 131, who recently met President Museveni.
I never imagined the impact of a newspaper. In fact now I treasure newspapers more than anything, unfortunately my eyes are gone and I can’t read.
The first time Saturday Vision visited and asked me about my age, I did not take it serious and my follow locals here in Busunga village, Bundibugyo district wondered how a national newspaper could visit a poor person like me.
But now my friends wish to be published in the papers after seeing it is impact.
News of meeting the president
When Fr. Bainekanama broke the good news that I was slated to meet the President, I got mixed feelings.
One of the things that came into my mind was that may be I was going to be arrested another on the other hand I was filled with a lot of joy.
Fr. Bainekanama told me to get ready but I never believed him, it was like a dream. In fact I spent three nights playing my endigigi (musical bow) and thanking God for remembering me and also giving me another opportunity to go back to Buganda (Kampala).
My daughter had to force me to go to bed but could not sleep because of too much excitement.
How he prepared
I started preparing myself for the journey of course I wanted to look my best before the president. I never risked to allow anyone wash my clothes and my shoes, I decided to do it myself to ensure they were clean enough and presentable in front of the president.
I washed my coat, my trouser, my shirt and I even cleaned my Ndingidi and stick because I wanted to dance and sing for the president.
However I was still doubtful if it was true that I was going to meet the president. Finally the big day came and Fr. Bainekanama came to pick me.
Everything looked new to me from the roads and the buildings. I knew it would take us five months to get to Kampala but was shocked when we only spent about 7 hours on our way.
In 1966 when I was last in Buganda, it used to take us three to five month to get there but this time around it was like we flew from Bundibugyo to Entebbe.
Getting to state house
We were ushered into a big room with nice looking chairs, the place looked like heaven. We were given tea and bread, soda, water and every I wished to eat and drink was there and workers were at our disposal to serve us.
Later we were taken to a house (hotel) where we spent three days waiting to see the president. My granddaughter you do not know how I felt, the bed was big, warm and every day they changed my beddings.
If it was not for the New Vision, where on earth would I have gotten to see such clean room and knit beddings?
Even the time I used to work in the Kabaka’s palace, I swear I never saw this kind of a bed.
Every morning, I was served with good breakfast, good food and that there was a large television in my bed room and in the place where we used to eat from. I thought I was in heaven.
Meeting the president
We were picked from our hotel and taken to his house. Museveni was elected by God to rule Uganda. We found him there and his lovely wife Janet waiting for us.
My dear, the president stood up to greet me and his well-behaved wife followed. The president even showed me where to sit.
I swear he treated me with a lot of respect and as his grandfather. This moved me and I held my rosary and thanked God for the New Vision.
After sitting down, in shot while they brought tea and bread and we ate. We starting talking and I found him a very interesting man and his wife was always smiling.
He asked about my age, my background and we talked for more than two hours. I cannot explain to you to understand how I felt and the time the president accorded us.
One thing I realised was that both Museveni and his wife were brought up very well. I was surprised by there to down to earth character; imagine his wife even tapped my shoulder.
Despite my toothless mouth and struggling to talk they showed me love, respect and listened attentively and patiently to every word I had to say. You don’t understand the feeling my child.
We discussed many things including the Rwenzururu issues and the president was so much informed and everything I told him. We spoke like old friends.
After two hours, we were taken to another sitting room and the president and his wife came back to bid us farewell. The president asked me what my heart desired; I simply told him that I wanted him to build for me a house which he granted.
We were driven back to our hotel and the following day we left.
I was given a hero welcome back home and of course I had to show off that I am from seeing the president. I had brought a bag of sugar, a box of soap and rice and I shared with neighbors.
That night I knelt down , held my rosary , I prayed for the president and his family for long life, I prayed for the New Vision that wrote about me because if you had not written about me the president would not have known me.
I even asked God to forgive me all my sins because after leaving Museveni’s house, I felt Holy. I wish to campaign for him and vote him if he stands again. I also pray that I meet him again and I will request him for a car and a driver.
I am grateful to Fr. Bainakanama and the New Vision. Since then, many people come to see me and give me some money.