By Amandla Karungi
At times, I ask myself if I would become a politician like you, standing on the back of a small white pick-up with my hands waving rhythmically, enveloped by a throng of villagers whose votes I hoped to accumulate.
I have wondered what it was like for a young woman to wake up the day after her beloved husband had been wiped away by a fire. To then rise up again, and stand by the altar to begin afresh, following the culture of your people and finally, taking your seat as matriarch in a clan of men.
I also wonder, how as a woman born in the 1940s, you always took the front seat and spoke so that your voice would be heard. How is it that you were not buried by the self-doubt, fear and oppression that many women of your time embraced?
You were fierce. I remember the times when you walked around seething with anger and passion over someone or something that had not gone the way you wanted. A hurricane of instability and disruption surrounded the house, and we teetered and shook our heads, wondering what next in the battle of egos, power and rivalry would erupt.
You were human, a woman. As you grew older, you loosened your grip on the world. As the hollows under your eyes deepened, the smile upon your face became ever more constant. I am not sure when or why your demeanour became more mellow. But, a silent observer in the shadows, I saw you laugh without restraint and speak without caution or pretense.
As we got older, we finally began to see you. When we were young, we saw our parents and grandparents as figurines of parenthood only. Their lives never changed, they never were, not like us, only existing for us and our purposes only. As the years came in, we saw them more clearly, more leniently, more accepting as with every shedding of light, we saw a trace of ourselves in them.
We saw you; courageous, proud, intelligent, breaking barriers, passionate for a cause. You never retired. You never tired of being in the crowds, even when it was no longer for civic duty. You found yourself among the people supporting them in their pain and fortune. You lived and died among a gathering of people, watching you, loving you, respecting you, chafed, ruffled, astonished, amazed.
Barbara / 16 November 2017
Such a beautiful tribute for our heroin.