Prince Paul Job Kafeero said, ‘Toli wakitalo nga gwe bwolowoza, twali tulabye abanene emirembe ngalo.’ In a nutshell, what he meant is that there is pretty much nothing new on the face of the earth. That’s why this is not a story of grief albeit I lost my dear brother Davis in a nasty motor accident last Sunday. People lose loved ones and I am not the first. This is a story of LOVE.
As I was ensconced in a sofa watching the much anticipated Manchester derby, I received a disturbing phone call from my dad. Davis had been involved in a motor accident that was most likely fatal in Kazinga, Bweyogerere on his way to Seeta at approximately 7:30 pm. He asked me to go find out. As I was driving through thick traffic jam along the road towards the scene, a kind-hearted boda boda rider advised me to use an alternative route. ‘Awo mumaaso waliwo gwe batomedde n’omulambo guli wakati mu Kkubo’, he said. Translated loosely to mean, there is a person that has been knocked dead ahead.
My heart was nearly shattered. But I had hope that it may not be davis afterall. As I rushed to the scene, I found my brothers; Jonah, Joel, Nasser and Byron in panic and disbelief. Davis still had some life in him, at least we thought. Jonah was holding Davis’ hand and chest. I held Jonah’s back with burning tears forming in my eyes. I couldn’t bring myself to look at Davis. Our dear Davis.
Davis had been knocked unconscious and had fallen at the road’s side. Young energetic men had carried him into the middle of the road and created stone barricades at either side of the same. All motorized vehicles had been stopped on either side and the group that had now grown into a mob declared that Davis shall not be touched nor could any first aid he administered. They kept shouting ‘Nga bobi wine bwabeela mukifo police eyanguwa okutuuka naye akisidenti bwebawo barwaawo?’ Why does police rush to disperse political crowds involving Bobiwine but take their time to respond to casualty emergencies?, they went on.
In that moment, my brother had become an experiment. We were blocked from taking him to hospital. The mob declined to offer any help to Davis. They threatened to kill us if we dared to remove our brother. They owned him. He bled out on the cold road in our arms. We mourned him before he died. We could have done something. We would have tried. But we were denied. I can only imagine how scared and lonely he must have felt as he was leaving his body. That unlucky bastard. That unlucky son of the soil. But this is not a politically charged story however much the evil and indifference of those goons sickens me. This is a story of LOVE.
Davis would not have wanted me to be bitter. In his calm collected demeanor, he would have said ‘abo basonyiwe’. Forgive them.
My brother’s name ‘is’ Davis Byabashaija. I am not yet used to the pronoun ‘was’. You may wonder how Byabashaija whose name belongs to the far west of this country is brothers with Mangeni Jethro who clearly hails from the east-end. Here is the beginning of the love story;
Davis was born into our family in 2005. He was 14 years old at the time and I was 12. He was legally adopted by my parents who formerly became his foster parents. It was a large family with 9 boys at the time. He could speak a semblance of Luganda but you could tell that it was stained by a heavy Runyankore accent. Most of us hadn’t lost our innocence at the time and as such, it wasn’t a bad accent. It was a funny one.
At the time, it didn’t matter that people came from different parts of this country and Kanyankore (as our village shop keeper was referred to) wasn’t an insult either. It was a name. Davis told me that Omuchooli means maize where he comes from yet it meant something else where I grew up. We made fun of his mixed Luganda-Runyankore concoction, we laughed and got pissed with each other and over time our brotherhood was born.
Everybody in the family loved the son of the soil. Each of us wanted to go to the same school with Davis (Little matter that our dear father took all of us through the same schools). There was something electric about Davis. You could tell he was special. No wonder Davis topped his class at almost every level and even more so that he was the Head Boy of his primary school and the Deputy Head Prefect of Busoga College Mwiri in his Senior 3. Davis is the magnet that brought all of us together. No wonder up until last Sunday, he was my father’s closest ally and my mother’s most trusted confidant. Anyway, how did Davis end up in foster care!
In the year 2000, Davis’ mother based deep in Kati Village, Kashenshero, Mitooma District had seen something special in her son. He was in P.3 at the time but due to financial constraints, he was to end up uneducated like his elder siblings. She devised a plan to have him further his education. She gave Davis to a truck driver who dealt in ferrying ‘Matooke’ from western Uganda to the Capital. Davis was to work as a turn boy for the truck driver and earn his school fees. Davis was 9 years old.
The driver abandoned my brother in Owino market which was a maze that an adult could hardly decipher (We need to make the story shorter lest you get tired and abandon ship). Davis was adopted into the street by life’s cruel hands for two years. He was later adopted by an organisation called Retrack for rehabilitation until 2005 when he was adopted into a foster home. Our home.
Many years later when Davis could come up with figments of his ealier childhood and his initial home, we embarked on a journey to go find his biological parents. After getting lost for two days with most villagers telling us ‘gumizamu’, he finally recollected the route home. His bewildered parents took to their heels with blistering speed on seeing the ghost of their son whom they had assumed dead. After formal introductions and shared meals, the family of Mr. Mangeni was born into the family of Mr. Byaruhanga Abel. A love like this. A love that transcends tribe and economic status. I guess you see why this is a story of love.
This is my version of the story of love, but I am sure as day turns into night, that countless love stories can be written about my brother Davis. Davis’ body has been laid to rest in the land where his ancestors lie deep in Kashenshero, Mitooma District. He has left a beautiful daughter and an amazing wife Angella.
But I didn’t write this to tell you that Davis and I not only shared a birthday but also the unmatched love for Rhumba and Congolese music. From Mbilia Bel to Franco all the way to Les Wanyika. That is not why I wrote this story. I wrote this story to tell you that LOVE transcends politics and tribe. And that a love like this is the true definition of love.
Clocks slay time. Time is dead as long as its being clicked off the clock wheels. Only when the clock stops, does time come to life. Davis’ clock stopped on 7thMarch, 2021.
I pray for strength for our parents from Busia, our parents from Mitooma and all our siblings. May the son of the soil forever rest happily in our hearts.
Jethro Mangeni (His younger brother)