Fiction From the October 2013 issue: African Women, Indigenous Languages
David sits silently, staring at the reports in front of him. Words wobble on the page. He pulls one file closer and fingers the papers one by one. He twists his mouth. His cheeks follow the twist of the lips. His face contorts. He has to be ready for the cabinet meeting at 11 AM. His accountability report is one of the major items on the agenda. The other is the Succession to Presidency Bill.
David absentmindedly taps his Parker pen on the page. He reads from one line to the next and back to the beginning. He looks at the papers and the words form a strange pattern against the white background. He wants to command his mind not to stray but he does not have the will to do so. The contentious issue of succession to the presidency occupies the bigger part of his mind. As Minister for Presidency, he feels like an altar boy watching the priest swig the wine while he waits to receive and clean the empty glass. Now is the time.
The accountability report he is working on could cost the country billions if he does not handle it well. In fact, donors have already warned of an economic war if the government does not provide proper accountability. But who cares? For twenty-five years David has faithfully worked for the Republic of Kabira. For twenty-five years he has cared about nothing but the image of Kabira, first as a member of Parliament, then Minister for Public Service, and now Minister for Presidency. But what do the president and his vice-president do? Trot the globe, while he, David, does his work and also takes care of covering their tracks. They leave for two-day conferences and stay away for weeks. It is David that ensures that the accounts are balanced to include the nonofficial days.
Part of this accountability included one of the VP’s recent trips on government business. The VP took his mistress on a shopping spree in London. When it was discovered that all her expenses were paid for by taxpayers' money, David was asked to quickly dispel the rumor by creating a ghost minister who supposedly traveled with the VP. David told them it was not easy, but they thought it was all a joke. Now everything was back on his desk. Even when The Eye reported that the president's maternal aunt had used the presidential jet to attend her daughter’s wedding in France, it was David that accounted for that trip. They seemed to think he was a magician.
David was tired of covering up for them. When Mistress No. 5 threatened to kill the president and locked him up in her room for over an hour, it was David he called to help sort it out.
“These women will kill you, boss,” David told him.
“It was a small issue.”
“I know. But stop going to their homes.”
“And then what?”
“Exactly. And then what?”
“Boss, you can see what to do.”
“Good. Then see what to do and let me know.” David wanted to tell him that was not part of his job description, but kept quiet. In a few days, a house was ready. Sometimes David saw the acute hunger that lingered in these women’s eyes, but it was not his duty to offer solutions or even to ask questions.
David pushes the files aside. He pushes back his chair and stands up. He walks to the water dispenser to the left of his desk. He fills a paper cup with lukewarm water and downs it in one gulp. He does not like the taste.
He walks back toward his desk, crushes the paper cup in his left hand, and smiles wryly at the crumpled paper. It is the VP in his hands. He throws him in the trashcan. His mind briefly turns to his administrative assistant. He has repeatedly told him to requisition another trashcan to place near the water cooler so that he can throw away his empty cups right there. It bothers him to throw them in the trash basket near his desk. And he prefers the little brown basket for used cups in the VP’s office. But his assistant keeps forgetting. The man is very forgetful. Like David, he forgets most things, even those he is supposed to ensure that David should not forget. He makes a mental note in preparation for the assistant’s next performance review.
David stares at the Accountability Report again, but he does not sit down to continue with it. Instead, he opens the door and walks into the corridor toward the VP’s office. “Maybe he can advise on the trip to London,” he hisses as he heads to the office. He lingers in front of the door. He can hear muffled voices inside. David suspects that he might be on the phone to the president backbiting other ministers, or soliciting support from colleagues, as he always does with David. He listens, but cannot make out anything.
He feels like opening the door and stuffing the VP into one of the old closets, where he would be discovered a week or so later. A tingling sensation creeps inside his nose. His lips tighten over his teeth. Before he is overtaken by emotion, he hears movement in the room. The visitor or whoever it is is getting up. David hurries off toward the end of the corridor, stretching his long arms and legs in an exaggerated manner. He then turns and heads back to his office.
“That’s some good exercise,” Badru, a colleague from another office, calls.
“Stretching my legs,” David flashes him a smile.
“You wanted the VP?”
“I just thought.”
“Ah. OK. No. I was just stretching my legs.”
“I hear you have a cabinet meeting this morning? Have you been informed?"
“Yes, of course. Why?”
"I just asked.”
“Ah, OK. Yes.” David interrupts him and walks away back into his office. He knows Badru very well. He knows that he is not just asking but he does not pursue the subject. He does not want to. A green snake in green grass. But David likes him. At least he rustles in the grass and you notice his presence. Other snakes just spring before you notice them. Badru is not part of the cabinet but he knows more about what goes on in cabinet circles than the ministers themselves do. And it is rumored that he is the president’s ear. But other people say that the president does not trust him entirely. David does not, either. Not that it matters.
David reaches for the inner door that leads into his restroom. He does not have any urge to use it but he likes the idea of just being there for a little while. In there, he is able to think uninterrupted, or not think at all. In there, he does not have to try to please anyone, not even the president. In there, he does not have to hide his true feelings toward the VP. He unzips his navy blue trousers. As a little urine trickles into the bowl, an image of the VP forms in his mind. The VP's face is the bowl. As David shakes the last drops off his member, he wonders how the president came to consider Jacob for vice-president. Jacob is an imbecile. Almost senile. Maybe that is the reason he was chosen.
He hears a knock on the door and hurries out.
No one enters. Perhaps the knock was on another door in the corridor. He dismisses the thought David turns to the Donors’ Graft and Assessment Paper and his Accountability Report on his desk. As he turns the pages, he remembers the president’s directive. “Read the report and analyze it, then prepare a defense report which will be discussed in cabinet before it is presented to the donor group. Do not give any information to the press,” the president had said. “If they call, tell them you have not seen the donors’ paper yet. You know them. They will call and press for information. That is certain. Do not tell them anything.”
“Yes, Your Excellency.”
“Just tell them that we shall hold a press conference as soon as the report gets into your hands. OK?”
“Yes, Your Excellency.”
“The rest, you know what to do and not to do.”
David picks up his pen and starts to scan the paper. His lips twist as he underlines more statements.
David has keenly followed the speculation in the press and the rumors among cabinet ministers about the likely successor to the president. He taps his foot violently as he ponders the number of times that the VP came out at the top of the list of the likely successors. Only once was David’s name mentioned among the potential candidates. By that time he had not thought about it much and had not even told anyone about it. He was just being a good man. Then there was that press survey in which he was voted the most honest cabinet minister of Kabira. Whereas many ministers were named in several scandals, David’s name remained clean. He was happy with himself. He felt good that his fellow countrymen thought warmly about him. That was then. Now, it is different. He wants the presidency more than any other resident of Kabira. And he had done a lot for the country already as Minister for the Presidency.
David stretches his legs and shakes them. The Succession Bill sits in his stomach like a hundred-ton stone. The bill is to determine many things: whether the president should name a successor, whether the electorate should vote for potential candidates, whether potential candidates can freely declare their interest, whether the country should remain a one-party state, and a lot more. But even without the succession bill, the rumbles of rumor and speculation are already shaking up things. It is not easy to predict a country that has not held elections since the president took over power after bloody guerrilla warfare.
What is clear to David, and the rest of the people, is that the president will not run for election. He has said it himself. “Now that I have built a peaceful state and successful economy, I would like to retire and give others the chance to prove themselves,” he says at almost every meeting and gathering. David hopes that the president is aware of his potential. “If he names me as his possible successor, all his supporters will rally behind me. But the imbecile VP has asked me for support.” David remembers the day the VP called him to his office promising to discuss something very important for both of them. David’s blood pressure had shot up that week, but he canceled his appointment with the physician to be in the VP’s office on time.
“Something important for both of us?” he had asked him.
“Yes. For both of us,” the VP had confirmed.
When David entered the office, the VP secured the door behind him.
“You see, son, our President is retiring soon,” the VP, belching, told him.
“Yes, His Excellency has said so.”
“What do you think?”
“What were you thinking?”
“You see, he is Muslim while you and I are Christians.”
“I hear you.”
“Twenty-five years of Islamic rule!”
“I hear you, Sir. I hear you. What were you thinking? You are giving me ideas.”
“Exactly. That is why I called you.”
“I am listening, Sir.”
“As I said, you and I are Christians. We have to do something.”
“Hmm . . . hmm . . . hmm.”
“Yes. And so, who do you think is the best candidate to replace him other than the man that has deputized him all these years? We have to share the National Cake too.”
The VP’s use of the word “we,” as if they were husband and wife, irritated David. He desperately wants to tell the VP to be equally as enthusiastic about baking the National Cake as he is about sharing it, but he joins the VP in loud laughter, the kind shared by people who are not sure how to laugh together.
“But you see, Sir, it might not be as easy as you think. There might be many people interested in this cake, as you call it,” David had responded in between spasms of forced laughter. “It might not be about religion, region, or even age.” The word “age” came out of his pursed lips with precision. To end the conversation, he added, “Sir, I will support you, not because we share a religion but because I believe in your abilities.”
David cannot forgive himself for that statement. The imbecile took him for his every word. The VP’s assumptions make David sick to the ends of his toes. To the tips of his hair.
Another time, they were in a meeting to form a committee to coordinate the Kabira Rapid Response Initiative (URRI). David was riding waves of uncertainty, waiting for someone to nominate him, when he received a note from the VP. It was on such committees David saw people prove their worth. The press too sought out such people. David smiled as he opened the note. He was grateful to the VP for thinking about him at least this once. When he read the note, he took a very deep breath and emptied his face of all expression before he looked up at the VP. He took another deep breath and another. He then lowered his eyes and read the note again. It was brief and to the point. “David, please nominate me. I would like to serve on this committee. Thank you.” David had never felt his arm so heavy and his tongue so thick as he nominated Jacob. As soon as he volunteered the name, he closed his eyes and prayed that no one seconded his motion. Not only was the VP seconded to the committee, he became the chairman as well. At the end of the meeting, the VP came to David and said, “Son, I saw you praying for me after you nominated me. I am so proud of you.”
“Thank you too.” They shook hands.
David looks at his BlackBerry. The time flashes. An hour and a half have shot past since he got into office. He has done nothing substantial. He pulls the Accountability Report closer and remembers the words of Dr. Joseph Murphy, in his Power of the Subconscious Mind: People have the power to change their thought patterns. He takes another deep breath and invites his mind to refocus. The meeting is crucial.
At eleven o’clock, David sits in the committee room ready for his presentation. His immaculate white shirt and blue bow tie belie his anxiety. In the committee room, the president and a few members of the committee are already seated.
Today the whole cabinet is here. When they talk, their words do not come from their depths. They come from their lips. Something else—the Donors’ Graft and Assessment Paper or the Succession Bill—sits deeper.
David watches the president as he stands up to address the House. As usual, he starts with comments on the growing economy and how important it is for leaders to work together and to support one another in order for the nation to progress. David listens as the president talks about the unstable global political and economic climate and adds that Kabira needs leaders who will guide the nation through this instability.
“For that matter, I have made several consultations with very reliable political analysts and they have advised that at the moment it is unwise to table the succession bill. It is better that the situation stabilizes before we subject the nation to any big changes.”
David watches members of the house nod their heads in slow motion. He is not sure whether it is in agreement or in confusion.
“Our plate is already full.” The president clears his throat and continues, “It is therefore important that I let you know that today we shall not discuss the Succession to Presidency Bill. Again, I have consulted and we have agreed that when the time comes, whoever among you wants to run for office, you will battle it out with your opponents. It is only your works that will make you President of this great nation.” David feels an urge to ask the President when the time will come, but he does not. Certain statements are safer left unspoken.
“In addition, I would like you to know that people have asked me to run again. But, of course, I have not said yes yet. I am not sure I want to run again. I feel tired already. But we shall see when the time comes.”
David places his right hand on the files in front of him while his left hand plays with his pen. He looks around the room but the faces show no emotion. Even the VP’s face is blank, save for the little beads of sweat claiming his forehead and his nose despite the cool morning.
David shifts his eyes from the VP and looks through the window at a flock of white birds moving in one direction. The eaglets flip their wings in unison and glide through the air. He wonders how the lead bird got to the front and whether the birds following are aware of where the lead bird is taking them.
“For now, we shall look at the Donors’ Graft and Assessment Paper and see what the Honorable David Okello has for us. David, you have the floor.” David is still looking at the white birds.
“David, the floor is yours,” the President repeats. When David turns, he wants to scream, “Imbecile!” He smiles and says,
“Thank you, Mr. President.”
“Okuteeka Keeki Y’eihanga” © Hilda Twongyeirwe. By arrangement with the author. Translation © 2013 by Juliet Kushaba. All rights reserved.
Daudi yashutama, yahunama. Amaisho agahaangire za ripoota eziri omumaisho gye. Ebigambo nabireeba kwonka bambi ari nkotarikubireeba. Biri nk’ebirigurukyeera aharupapura n’omumutwe gwe. Reeba yakurura fairo yagyehisya reeru yaakuburira empampura; rumwe, orwakabiri, orwakashatu…. Byayanga. Yamyoora omunwa embari ya bumosho, okwo yagwihayo yagutooza aha embari buryo. Amatama nago gayehotora nk’omunwa. Buziima yaabihirwa n’ahameisho yashoberwa. Ariyo naatekateeka orukiiko rwa beebembezi ba gavumenti orwayine kutebekanisiza kurugiirira aha za ripoota ezi, obwo zitakahikire shaha itaano z’akasheshe. Ripoota y’enshohoza nikyo kintu kikuru ekiine okutensebwaho omurukiiko oru. Ekya kabiri eky’okutensebwaho n’ekirikukwata ahaby’obutegyeki, nkwoku eihanga rishemereire kuronda Mukuru w’eihanga, Presidenti, orikwiija kuza omu bigyere by’oriho hati.
Omusheija Daudi yashoberwa. Ngugwe naazaanisa akacumu ke arikukahuubahuuba omungaro, arikuteekateeka ebiteekateeko nk’omutwaro. Ripoota nashoma omushororongo gumwe, aza ahagundi kwonka byanga reeru agaruka ahuyatandikira. Ebigambo ebi arikushoma tibiri kumukorera makuru. Nayenda kuragiira omutwe gwe kufayo aha ripoota ekahwa kwonka omutwe nagwo ebyo tibyo guriho. Ekintu ky’ensikirano ya mukuru w’eihanga nikyo kyijwiire omu mutwegwe. Mbwenu, we nka Minisita w’ebyobwa Prezidenti, nahurira arikutwazibwa nk’omwojo w’omu Kelezia enkanturiki, abari kuheereza aharutaari. Nomanya oku barikwemerera bakareeba omusaserodooti naamira ka viinyo koona koona buzima, obwe bo barinzire okwakiira bakwozya egiraasi erimubusha. Nikwe Daudi arikuhurira hati. Okurinda abandi baragira.
Ripoota y’enshohoza eyi ariyo naakora neebaasa kureetera eihanga ryafeerwa obuhumbi n’obuhumbi bw’esente yaaba atagiteireho mutima akagikoragye. Nangwa, ebitongore ebirikuha eihanga eri obuyambi byamazire okurarika ngu nibiza okushara aha buyambi obubibaire nibiheereza gavumenti, yaaba gavumenti etahiire ripoota nungi y’enshohoza za sente z’ebyo ebitongore. Kwonkashi nooha orikufayo?
Daudi we nk’omuntu, amazire emyaka mingi arikukorera eihanga rya Kabira n’obwesigwa kandi arikufayo munoonga. Egi myaka yoona abiri n’etaano abire atarikufa ahakiintu ekindi okwihaho eiziina n’ekitiniisa kya Kabira. Akabanza kukora nka memba wa paramenti, okwo yaarugayo yaaba Minisita w’ebyabakozi ba gavumenti, reru hati yaba Minisita we byo bwa Purezindenti. Kwonka kuri noomanya Purezidenti hamwe n’omuhwezi we ebi barikukora? Eh? Mbwenu bo, ekyaabo n’okumaza ensi amaguru obwe we Daudi arikukora egye haza akataho n’okubayamba kushwekyerera ebibarikukora byona. Obu baryaho nibagyenda kujwekyera eihanga omu mateerane g’ebiro bibiri kwonka bamarayo esabiiti ibiri obumwe n’okushobamu. Ebyo byona, Daudi niwe birikureeba, kureebeka ngu ebitabo by’enshohoza yaabo byahandiikwa gye birikubashwekerera.
Mbwenu ebimwe ebiri omu ripoota ye egi eyenshohoza n’orugyendo rw’omuhwezi wa Purezidenti obu yaajwekyera eihanga omurukiiko Landani. Mazima ateine nshoni, akasharamu we yatwara n’amaraaya we. Orukiiko kurwahweire, omukazi yamutwara omu maduuka, buzima yaamugurira buri kimwe ekiyabire naayenda. Mbwenu kukyazoirwe ngu enshohoza y’omukazi ogu yoona ekakorwa aha sente z’omuhi womushoro, ni Daudi owashabirwe okushara amagyezi okubuzabuza amakuru ago. Ahonaho, bambe akahangahanga Minisita ondijo reeru yaagamba ngu ogwo Minista niwe yagyenzire n’omuhwezi wa Purezidenti. Kwonka kuyamazire kukibuzabuza, yaabagambira oku kitaanguhi kubuzabuza ekintu ekyo. Kwonka bo tibamuhurikiza baabyeta eby’okuzaana.
Hati ripoota ngigi yagaruka aha meeza ye yamutagarika. Manya ripoota egi eyine bingi. N’enyonyi ya mukuru w’eihanga eyabaire yaagambirweho omumakuru g’orupapura orwa Erisho - The Eye, okuyatweire nyinento arikuza ahabugyenyi bw’omuhara bw’okugeitwa Bufaransa. Ekyo kukyagambirwe, nabwe ni Daudi owahandikire ripoota yenshohoza egyo. Mbwenu mbibi byona byagaruki n’ekibuuza. ‘Nibashusha abarikuteekateeka ngu nyowe ninkora Magika. Noshusha ngu nibantamika empitirizo reeru bategyereza ngu ncwera keeki. Bagyenzi,’ naayeebuza.
Okugaamba amazima, Daudi aruhire okushwekyerera ebikorwa byabo ebitiine mutwe nakibunu. Eizooba rimwe, omwe ahabakazi abu Purezidenti arikukwana akasibirana Purezidenti omunju yamutiinatinisa kumwiita. Buzima akahara kakamukingirana omukishengye okumara obwire burikurenga ahashaha. Daudi niwe Purezidenti yaayesire kumuyamba. Obwe manya akamugira ati, ‘Ija hati hati onyambe, natuunga akazibu kakye.’ Okufa nookyeta akazibu kakye? Daudi we akamubeera owa mazima yamugira ati, ‘Abakazi aba nibaza kukwita mukama wangye.’ Onu nawe ati; ‘Ako kaaba kari akazibu kakye.’
‘Nikwe tinayaanga. Kwonka orekyere aho okuza omumaju gababakazi aba.’ Ogwe ni Daudi.
‘Nanye nikyo ndikubuuza. Reeru naaba ntagiireyo nimbitwaza nta?’
‘Mukama wangye, nozakureeba ekyokukora.’
‘Aha. Hati mbwenu, nyamba ondeebere ekyokukora reeru ongambire. Ekyo naakikurekyera.’ Daudi akaba nayenda kumugambira ngu ebyo bikaba bitari bimwe ahaby’omurimo gwe kwonka akasharamu yaahunama yaakora eki Purezidenti yaamushabire. Omubiro bikye, enju ekaba yayombekirwe. Mbwenu Purezidenti naakunda abakazi kwonka emirundi mingi Daudi nareeba enjara mpango ahamaisho gaabo bakazi kwonka we ebyo taine kakwate nabyo.
Manya na hati fairo zikimutegyereize. Mbenu hati yaazisiindika aharubajju. N’entebbe ngijo yaagisindika reeru yaayemerera. Yaatambura yaaza aha kooma kamaizi aha mukono gwabumosho gwe’emeeza ye. Yatangisiriza amaizi garikutagata omukakopo k’ekipapura reeru yagoohayo omurundi gumwe. Kwonka muntu we, amaizi nagwo tigamugirira nsha.
Okwo yaarugayo, yatambura nakakopo yagaruka aha meeza ye. Akakopo yaakiimata arikumwenyerera, kwonka obwo ekiniga kiri eky’okumwita. Akakopo akareeba kamuhindukira omuhwezi wa Purezidenti owayine omungaro. Amutambiika omu bokisi yakasasiro. Atyo ebiteekateeko bye byahinduka omukanya bwanya byaza aha mwojo owu arikukora nawe nk’omuhwezi we omu ofisi. Amugaambiire emirundi mingi mononga okushaba akabokisi ka kasasiro akandi akokuteeka haihi namaizi kugira ngu omuntu yaaheza kunyweera omukakopo, akatambike mukabokisi atagire kutambura nako. Eby’okutambika akakopo karimu otwiizi omu kabokisi akaharubaju rw’emeeza ye nibimubuza obusingye. Nayenda atungye akabokisi akaikushusha nk’ak’omu ofisi y’omuhwezi wa Purezidenti kwonka omwojo we naaguma naayebwa buri bwarikushaba ebindi bintu. Omwojo ogu naayebwa burikimwe. Nawe ni nka Daudi. Naayebwa ebintu bingi oteireho n’ebyo ebi ayine kwijusya Daudi. Daudi yayeraganisa eki araamuhaandikyeho obunaku bwokugamba ahamikorere ye bwaheza kwihika.
Daudi eby’amaizi hati yaabirugaho. Ngugwe yaagaruka amaisho yaagahanga ripoota y’enshohoza kwonka tiyashutama kugimaririza. Omutiima gwagaruka ow’omuhwezi wa Mukuru weihanga. Ngugwe yeigura orwigi yashohora yaaza kumuroonda. Ati, ‘obundi akampabura aha by’orugyendo rwa Landani,’ yaagamba wenka. Ku yaayigirira ofisi, yaahurira amaraka enyima y’orwiigi. Nawe omu mwanya gw’okutaahamu yaguma aheeru y’orwigi. Naahurira amaraka kwonka tarikuhurira bigambo. Yateekateeka ngu omuhwezi ari ahasimu nagambuura ba minisita abandi ahari Purezidenti, ninga nashaba obuhagizi ahari bataahi be nkokwu arikushaba Daudi burijjo. Yayecumitiriza kuhuriragye kwonka byayanga.
Obwe manya we Daudi ekiniga kyamukwasire. Nahurira nkokwenda kwigura orwigi akasindika omuhwezi wa Purezidenti omu kikabada kimwe eki arikumanya ngu tikirikwigurwa buriizooba. Mbwenu ekyo kuyaakukikora, ekisheija bakakishanga mukikabada bwanyima y’esabiiti nk’emwe ninga ibiri. Ebyo bikiri aho, yahurira ebigeere omunda omu ofisi. yaamanya ngu omugyenyi narishi omuntu weena ari omu ofisi ariyo nayimuka. Atyo Daudi yahanyaguza arikuteera entambo ndeigwa, arikutambika eminaga ye y’emikono kwebuzabuza. Yaheza yahinduka yakwata ogwa ofisi ye kwonka atakahikireyo, ahurira heine owamweta, ‘Hmm, ekyo ekisasayizi nikirungi.’ ogwe in Badru, mugyenzi wa Daudi owu bahereraine za ofisi.
‘Ndi kunanuura amaguru,’ Daudi yaamubeiha naamwenya.
‘Waba noyenda Omuhwezi wa Purezidenti?’
‘Aah. Ngaha. Naba niinanuura amaguru. Okushutama munoonga nikirusya. ’
‘Hari mwine orukiiko rwa ba minisita akasheshe aka?
‘Eeih! Ahabwaki noobuza?’
‘Aah. Eego. Orukiiko turwine.’ Daudi yaayebuzabuza ebi Badru arikwenda kwongyeraho, yaatambura yaaza omu ofisi ye. Ebya Badru nabimanya gye. Namanya ngu obuyabuuza ati, tikuri kubuuza bubuuza beitu ayine ebyarikwenda kwongyeraho ebi we atarikwenda kuzamu. Baduru ni nk’enjoka y’eibara rya kijubwe eri omu binyaatsi. Kwonka Daudi namukunda. Hakiri we natengatengyesa ebyo binyaatsi omanya ku arimu. Ezindi enjoka nizikugurikira otazimanyire. Ekokureeberaho, Badru ogu ti Minisita kwonka beitu naamanya byona ebirikufa omu ma ofisi gaabo okusinga bo benyine. N’engaambo nizitambatambura ngu niwe ‘Kutu’ kwa Purezidenti nobuharabe hariho abarikugira ngu Purezidenti tarikumwesiga. Tukugira ngu eki ni kikuru ahari Daudi omumuringo gwoona.
Daudi yaaza omu kashengye kye kokweyambiramu. Tikugira ngu nayenda kweyamba kwonka nayenda kukeyambisa omuringo ogundi. Naayenda kumarayo akiire, abase kuteekateeka aha bintu ebi byoona hataine ari kumuteganisa. Nangwa yaayenda naayehunamira areka n’okuteekateeka nakamwe. Omu toyireti tayine kuboonabona nokugyezaho kushemeza omuntu weena, kaabe Purezidenti. Takwetaga kushereka okwakuhurira aha muntu weena. Ngugwe yaagumizamu yaaza aha toyireti yashumurura zipu y’empare ye ya bururu atyo atandika kushesha. Kwonka ku ataandika kushesha ati, ebiteekateeko bye bishuba bigyenda muntu we areeba ekibakuri kya toyireti kyahindukamu omutwe gw’omuhweezi wa Purezidenti. Atyo amureeba ati, 'Omuhwezi ogwu Yakobo n’omusiru baasi kandi nink’omushazi. Shana obuundi ekyo nikyo kyakuhisize omurimo.’ Ekibakuri nakyo kiti ohurire nkugarukemu.
Daudi kuyaaba akiri okwe, yaahurira nka kodi aharwigi rwa ofisi ye reeru yarahuka yaaugayo, ati, ‘Taahamu.’
Tihaine ayaataahamu. Shana kodi yaaba eri aha rwigi orundi. Ekyo yaakirugaho yaagaruka aha za ripoota ezishutami aha meeza ye. Ayijuka Purezidenti ekyamugambiire, ati; ‘Shoma ripoota egi, ogyetengyereze reeru neiwe ohandikye endiijo eyokugihozaho. Nitwiija kugigaaniiraho na ba Minisita tutakagiheire ekitongore eki. Otagira kiwagambira abashaki bamakuru,’ Purezidenti nikwe amugambiire. Ayongeraho ati; ‘Kubarateere esimu, obagyire ngu tokarebire kihandiiko kuruga omukitongore ebirikuha obuyambi. Abashaki b’amahurire noobamanya ebyaabo. Nibateere esimu babuuza, bacumitiriza barikwenda amakuru. Otagira ekiwagamba.’
‘Iwe kubarakuteganise, bagambire ngu nituza kugiraho orukiiko rwabanyamahurire ripoota yahika eti omungaro zaawe. Tikyekyo?’
‘Ebyasigara, naiwe nomanya eky’okukora.’
Ebyo byona Daudi yaabijuka. Hati yakwata akacumu ke yaagaruka aha ripoota n’omutima gumwe. Atyo ashoma nashara emisitari ahabunyiriri obwine mu ebyokugarukamu. Buri kushara omusitaari omunwa nigwezunguza omumuringu ogutarikwetegyerezibwa.
Daudi obwokumureeba atuura nakuratira okutebereza kwabanyamahurire n’orugambo kuruga aha ba Minisita aha bikwatireine n’orikubaasa kutwara obwa Purezidenti ogu oriho yaarugaho. Hati yaateerateera ekigyere kye ahansi n’ekiniga arikwijuka emirundi yoona eyi omuhwezi wa Purezidenti abire ow’okubanza aha mutwe gw’amaziina gaabo abi empapura z’amahurire zirikuteebereza ngu nibabaasa kwija kutwara obwa Purezidenti. Ekirikushasha Daudi, n’okugira ngu we, eizina rye rikaza omumahurire ago omurundi gumwe gwonka. Obwire obwo akaba nangwa eby’obwa Purezidenti atakabiteekateekireho munoonga kandi akaba ateine owuyakigambiireho. We, akaba naakora emirimo ye nkaburijjo. Bwanyima abanyamahurire bakamuhinguza nkaminisita wa Kabira orikusinga omumazima n’obwesigwa. Ba Minisita bingi bakabagambaho amafukure, kwonka Daudi we eizina rye rikaguma niryera tiitiiti. Eki kikamukora gye munoonga. Akashemererwa kureeba ngu, abantu ba burijjo nibakunda enkora ye. Ebyo byona bikabaho ira. Obwa hati, tikugira ngu nikimushemeza kwonka. Buzima naahurira naayenda munoonga kuba Purezidenti. Nangwa naabaasa kuba naasinga abandi boona okwetenga engoma. Kandi naiwe nookireba ngu akoreire eihangarye bingi nka minisita.
Daudi yananuura amaguru gye. Ekintu ky’oratwaare obwa Purezidenti kyamusimba omunda nk’eibaare rya tani igana. Bo nka ba Minisita, baine kusharaho ebintu bingi omurukiiko orubarikuzamu omukasheshe aka; oba Purezidenti niwe arashareho owokumugaruka omubigyere, oba ekitongore ky’eby’oburuuru kirateeze obururu, oba abarikwenda entebe barayesimbeho, oba eihanga rirasigare ryine ekibiina kimwe, oba nihaza kwesimbaho ebibiina bingi, n’ebindi n’ebindi. Nobu kitakubaire ekihandiiko eki, orugambo hamwe n’enteebereza nibitinisa. Ebintu by’eihanga eritakateraga oburuuru kuruga Purezidenti aza aha ngoma yaaruga omukishaka nabyo bigumire okutebereza.
Daudi ekyarikumanya gye, nk’abanyeihanga abandi, n’okugira ngu Purezidenti tarayesimbeho omurundi ogundi. Ebiro ebi, Purezidenti naaguma nagiira ati, ‘Hati obu naheza kutereeza obusingye bw’eihanga eri hamwe n’ebyentatsya yaryo, ninyenda kuruga aha ngoma nkahereza abandi omugisha nabo bakworeka eki barikubaasa kukora.’ Purezidenti eki naakigamba buri rukiiko n’oruteerane orwarikuzaho. Daudi naashaba munoonga ngu Purezidenti abe naamanya ngu nawe naabaasa entebe. Ati; ‘Nka yandangirira nk’omuntu arikubaasa kumuza omubigyere, burimuntu arikumuhagira nanye akampa obuhagizi bwe. Kwonka ogwo omusiru omuhweezi wa Purezidenti anshabire kumuhagira.’ Atyo ayijuka obu omuhweezi wa Purezidenti yamweeta omu ofisi ngu nibaza kugamba ahanshonga nkuru erikukwata aharibo bombi. Puresha ya Daudi ekaba etembire esabiiti egyo kwonka akeefereza okureeba dokita we, beitu ngu obwo akagaaniira n’omuhwezi wa Purezidenti. ‘Nekintu kyomugasho ahabwa twembi.’ Nikwe yaamugizire.Onu nawe ati Buzima?”
Omuwhezi ati, “Eego buzima, n’ekyeitu tweena.” kahamya.
Eryo izooba Daudi kuyaatahire omu ofisi omuhwezi wa Purezidenti yaataho orwiigi, kworekyera kimwe ngu ebi baazamu n’eby’omuboonano.
Atyo atandika ati, ‘Hati noreeba mutabani wangye, Purezidenti weitu naaza kurekura entebe juba juba,’ Obwo ahari buri kigambo, akaba naatura omubi nk’omushema.
Reeru Daudi nawe amugarukamu ati, ‘Eego nikwe. Purezidenti nakigamba.’
Ati, ‘Iwe nookigambaho ki ekyo?’
Onu nawe ati, ‘Iwe waaba nookiteekateeka ho ki?’
Ati, ‘Nooreeba, Purezidenti owu twine hati, we n’omusilamu. Kandi iwe nanye turi abakurisitaayo.’
Onu ahuuma ati, ‘Hmm.’
‘Emyaka abiri n’etaano turikutegyekwa omusiramu! Iwe torikukireeba?’
Daudi ati, ‘Hmm.’ Ati, ‘Nkuhurire sebo. Mbenu nenki ekyi orikuteekateeka? Manya hati oriyo noompa ebiteekateeko bingi mbwenu gamba gamba mpurire.’
Ati, ‘Manya nikwe. Naanye nikyo naakweetera.’
‘Nkoku nakugambira, iwe naanye turi abakurisitaayo. Neitwe twiine kugira ekitwakora ho.’
‘Eego manya ndiyo ninkugambira.’ Manya amwigirira, ati ‘Mbenu hati, noogira ngu nooha arikubaasa kumuza omubigyere okusiinga nyowe omushaija atwiire ari omuhweezi we egi myaaka yoona? Kandi nooreeba naitwe twiine okubagana keeki y’eihanga.’
Daudi atyo bimushobera. Omuringo ogwu omuhweezi wa Purezidenti arikukozesamu ekigambo ‘naitwe’ nikimubuza obusingye. Buzima nakikozesa oshushana ngu ninkw’omusheija hamwe n’omukyara we. Eryo izooa Daudi akahurira yaribwaribwa arikwenda kumugambira ngu ashemereire kufayo aha kuteeka keeki yeihanga nkoku arikufayo ahakugibagana. Nangwa atyo aza kukigamba kwonka kuyabaire yayeshamisa eminwa, omutima gwayanga reeru yayebuzabuza yaayeshesya n’obu yaabaire nahurira eihano.
Kuyaaherize kuhurikiza, amugambira ati, ‘Kwonka nomanya Sebo, nikibaasa kuba kitanguhi nkokwu orikuteekateeka. Nihabaasa kuba hariho abandi bantu baingi abarikwenda keeki egi nk’okuwagyeeta.’ Daudi agarukamu arikusheka. ‘Nikibaasa n’obutagira kakwaate n’adiini, engaanda, nangwa n’emyaaka.’ Ekigaambo ‘emyaaka’ kikaruga omu kanwa n’obwegyendesereza. Kwenda ngu bahereze aho okugaaniira Daudi akongyeraho ati, ‘Ninza kukuhagira, hatari ahabw’okugira ngu turi ab’ediini emwe kwonka nimanya ngu nobaasa.’ Daudi akeefuuza ekiyaagaambiire ekyo kandi na hati takakyesaasira ga. Omusiru akaikiriza buri nyuguta ahayindi. Kandi nakimanya gye ngu omumusheija ogwo, hariho obu arikutwara abaantu nkabatarikwetegyereza. Ekyo nikiganzya munoonga.
Hariho n’obundi obubabaire bari omurukiiiko rw’okutandiikaho akakiiko kw’okwebembera Kabira Rapid Response Initiative (KRRI) – Ekibiina Ky’okwirukirara aba Kabira. Omurukiiko orwo, Daudi akaba ariyo naashaba ngu hakaagira owatayo eiziina rye. Aho naaho, akatunga akabaruha karikuruga ow’omushaija ogwo. Daudi akashemererwa habw’okuba akaba naamanya ngu omubukiiko nkobwo nimwo abantu boona barikukira kworekyeramu emyooga yaabo. Mbwenu akamwenyo kakaba kari ahamaishogye obwo arikukuburira akabaruha ako. Akaba ashemereirwe ahabwokugira ngu omuhweezi wa Purezidenti mbwenuho akamuteekateekaho. Kuyashomire, akabaruha, yabanza banza omwiso gwaburabura. Atyo ayesiimura ahamaisho kugira ngu yaaza kwimusya omutwe kureeba ahukaruga, batamushoma ebi arikuteekateeka. Akeinama yaagarukamu yashoma akabaruha kwonka ebigambo bikaguma biri bimwe. Kakaba kari kagufu kandi karikuhikira ahanshonga, kati, ‘Daudi, mwana wangye heerezayo eiziina ryangye. Ninyenda kuhereza aha kakiiko aka. Webare.’ Daudi akaimutsya omukoono yaakora eki akabaruha kamushabire. Kwonka buzimazima akaba atakahurira ga omukono gwe gurikuremera gutyo n’orurimi rwe rwekwasire rutyo nkoku byabiire arikuheerezayo eiziina rya Yakobo. Kuyaherize kuriheerezayo ati, yahumiza yashaba ngu hatagira owashemba Yakobo. Kwonka mbenu, tibaramushembire kwonka. Ababisha bakamuha n’obw’obwebembezi bw’akakiiko. Orukiiko kurwahweire, Yakobo yatambura yaza owa Daudi yaamugira ati, ‘Mwana wangye, naakureeba noonshabira obwo waheeza kutayo eiziina ryangye. Mwana wangye n’onyesimisa.’
Daudi nawe ati, ‘Webare.’
Onu nawe ati ‘Webare munonga.’ Batyo bakwatana omungaro. Ebyo byona bikabaho ira ho. Daudi yaaba naaza kubyebwa hashuba haijamu ebindi. Nka hati, ripoota yamubuza obusingye. Atyo aza ahasimu ye kureeba eshaha ahizzaahika. Ashanga ngu okwiha naahika omu ofisi hahinguuraho eshaaha n’ekyicweeka beitu tihariho eky’omugasho kihango ekiyakozire. Ngugwe yaakurura ripoota yaagyehisya reeru yaayijuuka ebigaambo by’omukugu, Yosefu Murphy, omukitabo kye; Amaani g’omuntu Ow’omunda (The Power of the Subconcious Mind) omu arikugra ngu; Abantu beine amaani go kuhindura enteekateeka yabo.
Atyo Daudi nawe ayegambira ku ayine amaani gw’okukora eki arikwenda. Reero taata ashuba akurura ripoota obwo arikugira ati, ‘Orukiiko oru norwamaani mbwenu nyine kukora ekirikubaasika ntashwara.’
Shaaha itaano zaahika, Daudi ashutami omu kishengye omu akakiiko karikushutama. Yaayetebekanisa ebi araagambe kandi mbabo bari hakye n’okutandika. Manya obwo yaataho ekoti. Reeru taata ajweire n’esaati erikweera n’etaayi ya bururu bitarikubaasa kworeka oku yaabonabona omukasheshe arikutoorana eky’okujwara.
Erizooba ba minisita boona bariho. Kwonka muntu we kubarikugamba, noohurira ngu ebibagambo tibirikuruga aha mitima yaabo. Nibagamba ebigambo buzima naiwe ohurira ngu nibiruga aha minwa. Boona tibarikushoborora. Kwonka nagwa nikabaasa kuba ekihandiiko ky’amatendero g’ebitongore ebikuha eihanga obuyambi neinga ekihandiiko ky’ebyobutegyeki bwa Purezidenti.
Ku bamara kutebenkana Purezidenti yaayimuka kwigura orukiiko. Daudi yaamukurasa amaisho. Nka buriijo, Purezidenti yaatandiikana n’ebyentasya y’eihanga ebyeyongire hamwe n’okubagambira oku kirikwetengesa abebembezi ba gavumenti okukwatanisa bakakorera hamwe eihanga rikagyenda omumaisho. Abagambira aha butabanguko obwehinguririize ensi kandi hamwe n’ebibashemereire kukorera. Agumiza ati, ‘Kabira neyenda abebembezi abaragirabye omubwire obugumire nk’obu. N’ahabwekyo, nyebuurize ah’abantu beingi abarikwetegyereza ebwobutegyeki bampabura ngu obwiire obu tikyamagyezi kutandiika eby’okushwijuma ekihaandiiko ky’ebw’obwebembezi bwa Kabira. Nikirungi twarinda eihanga rikabanza ryatuuza tutakateiremu empinduka.’
Obwo Purezidenti naagamba, Daudi naareeba ba memba bakakiiko barikuzuunguza emitwe mpora mpora. Tarikubaasa kwetegyereza yaaba baayikirizana nawe neingashi nabo byabashobera nk’oku byamushobera.
Manya Purezidenti agumizamu ati, ‘Katubanze twaheza obw’omungaro tubone kukununkirira obw’omukiibo. Ninyenda kubamanyisa ngu naambenu erizooba tituraagambe ahaby’obubutegyeki bwa Prezidenti. Nyebuurize h’abantu abanyabwengye reeru twasharamu ngu obwire kuburahikye, abarikwenda kwesimba omurimwe nangwa n’abandi omwihanga eri, nibaza kwemerera hamwe reeru abantu ba Kabira nibo baraasharemu owu barikwenda kukubembera. Emirimo yanyu n’ebikorwa byayu nibyo birikwiija kubahindura abebembezi beihanga ry’amaani nkeri.’ Bwanyima Daudi yaahurira yaaribwaribwa kubuuza Purezidenti ngu obwire obu nibuhika ryari, kwonka yaamara agahunama. Purezidenti nawe ati, ‘Ekyindi, ninyenda mumanye ngu abantu banshabire okwesimbaho ogundi murundi, kwonka tinkikiriize ahabw’okuba nimpurira nduhire. Beitu nitwijja kureeba eky’okukora obwire kuburahikye.’
Abantu boona baahunama. Daudi nawe yateeka omukono gwe gwaburyo aha za fairo ezimuri omumaisho reeru ogwabumosho guriyo niguzaniisa akacumu kye aki barikweta paaka peni. Ngugwe yarabyamu amaisho omubebembezi bataahi be kwonka tihine ekyi arikubaasa kushoma ahamaisho gaabo. Nomuhweezi wa Purezidenti nawe tihaine ekirikwereka yaba yakikunda nari atakikunda. Okwihaho, nobu burabe buri obwiire bw’akasheshe, obutondotondo bw’etuutu bwamwehinguririza obuso hamwe n’enyindo.
Daudi amaisho gye yageiha ahari Yakobo, yareeba aheeru y’edirisa. Atyo yaareebayo enyangye nyingi zoona zirikweera ziri omumwanya nizituuruura. Buzima zoona niziteerateera amapapa omumuringo ngumwe, zoona nizitoora obukiizi bumwe. Daudi yaamwenya n’ebinyonyi yaayebuuza nkwoku ekinyonyi ekyibyebembeire kyatunga ogwe mwanya gw’omumaisho. Yaashuba yaayebuuza yaaba ebikikurateire nibimanya ahi kirikubitwaara. Nangwa yaagumizamu yaayebuuza yaaba nakyo nikimanya eyikirikubitwara.
‘Eri eizooba, nituza kureeba aha matendero g’ebitongore ebirikuha Kabira obuyambi reeru tureebe eky’okukora. Mbwenu katuhurikize ebi Honarebo Daudi Okello atwiniire. Daudi, akazindaro nakaawe.’ Daudi bambe tiyaahurira Purezidenti. Akiriyo nareeba ebinyonyi ebirikweera aheeru y’edirisa.
‘Daudi, akazindaaro nakaawe,’ Purezidenti yagarukamu yaamweta. Daudi yaahinduka arikwenda kuteera enduuru ati omusiru ogu, kwonka yamwenya, ati, ‘Webare Purezidenti.’
Hilda TwongyeirweHilda Twongyeirwe
Hilda Twongyeirwe, born in Kacerere near Lake Bunyonyi, is a mother of three. For ten years, she taught English language and literature in secondary school before she retired to do development work in 2003. She is an editor and a published author of short stories and poetry, and a recipient of a Certificate of Recognition (2008) from the National Book Trust of Uganda for her children’s book, Fina the Dancer. She is currently the coordinator of FEMRITE, an organization she participated in founding in 1995. She has edited fiction and creative nonfiction works, the most recent ones being I Dare to Say: African Women Share Their Stories of Hope and Survival (2012) and Taboo? Voices of Women on Female Genital Mutilation (2013).
Translated from Runyankole-RukigaRunyankole-Rukiga by Juliet KushabaJuliet Kushaba
Juliet Kushaba was born in Bushenyi District in western Uganda. She holds a BA in education from Makerere University, Uganda, and is pursuing an MA in women's and gender studies there. She has unparalleled passion for women’s rights and gender issues, and has done a lot of research in this regard. Her MA research is on sexuality. Juliet worked as a freelance teacher of English language and literature in various schools in Uganda and Rwanda before she joined Femrite in 2011 as programmes officer. She is a published writer of short stories and poems. She lives in Kampala with her five-year-old daughter.
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