On the morning of June 2nd, 2012, I got a phone call that my beloved mom had passed away. I had just checked her into the Cancer Institute in Mulago the previous evening and had not really had the chance to say goodbye. I remember saying something like, ‘I love you and I’m praying for you. I’ll come back tomorrow morning to bring you what you need from home.’
This month on June 3rd at our regular ‘Tea, Song and Testimony’ Family gathering, we met with my maternal extended family just to connect with one another. The gathering is usually fun because it brings together so many of my cousins, nephews and nieces, some of whom I don’t meet with very often. There is usually a lot of good food, stories, laughter, singing and dancing, kikiga style. What made this particular gathering special is that we dedicated it to sharing memories of my mother. Of course, even among the usually strong bakiga, things got a little bit emotional.
One of the things that stayed with me from that gathering is that my mother was a very generous woman, and this was not limited to her own children. Now having lived with her for 28 years, I had an idea how generous she was, but hearing it from three generations of my extended family was very astounding.
One of my cousins shared how she received her first bra from my mum.
Another Auntie shared how her children never lacked clothes because mum always took them clothes when she went visiting in the village. I remember she always went to the village with lots of clothes, shoes and food stuffs.
Others talked about being given financial gifts, good sound advice etc.
The other thing that many of us talked about that day was about how prayerful mum was. My mother would never let any of her children leave the house in the morning without laying hands on us and covering us in prayer. One day, I was late for work so I ‘escaped’ the early morning prayer ritual. When I got to work and settled in, my phone rang. It was Maama calling. As soon as I picked up and said hello, the prayers, usually in a loud and sometimes husky voice begun. She often prayed in tongues of men (Luganda… lol) and tongues of angels (‘Shandernese’). Occasionally, she would switch to English often covering us in the blood of Jesus and protecting us from mad men on the street, men that smoke bhangi, thieves, reckless taxi drivers, inconsiderate bosses etc. She prayed ALL THE TIME! She’d wake up in the middle of the night to pray. She would pray in the car while driving with Dad. One time, she even laid hands on him as he was driving and did her thing. Now dad was not born again so this was very unusual for him. That’s a story for another day.
I’ve been learning that leadership is influence. Leadership is also the ability to write a story that affects the hearts and lives of others. Many of us are looking for ways to influence the world yet we cannot love our next door neighbor. Influence always starts with the little things. The things that probably no one will ever recognize.
Today I celebrate my mother for being the leader she was by influencing those around her and leaving a mark on their lives.
Rest in peace, Maama.
Proverbs 11:25 NKJV
The generous soul will be made rich,
And he who waters will also be watered himself.