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HomeLIFE STYLEOWEYEGHA-AFUNADUULA: How To Combat Loneliness, My Story

OWEYEGHA-AFUNADUULA: How To Combat Loneliness, My Story

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By Oweyegha-Afunaduula

Loneliness is the worst disease of humanity. It is certainly most pronounced among the aging and elderly. However, these days it comes early even for the youth because many parents have abandoned their prime responsibility, obligation and duty of parenting. They have given up to Let Natural Take its Own Course.

Children everywhere in Uganda, and definitely elsewhere on the globe, are on their own, lacking parental care. They have become vulnerable to a diversity of vices, from which they cannot easily escape. Such vices include taking illicit drug, which they are driven to perceive as a means of fighting loneliness.

In the process, they find themselves in harmful groups, which they would never have been members of their parents had not abandoned responsible parenting. Some parents say they have no time for their children because they have to make ends meet in hostile working environments, which even exploit them. In the case of Uganda the absence of minimum wage, exacerbates their exploitation, casting them as mere slaves of their employers and of the State.

Some parents have become lonely too early by their marriages falling apart because the bread earners (traditionally husbands) have failed to make ends meet. Consequently, wives and women generally, now shun the marriage institution, preferring or compelled to work independent of their husbands.

If they choose to stay in the marriage, they become the bread earners, pushing their husbands into uselessness and loneliness. Some men, feeling inferior take to vices that make them even more useless and lonely and unable to contribute to parental care.

In extreme cases, the working wives throw them out of the house , thereby exacerbating the men’s and their own loneliness. Children have to learn growing up in the hands of a line parent, who in most cases has no time for them.

In a number of cases the young ones run away from even well-off-to do families, where they lack nothing except responsible parenting. Lonely parents cannot manage them. They have no time for them.

The children, increasingly feeling lonely and perceiving that their parents don’t care choose to become street children, thereby picking vices, which they were previously, or must have been protected from from by their parents.

While some sponsored reports have claimed that Uganda has the happiest people on Earth, sometimes citing alcoholism as an indicator of happiness, the country is a country of increasingly lonely people. There is no meaningful happiness in loneliness.

From what I have written so far adults and children variously seek to conquer the yoke of loneliness. Let me tell you my own story of loneliness to-date.

Being a man of nearly 74 I chose not to engage of the greatest and most lucrative employer in Uganda: politics. Rarely our (Jane and myself) home gate is opened to active politicians.

Not that we hate politics (politics is what decides who gets what, by what mean, and for whose ultimate benefit), but because the current type of politics produces greedy and selfish people, does not provide public services, is filled with corrupt people and is mediated more by hatred and less by love.

Jane and I decided to fight loneliness engaging 8n agroecological farming (farming that does not involve genetically modified organisms and the herbicides and pesticides that sustain it) and our analog forest (manmade forest, not plantation).

We spend most of the time with our farm and forest tending. We keep some of our goats, sheep, chicken and cows on our homestead. This way, we conquer loneliness.

At home I fight loneliness in other ways: reading, writing, watching television and listening to radio. Jane I have enough time walking to and from our agroecological farm and analog forest.

Combating loneliness and poverty our way has meant that we have almost no contact with politicians and Resident District Commissioners who are convinced and are convincing all and sundry that fighting poverty can 9nly be achieved through money bonanzas to a select few in communities in the rural area.

So we have not been targeted by Bona Baggagawale, Operation Wealth Creation, Myooga, and the recently advocated and popularised Parish Development Model. None of the agents of these schemes ever or has ever entered our gate to convince us to embrace the money bonanza-driven schemes, which government believes are the only means to conquer poverty.

When I was young it was easy to fight poverty. My parents, grandparents, uncles and aunties loved me. I would spend a lot of time with them learning and getting guidance from them. Life in the rural area of Nawaka, Ikumbya Subcounty of present-day Luuka District was more interactive and communally instructional.

On holidays, such as Christmas, different families would cook and pool the different food together. All the men, women and children of the village would eat together and enjoy together. Loneliness was fought communally together.

It was was difficult to have a lonely mother, father or child. Children were children of the community. If parents of the village failed to raise fees for their children, other members with capacity would step in to help.

Today all this is a thing of the past. Not only are families isolated from others and lonely. Individual members in the families are isolated and lonely. Vices that would collectively be discouraged in the communities have regained space in families and communities, reflecting idleness.

These vices are now universal, and include rumour-mongering, lying, disrespect, stealing, insolence, pride, jealous, murder, fighting, deceptive, hatred of those who have, failure to keep promises, showing no kindness or pity for others, et. cetera. Those who show the vices approve others who do them.

Tolerance, kindness and patience are diminishing viruses. The valley between the old and the young has never been any greater. The young think and believe the old are stupid and foolish, and they even tell them so. It is rare to find young people who can say, “I am sorry”, “Excuse me”, “I beg your pardon”.

When I joined Ikumbya Primary School in 1956 loneliness was rare because as children we would interact harmoniously. Rarely would we quarrel or fight. Teachers were more intimate with the children, and would visit my parents’ home to discuss my performance and behavour in school.

We would in sports and in the school garden, and when crops were ready we would harvest them together in alternate groups. We would take porridge together at break time and eat lunch together at lunch time. Everything was interactive. Teachers did not engage in other things apart from teaching and guiding children. Loneliness was impossible.

This continues to be the case when I joined Mwiri Primary School in 1964 for my Junior Secondary education. It continues to be the case when I joined Busoga College, Mwiri in 1966 for my Secondary Education.

I completed A-level education at Mwiri in 1971. I was never lonely. I was always with my close childhood friend, Charles Kawagga, with whom I learnt a lot about life and how to avoid loneliness. Kawagga was a good artist and loved the camera – two things that would help us to fight loneliness.

With the guidance of older students in areas such as music, drama, sports, debate and social and cultural activities, loneliness was a remote thing. If not in class studying there were enough activities in the college to keep us free of loneliness.

Loneliness was further conquered when the college authorities decided to make me a Head of Hannington House, which meant that I leave the Presidents House where I had spent my O-Level times. Leadership taught me how to interact widely with students and teaches across all ages.

My leadership qualities were enhanced further when simultaneously served as Prefect in-Charge of the College Cafeteria, President of of the Debating Society, President of the Dramatic Society and Social and Cultural Society, while concentrating on my Biology, Chemistry and Geography studies.

Loneliness was more of a threat when Is joined the University of Dar-es-Salaam in 1972 for studies in Zoology, Botany and Geography. There nowhere that loneliness reigns as in the world of academics. In that world of academics. 9n the whole social relations are minimized for a academic labour.

This could explain why in the majority of cases the marital relations of academics are not long-lasting. Books and research come between wife and husband and may separate them from their children. Some children of academics are not well-guided.

In the University of Dar-es-Salaam I relapsed into a lonely student most of the time, although I had a number of OBs of Busoga College, Mwiri I joined the University with such as Paul Gwaira (a brother), John Balirwa, Fred Mufumba, Olwitingol and Chemisto.

I also had others from other schools in Uganda, such as Davies Bagambiire, Okumu-Wengi, Mukubwa, Sabasi Ngobi. Ms Jjuko, Ms Princess Rusooke, Gutta, et cetera. There were also older Ugandan students I associated with, such as Henry Makmot, Elisha Ndiwalana, Kamaali, Mitala, Ssekatawa, Oside Wangor, and Boniface Makanga. I tried to fight loneliness by being hooked to my studies.

I was even more lonely when I joined the East African Marine Fisheries Research Organisation of the East African Community at Zanzibar as a Fisheries Research Officer. This was despite the fact that I was received very well by senior officers of the organisation such as Sam Kitaka, Wilberforce Kudhongania, and Twongo.

When I joined the University of of Nairobi in 1980 for my postgraduate studies in Zoology (The Biology of Conservation, I resolved not to be alone. I took the hand of Jane. She became my research assistant in the bushes of Tsavo National Park, Kenya and even typed my Masters Thesis “Vegetation Changes in Tsavo National Park, Kenya”. We have been together since.

We worked together at Makerere University from 1991 to 2009 when I retired from University service. I relapsed into loneliness because she continued to serve the University till 2013 when she retired. She joined me in retirement at our rural home at Nawaka. Together, we were able to nurture and guide our children into adulthood. Their ages range between 52 and and 33.

While they lived with us they helped us combat loneliness. We are. now back to square one – two as we started. Loneliness is a constant threat. We fight it the way I told you at the beginning of the article.

Don’t give up when loneliness strikes. Prepare to fight it. It is the worst disease you will ever face. It can incapacitate and kill. Satan frequently exploits it to accomplish his mission on Earth.

For God And My Country.

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