when the spouse died. Three women we have known to live full lives even after being widowed and never remarrying share with Ivan Okuda their tales of moving on to lead successful lives after the death of their husbands.
Halima Namakula: My eldest son became my backbone
My husband passed on in 1994, leaving me with four children. We met while I was in high school. Sam Kiwanuka and I began as what you would call high school friends.
How would I describe Sam? Well, he took great care of me, I worked but he never asked me for money, he instead provided for the family unconditionally. I have not seen a man as good as Sam. He is an Obama in several ways. Both of us were actors in the group Black Pearls while I was still at school though he left for the US.
At that point, I had had two children with him albeit at an early age. He invited me to the US and advised me to further my studies in an adult school. I was in the US with the children when we heard of the sad news of his death. His boat blew up! His body remained under water for a week. We could not attend his burial even when I asked the family to wait for some days.
The children couldn’t believe he was gone. They thought it was a joke because he had grown up in the islands and was a very strong and powerful swimmer.
Time had come for me to wear his shoes. I told myself, “Halima, you can do it.” I sat the children down and told the eldest son, Hamdee Kiwanuka, “You are now the father in the home.”
I loved singing though going commercial had never crossed my mind but our son kept pushing me to go professional. It is out of his efforts that I released my first hit, ekimbewo in 1998. He tickled me to release more and in came other songs like tonkutula, amba. At this point my children became my backbone. They kept telling me “mum you can do it”. Hamdee even became my manager. He advised me to come back to Uganda and promote music here.
Again, it was because of him that I became the first female Ugandan musician to have a music video, recording station and radio station. He also urged me to revive their father’s humanitarian spirit (he had a charity organisation called Samsek). That is how Women at Work International was born.
Hamdee unconditionally loved and cared for his iblings and myself. To date, even at my age, I can’t do anything without consulting him. We also had social security which helped a great deal till the last child was 18 years old.
Beti Kamya: His family and mine stood by my side all the way
I got married to Spencer Turwomwe in 1989 and he passed on in 2003. He was working in a Leather and Tanning industry in Jinja. We met at Jinja Sports Club and he had such a unique outgoing personality and loved outdoor life.
Generally, we were a crowd-oriented couple. Spencer was so warm and loving to everybody and a sweet bundle of joy to be around. He had unparalleled sense of humour. Despite his active political life, we agreed on many things even when our political views were divergent. You can imagine what a heavy blow it was when God recalled him.
I felt sorry for our six children because he had spoilt them. I had to take over the discipline department. They took long to get over his death. They kept referring to him quite often. Their conversations came off as light reminders of their loving father but I knew deep inside they were hurting. I let them relive life without him. Slowly, they coped with visitation days, birthdays, confirmation and Christmas events without him.
I was lucky our families were supportive during and after the tragedy. For instance, I enjoyed a good relationship with my mother-in-law. Spencer’s death brought us closer. Relatives voluntarily came in to give us moral, psycho-social and even financial assistance.
As a wife, I got busy when I joined active politics, which in a way helped divert all the thoughts from him but the children paid the price. However, I endeavoured to be there for them during the holidays.
From my experience, how one rebuilds life and responds to death depends on the relationship. If the relationship was satisfying, you will easily get over it but if there was a void, the hunger to fill it keeps haunting you. So, spouses should work towards happy and satisfying relationships.
Dr Maggie Kigozi: I switched careers to carry on
I lost my dear husband, Daniel Kigozi in 1994. He was an engineer and an NRM historical member who represented the historicals in parliament. When Daniel passed on, I was a doctor working with parliament. I had crossed to Kenya to check on the children, only to be slapped with the sad news of his death due to a heart attack. It was as sudden as it was devastating. I had to make tough decisions.
I mean life-changing decisions that I wasn’t even sure I could handle. First of all, my meager doctor’s salary was not enough to maintain the standard of life their father had established. I had to leave medical practice till further notice.
I moved to Pepsi where my late husband had been Executive Director and a shareholder. Luckily, I was accepted in as Director Marketing. I started from scratch and learnt aspects of customer care and marketing on the job. I also read wisely and widely, consulted broadly and opened my mind to learning from those with experience in the trade.
I enrolled for certificate course training in Makerere University Business School and other business training institutions. For me, the biggest driving force was the children. I was motivated to ensure they were happy financially and materially.
Maybe the other mild challenge I got was getting used to attending functions alone. Invitations no longer had Mr and Mrs but I overcame it by keeping very busy and in circulation. I was open to the media and attended public events.
My advice to the ladies is that no body is there to help you. Everybody has too many problems of their own these days. You have to do it yourself. Do not sit back and wait for the relatives or donors, move on.