Abwooli Rujumba Omurungi W’Abasambu, the most testing moment in the career of many a noted writer comes when he is called upon to, by such occurrences and happenings as are markedly beyond the widths and breadths of his humanly faculties to untangle the reasons for their occurring and happening, write of a loved one intricately tangled in very center of such occurrences and happenings.
Such a writer, As we suckled at the same breast, many a time tends to barter his distinguished craft at the trade with the unsavory promptings and encouragements of his emotions and passions- those that immediately accompany news of such occurrences and happenings. He, or his works, thus become(s) a slave or child of Agony or Ecstasy.
At such moments, he totally loses grip of his objectivity and with it, more unfortunately, that detachment he hitherto had from the emotions that lie hidden in the poundings of his breast- probably which one quality may have endeared him, as is often the case, to that most faithful and loyal reader of his works to such proportions as to crown him noted or distinguished.
Thus when he is called upon to, say, write a eulogy of such a departed loved one at the tragic occasion of the latter’s funeral, or, if not actually dead, a speech at his wedding, the writer tends to glide his pen the wrong way of glaring untruths, which it customarily is not his nature, to either gloriously honour the memory of his fallen friend in the case of the former or delight both the audience and his walking- down- the- aisle- friend in the case of the latter.
It is the reader then that becomes the ultimate loser when this happens. He is cheated. He is cheated because he is forced to consume content that is adulterated by emotion. His faith in the writer is also betrayed. It is betrayed because the writer, and his opinions, become what he is not or what they are not. The musings of the writer declaim what is not. And what is not- is not!
Cognizant therefore of all the risks above, I will write of Nambaziira Doreen Agnes as I knew her. But there is more as to why I should write of her as I knew her: It would be sheer betrayal to the truthful disposition she happily cut while alive if I were to attempt and write of her other than as I knew her. She succumbed to brain hemorrhage on the night of February 14th 2012 at Nsambya Hospital.
I first met Agnes Doreen Nambaziira sometime in 2008 when she had just successfully been elected a Guild Representative Councilor (G.R.C) of Africa Hall, Makerere University. It was through her inseparable and most intimate friend Hellen Namuyiga, who too, had just clinched the same feat. The two were to each other what wings are to many birds.
I too had also just been elected G.R.C of the Great Lumumba Hall and was in addition to that on a mad pursuit for votes for the coveted position of Editor- in- Chief of the Makererean. The voting college constituted all the G.R.C’s of Makerere University’s eleven halls of residence viz The Great Lumumba, Mary Stuart, Livingstone, Africa, Mitchell, Complex, University, Nkrumah, Nsibirwa, Galloway and Kabanyoro.
So it was this process of soliciting for votes that led me to Africa Hall where I first encountered Doreen. When I knocked at her door, she warmly welcomed me, as though we were old acquaintances, and ushered me into her neat and well- decorated room with that contagious smile that was hers. She had so delightful a way of speaking!
She sat me down –on a bed- like a mother does, listened to what I had to say absorbedly like a General monitoring the movement of his troops from atop a hill and then when I was through, frankly stared into my eyes- unlike some of her contemporaries who promised me their votes as soon as I came visiting, just as they had done to all my opponents, and told me she could not commit herself at that particular moment.
She walked me out of Africa, again as though we were already known to one another, and wished me the very best of luck. But shortly before that, I vividly recall her reprimanding me for leaving her room without eating anything.
She was to later on throw her weight behind my bid in the last stages of the campaign. It actually took me a lot more convincing to win her one vote than it took me to win the whole election.
Such, Abwooli, was the woman Nambaziira Agnes Doreen-gracious, humble, moral, courageous, selfless, candid, freethinking, kind, respectful, beautiful, dutiful, worshipful and rightful. These qualities were too alluring to be snubbed by those that shared in the warmth of her friendship and the virtues of her leadership. Little wonder, yet again, that those gentlest women of Africa accorded to her the highest honour they had to give, that of Chairlady.
She was also a daring champion of social equality and justice. One fine November day when the University administration attempted to outsource to private investors the catering services in the halls of residence, Doreen was one of those student leaders that were front-most in the condemnation of the venal idea. You should have seen how passionate she was!
She scorned, as did most of us, the idea on grounds that such a policy was unfriendly to the students the bulk of whom we represented came from poor families and that the private caterers would charge them exorbitantly and that some would actually go starving. She, as did most of us, further argued that the Ug. Shs 2000 stipend that was to be apparently extended to government sponsored students was too paltry as to feed them a day given the rising food costs.
When we realized that the then Guild President Robert Okware was softening his stance, after allegedly being bribed, I along with other student leaders like Okot Wokoratch Steven, Baluku Ronald Masamba and Tooratch Leo Steven mobilized and summoned all the G.R.C’s to the Great Lumumba Hall to confer upon the issue. All along, Doreen was bravely with us!
The session was not convened as it ordinarily should have been, but the exigencies of the situation so demanded since the Guild Speaker Mr. Massete Kenneth and President Okware, who were constitutionally mandated to summon a guild session, were dragging their feet at the detriment of the students who were fast losing their rights and dignity.
That session came with its attendant consequences among which was the summoning by the then Dean of Students Mr. John Ekudu- Adoku of myself and Mr. Baluku Ronald to the University Disciplinary Committee with the prospect of expulsion from the University for incitement of Students to strike through the convening of an illegal meeting. Though sanity in the end did prevail, it did prevail because of the protestations, petitions and pressures from gallant women like Doreen.
Doreen, we behold you in glory. May God comfort your mother, of whom am reliably informed you were the lone child of her womb, your family, your faithful friends especially Hellen Namuyiga of whom you leave alone in such deep agony and pain, your classmates and lecturers at Medical School and the entire Afro- Stone fraternity. We shall miss your ever reassuring company. We shall all miss your warm affectionate smile.
Farewell gentle friend, gentle woman.