Mzee John Wyclife Nyongozi was born in the late 1930s’ at the time when the British empire reigned across the land. Lucky enough he had an opportunity to go to school at the time when getting the same was not a right but a privilege, luck or strenuous dedication.
He then enrolled as a medical officer and lived to see his own country transform politically, socially and economically, most of all the independence of Uganda on 9th October 1962. I will partially agree with Karl Marx that indeed there is no doubt that the prevailing conditions then had much to do with the definition of Nyongozi I encountered in the pre-plain lands of Kibaale.
I had three substantial encounters with the late Nyongozi throughout his life. By then I was pretty young though I must say that those encounters have a far-reaching influence on my world view to day. My love story with Nyongozi has origins from an incident that is pretty mysterious. As a young man herding goats and a Sunday incident when I was coming from church.
I remember then we used to go for service at Nyabugando Catholic Church as it was the nearest catholic church in the area and we used to go through his farm. After service we had to first undertake catechism lessons as per instructions from my mother TIBENDERANA JACENTA.
After the lessons I came back through the same route but because of the scorching hunger I was tempted to go in his farm to be relieved of the same. It was another day for me and I was caught thus I was taken to him. You see! In the journey to his residence I thought of this and that, now how many stocks again? I asked myself! as that was the usual form of disciplining child offenders.
You know! I had never met this guy but I used to hear rumors from the locals that he had a gun. I was pretty much scared. I must say death thoughts predominated my psyche. I was fading.
Okay! we reached, and for me at that moment it was game over. We found him seated in the backyard, he told the worker who had caught me to release me. You know! This worker was rough, the way he held me I could not think of any thing other than a death verdict. So when he told this rough worker to release me the first thing I thought of was, is he sending him to get the gun or what? Surprisingly he told the worker to bring some milk tea, for me all this puzzled me because the body was blazed for battle of death or serious strokes.
The worker brought the milk tea and he asked me whether I was hungry, it was a tricky question but with the scorching hunger I had to try a yes.
He then told me to seat down on the veranda, I was served with milk tea. Its after then that he started asking for my name, my parents and so on and so forth he later told me to go back home. I must say that the way I left that compound! Joy dominated my journey, I could not remain indifferent. I loved my self and actually realized that I was greater than the theft, that to love myself connotes to love the other and respect his work.
For me this was something for another world. The way he gazed at me, the way he told me the worker to get me something to eat in that environment reawakened a full openness to the beauty of reality. I started asking myself, who is this man? Where does he fetch this tenderness from? The move to establish the source of his tenderness began. I started spying on him because I wanted to look at others the way he looked at me. My encounter with him was short lived because of school and I learnt about his death when I was in senior 2.
In the premises, I must say that the quality of life is not synonymous with longevity. The little time I had with him was a life package. Nyongozi’s association with patients, fellow church members and me remains a clear conviction of an appreciation of the mystery in reality. He lived life instantly, he very much understood the status of reality to man. My experience with him taught me that reality (Man and the surrounding) is a communication of the Other (God) with us. It is a whisper of the mystery.
For man to appreciate the mystery of his own existence he/she must not remain indifferent in the midst of reality. Otherwise it is like a woman who wakes up in the morning having slept alone in the house and finds a flower on the table.. In your opinion what would come first in the mind of this woman? Because we must agree that the flower on the table is provocative. It is provoking a woman to ask a question such as who put this flower? In the same spirit reality is like the story of this woman and the flower. It is provoking man to appreciate the presence of the destiny everyday in our lives. Nyongozi very much appreciated the relationship between reality, man and God. For me this man was a protagonist.
His relationship with the destiny (God) was intimate. Everyday in his life, he recognized destiny in motion. In his encounter with me, patients and his fellow church goers was a dialogue with God.
For: JOHN W. NYONGOZI
“In Friendship and Affection”
By: KAMURINDE JOHN the author of “THE SLAVERY IN MODERN EDUCATION”
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