Letters from Sonja: Eunice
The vase from Eunice

Letters from Sonja: Eunice

A promising young woman!

By Sonja Winklmaier
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First published: August 11, 2005

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The year of 1956 had come to an end. I now did not have too much time to write letters to my parents. When I wrote home I mainly wrote about Michy.

The following years were very quiet ones. Most of the time, I spent on the upbringing of our son. I still think this is the most rewarding “job”. I consider myself very lucky, that I was able to stay at home and fully focus on my family. Unfortunately more and more women in every society these days have to help earn income. It is, of course, a very good thing that women nowadays have far better job opportunities. I, however, never could understand women who go to work because they find it too boring to stay at home with their children. I found it extremely interesting to see my children grow up.

Michy's first birthday.

More and more Germans arrived in Uganda and several German children were born in Kenya and later also in Uganda. Although I was so much looking forward to German women arriving in Uganda, I soon found out, that it is not enough to have the same nationality to become friends. Yet, we did make some good friends within the German community. We had some good English friends too and friends of various other nationalities. We deepened our friendship with our Ugandan friends and here we made even more friends over the years.

We did not go out very much, as I did not want to leave Michy at home by himself. After Mwinzi had returned to Kenya, I could not find a suitable person to work in my house for quite some time and I did without help. We also had little money to spend, as we had to save for the next operation of Michy.

The drum from the Omukama of Toro.

In February of l957 the Omukama of Toro, George Kamurasi Rukidi III, gave a drum to Hubert as a present. I still have this drum in the entrance of my house today. The Omukama of Toro also invited the whole family to come on a vacation to Fort Portal. At that time we could not go, as Hubert had to work.

As I obviously had to divide my time now between Hubert and Michy, we had to change our “lifestyle” a bit. Actually it happened rather automatically. We always used to read a lot. My parents supplied us with plenty of reading material in German. Before Michy was born, very often we read a book together. Sometimes Hubert was reading to me and then I was reading to Hubert. Now he had to read by himself. He could still tell me what he was reading about and we could discuss it while I did something else at the same time. Hubert also kept himself busy with a very nice Electric Maerklin Train gauge 00 which he exchanged for some repairs he had done for one man as a favour. This train set was so big, that Michy had to evacuate his room and move into a smaller one, so that Hubert could build up the train. That was a very good hobby.

Michy at the beach in Entebbe.

On Sundays we often went to Lake Victoria in Entebbe. Many of the other Germans came there too. The “Uganda Argus” reported from time to time, that there was no danger of Bilharzia at the beach at Entebbe, until one day they found out, that quite a number of people were suffering from Bilharzia caught at Entebbe. From then on, we did not go swimming in the lake anymore. Fortunately we did not get Bilharzia. It was very difficult and almost impossible to treat in those days.

We went to Nairobi for the farewell party of Gustl Hoffmann. He had finished his first 4-year contract and was now returning to Germany. He went to school again and gained an engineering degree in Munich. After that he joined Messerschmitt-Boelkow-Blohm as an aircraft engineer. I thought my brother Gerd should do something like that too; come to Uganda for 4 years and then back to school. Gerd certainly would not loose anything if he committed himself for 3 – 4 yrs work in Uganda. Norbert in Nairobi was planning to go overseas for further studies and so we introduced him to my friend Inge, regarding his possible visit to Germany.

I was surprised, how Nairobi had changed. There were several high rises now with very modern shops. They also had gotten a parking house. I think you could almost get everything in Nairobi at that time. A lot of road building was going on too. It looked as if they are working on an East – West and North – South road network in Africa. The roads were really very good.

There was a lot of building going on in Kampala too. For instance, behind the block of flats where we lived on Kololo a complete row of new houses was built for the staff of the Uganda Electricity Board. In town some modern buildings went up. I cannot remember every detail, but I am for instance thinking of Udyam House, which housed a very nice fabric shop selling Jinja textiles.

Eunice carrying Michy.

Our friend Eunice spent the Christmas Season with us. We so much enjoyed having Eunice with us. She gave me a very nice little vase for Christmas, which still has a place of honour in our sitting room. Eunice soon applied for a scholarship to go for further studies to the U.S.A. In fact we did the application together at our dining table. The scholarship was granted and soon Eunice left for New York. We did not hear from her for a long time, until one day, years later, one evening Hubert came home in the company of a very elegant lady, our friend Eunice. We embraced each other like some long lost sisters, who had found each other again. I was more than happy to see Eunice again after a very long time. She had finished her studies of social science and returned to Uganda to work for the government. Not too long after that happy reunion, Eunice fell in love with a European colleague in the department of social studies, where she was working. This man fell ill with leukaemia and was flown to England for treatment. She came to Hubert’s workshop one day for advice. Eunice wanted to fly to England. Hubert actually tried to stop her, but she nevertheless went. When she arrived there, her friend was dying. Eunice took a train to Scotland and committed suicide by poisoning herself. I could never understand this. I was very sad and I am still always thinking of Eunice. What a tragic end for such a promising young woman!

May her soul rest in peace.

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By Sonja Winklmaier
more from author >>
First published: August 11, 2005
Sonja Winklmaier moved to Uganda in the 1950s to follow her husband, Hubert Winklmaier, as the German Volkswagen Factory sent him to work with their agent, Cooper Motor Corporation.

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