Letters from Sonja: Oma Kaggwa, Dr. Aliker and Mr. Obote
Some of the people Sonja knew around this time.
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First published: January 11, 2006
One evening Hubert brought Dr. Martin Aliker to our house. This must have been in 1960; in any case it was before Barbara was born. After Barbara was born I always met Mrs. Aliker at the Municipal Clinic in Kampala, were we brought our babies to be weighed and measured and for advise on vaccinations, feeding and so on. At the time I first met Dr. Aliker he was working - I think - at Mulago Hospital as a dentist. Later he took over the office of Dr. Sebley, an English dentist. He then became our family dentist.
Dr. Aliker comes from the North of Uganda and until now I still believe him to be one of the finest Ugandans I have met.
Before I came to Africa I had always been very lucky with my dentists. They were always first class and in Dr. Aliker I again had a very first class dentist. When I later took our children to him to have their teeth examined, he showed very much consideration for the children. Before he had a look at their teeth he showed them all the tools he might be using. After that the children had great confidence in Dr. Aliker and later they never were afraid of seeing a dentist due to the nice way Dr. Aliker treated them. I over and over again hear stories, that dentists scare children. On such occasions I always tell concerned parents about Dr. Aliker. I am thinking of him many, many times.
When it was time for Michy to have something done to his teeth due to his split jaw, it was also Dr. Aliker who took care of his special problem, although this actually was the business of a jaw specialist and not a dentist. One day Dr. Aliker told me that there is a jaw specialist from England at Mulago at the moment. Dr. Aliker conferred with that specialist and treated Michy accordingly. Later, when Michy went to Germany at the age of 12 in order to go to a German classic high school, his treatment was continued by a German jaw specialist. This Dr. told me that Dr. Aliker had done a good job to Michys teeth and that the work he has done was excellent. Great thanks to Dr. Aliker!
Dr. Aliker once made me a compliment which I still have not forgotten. I asked him why I suddenly needed a filling in one of my teeth. Dr. Aliker said: Old age! I thought I was still young at that time. In the meantime at 75 I still have all my original teeth and I am sure this is due to the good care of my teeth by Dr. Aliker.
Another time something happened and I do hope, Dr. Aliker did not notice it. I had an appointment with him, got dressed to go to town and forgot to put my shoes on. Only when sitting on Dr. Alikers chair I noticed that I was still wearing the rubber flip-flops, which I used to wear at home. That was quite embarrassing!
Probably also in 1960 I met a great elderly lady. She was Mrs. Catherine Kawalya-Kaggwa, the aunt of the Nnabagereka and Sarah Kisosonkole. (Earlier I referred to her as the aunt of the Kabaka. I dont know if she would also have been called the aunt of the Kabaka as she was the aunt of his wife, or if this was a language problem. She is the same lady, for whom my parents sent the staff for her denture.)
Anyway, Mrs. Kaggwa was a customer of Hubert, who had known her for quite a long time already before I met her. Hubert also knew her husband very well. I did not meet him. He died before I met Mrs. Kaggwa. We called our Oma, which is the German equivalent to granny.
Oma Kaggwa and her grandchildren.
Mrs. Kaggwa was either the daughter or the granddaughter of Ham Mukasa. Her husband was either a Katikiro or a member of the Legislative Council, or perhaps both. I cannot remember these things exactly, as it was not her important family links that interested me then but just the person Oma Kaggwa. She had a great sense of humour and got on very well with my husband. He once said to her: You Mugandas are the Bavarians of Uganda. There are certain similarities. The Bavarians are still royalists although for a long, long time they did not have a king anymore. (My husband always treasured a picture of King Ludwig II. of Bavaria) Then Bavaria was and is until this day a Freistaat (Free State) within Germany. And the Bavarians are known to be hard headed people and Hubert always said to Mrs. Kaggwa that she was just as hard headed as he is.
Mrs. Kaggwa was a student of Gayaza Girls High School what meant that she, as a girl, got a very good education already in her time.
She also was the first lady in Uganda to get a drivers licence.
What I admired most about her, was her role as a mother. She had I think 5 children, one son and 4 daughters. She took the burden on her to go to South Africa with her children in order to enable them to get a very good education. In South Africa she was washing clothes for Europeans to make a living for her and the children.
Woman living in this house of Oma bringing a basket full of fruit and Hubert and the children enjoying it.
Her son Michael became a judge and also had a big vegetable farm. I remember him as a very good looking man driving through Kampala in his open, ivory-coloured Mercedes in white tennis dress with an orange towel over his shoulders. What a sight!
He was later murdered in Kampala. I dont know the exact reason for him being murdered. For Mrs. Kaggwa, this must have been a heavy blow.
The two daughters of Oma Kaggwa, Flora and Henriette.
One of her daughters, Flora, used to be matron at Mulago Hospital. In earlier years Flora had spent some time in Heidelberg/Germany and had very good memories. She very much liked the food there, specially the cucumber salad made with cream. Flora was married to a son of the first African mayor of Kampala.
Her daughter Henriette was working in the social field and was married to a brother of Paul Kibukamusoke.
Her daughter Juanita was a doctor and I think one of the other daughters was a paediatrician and another a dentist.
One day Oma Kaggwa wanted to show us her land near Jinja. We went there with her, her daughters Flora and Henriette, and several of Omas grand children. We were standing on a place overlooking Lake Victoria and the Nile, and all the land we could see was either hers or her brothers. Lots and lots of land, but it did not bring Oma Kaggwa any income and I think the people who inherited it in the meantime also dont get any income from that land yet. It still needs to be developed.
Oma Kaggwa was a very humble person living on a small budget. She was driving an old beetle and often could not afford the repairs. Hubert helped her many times. She was, however, also very proud and would not ask her son Michael for assistance. When there was need for a big repair, Hubert talked to Michael and he then paid for the repair of his mothers car. Oma Kaggwa was too proud to ask for help. Hubert, me and our children, we all loved Oma Kaggwa.
Oma's grandchildren and Michy enjoying playing in the sand together.
The late Mr. Obote also was a customer of my husband during a time when he drove an old VW Beetle and could hardly afford the repairs. Hubert helped him out on several occasions and was on quite good terms with him not as a politician but just as a human being. Before Ugandas Independence I cannot remember exactly when Mr. Obote gave a speech that quite annoyed me. In this speech he said, that Italians and Germans wont be allowed to vote. I thought that it was absolutely unnecessary to mention this, as I did not even think about voting. One day when I came to Huberts office, Mr. Obote was there and Hubert, after introducing me, told Mr. Obote that he had annoyed me in one of his speeches. I had to explain my annoyance to him.
Mr. Obote was very charming. I did not expect that at all. He really took the wind out of my sails! When I met Mr. Obote later, after he became the Prime Minister of Uganda, he would always recognize and greet me. I, for instance, met him on the grounds of the TV studio once, when he came along with some other people. He left the group, came up to me and greeted me with a handshake. I also thought that he made a very good statesman. I did not like at all, what happened later and what apparently happened. This was a great disappointment for me. These things cannot be excused.
Various things happened in the world in 1960/1961 that really touched me personally.
January 3rd, l961
We have heard about the aircraft accident in Munich. This was frightful! The news about that accident went around the world in no time. All radio-stations of the world have reported about this accident.
Just two weeks before Christmas 1960 a US Military aircraft with 20 occupants lost the orientation due to bad weather, bound against a church steeple and crashed on a busy square in the centre of Munich. In the wreckage of a tram and several cars, which were hit by the aircraft, a total of 53 people died. Hundreds had to be brought to hospitals with bad burnings. This was the worst aircraft accident in Germany since the end of WWII.
January 3rd, 1961 -
The Christmas-tree is completely dried up already, but it will have to do until the 6th of January, Holy Three Kings. It now is very hot and dry. We did not put up the train this year. It really is terribly crowded in our house.
Michy has got a bicycle from Gerd for Christmas. He cannot ride it yet, but he takes it around with him the whole day. Last at least he also got a swing not quite for Christmas but more for the New Year. The swing works super and is of course running on ball bearings. It carries even heavy-weights like Hubert. I now do hope that the sand-pit will be finished soon. Hubert and Gerd are constantly playing chess and cannot be disturbed of course. For a sand-pit and things like that, they have no time.
We still have very few pictures of the little one although she is so sweet. She is very good, 100 % like me.
One thing that really changed dramatically in Uganda in 1961 is that suddenly there were many burglaries. Until that time we always could leave everything open. We even could go on vacation and leave the house open. I felt very safe all the time, but now I was getting scared.
January 3rd, 1961 -
The Kingdom of Buganda in fact has declared its Independence on midnight of December 31st, l960 and dissociated itself from the rest of Uganda.. The Governor declared that this is not acceptable by the British Government. So far everything here is very quiet. The Governor in the meantime flew to England. The people who live in the rural areas are convinced that as of January 1st, l961 an independent Kingdom of Uganda exists. The Africans in Kampala expect difficulties to arise by the end of this or the beginning of next week. During these days the Africans will have to pay their taxes. They still will have to pay these taxes to the Government of the British Protectorate of Uganda. Exactly at this point the people will become aware of the fact, that they dont have Independence yet. That is the reason for the Africans to expect difficulties.
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First published: January 11, 2006