Photo : courtesy of

Carl Segan said: “ One of the greatest gifts adults can give to their offspring and to society is to read to children.”

As far as I can remember, we used to spend our long Christmas holidays  at our home in the village,  75 kilometres along the Kampala / Fort portal road.  Our home was built on a hundred acre mixed farm surrounded by rolling green hills. It was a big house, had a concrete tank at  each of the four corners, to harvest rain water, there were fruit trees everywhere; mangoes, avocado,  pawpaws, soursop, jack fruits, oranges and lemons.

We used a gas cooker to cook in the house and firewood in the outside kitchen. My young siblings and I and my mother enjoyed helping on the farm in the mornings, harvesting ripe coffee , cotton and maize. We could never have enough of the fresh passion fruits, pineapples and gooseberries. In the evenings we could go to the kraal watch the milking of the cows and carry some milk to the house.

The best part of our day was the time just before supper. Without any reminder, each one would quickly shower , change into clean clothing and gather in the sitting room.  We would sit closely together with our father- dressed simply in a white tunic and slippers, under the bright light of a spirit lamp.

Eyes wide with expectation and ears as long as dogs’ ears , we would listen attentively and intensely to our father as he told us numerous  Ganda  folklores. He would use stories to explain why maize was called Kasooli, a goat  – embuzi  and many other items. With simple, spellbinding eloquence, he would explain to us how Nambi, the first Ganda woman, brought sickness – Olumbe  to her own people. I would be fascinated by these stories and I would ask many questions for clarification. Some days we would read the Ladybird series of  books together. We also had a big, well illustrated book entitled The Holy Bible and You. He taught each one of us to read stories aloud to the others and to retell them after reading books . It was great fun that was only interrupted by the BBC World Service News at 8pm.

On other days, he would just teach us to recite our lineage in the Leopard-Ngo  clan and our specific jobs in the Kabaka’s palace. Those of the Ngo clan are the grandfathers of the Buganda kingdom so they never  do any manual labour. We just decorate the place where the Kabaka holds court and weave the traditional crown that is worn by the new Kabaka at his Coronation.

I have known this since the age of six and I do not think that it has changed in any way. Actually, I remember in July 1993 just before the coronation of  Ssabataka  Ronald Muwenda  Mutebi 11 as the 36th Kabaka of Buganda at the traditional site at Naggalabi near Buddo, my cousin, Robert, who was by then the Katikkiro of our clan was on tenterhooks until  some old men had hunted a leopard whose skin was to be used with the throne. A new Kabaka has to use a new leopard skin as a carpet.

My father also taught us to write legibly but writing Luganda has never been easy for me.When I close my eyes now, I can see my father and us engaged fully in a conversation about a book or a story. Later in adulthood, we would discuss the news and books written  by African Writers like Chinua Achebe, Ngugi  wa Thiong’o , David Rubadiri and short stories written by Ugandan writers  like Erisa Kironde.

The most interesting story that our father told us was about him- how for five years he walked barefooted to the most prestigious boys’ school of the time: Kings College Buddo.  This school was opened  in 1906 by the Church Missionary Society of Britain to educate the princes and sons of the chiefs in Buganda. It is located about eighty kilometres from my father’s parents’ home.

My father would take three days to get  to the school. Before setting off, his father and mother and him would meticulously plan for the three days journey. Each night he would stay with a known relative along the road. His mother would pack roasted sweet plantains and groundnuts as a snack to be eaten along the way. He was expected to be where he had to be on a particular night. He was doing all that in the quest for knowledge. We would excitedly ask many questions about his journey and beg him to tell the story over and over again. He enjoyed himself in our company and used it as an opportunity to motivate us to work hard and smart at school for a better future.

By then I was in a boarding school at Gayaza High School. My father’s story taught me to value education and admire its power to change one’s life. After Kings College Buddo, my father had gone on to get a top job as a clerk in the Resident’s  office  of the British Protectorate in Kampala. Later, he held positions of great responsibility in both Buganda and Uganda government.

By hearing and understanding his unique story, I shed off the sense of entitlement, I stopped getting irritated when the driver came late to pick us at the end of each term. I willed myself to become an all round student academics, sports, just as my father had done. He had been the top student at the entrance interview and the best at graduation. The white headmaster had selected him to stay and teach at Kings College Buddo  as part of the staff development programme but he did not want to become a teacher.

Later , when I read the story of some of the pioneer students who attended Kings College Buddo  from the Kyigezi region about 430 kilometres  southwest of Kampala, my father’s three days trek to Buddo hill seemed like a walk in the park. They took a minimum of two weeks to walk to Buddo!

They had also gone on to become the architects and managers of Uganda’s expanding civil service. They also educated their children at Kings College Buddo  and Gayaza High school.

About forty years after the regular story telling by the spirit lamp, my daughter would fly from Botswana through Johannesburg  to the University of Cape Town, South Africa. On many occasions, I could hear my father telling us his story. I would always appreciate how education had changed his life and later ours and now those of his grandchildren. Each generation has gone on to stretch the limits as they try to offer the best available education to their children.

We are because our father was.

Nelson Mandela, the first president of a free South Africa and one of the great icons of the 20th century, never underestimated the power of education. He said : “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”

The time I spent helping on the farm , reading and story-telling in the evenings,  taught me how to work with  my hands and brain and have the heart to be human- compassionate , engaging  in the world around me fully. I was given a priceless gift.

I became a voracious reader; reading for pleasure, reading to study and reading to explore things. By the age of twenty five years, I had become a global citizen at the price of a novel! This was long before the invention of the Internet – which shrank the world to a global village!

I can never thank my father enough, for starting me on this adventurous journey of a lifetime.  My school which had a big library always made me feel like a kid in a candy store. They say that a book is a gift you can open again and again.

By writing short stories and fiction novels , I am continuing the tradition that my father started in my childhood. Yes, I told stories to my own children and have continued to this day. I cannot wait to tell them to my grandchildren.

As a medical doctor I use facts and information to answer many people’s questions and through my own experiences I help people improve their own lives.

During this almost two months COVID-19 pandemic Lockdown,  I entertain myself and keep going strong without falling into despair by devouring novels , writing short stories and polishing some manuscripts.

“There is no substitute for books  in the life of a child.”-  May Ellen Chase

“The greatest gift is a passion for reading.”– Elizabeth Hardwick

QUESTION: Did you develop the culture of reading early on in your childhood?

How has it contributed to who you are today?

Are you passing on this useful culture to your children and other members of your community?

Uganda Blogging Community 21 Days Challenge

DAY 13: 20 Minutes With a Celebrity. Who and Why?

Organically-grown tomatoes

Since my return home, I have had to add many new words to my vocabulary but at the same time, I have lost the true meaning of some words like “a celebrity”. I am therefore seeking permission to tweak today’s challenge to:  One Ugandan I would want to spend half a day with and Why.

You have guessed it; it is a “she”, because I am a great supporter of female empowerment.

She is forty years old, full of energy, is driven, innovative, creative and keen to pass on her knowledge and skills to the young. She is a typical Ugandan professional woman, juggling family, motherhood and a career and yet remains a down -to -earth person. For me, she is an ordinary woman who does extraordinary things and she has come to represent the young face of a successful farmer.

Uganda is predominantly an agricultural country with 70% of the population depending on subsistence agriculture in the rural areas and struggling to earn enough to live on from it. Available information shows that the average face of the Ugandan farmer is 52 years and for many years we all believed that one needed to farm a large area to be a successful farmer.

I applaud Dr. Emma Naluyima a Veterinary doctor, Researcher and farmer, of Bwerenga village , Entebbe, Uganda,for dispelling these myths. She is married and is a mother of three. I had a chance encounter with her at a family gathering at her father’s place and I was blown away. She is practicing modern farming on just a one acre of land; the one acre of land was given to her by her father.

She cleared the bush, started a piggery with three female pigs and one boar. She is now laughing all the way to the bank! In ten years, she has grown from strength to strength. She has a piggery, poultry unit and a few dairy cows. She has a banana garden and grows a variety of fruits and vegetables on this one acre land.

What is more interesting is that she recycles almost everything on her farm as she tries to preserve and protect the environment. She allows flies to lay eggs on the fresh cow dung, covers the eggs which then hatch into maggots. She feeds the high protein maggots to her chickens. She introduced earthworms to make humus from the soil, she then uses it to nourish her banana plants and vegetable gardens. Part of the cow dung is converted to renewable, clean energy: biogas. She uses the biogas for cooking in her kitchen.

She is self-sufficient in organically- grown food, fresh fruits and vegetables, milk, eggs and she sells the extra produce to the community. Some years back, she resigned from her well paying government job as a Vet, currently this one acre farm is the main source of her livelihood.

Being both an entrepreneur and a forward-looking person, she started MST Junior Academy close to her farm , to pass on her knowledge and skills to the young. She believes very strongly that the youth are our future.  If young minds are exposed and made to engage in farming at an early age, they will grow up wanting to be more and doing more as farmers.  They will learn to be useful to themselves and their communities.

Nana Obadie rightly said: “ Youth are the root of the world and the seed of the womb.”

Such young people will always be too busy running their small projects like Rabbits rearing to have time to engage into bad habits like alcohol and drug abuse. Like their teacher and mentor, they will start small and grow. They will make farming attractive to the young and they will appreciate the culture of earning their own money from hard work.

How I wish that the Ministry of Agriculture could start and maintain learning centres or demonstration farms like this one between five districts in the whole country. I may be wrong but I think it would reduce the migrations from villages to towns.

While growing up in the 1960s, we had two homes; one in the city centre and one right in the village beyond Mityana town, about seventy kilomtres from Kampala city. By then my father was one of the most highly paid officers but still he ran a mixed farm of coffee, bananas, fresh fruits and vegetables and kept a herd of cows and goats  and local chickens. Apart from fresh fish, bread and confectionary items, we never bought any food. The farm was the main source of income to our family. Then came the serial interruptions of the civil wars of the late 70s and early 80s and things changed for the worse. Farms could not be maintained in such a fluid environment and many young people migrated to other countries in search of better opportunities and stability.

Dr. Emma Naluyima, thank you for giving farming a new and young face, being a trail blazer in successful small scale farming, for elevating farming to its rightful place in our society and last but not least for sharing your skills and knowledge with the young and anyone who wants to be like you.

I think I would want to spend a whole day with you not just half a day because your passion , courage, innovation  and determination  are very inspirational to both the young and old. You are doing what you love and earning good money out of it.

“ All your dreams can come true if you have the courage to pursue them. “- Walt Disney


How far are you along the journey of living the life of your dreams?

Uganda Blogging Community 21 Days Challenge

A lush green soursop tree and a gooseberry plant as seen from my window


Day: 11   Something/ Things I miss in the Lockdown

I know myself too well to know that I thrive best when I am surrounded by people especially loved ones.

I believe that we are given to each other to be there for each other. We give to one another and enrich each other’s life. I am of the conservative type who still believe that physical interaction with people requires me to move where the people are or they move to where I am. In this lockdown I cannot do what I want when I want it. It has robbed me of some control over my own life.

I understand very well that the lockdown is for my own health and safety as well as the health and safety of others. It is also temporary but as a human being, at times I find myself thinking that this lockdown at home-cum-cage is now running my life. Yes, I can easily communicate with my loved ones and friends by calling them or talk to them on WhatsApp or Skype but these have their limitations too.

The psychologists tell us that Communication is the bedrock of all human relationships. Effective, open communication is about 30- 40% verbal and 60-70% non-verbal. I can easily get to know what is going on with any of my children by just a simple handshake- of course now thrown out by the COVID-19 pandemic safety regulations, by hands being rubbed over the chin or hands raised in the air in resignation and a simple shrug of the shoulders. Eyes can widen in fear or joy or be closed in confusion, a genuine smile with the eyes and a spring in the gait conveys their confidence to me.

The “Hullo. I’m fine,” that I hear on the phone, reveals very little about the speaker.

I spent the fourteen years of my formal education in one boarding school near Kampala. I never felt that I was caged in because the school is built on a large area that includes a big library, a farm, several sports fields, tennis courts, a chapel, a tuck shop, a sick bay and an amphitheatre. We were encouraged to know each other well , forge friendships and  to engage fully in the school activities which even included  a Visiting club to  help out the elderly in the surrounding village. There was never a dull moment from the time I woke up at 6 am to the time I slept at 10 pm. I knew exactly when the new term would end before it even started.

This unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic lockdown just happened; at the rate the virus was spreading and killing people all over the world , no country had time to prepare for the lockdown. Most people just stayed where they were. I am lucky that I am not alone at home; at least I have my mother and young helper with me. We try to turn each day into a game by entertaining ourselves and keeping ourselves busy. We exercise, spend some time in our small garden, cook meals together, listen to the Ministry of Health Safety Guidelines  and updates and the President’s speeches. We pray together and listen to great music on the radio, TV and Internet.

 However, the uncertainty still hangs over us because neither the Scientists and doctors nor the government know when the lockdown will end.

Life still goes on. Sometimes, wearing a mask, I walk down to the supermarkets to buy a few groceries but a number of items may not be in stock. This is when I miss doing what I want when I want plus the freedom of movement. I would just get into a car and buy them elsewhere. I have lost some relatives and friends during this lockdown and I feel sorry that I cannot be physically with the bereaved families to support them.

The COVID-19 pandemic lockdown has shrunk my world and limited the physical interactions with loved ones but it has helped me to build a stronger relationship with my mother having  missed her for the twenty two years I was in economic exile, and my new helper. Using the fresh harvest of sweet bananas from our garden , the young lady has taught me how to make pancakes- kabalagala. I am becoming better at it each time we prepare some. My regular supplier in Wandegeya will not like to hear this at all.

I am grateful that I am not alone in the house, that I have a small garden where I can spend time connecting with nature and the best part: I can escape from it all by immersing myself in Creative writing and reading with less distractions and interruptions.

I never forget to thank God  Almighty  for the outcome  so far. As of the 28/04/2020,Uganda had tested a total of 20329 suspects of which  79  were confirmed , 52 of these  are Recoveries and no deaths among them or the attending health care workers.  I thank, cheer and commend our health care workers for their dedication and hard work at the front line while at the same time carrying their own fears and worries about the hidden enemy.

I remain hopeful that the highly infectious COVID-19 will not spread into the community to overwhelm our fragile health care system and warrant the extension of the Lockdown beyond 5th May 2020.

These two quotes should uplift and encourage us to keep walking and learning as we go.

Sometimes the smallest step in the right direction ends up being the biggest step of your life. Tip toe if you must, but take the step.”– Unknown

When obstacles arise, you change your direction to reach your goal; you do not change your decision to get there.” – Zig Zigla


In this unprecedented lockdown, which big obstacle have you been able to turn into an advantage or game? What motivated you to do it ?

Uganda Bogging Community 21 Days Challenge

An avalanche of information along the information Highway.
Photo by Eric Weber on

DAY 9: My Favourite Blogs

For the prolific writers and voracious readers, this is the best time to be alive. The 4th Industrial Revolution ushered in by the invention of the Internet brought a fundamental change in society. An avalanche of information is available and can be shared for free  globally by a mere tap of a button. Knowledge is Power so says a common adage but it can be power only if it is applied to improve one’s life.

By use of a Smart Phone, anyone can create content and share it instantly; personal issues can go public in an instant or local issues become global. Writers and readers exchange knowledge and education. They can also develop channels for cooperation with other people and groups working on related topics.

With so much free information available, each of us has the responsibility to create relevant and original content and the readers have to decipher the  information.

As a reader now turned –writer, I find myself spoilt for choice.  While trying to focus on writing, I have trained myself to select the most relevant Blogs which add value to me as an individual and as emerging writer. I keep adding on the list as I go along.

These are my favourite Blogs

  1. Two Drops of Ink  This is literary Blog for collaborative Writing. You can contribute short stories and read a wide spectrum of short stories in the major genres. The feedback from other writers is vital in the growth of the writer. The Blog also provides literary criticism and book reviews.

2. Pen and Prosper A blog for writers, run by a professional writer and columnist. It aims at helping new writers to learn the ropes and senior writers with ideas to develop a lucrative career. It offers a lot to read and learn.

3..Michael Hyatt – A virtual Leadership Mentor and Coach. Michel Hyatt was at one time a literary agent. He develops tools to guide leaders to lead in all situations including the current COVID-19 pandemic; leaders who lead with focus and clarity. I have attended several webinars on this blog and found them extremely relevant and useful.

The link to his blog is :

There are several other blogs that I visit once in a while but due to limited time, I have had to focus on those three to advance my writing skills.

Uganda Bogging Community 21 Days Challenge

Day 7: Best Relationship Advice

Day 7: Best Relationship Advice

I have been around for a while so I have experiences of my own,I have observed others and I know. All in all, experience is the best teacher but still the wisest among us learn from others’ mistakes. Life is essentially about relationships and the  choices we make which themselves have consequences. You have a relationship with your God, yourself, your spouse, your family, your friends and other people around you.

Man is a social animal, naturally seeking companionship of others as part of his well being. He goes about life looking for acceptance, affirmation, approval and acknowledgement. It gives us a sense of belonging.

 It takes two to tango but no two relationships are the same because each individual brings something to the relationship and contributes to its joy or misery.  It takes a lifetime to grow a rewarding, satisfying and lasting relationship. There is a very old song  : Take Time to Know Her – it’s not an overnight thing. It takes a lot of work , commitment , dedication  and sometimes some sacrifice.

What I am writing here is the best advice that I would give to my son and daughter- in –law  or my daughter and son-in-law or  any of my friends ‘children and their spouses. I would give it gladly with the intention of helping them create healthy relationship that will grow every day to enrich the two people in it.

From my own experiences, my observations of others and from what I have come to know for sure, these are the four main ingredients of a healthy,loving relationship:

  1. LOVE–  True love is the foundation of any robust relationship.

With love everything is possible because love covers everything. This love starts from each individual loving, accepting and respecting herself /himself for who he/she is- strengths and weakness, the good, the bad and ugly. Filled with such love then you can go out confidently and love your partner for who he /she is not for what you want her/him to be.

I wasted a lot of time trying to change my husband only to find out later that the only person I could change was myself. You love unconditionally and polish it up every day with small acts of kindness otherwise it withers and dies.

There is one book that I wish I had read many times over early on in my life, I would have been a better companion but the book came out in 1992. It is called  The Five Love Languages  by an American  Relationship counselor, Gary Chapman. Ironically, his marriage was almost falling apart when he came up with the ideas in that book and it saved his marriage. Chapman believes that there are 5 primary languages in which love can be expressed and be experienced in a romantic relationship. Each individual has a dominant and  special way he/she wants love expressed to her/him.  Failing to receive love in that form, he/she will feel unloved, uncared for.

The 5 primary Love languages are :

Words of Affirmation

Quality Time

Receiving Gifts

Acts of Service

Physical Touch

People give love mostly in their primary love language and expect it back in that form.

You can easily discover your spouse’s  primary Love language by observing how he/she expresses love to you and what he/ she complains about in the relationship most of the time.

I speak the  ‘ Quality Time’ language.

When you speak to the spouse in the language he/ she knows , you speak to her/his mind but when you speak to her/him in her/his own language you speak to her/his heart.

When you discover your partner’s primary Love language   and speak it to her loud and clear 24/7, she will feel loved and cared for. This great feeling will fire her/him to give love back to you in your own primary Love language.

When you predominantly give me words of affirmation and yet I am for Quality Time, you could be speaking Greek to me as far as loving me is concerned.

This book is a gem and I would recommend it to anyone, young and old who is in a relationship. Reading it together, as often as possible, will take your relationship to greater heights day by day.  Remember it saved Chapman’s marriage.

 Feeling loved and cared for is an incredible feeling. Such love trickles through everything you do. You become creative and most times you create miracles of life- children, out of that love in your heart. The Taj Mahal, a palace in India was built by a Shah in 1632 to house the tomb of his favourite wife. Most master pieces of Art are created out of great love in the artist’s heart.

2. RESPECT– Like love, trust and loyalty , respecting your spouse starts with you respecting yourself.

Respect yourself for what you are as a human being; your strengths and flaws then you can confidently respect and love your partner for who he/she is and consider her/his wishes and feelings before making decisions.  You respect your partner as an equal ; trust her/him and have faith in  her/his  judgment. You may not agree about things all the time but choose to disagree amicably.

Over time, as you get to know each other better, the respect tends to grow and you become each other’s best friend.

Oddly enough, you can love someone without respecting him/her but then that won’t be a healthy relationship and is hard to sustain.

3. TRUST- This is the faith you have in your partner that he/she will always love you and be loyal enough to stand by you. Each partner has to work to deserve to be trusted by the other. You have to mean what you say and do what you say.  As actions speak louder than words, by your actions and behavior, you prove that you are dependable and reliable. It takes time and hard work for you to build enough trust in your spouse to  feel secure and confide in you. Trusting one another brings out the best in each other thus contributing to the growth of your love for each other.The most absurd thing is that it takes long to build trust but it can be broken by one betrayal. Once trust is lost, it may take years to rebuild it.

4. Open and Honest Communication– I would say that this is what strings things together in a relationship. Social animals communicate with one another mainly for survival. We all fear what we do not know or do not understand so talking to one another, talking things through makes us secure.  When you understand you forgive and then you love and when you love you never hurt but instead you protect your loved one. We communicate to be understood. Communication is about 40%  verbal and about 60% non-verbal so observe the facial expressions, movements and gestures.  Social interaction is essential for our emotional and mental well being.

Effective communication has to be open and honest;talk about everything  and anything in your lives- no secrets.  What you do not talk about has the power to enslave you. You express your needs , wants, desires to your partner to help her/him understand what you want from her/him. Both of you have to learn to be good listeners- listening with a third ear to go beyond understanding what is being said but at the same time pick unstated needs and fears. Listening to one another is a sign of respect.  Without effective communication unwanted problems arise and small ones grow bigger.

I used to play Tennis in my youth, it taught me a lot of things about life itself.

A healthy relationship with two people in love with each other especially when united as one in marriage can be compared to a good Tennis game. A good player connects with the ball, anticipates and prepares and then hits the ball. The more you learn how to raise your partner’s game, the more you enjoy the game. In any exciting game, you are as good as a your opponent. You respond in such a way as to help your partner make it through the struggles. A good game always demands mental strength and total focus without distractions.

They say that to love is to be alive; engaging fully with life and your surroundings.

Uganda Blogging Community 21 days Challenge

Day 8: Thoughts About Uganda’s Health Care System

A Ugandan nurse at the front line of the COVID -19 pandemic battlefield.

The Baganda have a saying when loosely translated says: It’s good to have a heavy downpour ; you differentiate  a solid house from a simple hut.  This is exactly what the COVID-19 pandemic has done to health care systems worldwide.  It has brought to the surface what has  been simmering below for many years.

The pandemic has shown the strengths of the health care system like professionals that can lead in the control  of a pandemic and weaknesses like overstretched , underpaid workers with little Personal Protective Equipment(PPE)  working in an underfunded health care system.

I thank them from the bottom of my heart for their unwavering commitment and dedication to the  noble profession and the people of Uganda.

I feel that I am  well positioned  to  comment about our health care system  than many other people for I worked in it for twenty years and by then  it was delivering free, effective services to all. Those who felt that they needed to pay a little to be seen by the consultants would attend the Private wing of the New Mulago hospital and be admitted in the private wards on the top floor.  President Amin Dada’s son, Moses , had his tonsils removed on the 6th floor when I was  the internee on duty. His many wives delivered their babies in the 6th Floor maternity Ward.

 I left for greener pastures in Botswana, southern Africa in 1994 then came back almost four years ago.

After the National Resistance Army bush war of 1981 to January 1986, I had great hope that the our health would be given the priority it deserved. A country’s greatest asset is  its people because people have to be healthy to participate fully in their own development and that of their country.

I left because I could not get a decent pay  as a health worker and the tools I needed to perform my work were inadequate. There was no way I could realize my full potential  and  at the same give my children  a better education and more opportunities than myself. I practiced the best clinical medicine in Botswana, a middle income country, an oasis of good governance  and prudent management of the natural resources  for the good of every citizen.

All along I followed what was going on in my country more so in the Health sector.  Whenever I visited home, I would cry silently because of the deteriorating state of the health care system.

Do not get me wrong; some remarkable achievements were made in areas like the control of HIV/AIDS epidemic and  the control and management of Ebola epidemics.

I thank all those workers who stayed on to sustain the thin thread that held the health care system together . I salute them for their commitment and dedication and acknowledge their relentless struggle to support their families under tough conditions.

 On my return home, I was shocked to the core when  I recognised  that there were two tiers of the health care system: one for the rich and another for the poor.  70%  of Ugandans live in the rural areas depending on subsistence agriculture. Falling sick in such an environment is close to committing suicide. They sell whatever they have to have the sick treated in dilapidated facilities lacking even the simplest drug like Paracetamol. They are seen by the health workers  then prescribed the necessary drugs .  Most times they cannot afford  to buy the drugs thus compromising their health.

 It is strikingly different for the privileged few who can be flown out with attendants to be treated in India, South Africa, UK and Kenya.The irony of things is that in some of those places, they are treated by Ugandans born and trained in Ugandan Medical schools!

 In this day and age, what nags my conscience fiercely every day as a health worker , is the fact that  16 women continue to die every day in Uganda from complications from  pregnancy or childbirth. Indeed the rate has reduced in the 22 years I was away but 16 is still high. Considering that most of those mothers die from preventable or treatable complications  like excessive bleeding, severe infection  and unsafe abortions and that each mother who dies  leaves behind  5-7 children, it is one of the biggest tragedies of our time.

The number of women who die from complications of pregnancy or child birth per 100, 000 live births per year is  known as MMR- Maternal Mortality Ratio.

  According to

   Uganda  has a Maternal Mortality Ratio of  438 per 100.000 live births (2014). It is unacceptably high.

Kenya has  a MMR of  362 per 100,000 live births per a year.

Rwanda’s  has a  MMR of 216 (2016)

Botswana 144 deaths per 100,000 live births( 2017)

High MMR  are a  combination of:

  • limited access to quality maternal health services,
  • poverty,
  •  distance to facilities,
  • lack of information
  • Cultural beliefs and practices.

All citizens have a right to quality health care from the womb to the tomb.

 Similarly, we are all part of the solution.

 According to  the , in the years I was away , Uganda’s population increased from  19.79 in 1994  to 36.91 million in  2014. However, the increase in functional health facilities did not catch up and the government expenditure on health in 1995/1996 was 9.8% of the total budget and  a mere 7.4% in the 2018/2019 budget.

 The Abuja Declaration of 2001 requires each country which is a member of the African Union ,to spend a minimum of 15%  of its total yearly budget on Health. At the peak of the HIV/AIDS  epidemic  in Botsawana, 2002-2006, Botswana  spent 40% of its total budget on health  to avail universal  Antiretroviral Treatment to its people and care and support the orphans of the epidemic.

As a health work who took the Hippocratic Oath to save all  lives these are my simple ideas on how to improve our health care system so that it delivers quality, effective , affordable services to all citizens wherever they are:

  1. Prioritise  Health-  Like any other government of a developing country, our  government has many demands  made on it but the planners should take health as a  priority by increasing the expenditure on health closer to the Abuja requirement- minimum 15% then put in place transparent mechanisms of accountability.

Health structures can be revamped, well stocked with medicines and the health workers can be retrained regularly and paid more so that that they can be retained. A satisfied worker would strive to deliver of her/his best.

2.Empower Communities to be in charge their health- The 1995 Constitution mandates the Ministry of Health to focus on  Policy and Regulation while the Ministry of Local Government runs the health care system below the regional  Referral hospitals  as it is done in Botswana. Emphasis on Primary Health Care will focus on Prevention other than the treatment of diseases. Communities will be healthier and will require less of treatment of diseases. Uganda is known to have excellent policies  on paper which are never implement or take over ten years to implement.

3.In this 21st century, governments cannot shoulder and finance the running of a functioning health care systems alone. It will require the government, the citizens themselves and  business partners to set up a locally appropriate Health Care Scheme that covers all. Botswana has had a Medical Aid scheme since 1991. I greatly benefited from it though I could still get free treatment from my local clinic.

Consultations should start at the grass roots and move up so that the groups involved agree amicably on an arrangement that satisfies all. The scheme has to be inclusive, effective, of good quality , affordable and sustainable.

     4. Education- the role of education in changing people’s behavior about important issues in society like accepting immunisation or use of health facilities is well known  so the Ministry of Education should continue to educate the young about the strong relationship between health and development. By the time they are adults, they will be able take informed decisions about their own health and the health of the population in general. They will be empowered enough to demand more from the governments of their day.

COVID- 19 pandemic has forced us into lockdown and affected the economy negatively but at the same time it has done us a great service by showing us the biggest gaps in our health care system. I only hope that the numbers of new cases will not rise above a hundred otherwise the fragile heath care system may collapse.

The Great Depression of the 1930s taught the Americans many things and forced them to design policies and programmes to help them stand strong if a depression of such magnitude were to recur.

This is the right time for all Ugandans to focus on our health care system, to change it into the type of system we want  for ourselves : the one that  can effectively deliver services to the population whenever they are and survive another pandemic in future.

Day 6 of The Uganda Blogging Community 21 days Challenge.



Health is defined as a state of physical, mental and social well-being not just the absence of disease.

Most of us know the old adage: A healthy mind in a healthy body. Self care is taking care of one’s body. mind and spirit.

In a patriarchal society like ours, women and girls are preordained to be the primary caregivers-taking care of the husbands, the children , the elderly and the sick. The majority of us end up being so consumed by this role that we forget or fail to find time to take care of ourselves. We end up suffering from burnout or being too stressed. In my late thirties, while juggling a demanding career and motherhood, I almost suffered from burn out. That is when I realized that I needed to care for my body, mind, and spirit every day of my life for a lifetime if I were to lead a meaningful and satisfying life.

I took time to dig deeper to know myself-my strengths, weaknesses and my limits then strived to take care of myself within those boundaries. The rewards have been great. I keep adjusting a few things as more time becomes available to me.

This is what I usually do for self care:

Taking care of my body

  1. Adequate sleep at night- after the day’s activities, a body needs 7-8 hours of sleep to repair itself  and to produce the proteins that fight off infection and inflammation. I know very well that less sleep results in poor immune response; opening up the body for recurrent infections. This is extremely important during this COVID-19 pandemic.
  2. Timely healthy balanced meals- I plan each day’s meals  well in advance to allow me to stock up on what I shall need during the week. I am even lucky that I can harvest fresh lemons, sweet bananas, avocados, jackfruits,  sour soap, carrots, beetroots, celery and rape, dodo and some fresh herbs like mint and rosemary from our garden.
  3. Water-  Up to 60% of my body  is water so I need to drink a minimum of two litres of water to stay well hydrated in 24 hours.
  4. Regular exercise- I start my day with simple exercises in the house mainly to strengthen and tone my muscles. I also take long walks in the evening but the bodabodas that never follow the flow of traffic can be threatening.
  5. A regular haircut and treatment at a salon is part of the package.

      Taking care of the Mind

The routine things that  I have learned  over the years and  practice often like taking a bath do not challenge the brain; the brain needs to be challenged by doing new things like learning a language or complex things like  solving a Sudoku number puzzle. At my age, if I do not challenge it regularly it will lose its function; I shall become slow in action and slow in making decisions.

I do this by reading novels usually two at a time, reading medical journals and writing. Every day I make time to write a page of a short story or a blog post, read newspapers and fill the crossword puzzles, Sudoku number puzzles. I also read blog posts on the Blogs that I follow.

 Every day I listen to some regular programmes of the BBC World Service, listen to Classic music, Country music and Gospel songs.

In the evenings I call my children and friends or chat with them on WhatsApp. My childhood best friend and I have for a long time nurtured a habit of meeting over a meal or a drink and catching up on our lives at least once in two weeks. It gives us something to look forward too.  Connecting with loved ones releases the “feel good factors” in my brain making me relaxed and happy.

At least twice a week in the evenings, I work in our vegetable garden mainly to connect with Nature and find my place in the universe. It is both calming and relaxing not forgetting the leafy green bumper harvest at the end of the season.

I regularly take time to be alone, I call it “Me’’ time . I use this time to reboot, meditate, focus and be more creative. I follow that old Greek  motto : Know Thyself. The more I get to know myself, the more I get to know and understand others so I become more human and compassionate. It has made me more honest and authentic. It keeps my body, mind, heart and soul in harmony and when I create things they express who I am organically.

Taking care of my spirit

I believe in God and his promises. I count my blessings every day; it gives me hope and joy and lines me up for more blessings.

I read and study the Bible with the intention of living it in my day-to-day life. After the early morning exercises, I read the day’s spiritual nugget and a chapter of a chosen book in either the New or Old Testament. I then pray to seek God’s guidance throughout the day. I always end the day with a prayer late at night.

As a Christian, I do some voluntary work like Career Guidance in Schools through my church, the Women Doctors’ Association and my school’s Old Girls Association. It is my way of giving back to the communities that shaped me.

Self care is an integral part of taking care of one’s health and I feel that young professionals especially the women  should be made aware of it as we support them to give without maiming themselves and others.

Jesus commanded us to love our neighbours as we love ourselves but then if I do not know how to love myself, how will you love others?


Colours speak to Us


The COVID-19  pandemic  rages on , affecting all aspects of society- health, financial, movement and getting down to our relationships and choices. All of us are longing for the world we know and yet we know that it will definitely be a new Normal.

 The majority of people in the world are under some form of lockdown to control the spread of the virus in communities and to ensure that that health care systems do not get overwhelmed by the number of patients. It happened in Italy, Spain, UK, New York right before our eyes. No  government would want to see it happen in its country.

In Uganda, as of last night, we were in day 8 of the lockdown and  a curfew from 7pm to 7am. The total number of confirmed cases was 61 of which  51 had been  treated and discharged.  Thankfully, we had not suffered any deaths among the cases or the health workers. The strict lockdown  is set to continue until the 5th May 2020. We all hope and pray that the numbers of cases will not surge to warrant an extension of the lockdown and curfew. The government has done a commendable job in adhering to the advice of WHO and  health professionals in the Ministry of Health and Uganda Virus Research Institute as well as supplying food to the most needy  around the city. Digital technology has made it easy to collect information and data which is then analysed to determine the next course of action and to keep the public well informed and part of the control plans.

I have come to trust the face and words of Dr. Jane Ruth Aceng, the Minister of Health  and to appreciate the dedication and heavy burden on the health workers who are at the frontline of this battle. They have energetically tapped into their experiences of managing the Ebola epidemics  of the recent past.

Citizens and professional all alike, our priority now is to protect ourselves from this invisible enemy, survive the lockup and move into the New Normal.

We are confined to our homes knowing very well that the environment always sets the rules  and we have to live by those rules. In these confined spaces, we are forced to learn to be alone ( in some cases)or be congested , to be quieter and to entertain ourselves.

These are difficult but temporary  times so we live one day at a time under a cloud of uncertainty. Under such environment, each one of us has on purpose to tap into the child in her/him to be able to make a game out of this lockdown . It is the only way to keep mentally, physically and emotional in top shape.

I remember some years back, one of my sons misbehaved and I punished him by locking him up in an empty room. He went in screaming but within a few minutes he was strikingly quiet. Like a monkey, he had climbed over the burglar proofing of the second door and was looking at the people passing  by in the road. He was enjoying it! He had turned a punishment into a game!

Children approach any situation with spontaneity and openness. We cannot allow ourselves to stagnate during this lockdown; time once lost, it cannot be recovered.

With childlike enthusiasm, we have to explore and create some laughter, fun, adventure  and colour in our confined spaces. The child in each one of us never goes away though as we grow up, we tend to be too focused on the past or the future to be fully open and spontaneous. Lockdown time should give us an opportunity to regain what is natural to each of us as children. We would all be alive if we responded creatively and anew to each new experience.

It is time to talk, laugh, play music, write, read, cook , paint,  to do gardening or a  DIY around the house or anything daring or outrageous to break the routine. Do it with childlike abandon with no sense of guilt. Take one day at a time. Do it on purpose; it will help you adjust to this temporary and difficult time. The complaining and whining will only make an already difficult time worse.

While researching for material for this post I came across some encouraging quotes that can uplift us.

  1. God put rainbows in the clouds so that each of us – in dreariest and most dreaded moments- can see a possibility of hope.” Maya Angelou
  2. Acting from  a  negative attitude attracts more negativity in your life. It’s your life; live it well.”- Judge Judy Sheindlin
  3. You may chain my hands, you may shackle my feet, you may even throw  me into a dark prison; but you shall never enslave my thinking, because it is free.’’ – Kahlil Gibran.
  4. “In life you either choose to sing a rainbow, or you don’t. Keep singing.” – Catherine Lory
  5.  “There comes a point in life when you realize that your darkest times  are your best times, too- you will see the rainbow of your life.” Roy Bennet
  6. My parents survived the Great Depression and brought me up to live within my means, save for tomorrow, share and don’t be greedy, work hard for the necessities  in life. Knowing that money does not make you better or more important than anyone else. So, extravagance has been  bred out of my DNA.”- David Suzuki
  7. The greatest generation was formed first by the Great Depression. They shared everything- meals, joy, clothing.  – Tom Brokaces
  8. “ It took capitalism half a century to come back from the Great Depression.” – Ben Shapiro
  9.  “Courage is the power to let go of the familiar.” – Raymond Lindquist
  10. “Change the way you look at things and the things you look at will change.”– Wayne. W. Dyer

11.“Those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything. ” – George Bernard Shaw

  12.  “The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.” William Arthur Ward.

  13.    “ True life is lived when tiny changes occur.” Leo Tolstoy

  14.“ All things are difficult before they are easy.” – Thomas Fuller

  15. “ Delays are valuable challenges. Stop complaining and whining instead exploit them to create a rainbow. The rainbow will show up.” –Anonymous.

As we wonder when the COVID-19 pandemic will end, how it will end and how it will change  us and our world, we have to understand that the COVID-19, Corona virus Disease, will not just disappear, instead it  will become part of our lives. We just keep hoping that the drugs to treat it and  the vaccine to control it will be discovered  sooner than later, to help us  go on with our lives.

 In 1978, I took six months of internship in the paediatric department of the New Mulago Teaching hospital . To my shock and horror, I recognised that a minimum of ten children under five years of age were dying of the viral infection , Measles, and its complications.  Each time I was on duty in the Acute Care Unit, I would leave the place shaken and crushed in  spirit.  That was one reason why I could not specialize in the care of infants, children and adolescents- Paediatrics.

WHO archives show that in 1980, before the widespread vaccination of Measles , the disease caused an estimated 2.6  million deaths each year in the world. Amazingly , by 2015, due to the widespread use of the safe  and effective vaccine, the highly infectious viral infection caused an estimated 134, 200 deaths worldwide , most of them in the under five children. The vaccine had reduced the deaths caused by measles by 79%! The Global Vaccination Action Plan targets a 90 % immunization coverage. The current Immunisation coverage of measles  in the under five years in Uganda  is about 82 % while Botswana has an Immunisation coverage of all childhood diseases  of 97 %. In the two decades I worked in the Primary Health Care department  of Botswana,  I only saw two cases of Measles and they were mild. I picked them quickly due to my haunting experience in the Paediatric department in Mulago.

Companies in USA, UK, Israel , China and other countries are working round the clock to develop a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine. It is encouraging to hear that trials in human beings have started in USA and UK. Normally it takes years to develop any safe, effective vaccine but thanks to the new technology like genetic sequencing, the vaccine to this new vaccine may take 6 to 18 months!

Before we know it, we could be walking around with a mild infection of CODIV-19.

Meanwhile , let us keep ourselves safe and others safe. We all stand to gain from this strict lockdown.

The innocent smile of a child.


What is the biggest challenge that you face every day during this COVID-19 Lockdown? How have you tried to solve it ?

Please stay safe and stay healthy.


 The Blogging Community of  Uganda came up with a challenge for its members to blog on a specific topic every day from 19th April to 9th May 2020. I considered it a useful challenge during this COVID-19 Lockdown.  It is a rainbow-giving us hope and inspiration while at the same time challenging the child in each one of us to create a game out of the lockdown. I accepted the challenge and started on it yesterday. I am playing catch up gladly ; aiming at being where I am supposed to be  by the weekend.

        Day 2 :  20 Facts About Me

  1. I am Jane Nannono, a Ugandan female medical doctor who has lived and worked in Uganda and Botswana, southern Africa.
  2. I am a mother of two boys, one girl and a guardian of two of my nieces.
  3.  I am a grandmother.
  4. I juggle medicine, motherhood, Creative Writing and Voluntary work.
  5. My parents are my best role models- they taught me to love, respect, and loyalty and to give without expecting anything back.
  6. I consider myself a work in progress so I am always looking out for opportunities to improve and package myself so as to stay useful and relevant to myself and my community.
  7. I have a strong network of friends who would drop anything for me and I would do the same for them.
  8.   Reading books has been part of my everyday life as far as I can remember. I would be very miserable without one.
  9. I am a published author: The Last Lifeline (2015) was my first fiction novel followed by And The Lights Came On (2016)
  10. Both books  are available as ebooks on my Amazon .com link:
  11. I also write short stories. Two of these were published in the Volume 1 Anthology of the Africa Book Club – The Bundle of Joy (2014)
  12. Two others were published on the 2 Drops of Ink, Online Literary Blog.

13.The Story that Grandmother Never Wanted to Tell  was featured on the Yours 2 Read online platform for African writers  in London in March 2020.

 14. I have been running a blog for personal development: to share my wealth of knowledge, skills and experiences with others with the intention of impacting their lives positively. I post an article on it consistently every ten days.  Writing the posts hones  my writing skills, connects me with other writers and readers. It serves as a platform to promote my Creative Writing works. Its link is :

15. I am a member of several Online Writers Cartels like Write Practice, Africa Book Club and 2 Drops of Ink.

16. I am a member of FEMRITE- Association of Uganda Women Writers and AWT- The African Writers Trust(Ug)

17. I attend   workshops for writers  regularly to hone my writing skills. The most rewarding that I attended was organized by AWT last September. Prof. Okey Ndibe  who teaches Africa and African Diaspora Literature at Brown University, USA, was the tutor.

18. I have two other hobbies: travelling and amateur photography. They feed into my writing and enable me to explore some of the places that I visit in my wide reading. Most of the images I use in my blog posts were taken by me during my travels.

19. I am also a keen gardener. Connecting with Nature helps me to find my place in the universe and gives me the responsibility to nurture and preserve it for the next generation.

20. I consider writing as my second career after medicine.  I have been  featured as  a Guest Blogger  on these,   and

I think this will give you some ideas of who I am.

Day 1 of the UGBlogMonth Challenge.


I have four main reasons behind my writing

  1. My Fascination with the Written Word.

I have been a voracious reader since the age of six and my parents played a crucial role in helping me to cultivate this habit.  In the secondary school I attended, I was caught and punished many times for  hiding in a pantry  to read  a novel after the official Lights Out at 10pm. In the process, I acquired so much knowledge, joy and fun and  became a global citizen long before the invention of the Internet; all at the price of a book!

By the time I was thirty five years of age, I felt that I had read enough books- fiction and non fiction to write my own. This was my simple way of giving back to the Literary world in gratitude. Surprisingly , my English teacher of Literature in English had seen this potential and drawn my attention to it. I considered Medicine as my noble calling.

2. Writing to express my thoughts, feelings and desires.

As I grew older, I continued with my obsession with books but I also developed the quest to find out who I was at a deeper level. Slowly, but surely I became a better person and rose above mere humanity. I became an artist- creating something meaningful, lasting and something of value. I stretched my imagination and began to write short stories. I wanted to share my knowledge, experiences and skills with other people with the intention of impacting their lives positively.

My favourite author Maya Angelou said: ” When you get, you give. If you learn, you teach.”

 I write about what I know, what I feel is beautiful and of significance in my life. All that I create emerges out of the truth about who I am at that moment in time. I block out the past or the future and concentrate on my creation. I begin with childlike spontaneity and openness and finish with maturity, skill and wisdom. The process of creation is more liberating and thrilling than the actual product. I gain more confidence and enlightenment as I continue to create.

3.Writing to give hope and joy while honing my writing skills.

In October 2016, I started blogging mainly for personal development and to inspire others. I tap into my wealth of experience, skills and knowledge to uplift , inspire while honing my writing skills. I also use it as a platform to connect with other writers and readers and to promote my creative works.

4. Writing just for the fun of it.

After being away from Uganda for more than twenty two years, I returned to find a radically changed place. I found it tough to get assimilated into the new systems.  I have been able to move forward and to find joy by clinging to what I love and what makes me fulfilled: reading, reading and Writing. Writing reduces the stress, gives me the ability to cope, improves my memory and concentration, helps  me to live a balanced life and improves my sleeping habits. For as long as I can , I shall keep reading and writing to keep my mind, heart and soul in top shape.