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Laetitia Mugerwa: My Trip to The Village, Eva’s Story & a Paedophile’s Arrest

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Every Easter holiday break seems to have one common denominator for me, something I find habitual for the last few years, something every loner can relate to: the peace in silence. I celebrate every Easter in silence, alone. But in 2022, I tried something different: I travelled alone to the village during Easter with the hope that I’d spend two or three days before returning to the city. As is the case for every busy buddy, I carried my laptop and a few books, knowing that after all the pleasantries are done, I would find some ‘me time’ to catch up with a few duties and turn some pages. But these expectations were short-lived. First was the bumpy, dusty road. It seemed like the people who constructed the road conspired to deny me my holiday cravings. For close to 3 miles, I felt like I was being bungled in a wrestling match. The second was the drunk-like motorists who seemed oblivious to the possibility of being hit by my car while I struggled with navigating the pothole-littered road. But the brazing sunset, blistering sounds of birds, and the bystanders and women returning from their gardens with hoes on their shoulders were lovely scenes to watch after the week’s endless office work.

By some luck, I was able to arrive at my grandma’s place without hindrances much to the surprise to my people who always think of us as ‘city people’. They always joked that none of my siblings could ever get to the village without hitting their toes. On arrival, it was the clucking of the chickens, the bleating of the goats and the oinking of the pigs that welcomed me. My grandma is a celebrated farmer who earned her name through years of dedication to agriculture. In a blink of an eye, the car was surrounded by cheerful children and elders. The choruses of the songs, dances, and ululation seemed well rehearsed, and of course out of tune. I was shocked by the welcome. What took my attention amidst the cheers was when I saw a young girl that I knew since her birth carrying a baby. “Your name is Eva,” I said, “What happened?” Her lips hardly moved. My eyes started tearing. She ran right into me and hugged me as though she sought redemption. The rest of the people would not let me rest and one after the other, they kept asking and murmuring “How is the city? Which kind of car is this?” while dragging Eva away from my bosom.

Later in the evening, I demanded to speak to Eva. Grandma told me Eva’s issues were too complicated and that I’d better not get involved. I managed to convince grandma by telling her that I had a special gift for Eva. “My Latty,” she said, “please, don’t involve yourself in that matter,” she insisted. Finally, Eva was called and of course, I got involved in the matters. I was very disappointed to learn that Eva had become a mother at such a tender age. She was only 16 years old and now looked like a 30-year-old woman. She had two children and the youngest was only 6 months. “What happened?” I asked. Eva started crying and I couldn’t resist tears as well.

After a very long time of my unwavering quest for the truth, Eva confessed to me that she had been impregnated by Jambo, a member of the village local council who was a good family friend. Jambo is a well-known paedophile who hides under the guise of influence, age and social status to intimidate his victims. Upon knowing that she was pregnant, Eva was coerced to abort the baby. She refused and fled from the village, only to return after a year with the baby. When she returned, everyone stigmatised her and called her a bad child who ran away from home, got pregnant and later returned. Being an orphan, it was less of a concern for anyone to care about who the father of Eva’s child was. Eva’s only confidant was my grandmother who was taking care of her since her parents died.

I asked Eva why grandma hadn’t reported the matter to the authorities. She said Jambo threatened her. He said that if word ever came out, something really bad would happen. She told me that Jambo managed to convince grandma that he would instead settle that matter by paying Eva off as a third wife and taking care of her and her baby. I learnt that early in the year, Jambo offered three goats, two chickens, two kilograms of sugar, a kilo of salt and three bars of soap to grandma and the case was resolved amicably. I wondered if that lot was used in exchange for Eva’s innocence – a girl who denied her freedom and justice. When I asked about the second child, Eva informed me that it was also Jambo’s. I was so emotionally devastated that my people were happy to sweep such mischief, crime and immorality under the carpet. I reported the crime to the police, and Jambo was arrested. Eva was enrolled in my organisation’s rehabilitation for girls and is receiving mental support. My grandma doesn’t want to see me again, at least for now, maybe until the next Easter celebration.

Laetitia Mugerwa is an international researcher, and founder of Empowerment Initiative for Women and Youth Uganda. Despite her profession, Laetitia is a human rights advocate which she expresses in all her writing for years.


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