I watch toto, my mother, Mrs. Betty Anne Apio Owaraga, as she endures abuse from those she opened her home to and raised. I watch her as she weighs the options and chooses the ones that serve her children best, even though sometimes it comes with considerable cost to her. But still and with grace she endures. She is a beautiful woman of valor for whom in her heyday papa fell madly in love with. Papa’s spirit must surely be looking on with pride.
Case in point, last month, the Registrar of the Mbale High Court decided to hold a locus session at our ancestral home, papa’s home really, in order to establish the status quo that would be maintained if my application for an injunctive protective order against my step brother, Silver Adowa, were granted. Interestingly, while informing and mobilizing people to attend the locus session, Adowa allegedly lied to them that the Registrar was coming to preside over his election or was it his installation as the heir and as sole administrator of papa’s estate.
Adowa’s deceit did not last very long. With maximum clarity and as soon as he arrived the Registrar informed the gathered crowd the specific purpose of his visit. He proceeded to professionally conduct the locus tour of my Alinga Farms orchard within my wider agro-forestry project and left shortly thereafter. He did so likely unbeknownst of Adowa’s lie to the people. And so, it generated interesting facial expressions among the gathered.
Toto had also been fed the lie and which lie made her decide to be present at the locus. She arrived early, before my lawyers and I had arrived and also before the Registrar arrived. Others, including Adowa, had already arrived day(s) earlier. Apparently, as toto did a walk about greeting people, there was an incident in which Adowa put his hands on her – manhandled her and pushed her around.
“What are you doing here, you left this home long ago, what are you doing here? Go away from here,” Adowa reportedly screamed at her. Yes, papa and toto had a judicial separation of homes, but they never divorced – papa would not hear of it. Anyway, apparently, one of our cousin brothers saw Adowa attack toto and he rushed to her rescue. It is said our cousin brother pleaded with toto not to tell her sons and I before the locus took place: “Don’t allow that jigger to get attention diverted from the locus,” our cousin brother is reported to have pleaded with toto.
Just as well. If toto or anyone else had told her sons, two of whom were present by the way, Adowa would have been beaten senseless. And, indeed, the attention would have been taken away from the locus and Adowa’s deceitful activities. We, toto’s children, only got to know much later and after we had all gotten safely back to our respective homes. She telephoned to check if we had arrived safe and then told us.
I can only imagine the physical and emotional pain that she endured throughout that day, selflessly ensuring that attention did not get diverted away from her daughter’s quest for justice. And, considering this came only a few days after another incident in which Adowa’s activities made her wail.
“Owaraga, wake up, rise up and tell me whether you are not the father of Alinga. Tell me where Alinga was when you died. Tell me where I should take your mother, if she is not your child. Show me the father of Alinga, Owaraga wake up…”Toto wailed
Toto wailing at her husband’s grave, when she heard that at the instigation of her step son, Silver Adowa, her youngest daughter, me, Alinga Norah Owaraga, had been arrested on trumped up charges of “intermeddling with the deceased’s property.”
Referring to me as the mother of her late husband, is because I am named after my late paternal grandmother. And so, papa often lovingly referred to me as his mother. Toto did not stop wailing until she heard my voice confirming I had not been arrested. With the help of those for whom I am forever grateful, the attempt to humiliate me and to violently arrest me was foiled, I hope permanently.