100 years on earth you rested, fare thee well ija Mangada

She who babysat my father, the Chief now rested, his sister, my ija (aunt) Akia Magdelene, and whom we popularly and fondly knew as ija Mangada, rested on Wednesday, 24th August 2022, aged an estimated 100 years. I was battling a common cold, which necessitated medication, and so was not able to go and physically be at her aipudunio (burial) ceremonies at her home in Pallisa. But visit her burial grounds I shall.

My first memory of her, is of when I was totally terrified of her. You see, she was a renowned spirit medium or spiritual woman, who could be spirit possessed. I remember a lot of trans-night drumming and I cowering in hiding under the bed as some ritual or rather in which she was possessed went on at the homestead of the Chief, her father, my grandfather, now rested. Interestingly, her name “Akia” means medicine-woman in our language, Ateso. In Ateso, ekia is medicine. So, we can draw conclusions that she was a healer too.

Anyway, I am not quite sure when she got baptized into Catholicism and she renounced the ways of our ancestors and became a devout Catholic. All I know is that apart from that initial memory while I was child, my other memories of her were of fondness and lover. We used to like going to visit her at her home. A visitor to her home was not allowed to come away without eating good food.

As late as the mid-2010s, while I was a fully grown woman, I drove over to visit her and thought it would simply be a brief visit. She was not having any of it and insisted on mingling atap which she served with smoked meat. I had to eat even though I was bulging full already, having had a late lunch, before I visited.

She often said it and had always wanted to rest before her young brother, my father, the Chief, so that he would have buried her with pomp and ceremony. But it was not to be. He rested before her, and now less than two years later, she also rested to. I imagine their spirits are now re-united.

Ija Mangada was a strong woman, who in her 90s still did gardening and her own cooking. She always fondly referred to me as “toto” (mother), since I am named after the woman who raised her, my grandmother, now rested. The last time I saw ija Mangada was last year in September, at the aipudunio of another of her younger brothers, papa Otim. She hugged me so tight as she mourned for her brother. I can still feel that hug. I will treasure it and all the good memories of her flooding my mind.

Ija, I will miss you here on earth, but I am confident that the spirits of my ancestors now watching over me has multiplied big time. Until we meet again …

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