As remembered by Nathan, Rachel, Gloria, and Cathy
Tomorrow, July 6, 2022 will mark one year since Mr Stephen Dison Kalebbo died. His family members say, the void left by the demise of the former Principal Accountant in the Ministries of Works & Transport, Health and Agriculture, remains fresh in their memories. One year later, family members recount the memories of a man they describe as a mentor, great friend and an adorable soul whose life is worth celebrating.
A father of 8 biological children and 17 Grand Children, Stephen Dison Kalebbo’s daughter -Charity Ahimbisibwe, describes him as a loving person who believed in his family and also embraced people from all walks of life.
Hailing from Kamonkoli Jami in Budaka District, Kalebbo died on July 6, 2021 at the age of 72. At the time of his death, he was the Chairman Budaka District Public Service Commission but previously worked with the East African Community. The eulogies from four of his family members, celebrate the life of a great man. May his soul rest well.
Expected to carry on but knowing there’s a special energy missing, I push myself on with invaluable memories… As the days turned to weeks, weeks to months and now here at a year, I keep moving forward because I know you wouldn’t want me to be down for this long, but I truly miss you my Musangi. No moment was a dull one with you. From our conversations about football and how Messi can get through anyone, to our late night movies whenever there was something great to watch. Our trips to the garden with jajjamukyala, to the surprise calls whenever you would be passing by my school. My grandfather, but more so my closest friend I’ll never stop wishing that you were here with us. I shall continue to honor you and live up to our name as a family the Kalebbo’s.
Talking about my Musangi in past tense is something I never could have imagined. It is especially difficult to think that this person- one of the jolliest, loving, God-fearing father, brother, jajja, mentor and among other titles, a friend- has so suddenly left us. Despite this, we celebrate the many things that made my Musangi uniquely him, like his full loud laugh that always followed an amusing joke we shared; sitting under the mango tree in the company of others; finding him wash his handkerchief and his car in the morning as often as he could. He had amusing tunes I could not forget, one of them being: “…oh, I was a sinner then Jesus saved me, oh, I was a boozer then Jesus saved me, oh…” and to this day I cannot tell if it was someone else’s compositions or his own.
My Musangi had his very own well – known prayer in which he prayed for: “…Family, friends, those we know and those we don’t know. Snatch them for your kingdom…” he prayed for those with “leprosy, sickle cells, aids, malaria, depression, hepatitis B; evil spirits, satanic powers, witchcraft, we render them all powerless in the mighty name of Jesus.” God was at the center of what he did.
To this day I find myself waiting to see him driving into the compound in his blue car, dozing off in his favorite chair, or hearing his voice at the sound of his room door open and close. The absence of his presence leaves an uncomfortable emptiness. But even though he has been gone for almost a year and has physically left us, the memories of his presence and warmth have never left my heart.
This past year without Musangi has been quite tough. Sometimes I sit down and think is this really real? Is it true that I will never be seeing him again? But even through these tough times I still cherish the good times we had together and the moments we shared and made together.
I remember how excited I would be whenever we would reach the village and I would see him sitting under the mango tree or at the veranda. Whenever you were around Musangi, you would never get bored. There would always be something interesting to talk to him about. I remember a time when we were sitting together at the table in Kyebando, playing a game with him. Each of us were meant to name types of cutlery in lugwere. We were laughing together because my sister Rachel and l did not know how to pronounce most words, but even though we did not know how to do so, musangi was always patient and there to teach us.
I also remember when I was much younger, I used to love chicks so every time we went to the village I would always ask musangi about them and if i could carry one. He would request people around to find me one. Musangi was a very kind and supportive person, he was always there for us and he would continually cared for us.
Musangi loved cleanliness. He would always make sure that his bathroom was clean and that the person who used his bathroom would leave it clean. He was also a very prayerful man. Every morning, at five, he would wake up to read his Bible and pray and when we would wake up he would also call us to pray, before we started the day. He was also a pastor at Jami prayer center and whenever he would preach, his sermons were quite interesting and lively.
There was a time when i saw musangi wearing a pajama which seemed to have been cut at the hem. I laughed at him and asked “musangi what happened to the hem of you trousers?” he said there was a stain that never went off whenever they washed it. It seems the hem was irritating him because he was keen and clean. He told us he had cut the hem off with a razor blade. We all laughed at that.
Musangi wasn’t just my grandfather he was my friend and my teacher and he was always there, not just for me but for everyone else. I truly miss him and his beautiful personality.
CATHERINE S. DENYE
Joining the family in April 2022, dad embraced me wholeheartedly. I became one of his children. He was always welcoming.
He loved his grandchildren so much. Always available when need arose. I recall Rachel falling sick at 2 months old. She was hospitalized, Geoffrey had travelled, and yet I had to be at office. Dad came in and offered to be at hospital with little Rachel, leaving me the easier task of occasionally coming in at break, lunchtime and end of day. He was amazing with children.
Dad taught me Lugwere and encouraged me that I would learn just like mum did, and that I would speak it so well and even become a politician just like her.
He loved the Lord and was very prayerful. He once told me that he asked the Lord to show him the star that the wise men saw when Jesus was born. He told me God showed it to him one evening, while he sat outside. It was a revelation he alone would narrate but he stressed that God speaks and answers when you ask him.
I used to enjoy his sermons when he preached at church. They mainly stressed love and unity towards one another. He would crown them with a song and dancing round the church. One time the song was so dramatic that we sang while carrying the plastic chair in one hand and dancing at the same time.
I and dad had a relationship of mutual respect. He called me “Muko” as I gave him 2 girls that he cherished as his “wives” Out of this respect he sometimes forfeited stuff so I could benefit.
He taught my children to obey and respect us, their parents. He had this simple way of relating with children, and I would find or hear them laughing out loud with him. He was fond of buying them books and giving them Math puzzles which he would mark, teach and correct them.
He was pleased about us bringing the children home to Kamonkoli so that they love the place and he said that they too would learn to later bring their children here. Gloria called the home in Jami – Kamonkoli “big Uganda” coz she would enjoy the space, play, chase after chicken and turkeys. Home, in Kyebando, Kampala was small Uganda.
Driving with Dad would be so lively. He would advise on overtaking, breaking, hooting, slowing down…. and the journey would be easy with him.
There is a lot I can write about dad. He was a good person, very friendly, so energetic, he loved the Lord and loved people. The thought that he left too early leaves me in shock and wonder. God knows it all. We shall meet him in heaven.