my most memorable moment

My name is Melinda Nampiima Kiwanuka. I’m 16years old and my date of birth is 04/07/87. I’m a born again Christian and an active member of my Pentecostal church liberty Christian fellowship.

I’m the youngest of my group of true friends, of which the oldest is Sharpe who’s 30 and besides me the youngest is Peter who’s 18. The rest of my best friends include Arnold-19, Edgar-20, Julie-23, Paidah-25, Brenda-27, and Nicholas/Nicky-29. I have 8 brothers and sisters and although they’re not all blood my family is very close and we all love each other more than we can express.I’m a strong young black African woman with full knowledge and appreciation of my cultural background.

I know more than I should about life and although this causes many problems I’m grateful for that gift because knowledge is a large step towards wisdom, which is my true goal. I’ve been through a lot in my life but I’m not complaining because what doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger, I’m against submitting to the way of any man, because God’s far above us all and he knows bestWe were a team my mum, my sister and I. My dad died when I was five and I don’t remember much about him. I’m always told that girls who grew up without their fathers, always live with an empty whole inside.

Well I didn’t, I’ve always had a big family and although they’re not all blood, sometimes the bond between two strangers goes deeper than the bond between two strangers with DNA ties.My mother has 28 brothers and sisters from her dad, my biological father has 20 from his father, and my step dad outdoes them all with 40 from his father, so I have hundreds of cousins many of which I’ve never heard of, let alone met.My mum always tells me that anyone can be a father but it takes real man to be a daddy. I never looked at my father as anything more than a sperm donor.

Don’t get me wrong, I was never angry or bitter towards him simply because you can’t blame someone for dieing. I had a full childhood. We weren’t rich nor poor, my mum worked hard but not so hard that she never saw us. I consider my self a strong African woman because my mother’s one and in many ways all I want is to be a duplicate of her.

We were given a lot of encouragement in everything we had interest in. As typical children our dreams and ambitions changed regularly but my mother and my brother’s mother, who was sort of our second parent, never ceased to push and encourage us.My father had a son with Caren who has two other kids and my mum had my sister and I. Between the five of us we were a handful and we were all very demanding.

But we always got what we wanted and needed, maybe not when we asked but in the end we never went with out. My brother and his siblings lived in Manchester with their mum and my sister and I lived in London with my mother but we were as close as can be despite the distance between us and we would see each other every weekend.As children we fought like crazy, as adolescents we lost sight of, and interest in our parents goal to build and maintain a real family and as teenagers we grew to understand and accept each other as individuals yet as one.Everything sounds so right and perfect.

..right? Wrong. There were little hard times when our mothers fell out, when money was just non-existent, when traumas occurred, when one persons decision changed everyone’s life.

I can’t possibly talk of all the things we went through, all I can say is that joy truly comes in the morning and to go through means to enter, travel and exit. The first two parts of this process are very testing but the reward of new knowledge, greater wisdom and awesome enlightenment at the point of exit is certainly worth it. I guess that’s why they say what doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger.I’ll speak of this one family member’s decision, the consequences, the test, the trials, and enlightenment it bought.

Even when my dad was alive he wasn’t exactly part of the family. My sister, brother and I loved our daddy and people have always told us that we were attached to him. Although my mum and Caren tell us that he was just there physically but mentally and emotionally he didn’t exist and I believe this plainly because I vaguely remember the years when my dad was around but he has no place or role in that small blur of memory. By law my father’s death certificate states march 1993 but my mum says it should say 1991, which is when he went into spiritual hibernation.

Despite my father’s absence I was secure in my family, very comfortable and very loved I felt complete. My father’s family had an active role in my life also and they never tried to shut any of us out mainly because there’s seven of us came as a package.I’ve always loved church and I’m constantly active in my church. As a baby I attended Hounslow Evangelical church, then my mother moved us to her brother in law’s church, Fountains of Life Pentecostal church, which is where it all began.

My uncle was the head pastor in that church and pastor Charles Kayiwa was the deputy pastor. Pastor Charles Kayiwa lived in Sweden for most of his life and then he moved to assist in my uncle’s church. I loved FL partly because it was a guarantee to see my cousins Lillian, Audrey and Emmanuel once a week, partly because it was upbeat and interesting (which is important in a church to stop the congregation nodding off and missing the whole point of the service) but mainly because pastor Charles Kayiwa, or Paddy as many called him, was the funniest and most interesting man I’d ever met.It’s now obvious that family plays a very important part in the lives of all those close to me.

So it’s no surprise that my mother met my uncle for lunch or dinner every 3rd Thursday of the month to talk. Usually they hosted a guest at there little get together and that’s the only reason this was all possible.My mother and Paddy are the complete opposite. She’s tall, he’s short, she’s light, he’s dark, she’s Caribbean, he’s African.

But there were key similarities. They were both single, they were both not with any body, they were both alone…

o.k. so that’s one similarity but I was 8 and Lillian was 13, we only needed one similarity.Lillian told her dad that my mum had called and said that she had a cold so she couldn’t make lunch.

It was obvious that we were no perfect little Disney actors with a hundred thousand pound script explaining the master plan, the outcome and our lines because it all went pear shaped. Lillian’s dad called Paddy to tell him that lunch was cancelled and my poor mum was at the Chinese restaurant all alone waiting for them. Paddy called to find out how my mum was feeling and I experienced a mental melt down. I started panicking and thinking about my punishment.

I suddenly wished I had gone to the Saturday play club with my sister and cousins.I had to confess everything to Paddy who found it all madly hilarious, probably because he wasn’t the one about to be grounded for eternity. Paddy rushed to meet my mum and explain. I sat up waiting for my mum to get back but I fell asleep before she arrived.

The next day was a Sunday and we went to church and my brothers and sisters and their mum came down from Manchester. It was a special weekend because the Sunday school had a presentation. My mum and Paddy were glowing, Lillian told me that that was love, but Audrey said that we were imagining things. Well Audrey was wrong because 6 months, later Paddy tricked my mum and threw her an engagement party.

This was weird because my mum saw all these people at the church hall and she thought it was a fellowship meeting but Paddy had a changing dress ready for her for when she accepted his proposal.Mum accepted and the general get together turned to an engagement party. She changed into her black and gold dress (which paddy took credit for despite the fact that it was my aunt’s choice) and wore her engagement ring with pride. The banner was dropped and my world was flipped upside down.

I was happy for them at first then my other cousins planted a seed of doubt within me, which as you’ll see later grew into a huge evil tree. Many of my older cousins and friends assured me that everything would be so different. They said that when paddy was my dad he wouldn’t be fun any more. They told me he would be strict and evil and that he’d take my mum away.

They must have told my brother the same thing because he wasn’t happy and he felt no shame in expressing how he felt. My mother may not be my brother’s blood mother but to him she was as real and relevant as his own mother.The wedding was on the 21st December 96 Naturally the wedding preparations were hell and the wedding was heaven. My mum always says ‘that everything in life has advantages and disadvantages, if you invest your energy into the advantages and hand the disadvantages to God then life will be a breeze’.

I wish I used that advice in the first 4 years of their marriage. You see being such a close family it was hard for us to adjust to a new member of the family. At first everyone was polite and welcoming besides my brother who was not about to give up his position as the man in the family. Eventually we all became defensive of our places in our mother’s life and our roles and responsibilities in the family.

There were fights and arguments and at the end of the day my poor step dad didn’t stand a chance. My mother loved him but we were her world we were all she knew and out of impulse she always defended us. It was hardest for my sister and I because he was living in our house. My other siblings were cities away from the drama for most of the time.

On the weekend my brother was the man of our house, but during the week my mother and I were. There was a particular incident when I came back from school and found my dresser in its box near the front door. I was filled with excitement because I had waited for the dresser for weeks. I wanted to get to work on it straight away.

The moment my mum got home I dragged her to my room and ripped the box open with an excited force and off we went.Generally my mother and I spend three to four days on D.I.Y jobs until the weekend when my brothers come around and fix the messes we make of our new furniture.

Not this time. My mum and I got stuck and she called my step dad to assist. He made it seem so easy, he made me seem so dumb, he made my mum giddy and proud, he made me sick. I felt so invaded, that wasn’t the way it worked.

We were supposed to agonise for days until Carl and Lee came to put us out of our misery.I stormed to the bathroom and sobbed I threw a major tantrum and demanded attention and as anticipated I got it. I made a major scene and declared that ‘he’ can do all the ‘fixy stuff’ (as I called it) from now on since he was such a know it all. And as demanded he did, I came home the next day and found my darling new dresser all fixed up and filled with my underwear and junk.

He was so clueless he totally didn’t get that I was feeling jealous and insecure. He actually thought he had done a good thing. With hindsight I must say he was a sweet dope to take all that from a child.I screamed with rage and commanded him to leave our home.

My mum came back and found her husband out side the flat along with pieces of the new dresser. Now my mum has been mad at me plenty of times but when she breaks into Pigeon I know I’m in deep poop. I was grounded for three weeks and the only non-family member allowed in the house was my best friend. I thought that was torture at the time but thinking back my best friend at that time was the only person who really came to my house besides my family (cousins inclusive).

Well in September 1997 my mum told us all that she was pregnant everyone was shocked we never stopped consider that my mother getting married meant a new brother or sister. When we were over the shock everyone went into hyper mode. Everyday something new was bought for the baby. The baby got more Christmas presents than us and it wasn’t even born.

During my mum’s pregnancy we all tried really hard not to argue and stress my mum. Everyone worked together to make my mum comfortable, and during this process we bonded with my stepfather. My brother Carl still had his guards up but he was civil, Latisha and Maureen both found it easy to fall in love with my stepfather once they thought their older brothers and sisters liked him.Eventually we gave Paddy the chance to show his true self and we ended up constantly entertained.

He won our hearts through jokes and laughter. When my mother was too far along to work he provided our pocket money and he picked us up from school.I had eventually lost all interest in manual work including D.I.

Y. I was completely absorbed by my mother’s pregnancy. I wanted to know how every moment felt, and I was never held down by housework because Caren was doing most of it and my little sisters were more than willing to help.When the baby’s new closet came it sat around in boxes for weeks, despite my mothers plea for my stepfather and I to put it together.

One day in my mother’s 6th or 7th month of pregnancy her strong African woman vibe kicked in and we returned from our Saturday at the park to find the closet fully assembled and in place.14 May 1998 our baby sister Meshazabel was born. She was so active and wild we never had time to fight. Suddenly we all had something that bonded us with our step dad.

And everything was o.k. we all still argued like any normal family, only we were far from normal. The baby bought an end to our petty feuds and started us on our journey of love, peace, unity and joy.

Most importantly Mesha’s presence gave us a motive to handle all negative situations in a constructive way in order to give her a positive start to life.It’s so easy to love the people who’ve always been an important part of you, people who are in your circle of friends or family. But it takes a real loving heart to allow someone to join that circle and trust them to be one with you. It takes a real loving heart to over come your doubts and fears in order to make loved ones dreams come true.

We all wanted my mother to be happy and most of us were more than willing to help her get what she needed to be complete. But no one thought it would mean so much sacrificing and trust on our part. Yet despite this challenge we all loved our mother enough to grow to love her husband.Carl’s still the man of the house, but he has a partner in crime now.

I’m still the D.I.Y director but he’s my assistant, Caren’s still mum’s best friend, but he’s mums husband, and we’re still a family, but he’s family too.

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