By John Ssentongo
It is difficult to tell if God placed on Aisha Tumusiime Kashilingi’s table a menu of life’s joys that she never wanted for herself.
What is clear is that as an ambitious young woman, and a daughter of a decorated war hero and prominent family, she wanted to complete her education, get a good job, and marry her own man, prominent and well educated.
It could as well be she got what she wanted but in different packages.
Aisha ended up marrying an uneducated man (formal education), a Muganda, with a woman already in his home as well as a traditional medicine man.
And whereas as Aisha for almost a decade was a staunch born again Christian, she is today a follower of Tondism, an African traditional religion for which her husband was recently made chief priest.
Aisha is a daughter of a Luweero bush war hero Col Ahmed Kashilingi. She is well educated and she knows several who is who in the Kampala government.
She is today married to a medicine man in Nabuti, a suburb of Mukono Municipality.
I had promised myself to meet her after interviewing her husband, Sabakabona Aligaweesa Jumba Lubowa who spoke about her proudly. She is his darling, one of his most precious prize.
On December 27, 2017 mid-morning, I hooked up with a fellow journalist Moses Kizito Buule who plies his trade in Mukono area, and we hit the road to the fast growing Mukono neighbourhood only three kilometers off Kampala-Jinja Road.
Aisha Tumusiime Kashilingi is the kind of wife a Muganda man would love in his home. Well mannered and cultured. She ushered us into her immaculate home, orderly and tidy. She knelt down to greet us, and excused herself, promising to come back shortly. It was clear there was something urgent she was attending to. She returned a few minutes later.
“Sabakabona is unwell,” she informed us. “He has a high fever and a bad cough.”
By the time we arrived home, she was trying to stabilize the fever that had gripped him for two days – his temperature was high and threw up. Aisha is a practitioner for both medicines; traditional and modern. And she knows when a patient needs either medicine. She had ordered for drugs from the pharmacy – and syringe to administer of him. It is our interview that interrupted her. She asked him to eat something before she would give him around of drugs.
Wife to the chief priest
Aisha’s husband Jumba is a well known medicine man, known beyond Mukono. In fact, he is the Sabakabona (chief priest) of the traditional religion called Tondism which has more than 90 priests across the country.
Aisha says he was out in the hills performing traditional rituals and rites and it could be mosquitoes and dust that have contributed to his ill health. Yet he wanted to get well before end of the year because he had to lead prayers for believers of his faith on December 31, 2017 to usher in January 1, 2018 at Walusi hill in Luweero district.
Our mission in Aisha’s home was simple. In our previous article, we had written about Sabakabona Jumba, sharing with us the story of his rise from Rakai to Mukono where he makes headlines as a chief priest of a religion that has stayed underground for more than a century. In our conversation, Jumba told us about his wife, a one Aisha, a daughter of a powerful military man.
According to Jumba, the spiritual world chose for him that wife who he calls “Musawo” or “Doctor”. Aisha is a well educated woman with several degrees, diplomas and certificates under her belt.
Yet, Jumba and Aisha are two people from two different worlds. Jumba never attended formal education. He was also born in very humble family, but Aisha hails from a well to do family with a prominent family name.
There are however things the couple shares in common; Aisha lost her mother Bwerere Mbabazi when she was a little girl. She was just five years old and the only memory of her is the face she sees in photographs. On the other hand Jumba lost his father at a tender age making the couple appreciates what it mean to miss parents who should have inspired them as role models.
The other thing is that the two actually believe they were chosen by the spiritual world for a special mission. The last one is the case that the duo at some point in their lives, they suffered mental breakdown, which they attribute to the spiritual eye which was watching over them and mental breakdown was a point at which their calling was manifested.
On this particular day we visited Aisha’s beautiful home, she told us her story from her living room; a apace with luxurious leather sofas, flower vassals in the corners as well as African art pieces which make her home classy. There are photographs of the couple at different occasions and other precious memories hanging around the wall.
“I grew up with my dad and step mother,” Aisha, whose father named her Tumusiime speaks proudly of her father to whom she attributes her cherished values such as honesty, discipline, decision making among others.
Aisha rarely gives press interviews. And save for media appearances during her famous traditional wedding, she has left her husband be in the limelight while she concentrates on family and professional work which involves both modern and traditional medicine.
“I knew from childhood I was a special child given the manner I was being treated at home,” she recalls. People in her family also knew she had special powers although she herself took it for granted. Later, she tried to live a normal life, hoping to keep away the inconvenience of spiritualism. Aisha decided to become born again when she started getting bouts of spiritual attacks.
“For me those things were satanic. I hated them,” she says, professing she knew so little of the life that awaited her. Aisha says she however continued to suffer bad headaches which climaxed into a nightmare.
While in Senior Two at Our Lady SS Gayaza, Aisha recalls she was in Accounts class when something terrible happened to her.
“When I opened my book, I saw a huge lion inside my book. I shouted.”
She does not know what became of her afterwards because by the time she gained her senses back, she had been handcuffed on a hospital bed at Mbuya Military Hospital.
“I didn’t know I had run mad,” she says.
Doctors there told her father that her daughter did not have any physical ailment, but admitted that she almost lost her life. He was asked to take her away.
What followed was on and off mental illness which saw her visits traditional doctors and powerful pastors to pray over her.
“At one point, I was beaten badly while at a traditional doctor’s place that my father got fed up and decided to take me away.”
Aisha says together with her father, they went to pastor Robert Kayanja who explained to her father that she was a “Special child chosen by God to carry on special assignments.”
Aisha became a staunch born again Christian. And she stayed away from anything that would lead to sin including keeping bad company or going for clubbing as fellow young people did. Meanwhile, she kept friends from what would be considered poor background. This, Aisha recalls, earned her ridicule from some of her family members who believe she was associating with people who would take her to nowhere.
“I knew something. The rich also cry.”
In 1999, Aisha Tumusiime’s life turned around again. She was a staunch member of the Faith Healing Centre church in Nansana. It had been nine years since she gave her life to Jesus. At this point in time, Pastor Stephen Mugisha was her pastor. Many things were going well on the Aisha’s way. She had completed her Bachelors of Administration degree, a diploma in stenography before turning to medicine. It was like she didn’t know what she wanted. She also went to do a nine months course in herbal medicine in South Africa and was employed at Goodwill in Biiina. Her bosses loved her and the wife of her boss asked her to join her practice in Germany. All her papers were ready, and were waiting for the day to leave the country.
One of those days, she was jogging near her home in Kitintale when security people arrested her, accusing her of selling a fake business in Kampala.
“I thought it was a joke. I explained myself that I didn’t have any business and that it could be a mistaken identity.”
To cut the long story short, she slept at Jinja road police station where she wept for the entire night. Her father could not take her out that night till the next day when she was offered a police bond. Col Kashilingi thought it could have her boyfriend who caused her arrest. Aisha however swears that up to that time, she had not dated any man.
“I was making enough money, and always returned home by 6pm. I would read my novels and watch movies or listen to my music.” She could not imagine any evil person who wanted her to go to jail.
However, Aisha says, they tried to trace who caused her arrest; up to now she has never known the person. She believes something spiritual happened to her.
It was at that time she went to a woman she identifies as Nalongo, who resides in Ggaba. Nalongo was a medium and traditional healer. She visited her to seek solutions to her troubled young adulthood.
At this point in time, her relatives were pointing fingers at her, accusing her of things she never did including prostitution. They could not explain how a young woman had not married nor did they know a man she was dating.
Nalongo told her.
“Don’t be restless. Calm down.”
She added however, “you will never go abroad until you accepted your destiny and married a man God ordained for you.”
Aisha says, “She also said I will marry a man, equally spiritual like me, uneducated, and that I would be making more money than him.”
That was however not the kind of man Aisha wanted.
She would get dreams and the medium interpreted them her way including one she dreamt when she was getting married to First Son, Gen Muhoozi Kainerugaba on Entebbe Airport tarmac, which was interpreted to mean she would marry a man who is powerful in the spiritual world. The medium was right.
Today, Aisha wonders what she was thinking because she says she has found peace with marrying Jumba.
“I give him liberty. What he wants to tell me, he will tell me. If there is something he doesn’t want me to know, he has his good reasons.”
Aisha also says that marrying an uneducated man has little to do with marital happiness as long as the couple is honest and open to each other.
“Women are home makers. I have made my husband the person I want him to be,” she says of Jumba, a man she acknowledges as being wise and cultured.
“He has changed a lot. He even stopped smoking the pipe,” Aisha says some of the things she had to work on Jumba to be fashionable and fit in the world of more sophisticated people.
“I was coming from Iganga where I used to do my research. When I reached Mukono town, I asked my driver to branch off at the ATM where I could pick some money,” Aisha recounts.
“As I emerged from the ATM booth, I saw a man. I had seen him in my dreams. My heart pounced. I even got a hiccup,” Aisha reconstructs her first meeting with Jumba. She says she had seen him in her dreams and was introduced to her as her husband.
Whereas the two didn’t talk, Jumba attempted to talk to her but she asked the driver to drive off. Aisha says her driver inquired if she knew the man who was trying to stop her but she asked him to mind his business. However, it was this driver who told her more about Jumba.
“That very night, a spirit appeared to me in the dream and told me, ‘Did you see your husband?’”
Aisha would make a spiritual pilgrimage to Kitagata hills, where there are hot springs to see a powerful medium called Amos. Aisha says he was a powerful medium. Amos told Aisha that it was time she got to know who she was.
“Know yourself,” he implored her to settle down and start doing work of her destiny.
It could be that Aisha was not contented with all explanations she was getting from different mediums. In Sembabule district at a place called Ntuusi was a lady called Nabasa. She was known as Mulokole for her miraculous work. Actually, it was said that Nabasa had died and resurrected. Nabasa says, God told her to return to heal people.
Aisha paid a visit to Nabasa who gave her all the time she needed… it was a moment of enlightenment. Nabasa, then, a much sought after spiritual woman, seen largely as a born again, gave priority and explained to Aisha the meaning of her life.
“Rest. Find peace,” Nabasa told Aisha explaining that she held the key to pacifying her family troubles and that she held the key to opening or closing the family’s opportunities in her generation.
Nabasa also implored Aisha to love and pray for anyone, including those who hate her. It is from Nabasa that Aisha learnt a lesson that when one is chosen to do God’s work, that person is not accepted by their own.
Before Aisha left Nabasa’s church, she told her to go and marry the man she was trying to run away from.
Aisha returned to Kitagata one more time to tell Amos what she had heard from Nabasa. When she returned, she surprisingly met Jumba. The two talked for the first time. Although none told the other where they stayed, Aisha was surprised a few days on her return to Kampala when she saw Jumba visiting her house. He performed rituals in her house before he left.
The two continued to see each other, until the day she took Jumba to meet her father. It was six months of courtship, and seeking spiritual guidance on whether they were meant for each other.
“I gave birth to her but I have no power over her,” Col Kashilingi told Jumba asking both if they have freely consented.
However, Aisha’s family tried block their marriage, pushing their wedding by two extra months from June to August 2008. However, the wedding came to pass, and it was memorable.
Aisha says she loves Jumba and does not regret marrying him. She narrates that despite challenges here and there, she believes they were born to be together.
“Jumba understands me and I understand him,” she says.
When I ask her if she believes in Jumba’s religion, Tondism, Aisha says “I believed in it before I married Jumba.”
“We believe in one God. The spirits we implore are just angels or messengers,” Aisha says. “This is who we are as Africans. We need to understand and appreciate that.”
Aisha like Jumba believes Africans got lost by following religions from other races. She told me that just as Islam is for Arabs, Judaism for Jews and Christianity for Europeans, so it Tondism for Africans.
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