By Mike Ssegawa
Saturday, November 24, was a normal working day for George Onyango, a simple fisherman of Kenyan origin, now residing and practicing his trade in Buzindeere and Busoke villages and his friends.
Before the day came to close, his routine rotated around laying nets and selling fish. He told us he supplements his fishing trade with farming.
On this particular day however, after exhausting his schedule, he walked up the hill facing Lake Victoria and sat on a big rock. There, he listened to music through earphones connected to his phone as he watched the night falling beyond the lake.
Boats carrying people making merry floated past him – they were dancing and drinking alcohol.
It is normal here.
“At around 7.00pm, I saw two larger boats drawing closer from Ggaba,” he recalls.
Ggaba is on the side of the lake. Just across.
One was further deeper in the middle of the lake. He assumes it went to Mutoola, one of the many beaches that have sprung up on this on this side of the lake.
“Another boat was headed towards Mutima beach but I did not pay attention to it since there Mutiima also receives many partiers over the weekend,” Onyango recalls.
He continued listening to music off his phone.
However, he says, the boat moving closer to the beach stopped.
The music continued playing on the boat even though it was not moving anymore.
“The music was so loud that I could not hear the music on my phone anymore. I remember they were playing “Bakwatawa, era Banyiga wa” by Nutty Neithan and Rhodah .K.
“I was alone on the rock. But amidst loud music, I saw something unusual about the boat,” the father of three recollects. “It was about 7:15pm.”
“The boat was bending on one side.
And lights went off.
I could see dim blue and red lights.
Music went off.
Then I started hearing loud cries asking for help.”
Onyango ran downhill where his fellow fishermen sit after a day’s work, and told them the people on the boat were under danger.
He ran to his home which is nearby, picked four torches, took an engine and boat, and went to the sinking vessel.
He managed to fish out nine people. On the second turn, he got out eight, and one was dead. He returned on the third round, and took out seven. Four looked exhausted. Three were still alive. “Only three survived from that lot,” he remembers.
Among the people he took out the raging waters was Buganda kingdom Prince David Wasajja and businessman Freeman Kiyimba. He didn’t know who he was saving until much later.
Onyango was not alone on the mission. Fellow fishermen were also rescuing others.
One of their colleagues Bosco Owecho died before he delivered anyone safely on the shores.
The others are Badi Muhwezi and Onen.
Their wives too were involved in resuscitation exercises, the way they were taught traditionally as people living on water shores.
They would not help many.
When they realized their friend, Owecho, was dead. They were deflated. The deceased fisherman left behind a wife, and three children. He was also responsible for his sister. He was buried in Kyegegwa last week.
Before 10pm, a man driving a Range Rover arrived with some women. They used the route from Mukono. He drove at terrific speed and parked the car at the shore, directing his very bright car lights over the lake.
“It is him who made calls to police and military who arrived about 30 minutes later,” Onyango recalls.
The man said man was businessman Desh Kananura. One of the women he was with was a friend to Kananura’s wife who lost a husband Isaac Kayondo.
The marines arrived in three boats and called off the rescue operation, to concentrate on taking stoke of the people who have died or saved.
The police also returned sanity on ground after many of the villagers had resorted to picking the pockets of the dead or survivors.
Onyango is happy they managed to save some people but was saddened by the death of their friendly colleague Owecho.
“I hope some of the survivors return to show appreciation. However, I don’t think so,” he says, smiling in a manner showing his distrust in humanity.
“Some ran as soon as we delivered them to the shore. They never waited for us to return to say thank you, or, wait to see all their friends out of the boat!”
Onyango, a father of seven children who came to Buzindeere with his mother believes his friends might never be appreciated officially, but they are heroes in their own way.
They responded to a call when need arose.
If you want to say thank you to Onyango George, his telephone number is: 0778-808693.
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