Growing up, Aggrey Wunyi sold bananas and made tadobas (kerosene lamps) to pay for his school fees after famine drove his father away from the family, leaving his mother as the sole breadwinner.
In The Agony of a Rising Star, Wunyi shares his experience through the main character Bogo.
During the good old days, Bogo recalls, his father was a generous service man, taking care of his extended family. When the service man left home, his dependents were distraught, unleashing their frustration on Bogo and his siblings.
The in-laws even sold the family home, forcing Bogo’s mother, a primary school teacher, to rent a nearby abandoned structure with a tin roof and walls made from mud and wattle.
When the results of the Primary Leaving Exams were announced, Bogo emerged top of his class. However, he was unable to join his first choice secondary school in the city because his mother could not afford the fee or even buy uniform and other requirements.
Bogo then began to sell sweet bananas to raise funds. He ended up joining a school far away from his home on half bursary. His school bag was made from palm leaves and he used a banana fibre to fasten his oversized trousers.
Bogo’s business picked up and he invested in paraffin lamps made from used electric bulbs. Bogo and his mother joined a savings and credit society that enabled him to access funds to join his dream urban school to complete his ‘O’ levels. Towards the end of his ‘A’ level education his father appeared and apologised for his actions.
He eventually died as Bogo was completing university. After graduation, Bogo worked for a rural non-governmental organisation and later the local government.
His estranged relatives began to flock to his home for assistance. He had hoped to enjoy his earnings like his colleagues but it seemed, he was chained to problems.
Wunyi now works for the Ugandan government as an undersecretary. He holds a Bachelors Degree in Social Sciences and a Masters Degree in Business Administration from Makerere University.
His story highlights the role of mothers in shaping the character and destiny of their children. It shows how one case of luck, resilience and hard work can turn around the fortunes of a family.