I was born in a family of eleven children to Mr. and Mrs. Ssemambo Livingstone. My father worked in the field of transportation and logistics, while my mother worked as a professional nurse. I am the 8th from my father's side and the 3rd from my mother's. When I turned six months, my mother was again expecting. According to what I know, my parents decided to take me to my aunt's house who became my de facto babysitter. My aunt lived just about ten miles away from home but it later turned out that I stayed permanently with her for quite some time. When I turned four years, my aunt requested for more financial support from my mother. This was a tough time in our family since my father had decided to walk away from home.
Apparently, when it became hard for my aunt to raise me, my paternal grandmother stepped in and took over. It was in Bukalango, a remote village in Uganda where Grandma raised me from the age of 4 until I turned 8 years. Surrounded by grass thatched houses, ours was the only house with iron sheets. However, the floors were made of mud. We never had the luxury of electricity. If I needed to review my homework before school day, I would use what we called " Munaku Tadooba ." This was a homemade lamp, crafted out of tins with a hole out of which sprouted a thick cloth. The tin contained some flammable gas called kerosene or paraffin. This gas soaked the cloth which in turn was ignited to light our house. But the charcoal-like fumes were atrocious to the nose and eyes and some of it ended up soiling our clothes. If we wanted to wash our clothes or clean our house, we walked a few miles back and forth to fetch water at the only village well. This was part of our diurnal chores. The day would end with us sleeping on the floor because we never had any beds.
As well, I used to walk barefooted three miles to school from the ages of 5 to 8 years.
In class, we used to sit on the floor for lack of enough chairs. Sometimes the teachers taught us while seated under the tree. The blackboard which they used to write and instruct on would be raised against that tree. Even in those conditions, many of us as kids were just trying to learn how to read and write.
But while I was trying to be an exceptional student, my early learning experience was interrupted by the civil war. Bukalango village was one of the most affected regions in Uganda. Most of the time, we were rendered homeless. We sometimes slept in the bushes for fear of our lives if found in our houses at night. Government soldiers would strike, loot and brutally kill a few village elders. They claimed that those elders harbored "rebels." This was a term given to those who instigated the civil war which finally claimed anywhere from 500,000 to 600, 000 lives.
My grandmother's son in law, Brigadier Matayo Kyaligonza, was among those leading the struggle to oust the ruling government. One day, he came to visit us at home. Some people were watching. Since then, my grandmother was assumed to be a rebel collaborator. It then became dangerous for us to sleep over there anymore. Even our neighbors were scared of sheltering us. So, we were always on the lookout. We had to make the decision to abandon our home. If we sensed any signs of danger during the day, we opted to sleep in the bush during the night.
This one evening, we were told by our good village neighbors that government armies were coming to visit my grandmother that very night. No one wanted to be "visited" by anybody from the government. We knew what we had to do. We planned to sleep in the bushes of course. But that night, it rained heavily that we ended up at the home of grandmother's brother. We were terrified to find him in a pool of blood. It was obvious that grandmother's brother had been visited by those bad people from the government./