Juliet Kushaba

Juliet Kushaba




Juliet Kushaba was born in Western Uganda (Bushenyi), the so- called ‘model district' to the rest of the countries in Uganda. She went Kitagata S.S (Bushenyi) and Valley College (Bushenyi) for her secondary (Ordinary level) and High school education respectively. Later, in 2008, she graduated from Makerere University (Uganda) with a degree in Education (Literature in English and English Language). Juliet has taught the two subjects in several schools including Bridges College, New Styles S.S, Kampala-Uganda, Valley College and Namungoona Parents’ S.S.S where she is currently (2010). She has done some freelance teaching especially with NGOs.  Currently, she is doing her masters in Gender Studies at Makerere University.

Juliet is a ‘young’ poet. She has written quite a number of poems though and has had some poetry publications with the FEMRITE ejournal. These Publications are titled “If” and “Ugliness”, with the former questioning the unconditionality of love and the latter a challenge to the Ugandan townsfolk to a clean environment. She has written short stories especially for teenagers and her short story, “The Bump on My head”, will be published before the end of this year.


Creative Work

The Kuhingira*

     When he stepped at the entrance, his mother was looking in the direction of the door. Smiling. This made him wonder. Has she finally made up her mind to go to the party tomorrow? What could be the cause for this broad smile that almost covers her face?

     His thoughts were in the next few seconds marred by a ‘Greet your aunt, Musiime’ from aunt. He was so disappointed. He could not manage to fully hide his thoughts.

     “Alright, if you say…” he stopped after a realisation that his mouth had given him away already.

     The two greeted each other. Aunt Musiime fully introduced herself as his mother’s young sister. No wonder she has failed to convince mother to go for the kuhingira. ‘Young sister… Young sister… Young sister…! The words echoed in his ears as aunt saw her sister off. He didn’t move. He stood there, leaning against the door to his room, just staring at the two figures as they disappeared in the dark. Night was beginning to fall.

     Mugisha did not sleep till long past mid night. His mind raced with very many thoughts; first, how he would get the transport to Nyarushebeya, and how he would escape from his mother who wanted him to go with her to Mugarutsya, how he would ensure that his uncle doesn’t tell her that he was at the party, whether the excuse he and Mwine had come up with would be excuse enough to give for being away without permission. It was a real muddled plan.      I think my dear cousin’s head ran out of creativity for he did not keep awake till morning.

       “Why did you sleep on top of the beddings?” I asked laughing fondly.

     “Ah! Man, I don’t know how I fell asleep! Thank God this place is never so cold as to make one badly need a blanket on.” He said stepping out of the room and that was the last he surfaced at aunt’s house that day. Aunt even went to her relations alone after she had searched and failed to tress him.

     Two day’s later he returned with two policemen. One held him by the hip, dragging him along to aunt’s house. His face was bruised up and dirty. He staggered as he walked despite the little support of the policeman’s tight grip. The other policeman followed watchfully at a distance. As they got closer, I wondered how many thoughts were on my dear cousin’s mind. He really looked vexed.

     Just a few meters from aunt’s house, Mugisha deliberately refused to walk on.

     How will I explain to mother that I had done such a terrible thing after being away from home for two days without permission? He wondered, beads of sweat forming on and falling from his face.

     The soldier who was walking behind the pair was the first to act. With his face revealing the bitterness in his heart and his chest heaving, he rushed to him and continuously kicked him so hard in the ribs.

     “Ah! This son of a bitch has killed…” before he could finish the statement, the soldier whose face had now darkened  and looked as fierce as that of a hungry lion kicked him even harder.

     He gave a very loud screech that startled aunt who had been resting from within.

     When aunt got to the scene, she could not believe her eyes; his son was down. He had rags for clothes, his face was so bruised up and he looked like someone who had spent a week without eating anything. Even now, the policeman still kicked at him!

   “You! What do you think you are doing? Is this what every other person calls keeping peace?!” Aunt shouted at the policemen. “Leave my son. Stop! Stop tha…..t!!!” She pulled the policeman’s hand off her son and attempted to lift the son from the ground.

    “He is dead! DEAD!” aunt shouted hitting one of the policeman’s face hard with the back of her hands. It was only then that the policemen stopped hitting him.

     Aunt’s skirt slid off. I think the zip too had let go. She took long before pulling it up again as if she hadn’t noticed that it had fallen.

  “He is not dead ma’am. Just pretending or wishing to be.” One policeman said a little unconcerned.

  “Probably not pretending because we have given him a treat, I think. It serves him right, this filthy idiot!” his friend cut in.

     Aunt looked at the policemen, then at the son. It was evident that she was extremely angry. Her face had become red. But it was not clear who she was angry with; was it the police for beating up her son that badly or it was his son for sleeping out for two nights without permission and doing that that had earned him the most severe beating ever?

  “What has he done to deserve this?” aunt finally found the breath to ask. She paced from one policeman to the other, looked each in the eyes and shook her head every now and then. They both kept mute. Each policeman just looked down at her when she paced to them. Then as if a button to make him speak had been suddenly pressed, one of the policemen shouted;

   “Why don’t you stop bothering us and you ask your son? He should tell you what he did instead!”

    Staring at the half dead, half alive young man on the ground, he spoke in a voice full of sarcasm, “Or perhaps you are still holding on to your security blanket; denying that it wasn’t you?”.

    I could almost feel the weakness in aunt’s knees. She swayed like a feeble tree in a storm before keeling over in the bedlam.

    “We are doing everything wrong here, I think. This woman should be told why we have treated her son this way” the policeman who had come holding Mugisha suggested.

     The two men carried these two half dead and half alive people to the house. They hoped that someone else would be there to help but there was no one.

     One of them went to the Kitchen but only returned with food stuffed in his mouth.

    “No water, no piece of cloth, no nothing!” the friend wondered.

     The other just nodded his head and pointed at his cheeks to imply that there was something which was stopping him from speaking.

     The friend was angry. “Are we going to stay here for the whole day doing nothing?” He pushed his friend as he walked past him to the kitchen.

     When he returned, he had a small piece of cloth and a small jerry can of water. The woman was seated; conscious again but the young man wasn’t.

     He cleaned the young man’s face while the other policeman stared on. Aunt too stared on for some time and then asked; “What have you done to my son?”

    “We are sorry Ma’am. We ought to have told you what your son did when you asked” he said with his right hand caressing his chest and the left in his pocket. Mugisha stirred a little but didn’t move.

    “Your son was caught stealing a cow from someone’s kraal in Nyarushebeya” one of the policemen said. “He had two other young men but they ran away” he explained.

     Aunt was dumbfounded. She could not believe that Mugisha could do such a thing. The policemen left before he was conscious enough to speak.

    He slept but aunt did not. She kept wondering what had influenced her son to do such a thing without thinking about how much trouble he would put her in. She was going through enough trouble already to ensure he was fine but this was what he was paying her.

    When morning came, Mugisha stepped out of bed. He was so weak but conscious at least. Aunt could not wait to pronounce her punishment to him;

     “Wash your face quickly and you come and explain to me clearly why you did what you did. Every part of him visibly shook but he told aunt the whole adventure and asked for forgiveness.

    Aunt was meaning to be serious for she did not allow Mugisha to go to school for the next two weeks. He stayed home doing all the house work as aunt went for work. The house girl was told not to help him as he did his chore which aunt had given him as part of his punishment; “Probably that will teach him to behave himself” aunt said. Mugisha toiled with house chores till the end of his two weeks.

    When he went back to school after the two weeks, every one at school knew him as a bad boy. His friends were not friends with him any more and life at school became so hard. He tried making new friends whom he later damped for he realised they had a click that would lead him into more trouble. These bad boys and girls were the only one that could associate with him after the bad name he had earned himself! 

    *Kuhingira:  This is a give away ceremony at the bride’s parents’ home.



The Kuhingira is my favorite short story among the four that I wrote during the Project.   The story brings out the Ugandan Culture quite clearly both in terms of setting and language use. In the story, Mugisha, the main character is not single-minded, an aspect that makes him easily fall in his friends’ plots for telling lies. He goes to a party at his uncle’s without the mother’s permission and is ready to tell any lie. However, even there, his other friends lure him into a more dangerous venture from which he does not manage to escape.

This piece of writing was my third assignment for the writing Project. I was guided by my mentor who helped me note both the strengths and weaknesses in the first pieces. As I wrote this short story The Kuhingira, I reflected on her feedback for the first two pieces, and I hope that it is a better piece of creative writing than the others.




If, FEMRITE ejournal, 2010
Ugliness, FEMRITE ejournal, 2010

Short Stories

The Bump on My head, forthcoming with FEMRITE, 2010

Writer Index