A Tribute to Mzee Festo Biziringi 1919 – 2019
The funeral of Mzee Festo Biziringi, whom we laid to rest a fortnight ago at his ancestral home in Rwakabengo, in Rukungiri district, was more of a celebration than a day of mourning.
This was more because Mzee Biziringi had only recently celebrated a century of life on this planet, not to mention that he still had all his senses by the time of his demise.
The first time I met this old-wise man was in 2016. That year I travelled to Rukungiri for the burial of a dear friend. Another friend of mine, who happened to be a daughter of Mzee Biziringi, asked me to go visit her home. I was awed by the fact that Mzee Biziringi still had all his senses intact. He could walk, see, smell, feel and most importantly, his ability to reason and recollect past events had not been dented by the passage of time.
For example, I recall that at the time of my visit, he brought our attention to a bizarre news items in which former Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe had read an Old Speech without realizing that he had delivered the same speech at a past event.
Mzee Biziringi laughed so hard, and chided Mugabe for sticking to the presidency when he could make such ‘glaring mistakes’
He also chided Mugabe for always falling. “I am 97 but I can walk without any assistance,” he said then. It was during the same visit that I came to realize that true love never grows old.
Despite their advanced age as a couple, Mzee Biziringi was still jealousy and very protective of his wife Edisa Biziringi, 89. It was interesting to listen to Mzee Biziringi shower pleasantries and bundles of complements on his wife, with who they had 13 children. He narrated for example that during her youthful days, Edisa had worked so hard that he felt time had come for him to return the favour.
Calling her his queen, Mzee Biziringi would fetch tea from the kitchen, and serve it to his wife day in day out. Sometimes he would take it to their bedroom whenever she was feeling weak. Meeting an elderly couple that shares the same bed is quite rare. But the Biziringi’s shared the same matrimonial bed till death did them part.
A very clever man
God blessed Biziringi with a long life, but not the luxury to ignore taking very important decisions in life. Writing a Will is considered one of such decisions.
Just before he clocked Ninety, Mzee Biziringi took time and made a Will. He reasoned that if he delayed and clocked 90 years, he ran the risk of having his Will rejected on the on grounds that he could be senile.
A thrift Business man
Mzee Biziringi was not one to miss out on an opportunity. He owned cattle and he, occasionally, would go to the market to sell some of his animals. But it was what he would do at the market that almost killed mourners with laughter.
It was said that he would always go with a minder who would be in charge of selling the cows. Then he would stand on the sides and wait for the buyers to come. Whenever a buyer approached, Biziringi would stand there and watch as the buyer bargained with the minder then, as the two would be about to close the deal, he would step in with a new price slightly higher than the one agreed on between the other two. The real buyer would have to tussle it out with him until a better price was reached.
Just like on other fronts, Mzee Biziringi never joked with land. He would always tell his children as much. One speaker recollected that if he bought land in the morning by 6.00PM it would be completely fenced.
He indeed hated land wrangles such that after fencing his property, he would start to process the land title immediately. Whereas many parents die before they process their land tittles, Mzee Biziringi left a land title for every piece of land that he owned. Besides, he greatly valued land.
Mzee Biziringi was emphatic about how strongly he felt about the importance of owning land. In his will, as one of his daughter’s revealed following his passing, he placed an “order” that his estate should remain intact, without any further subdivisions, until 45 years after his passing.
Unlike other elderly traditional men across this fair land, Mzee Biziringi bequeathed land to his wife, full with a land title long before he had turned 90.
He always advised young people to work hard and never to settle for free things which according to him were very dangerous and can become your prison. His advise was that if you get free things from anyone it makes you a prisoner of the person from whom you get the free things.
In November 2018, he summoned one of his Sons-in-Law and asked him to donate UGX 1m to his Church of Kakonkoma on his behalf. This was in fulfillment of a pledge and tradition he upheld over the past twenty years.