Ms. Hadijah Nakitende, who succumbed to cancer on June 21, 2021 has been a matriarch for The Sunrise the same way she has been for her family and other groups she associated with.
The last born of her parents, the late Hajj Amir Ntambi and Hajat Haawa Namuddu of Ngeribalya Ggomba, Ms. Nakitende defied the pressure for her to quit school just because she had gotten pregnant.
While studying at Kololo S.S, Hadijah had a baby boy. With the help of her elder brother Hajj Hussein Ggoobi, the young Hadijah resisted pressure to drop out of school and went ahead to post excellent performance in her A-level exams that earned her a government scholarship at Makerere University.
After three years of Campus, she brought home the family’s first ever Degree, a B.A in Arts. A young girl who had been written off by many, to become the first graduate in the entire family and nearby villages in 1989, was a huge inspiration and challenge to her elder brothers who had sons and daughters in lower classes.
Less surprising therefore, her achievement has since been cited as the most important degree the family has ever had, even when one considers that more than twenty people have followed in her footsteps with bigger crowns including several masters degrees in fields such as medicine and economics.
A beneficiary of second chances, Ms. Nakitende believed in giving a second chance to many less fortunate members of her family. She embraced many who had gotten pregnant and double orphans, to acquire vocational skills using her little pay.
And even when they didn’t meet her expectations, she didn’t cast them away, but instead counseled them to do better and pray to Allah to change their hearts.
Mousa Katende, the late’s cousin remembers that: “Being the first graduate in the family, Hadijah became very proactive in educating youngsters, championed several family reunion meetings, financially supported many members, linked us to various work places and promoted official marriage ceremonies and introductions. We pray that the almighty Allah accords her Jannah. Ameen”
Nakitende the mobiliser
When her sister Hajat Mary Mutyaba, asked what they could do to develop the family estate, Ms. Nakitende proposed the idea of establishing a secondary school in Ngeribalya, to save the hundreds of children who had to trek up to five miles to find education.
The dream materialized when Amir Ntambi Memorial Secondary School opened its doors for students in 2010 with a four-classroom block, a girls dormitory and a mosque. While her sister was away in London, she took on the duty of helping to set the ground-work for the new secondary school.
Nakitende the counselor
It’s still hard to understand how she managed to juggle her duties at The Sunrise and yet found time to cultivate and nurture relationships and organizations elsewhere.
She had resisted the idea of getting a smart phone and preferred the desktop for social networking. But around 2013, when she finally succumbed to peer pressure, she ran away with it.
She met many friends while online whom she later mobilized either to convert into Islam, support The Sunrise, Amir Ntambi or as it was with Lugave The Heights, pool resources for development.
Islam didn’t cloud her vision to identify with her tradition. As a proud member of the Lugave clan, Hadijah found clan-mates on social networks, actively engaged them and made them almost part of her family.
She was such an open-minded outgoing person that she would invite people she had met only a few times to meet over lunch or give her company to a social event.
One of such encounters resulted into a formidable savings and investments group they named Lugave The Heights. As the name suggests, the group was formed by members of Lugave clan – one of the 52 groups that form the Baganda nationality. They first met online, before they physically met at the Heights Restaurant at Centenary park in Kampala.
Francis Luyima remembers how Hadijah persuaded him to join The Heights and find new meaning in life.
“She came to my inbox and started to preach the word of Allah. At the time, I was going through a lot of personal troubles and at one time contemplated taking my life.
“When we introduced each other, she counseled me and tried to restore hope in me. We eventually developed a strong bond that when I got a partner, I wanted them to meet first, before I could take her to my real sisters.
He adds: “She was such a friendly and trustworthy person that we all agreed that as she becomes out treasurer. Thanks to her wonderful mobilization skills, our savings grew and we bought land in Mukono as one of the investment projects of the group.”
Peace Namakula, another member of the heights, who met Hadijah earlier, recalls how Hadijah took her on as her sister.
“If you called Hadijah and told her you had spent a night without food, she would ask if you didn’t have money to beep. She was willing to get out of her way to make others survive.”
Namakula, who now lives and works in Turkey, says she dreamt of rewarding Hadijah with a surprise considering the many good things she had done for her, but was unfortunate to learn that the Almighty had taken her just before she fulfilled her plan.”
But of all the friendships and achievements she made in her earthly journey, Ms. Nakitende was no more proud of anything than her belief in Islam. This perhaps, should be a source of comfort for all who those loved her that she is hopefully in a better place than here.