The other side of Mabuggo (condolence) in Uganda

All around the World when someone loses a loved one, family member or relative, friends and colleagues always chip in with some kind of support and many times in form of financial aid.

Mabuggo is a word that originates from the Buganda tribe in Uganda. It is a condolence given to those that have lost their loved ones. It could be in terms of money, food, or even just a place to stay if such as a father dies living behind a helpless family.

I work in a Government Organisation where all employees are looked at as family and are close enough to share a lot of their burdens with others. It is off course a good thing considering there is no one suffers in silence and “family members” are always there to help in times of difficulty. It is so much so that for every small thing ranging from school fees for the children, medical bills to marriage ceremonies are done collectively. This however has put them at risk of failing to stand on their own especially after retirement. Some former staffs are so disillusioned they even keep coming back just to have lunch at the office cafeteria.

When a person loses a loved one, they immediately inform their colleagues who chip in the little they have to support the staff member and his family through the difficult period emotionally and financially. A notice is placed on the notice board informing staff of the burial date for the deceased and where the burial will take place. A well worked form then moves around each office collecting money from staffs that are compassionate enough to give something to help the grieving staff member. Once the amount is collected by the office messengers, it is then given to the grieving staff that uses it to take care of all the burial arrangements that is; coffin purchase, transporting the body and mourners to the village for burial.

However, this rite has been abused so many times especially around major Holidays like Easter, Christmas, and New Year’s Day. I have not worked in Government long but for the two years I’ve seen so many misdeeds around these times. The number of the deceased family members skyrocket and almost everyone claims to have lost someone, some so distant they may not even attend their funerals. Around Christmas, we had people claiming to have lost sisters of grandmothers, aunties from the grandmother’s side and all kinds of relations one could think about.

It’s really a pity someone can use the death of a loved one to raise money for an event, no matter how important.