KWEZI AND I: A tribute to a fellow parent

I switched on my phone on Tuesday to find out the heart-breaking news that my friend had passed on. This past Saturday, Tony, as most people fondly referred to him, collapsed shortly after he arrived at a venue where he was scheduled to meet friends. He was rushed to hospital where it was determined that he had had a stroke. Not long after that, he was put in a medically induced coma after it was discovered that his brain was swelling. We all kept our fingers crossed and when we received news that he had opened his eyes and moved a little bit on Tuesday morning, we celebrated and thanked God for this first step towards what we knew would be a long way to recovery.

Tony suddenly had a heart attack and passed away. He was 37.

One may wonder what Tony’s passing has to do with the Kwezi and I column. Maybe nothing. However, Tony was not only a friend, he was also a parent. He was a loving father to a pair of twin girls from a previous relationship who are around eight and a one year old daughter from his young wife. What is even more painful is that just last month, Tony tied the knot with the mother of his youngest daughter. All the three girls were flower girls on the wedding day.

I met Tony when I was pregnant with Kwezi. We hit it off mostly because he had that laid back attitude that is possessed by most Bakiga and a sense of humour that was hard to ignore. He had a hearty laugh and enjoyed making fun of anyone around him. We became fast friends and before long, I realised that besides our friend Dean who knew him before, everyone had become so fond of him.

He was transferred back to his country Uganda shortly before I had the baby but to keep up with the few close nit group of friends he had made, we opened a WhatsApp group of eight and almost four years later, it has been very active, thanks to his early morning humour and updates throughout the day.

On Friday, Tony, in his true comical fashion told us that his friends had made him join a weight loss group which solely focused on protein intake. He sent many emojis of laughter when he told us that he had only managed to stay in the group for only one day because he was craving ‘katogo’. 

I have always heard that no parent wants to outlive their child and that is true. However, it is also deeply painful when a young parent whose love for his children was obvious, who had plans, dreams and aspirations for them and himself passes on suddenly. There is no child that deserves to grow up without both parents and, for that, my heart bleeds for his children. As for Tony, till we meet again dear friend, may the Angels enjoy the humour as much as we did. Rest well gentle giant.

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