Bro. William Okello's Testimony
You may recall that part three of the story covered the period beginning with my arrival at Entebbe from Nairobi, Kenya up to the point whereby my employer housed me in a rented bungalow. You may also recall that the landlord granted me permission to make use of his land to grow food crops for my family use as well as the right to eat of the fruit trees on his land. As I stated then, for the first time my food problems eased considerably after I had moved into this bungalow. This happy state of affairs however was not to last for very long.
First there was the incident involving a previous tenant of the bungalow - a soldier in the army. He had vacated the main building and moved his belongings to the servants quarters and turned up once in a while to check on them. I did not however relish the idea of having a soldier turn up at my residence at will and asked of him when he would leave for good (those were the days of military governance in Uganda; the presence of a soldier always brought dread and so the reader will probably appreciate why I was eager to be rid of him). He did not however welcome my asking him when he would depart and proceeded to threaten me with immediate violence. Rather than being cowed, God gave me a boldness whereby I told him right to his face how that I thought he was an utterly undisciplined soldier and one of those responsible for tarnishing the otherwise 'good' name of the army. This seemed to work and a strange fear came upon him and from then on he never again troubled me but collected his possessions and left soon after - for good.
Not long after this Amin's army invaded northern Tanzania, annexed a part and declared it a new province of Uganda. The Tanzanians mobilized their army and counter attacked and thus began the war to oust Idi Amin. Then my landlord came to me and told me about a discussion he had held with my employer. There had been some damage done to the bungalow by the previous occupant (a fellow employee of mine who had taken over from the soldier mentioned above) and in his words, he had struck an agreement with my employer whereby he (the landlord) would renovate the building and have my employer reimburse him the expenses. He further told me that the contractor he had engaged to carry out the renovations would not do his work while the premises were occupied. So he asked me to move out during this period and to move back again after the job was done. I told him this was okay with me, but wanted to know how long the work would last. He told me it would be over within two to three weeks. Since this seemed to be a relatively short time, I moved my family to the nearby slum confident in the knowledge that within three weeks I would return to a bungalow that was as good as new. Little did I know that it was all an elaborate deception.
For one day, while seated with my wife and a couple of friends in front of my slum dwelling, I noticed a fully laden removal lorry heading in the direction of the bungalow with this man seated at the front. It was such a terrible shock and I went over to find out from him what had occasioned this new development. Rather than explain it to me he pulled out a panga (a type of long, broad bladed machete) and brandished it before me. He accused me and the previous tenant of ruining his property and our employer of having the impunity to refuse to make good the damage. Then he ordered me never again to set foot on his estate. I answered him that if he no longer wished me to live at his property that was no big problem to me but how about the crops (after all I had planted them with his express permission)? He bragged about not eating my type of foods and as such I could collect them for my consumption whenever I so wished. Twice I went to harvest the crops but the third time he made it clear he did not wish to see me again at his home. The pain of this was quite unbearable and reduced my wife to tears. Needless to say, disasters later befell this man with the collapse of his marriage and businesses. Whether it was God returning his wickedness upon his head I cannot tell. God knows. (I later learnt that the reason he had moved from his country home was to be out of the path of the advancing Tanzanian army, but what I could not understand is why he had to go about it the way he did) Shortly after this, the military situation in the country deteriorated rapidly with Amin's army facing imminent defeat. People began a mass exodus from the towns to safer areas up north of the country to escape the fighting. As such I did not have time or even the desire to clarify with my employer as to why this man had repossessed his house in such unseemly manner. Instead I started to plan a safe way through the war for my family.
(Next: The war reaches Entebbe and a brush with soldiers)