Marta Agwokotho is a jolly woman with a warm smile. As she came out of her hut, a moon crescent smile is what made up her face; “My daughter, I am very happy to see you, you are welcome,” she said out aloud as she welcomed me. Despite the fact that her sickness has crippled her and put her down, what keeps Marta going is her energy and high spirit. The clutches that support her to move could not take away her excitement. Marta who lives in Yaokecha village in Nebbi municipal said she was born a very active child. It was only recently when she got problems with her back that has crippled her movement. She was born in Kijujuma Village in Kiboga in 1938 to Mr. Rupiny Lodoviko (RIP) and Bibiana Lokojo (RIP).
At the age of seven, Marta was enrolled at Vumba Catholic Church in Kiboga to study catechism. When she finished her catechism lessons, she was then enrolled in Primary one at Vumba Primary school where she studied up to primary four. For her Primary five, her father would carry her and her sister on a bicycle to Naluuji Primary school in Kiboga where she did primary five and six. In 1955; she went to Nkozi Teacher’s Training College where she trained as a primary school teacher for four years because she did not go to junior school. Her colleagues who studied junior school did training for only three years.
The year was 1956, while in Nkozi at 17 years, when tutor Namugenyi told the girls about a new Catholic magazine on the market and recommended that they read it. It was the Leadership Magazine. From then, Marta picked interest and made sure she read the articles every time the magazine came out. After her TTC training, she was assigned to her first teaching practice at Nkozi Demonstration school. Her final teaching practice was in 1958 at Bwanda Primary school in Masaka. In Bwanda, she made sure she looked for the magazine and read it every time she had a chance.
In 1959, Marta started off her career as a teacher at Nkozi demonstration school where she had previously done her teaching practice from. Later, she would be transferred to Kabuuza Primary school in Matuga where she taught from 1960, 1961 and 1962. Since she was working, she could now afford to buy a copy of the Leadership Magazine of her own. Marta as she calls herself says that teacher Namugenyi had told them that since they were young girls who were going out into the world, they needed to be informed so Leadership Magazine was a good source.
Sometime in 1962, her husband got a transfer to Arua Hospital where he worked as a laboratory technician; she had to relocate with him since they were newly married. There, she got a job at Ediofe Girls Primary school and after, moved to Ediofe Boys Primary school. Later, she moved to Madhvani Primary School which is present day Arua Public.
In 1967, Marta got an opportunity travel to Rome as a delegate from Uganda for the Third World Congress for the Lay Apostolate. Her picture featured in the Leadership Magazine and she has never forgotten the joy it brought to her. As she referred to her picture appearing in the Leadership Magazine, she is filled with a lot of joy. In 1978, she upgraded to TTC at Ggaba to become a grade three teacher from where she was appointed a Headmistress in Nebbi Primary school. In 1989, Marta decided it was enough with public service and it was time to concentrate on her family. She retired and they had plans with her husband to move to their home in the village and settle there. They also planned to begin doing private business after retirement to make time to be with the family.
Unfortunately, in 1992, her husband passed away leaving behind eight children. Marta’s plans had to change immediately because she had nothing to do but begin struggling to find ways of taking care of the children since she had already retired. She tried chasing for her husband’s gratuity all in vain, so she struggled to find a place to settle the family, and move them away from the hospital where they lived before her husband died. Luckily for her, she got her pension which was about UGX15,000 then; together with some of the bride-price her first daughter brought, she managed to buy a piece of land where she settled the family. After sorting out the problem of accommodation, she had to begin scratching for school fees, feeding and other requirements for the family but all through this tough time, she did not give up reading the Leadership Magazine. She joined Social Works and could take up any social works job every time she got one and got some little allowances which she used to help her take care of the children.
At one time, she was the Nebbi district UWESO chairperson; she was also PTA (Parents Teachers Association) member for a number of schools in Nebbi. Every time she attended a meeting, she was given some allowance which allowed her to put food on the table for her children. Being a social person, Marta is gifted in public speaking which fostered her taking up most of the positions she worked in while still an energetic woman. She was also a member of Nebbi District Women’s Council, although she could not remember the year.
Today, Marta is going through many health challenges which have affected her memory. During the interview, her son chipped in to remind her of some things that happened in her life and how they happened. She has a problem with her backbone which she said begun in 1978 but it has intensified with old age. This has paralyzed her legs making her unable to walk on her own.
Marta said she keeps in touch with Leadership at 80 because it keeps her informed about the happenings around the world. She also reads it to entertain herself since she cannot go away from home. She compliments Leadership Magazine for helping her maintain her good English. Marta says she has influenced a number of people to subscribe to the Leadership Magazine. She also said that one of her nieces confessed to passing her school exams with the help of the magazine.
Even at 80, Marta remains an ardent reader of the Leadership magazine; every year, she clears her subscription bill with her pension.
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