At about 130 years, John Ahumura could be Uganda’s oldest living person and yet his alert mental faculties betray a sense of youth.
Walking with the aid of a stick, Ahumura who fluently speaks Rutooro, Luganda and Ramba (spoken by the Bamba), still has his vision intact although an eye infection
When he met President Museveni at State House, Entebbe on Friday afternoon, he was excited to tell his story.
“I was born in Bunyangule in Bughendera Constituency in the current Bundibugyo district over 130 years ago when the Baganda still wore barkcloth,” he said.
Whereas Ahumura cannot exactly tell which year he was born, he remembers that when the first white missionary came to western Uganda, he was in his early teens.
“We were in Bundibugyo when we got news that a white man had appeared in Fort Portal,” he narrated. “We had to trek miles to go and see him. You should have seen us. We were scared. We thought we were going to die. We had never seen someone with that skin color.”
Historical records show that Fr. Achte of the xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx, was the first missionary to set up camp in Fort Portal in 1895.
Ahumura says when he returned to Bundibugyo shortly after, one of his uncles killed someone forcing him to flee to Buganda. Ahumura accompanied his uncle on his journey to Buganda. During his stay in Buganda, he became a royal entertainer to Kabaka Daudi Chwa for whom he used to play the harp (endingidi).
When he welcomed his first child, Ahumura decided to return to Bundibugyo to show his parents their grandchild. Subsequently he married six wives, two of them in church. He says two of his children are still alive, including his daughter, a resident of Kansanga, who looks after him.
When asked how he has been able to stay for this long, Ahumura said he rarely falls sick and only uses herbs as medication.
“My only problem is the backache and the eyes that have become partially blind because of my age,” he said.
For minor illnesses like abdominal problems, Ahumura said he uses local herbs.
“When they introduced hospitals and modern medicine, we feared that we were going to die and most of us the elderly shunned them,” he said.
Meeting the President, he said, was a climax of a life-long dream.
“I first saw him at a distance when he came to Bundibugyo during the Allied Defense Forces (ADF) insurgency. I longed to meet and greet him. I am really excited that he has met me. I do not want his leadership to end. He has done good things for this country, I am proud of him.”
Having lived all these years, does the notion of death worry him?
“I actually want to live for more years,” he says, chukling. “No one wants to die. When one falls sick, they also wish to get better.”