By John C Ssentongo

Since good news is rarely good news on ‘newsroom dockets’ I try to shield my children from news. Period. I don’t owe many people an explanation but to summarise it all – I am in knowledge of the fact that what we think about makes who we are.

So, to expose children to negative information robs them a chance to think through things with the positivety needed for their good upbringing. That is not to say my wife and I, shut our children from realities of life all together. No.

However, we do control information that we know is not actually useful for their development. However, it was not easy to shut out the news of Ivan Ssemwanga’s death. Everyone around the children was talking about the socialite – some called “omugagga”, “sangoma”, “generous”, “extravagant”, “omufere” and so many names.

So, my daughter who happens to be four years asked me about Ivan Ssemwanga and why he is important.

Daughter: Dad, who is Ivan Ssemwanga? Me: Ivan Ssemwanga! Who is asking about him? Daughter: Everyone is talking about him? Who is he? Me: Some man – died far away from here, but he has been buried. Daughter: So many people die, why is everyone talking about him? Me: I don’t know.

Daughter: Dad, you are a journalist, do people here know more about him than you? Me: Well, I don’t know. Daughter: Was he some sort of important person? Me: I don’t think so. Daughter: But he used to give out money to the poor? Me: Poor? Who said so? Daughter: The neighbor Me: No, he used to give money to fellow drunkards. Don’t worry, he is not important

Daughter: But why is everyone talking about him Me: Because he was famous Daughter: Is he more famous than the owner of St Lawrence schools? (We told her about the death of the important person Mr Mukiibi who died around the same time.)

Me: Ivan was more famous, but not more important. Daughter, our country unfortunately pays more attention to comedy than on important things like education. So, people who make merry and throw money around like Ivan are celebrated than people who add value to our society by building schools like Mr Mukiibi. Daughter: So, it is better to be like Ivan than Mr Mukiibi?

Me: You can’t say that, daughter. It is important to do important things where people laud you or not. Do the right things like Mr Mukiibi. Be humble. People who seek other people’s praise are not worth paying attention to. They are just performers. Nothing more to them.

Daughter: So, why is Mr Mukiibi more important that Ivan? Me: Because Mukiibi has used his knowledge, skills, and money to build monuments that will live long after him.

He built schools in Uganda where Ugandan children have gone to school and became better people. The schools have employed Ugandans and paid taxes to our government. The students who pass through St Lawrence schools are now contributing to national development in different ways.

For Ivan, he has done a lot, I hear, but I don’t know any monument in Uganda he has left behind to live 50 years after him. May be his grave.

Daughter: I understand. It is better to build what will live long after you are dead. Me: Yes my daughter. And it does not matter whether anyone praises you today for what you do today – what is important, ensure it is benefiting someone today and in the future. Not just today. Daughter: Yes dad.

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