In 2008, I packed up my belongings and moved to Complex Hall at Makerere University to study a Bachelor of Law degree. As I settled in, I encountered this group of people who came to speak to us about the School of Law Fellowship and to invite us to the weekly prayer meetings. One of those people included a girl with dimples and an infectious laughter. What were the odds that she was in law school, was part of the Fellowship Committee, and was also a resident of Complex Hall? This was not a coincidence; it was divine collision. As the months went by, we formed a friendship built on our mutual love for God and it became evident that you would be a lifetime friend.
I struggle with being vulnerable but one fateful night in 2018, I walked to your room at 1:00 AM crying after another disagreement with my roommates that ended in one of them saying something that deeply hurt. You woke up, opened the door and asked what was wrong. I couldn’t say anything except cry. You heard my unspoken pain and while I lay down with my head on your thighs, you held me and started to pray and speak the peace of God in that situation. If I had any doubts then about how much you were worth, it was clear that your friendship was priceless.
In 2015, I was headed abroad to pursue further education but the pre-departure costs (IELTS testing fees, visas, TB tests, medical tests etc) were piling up, and having paid so much already, my bank account was drying up. I remember mentioning this to you in passing when you asked about my predeparture plans and the very next day you turned up at my office. You handed me an envelope and I told you that I would pay it back and you said, “No, you don’t have to, count it as my contribution.” It may not have been a huge sum of money but you invested in my dream. You were my tribe when I needed a tribe so badly. You offset a cost to enable me to go out and spread my wings. Your friendship is a spring, out of it comes an outpouring of love and support.
For a short while after we left law school, I never understood why you pursued the career path that you chose, and that was mainly because I did not understand what exactly you were doing. I always saw you as a brilliant person who would have a bright future in legal practice, earning large sums of money and climbing the corporate ladder. Yet you chose a peculiar path. You went into activism and then policy analysis and lastly you became to the public what you have always been to me; a sanctuary and a safe space, devoid of judgement and filled with purpose. Femme Forte is a representation of your heart for people and I am so humbled to see you fulfil your purpose. It is your calling. It is your marketplace. It is your area of influence. It is the manifestation of who you are to each and every one who knows you.
The years have gone by and we have travelled in and out of the country, taken different career paths, lived in different countries but somehow, we always find our way back to each other. Your friendship is effortless. I don’t need to keep in touch with you constantly for the friendship to flourish. We start off where we left, catching up and moving forward. Your friendship is life-giving. It does not envy. It does not suffocate. It allows room for authenticity because you are authentic. You feel like the first breath of air in an unoccupied rain forest. Your friendship feels like a soulful bond. It is effortless. It does not need plastic proclamations and fake writeups to flourish. You are enough and you are secure in yourself and other people’s love for you.
Anyone who knows you knows your beauty, both in and out. On the outside, I would rather not appear in photos with you, lest I look like the Beast in Beauty and the Beast. All jokes aside though, you, my dear dimpled girlfriend, are beautiful! You have an interesting laughter and giggle and your husky voice does not help matters. But the most important beauty is what you carry in your heart. You are kind, sweet, warm and have an unbelievable personality. But above all, your relationship with God is unquestionable. Many have fallen but by the grace of God, you still relentlessly pursue him, and you seek to serve him and others. Because of you, I am daily challenged to walk my own salvation journey, to discover the heart of God and to be of influence in my own sphere.
Your love is freeing. You are loved. You are treasured. You are a rare gem. And you are growing old (I wouldn’t be myself if I didn’t add this one. LOL)
Onto the next age! Conquer. Enlarge your territory. Live on the edge of the cliff. Laugh until your belly hurts. Love and be loved. Travel the world (if only this corona would leave us alone). Grow. Spread your wings and fly. I will always be here, waiting to hear all about your adventures and dramatizing every story.
Penny, you truly feel like home!
By Prossie Nambatya OweBuddu