Yvonne Namaganda; A heroine that must never be forgotten - National | NTV

Yvonne Namaganda; A heroine that must never be forgotten

By JOSEPH TUMWESIGYE

Wednesday April 15, 2020

Yvonne Namaganda 

Today, our minds are immersed in the fictional world of blockbusters. And, one may never take a blockbuster seriously if it isn’t about incredible hard to beat and durable superheroes who always win at the end of the movie with the dramatic “smouldering intensity” look on their faces.

Fixated on this, we tend to forget that real heroes DIE.

On the fateful morning of 16th April 2008, the country lost 19 young souls to an inferno whose “source” would elude Ugandans till date. All children were girls in Budo Junior School and while they slept, the dark was interrupted with fury tongues of flames that would later decimate the entire structure they had felt safe so many times. A pitch-fork silhouette still stands in the shadows over what really happened. A face that we have failed to make out.

Amid all the terror, screams and scuffle that filled the night, a hero emerged. 10-year-old Yvonne Namaganda stood and faced the intangible orange enemy, blazing in honour of Walumbe the god of death. Determined to save her friends, her family away from home, she did the unexpected.

Reports say that when the flames broke out, Namaganda rushed to the window but it could not open. In a move only limited to quick thinkers, she broke the glass and pushed the girls through. She also instructed them to go and call for help and then began getting the rest to safety. She handled this situation very well despite what was going on.

“I have to help the others,” she told those who tried to stop her from going back.

At this point, they say, the incredible Namaganda charged into the dragon’s breath as her colleagues looked on in horror.

“With the fire almost at the door and some children still inside crying, Namaganda went in and started pulling some children out. She did this for about five times until she went in and never came back”, survivor Ketra Namubiru told the Daily Monitor back in 2016.

It was an act of incredible bravery and selfless courage that would later echo from the furthest edges of this little Pearl. Many, old and young, male and female still ask themselves if they could have ever attempted a feat so selfless that they would risk their own lives. The unspoken answers “written” on their faces show a blank drawn.

Yvonne Namaganda was born to Paul Ssewanyana and his wife Rebecca in Gomba district. Before joining Buddo Junior School, she attended Aidah and Topher Kindergarten. In Buddo, she was a class leader and a Prefect. I guess she felt it her responsibility to make sure everyone under her leadership was safe. A privilege we can’t say we have from those who lead us today. The government awarded her with the Rwenzori Class Medal. We identified her as a soldier who died in battle. She was fighting for life and humanity.

Namaganda would be 22 years old today.

Tuesday marked exactly 12 years since the incident in Buddo Junior School happened. The memory of Yvonne Namaganda is slowly fading in the minds of Ugandans. Those she saved will probably never forget a sacrifice so massive, it gave them a chance to live, to grow, to change the world. Uganda needs to immortalise Namaganda and never forget that among us are those selfless enough to carry our burdens. Stories have to be told of her bravery, songs sung, statues raised and hearts warmed.

We wonder, “What happened to those she saved?”

I hope they are having great lives. Lives that are good and respectable. Lives that would put a smile on Namaganda’s face.

May the Almighty forever bless her soul.