Sunday, October 23, 2011

Caught between a male personality and female body

By Yazid Yolisigira

Makutu village, about 30kms from Iganga town is quite popular because of one person, Nabirye,whose first name I later learn is Fauza. When you ask what is special about Nabirye, laughter follows as the person delves into explaining her double-gender - male and female. It is obviously very complicated to explain that the said Nabirye, could easily pass for a woman or man because she has two sexual organs. The dictionary word for people like her is hermaphrodite.

In Busoga culture, the name Nabirye is often given to a woman who has given birth to twins. The parents of the 20-year-old, say that they named their child Nabirye because of her two sexual organs, an explanation other elders on the village concur with.

According to the father Mohamed Gadonya, Nabirye, the youngest of their seven children was born in 1989 at Makutu health centre III with two sexual organs. The male organ is said to be on the top and the female one below. Surprisingly, when urinating, both organs function.

“After normal delivery, the nurse told us that the baby had two organs. She then advised us to go to Iganga hospital for consultations, possibly for an operation to remove one organ. But when we came back home to mobilise money, my mother refused, claiming that her grandchild was going to die in the process. We abandoned the plans to take her back to hospital,” says Mr Gadonya.

It was on that day that they named the child Nabirye. “ The three of us resolved to keep it a secret, but when he went to school posing as a female, one of his school mates noticed the male organ while in the female urinal, then the whole village came to know,” says the father.

Nabirye’s mother, Fatina says he has never suffered any serious illness since his childhood. According to her, the child was like other children.
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He went to school at Makutu Primary School from 1997 to 2006 where he completed primary level.
In 2007, he joined Bunalweni Hillside Mission for secondary education. “When he was there, the teachers liked him very much because he was a footballer and a musician. He passed O’ level with good grades, but I couldn’t afford to take him to the next level,” Mr Gadonya, a peasant farmer narrates in a low tone.

Meeting Nabirye
I reached the Gadonya’s home at around 10am and when I asked for Nabirye, they told me he had gone to the farm with his wife. After interviewing the parents, they asked one of the children to accompany me to the farm where the couple had gone. Fortunately, as we were on our way there, the two returned.

Nabirye, who I had learnt had a wife and two month’s old baby, dressed in a blouse and a skirt was carrying a hand hoe on his shoulders while the wife, also dressed in a blouse and a skirt, had their child on her back.

His appearance is very confusing. He looks like a woman and wears a bra for his big breasts and yet has short hair like a man.
As Nabirye’s father introduced me to the couple as a journalist, his wife picked a jerrycan and ran away to the water source laughing.

Nabirye who is a businessman trading in farm produce asked me to wait until “he” finished up with his customers who were selling maize to him.

After ten minutes he settled down, laughing and asking what exactly I wanted.

On asking whether it was true that he bears two sexual organs, he affirmed, talking very freely in a soft female voice.

“Yes I have. God created me wrongly, but I am happy. I don’t feel hurt about my appearance because that is how I was created and will never change. I socialise freely in the community and people like me very much. That wife you have seen knows everything and loves me,” he explained.

He says that he only suffered discrimination at secondary school for a short while, but later the students grew to appreciate him. He boasts that he even got into a relationship.

From Senior two, many girls started falling for him because of his appearance vis-à-vis his talent in playing football and leading the school music choir.

“I was a good goalkeeper. I started wearing skirts in my childhood and even when in the goal post, I used to wear my skirt with shorts inside. To fellow students, it looked funny, but I had nothing to do. The opponents hardly scored a goal against my team and that is why the teachers liked me so much. It was also as a result of this that many girls fell in love with me.”

One of his former teachers at Bunalweni Hillside Mission acknowledged that Nabirye was a very talented student. The teacher recalls the time when Nabirye as a striker, scored the winning goal in a match against Green Hill School in Iganga.

To earn a living, he trades in farm produce. He rides a bicycle to different villages looking for maize, coffee, beans, rice and other farm produce which he sells to manage his family.

Although Nabirye denies having other children, there are claims in the village that he has twins which he got after impregnating one of the girls in the village when he was still at school.

He however dismisses the allegations saying that he introduced that girl to his friend, a one Sadat who impregnated her. But Sadat and his parents denied responsibility of the twins claiming that they were for Nabirye. They went to the office of the district probation officer and resolved to go for a DNA test. According to the probation officer Daniel Nyende, the results showed that the twins were not fathered by Nabirye. Nonetheless, Nabirye who no stranger to talk in the village lives a contented life with his family. He has accepted himself and learnt how to live an ordinary life as a husband.

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