Why ‘uncle’ Amon now hopes to graduate from ‘doctor’ to ‘dad’

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Why ‘uncle’ Amon now hopes to graduate from ‘doctor’ to ‘dad’

Ugandan spent three years away from his family to do his PhD in SA. Fear of failure before his children kept him going

Journalist


The fear of failing his small children after being away from them for almost three years kept a Ugandan researcher and doctoral graduate on his toes.
This week the sacrifice finally paid off when Amon Mwiine was awarded his PhD in sociology from Stellenbosch University.
The graduation ceremony saw him reunited with his wife, Jovah, his two-year-old son Aaron – whom he had last seen as a newborn – and his seven-year-old daughter, Christabel.
“Having a family back home and schooling at the same time was both challenging and inspiring at the same time,” said Mwiine.
“The fear of failure before my children kept me going. I was like: ‘How do I go back home and tell them I have failed the course?’ ”
Early in 2016 he left his Kampala home and a fulltime job as a lecturer and trekked to Cape Town to pursue his dream at what he describes as “one of the most prestigious universities”.
Leaving behind his heavily pregnant wife and young daughter, he said moving to SA was one of his most difficult decisions. He returned home shortly after commencing his studies for the birth of his son.
Despite video calls, his children missed him. “They wanted to hug me. Because we were connected via video call they couldn’t, and they would scream in anger. My wife and I kept hoping each day that this will be over,” he said.
This week, Christabel brought with her a certificate she received at school for academic performance so she could stand beside her father during his proudest moment.
He was awarded his doctorate for research entitled “Promoters of Gender Equality? A Study of the Social Construction of Specific Male Parliamentarians as ‘Male Champions’ in Uganda”.
Now Mwiine, who is going back home to resume his job at Makerere University in Kampala, has a huge responsibility: To rekindle the relationship with his children, particularly Aaron who calls him “uncle”. “It was very painful to me when Aaron referred to me as ‘uncle’ and not dad. But he is starting to understand now that I am in fact ‘daddy’ and not just any man,” he said.
Although he received a lot of support from his wife, a trainee researcher, he said it was Christabel who kept him strong when he became homesick.
“She always said: ‘Daddy you can’t give up. You must finish this degree.’ ”
Jovah said the sacrifice her husband made was for the benefit of the family.
“I never felt resentful about the situation. I always knew that he is doing this not only for himself, but for the family,” she said.
“Today we are all proud of him. He serves as an inspiration to our children and I am sure that they will reach even higher because of this inspiration.”

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