There are two moments that seem to bring the best out of humanity more than anything else; celebration and mourning. When a milestone is reached, humanity comes together, and with little to no prompting, rallies behind the main celebrant to toast to the moment. At the other end of the scale, when a beloved soul passes on; into the next life, humanity is beaten and broken into bits and pieces of grief that are rallied together to celebrate a life lost too soon.

For some, the celebration of a life in passing stops when the deceased is put six feet under. For others, this celebration goes on long after the Gates of Heaven were opened to let in the soul that has left earth for Heaven. Juliet Tumwesigye (May Her Soul Rest in Peace) is one such person; a year after her passing on, she is still revered and celebrated.

Julie or Rasta, as she was fondly known on the party scene, has been gone for a year now but her folk is still very much alive. At the turn of the new month, her family and friends started preparing a series of activities to commemorate her life; first on the menu of celebrations was a reggae theme night on 08/06/2017 at Valhalla, a popular hangout located on Kampala’s Lumumba Avenue. #Jamrock4Julie it was dubbed.

For those who knew Julie especially on Kampala’s party scene, you cannot dispute her love for reggae music. A reggae theme night celebration is the most befitting way her affable laid back character could be celebrated. Her friends and family turned up in droves to jump jump jump and throw their heads back in memory of Rasta. The in-house DJs Naselow Da Don and Ciza kept the crowd in tune well into the next day.

Once too often, her friends would say, “laba sekise,” when a girl would pass by. Julie, will be remembered for her endless banter. She would stop at nothing to poke fun at people. If she ran out of jokes, she would point her audience to beautiful girl, as a commercial break, before resuming with another endless stream of jokes. Laba Sekise was Julie’s favored halftime joke. Her friends have kept it alive.

A day after they had all bobbed their heads back and forth, jumpily, in rhythm to reggae music, Julie’s friends and family convened at her Mother’s residence in Kasubi-Lugala on the outskirts of Kampala, to pray for a friend, daughter, sister and bundle of joy whose candle was extinguished too soon.

At the close of Julie’s Memorial Service, they dined, wined and danced until the hour Julie would say tukite (Luganda equivalent of let us call it a night.). As they made merry, one phrase kept popping up, “It was real.” This they said, in reference to the moments they shared with Julie. Now that she is gone, they see no other way to celebrate her but keep it real.

For now, Julie’s friends and family have invested themselves in running a not-for-profit organization that carries Julie’s full name, The Julie Tumwesigye Foundation, to raise more awareness about road safety and prevent more untimely loss of life to reckless road usage.

Some images from the Memorial

Joyce and Felix
Cutting the ‘It Was Real Cake’
Nick and Patricia
Laba sekise
Joyce and Mato
Gilbert, Mike & Pearl
Sam, Joyce, Mato
Annet supervising the cake cutting.