By Kwame Ismail Nkurunziza
The first time I heard about Sarah’s story I got surprised, just as you’re about to be.
A mutual friend who knows I like current affairs told me about this Ugandan woman who had been dumped by the M23 rebel leader.
My first reaction was to ask him if he is sure of what he was talking about. One hour later, after giving me more information, I told him at the right time that if really Bertrand Bisimwa is really the biological father of Sarah Nansamba’s child, he will one day physically meet his son.
Early this week when I saw Sarah, in her late 30s, looking rough with a bag of second-hand clothes she sells to make ends meet, I felt compelled to tell her story, with the hope that Bisimwa’s family and friends will reach out to her and possibly help the mother of one, who now struggles to make a living after having been abandoned with Bisimwa’s child.
Meeting Bisimwa For The First Time
Nansamba says she got to know the former Congolese rebel boss through one of her friends who used to work as a masseuse at Silver Springs Hotel in Bugolobi.
“My friend (whom Sarah didn’t want to be identified), told me about Bertrand when I visited her. Knowing that I am a church-going person, I remember she said there is this Congolese man who sleeps here sometimes, I want you to meet him because he seems to be into church work, so who knows, he might take you to Congo to spread the word of God.”
Sarah says it didn’t take long for her friend Bertrand to suggest she sends him a friend request on Facebook and once in a while she would send him short messages which he would take long reply.
That however changed when Sarah, who used to pray at pastor Robert Kayanja’s Rubaga Miracle Centre church, sent him what she says was a message from God.
“In my Facebook message, I told him God had asked me to tell him to appoint five intellectual people in his circle because he was about to get a big office and enmity was going to divide his group into two camps. I also told him to say yes to a delegation from Australia.”
Nansamba narrates that suddenly, Bisimwa started chatting with her on both Facebook and WhatsApp.
“He wanted to know more about me because although I didn’t know much about him what I told him about his work was almost exactly what he was going through.”
Soon thereafter, she says they started talking about meeting physically but Bisimwa would postpone the meeting or change his mind at the last minute, claiming he was supposed to meet delegates or attend another conference.
“Bisimwa would go weeks without contacting me then out of the blue send a message or call me on phone and in between our conversation he would say that he is not who I think he is and can’t be in public places like ordinary people. One day in July 2016, Bisimwa called me and told me to meet him somewhere in Ntinda.”
After the meeting, Sarah says it didn’t take long for Bisimwa to express his feelings for her. Good thing the feelings were mutual and the two started enjoying romps at her house in Bugolobi, where he would visit with mean-looking soldiers, who would stand outside to guard their boss as he romped with his secret Ugandan lover.
“I would tell him I want to visit him but he would turn down that request by telling me his house was under surveillance,” Sarah says.
She Tells The M23 Boss About The Pregnancy
“He didn’t believe me the first time when I told him I was pregnant. He encouraged me to go to the hospital and when I came back with the results confirming what I had told him, he told me he couldn’t have made me pregnant because he had had a non-permanent vasectomy at Nakasero Hospital.”
Nansamba explained that she told him he was the only person she had been sleeping with.
Later, Bisimwa tricked her by saying they go together to Nakasero Hospital to have a DNA test carried out on her but she feared the worst when a friend told her there is no way a DNA test can be carried out on a foetus.
“I started suspecting he had made a plan with his doctor to forcefully carry out an abortion on me. Yes, he had told me he had a wife and three children although they were separated and he was giving them financial support; I resolved there was no way I was going to abort. Being a Christian, there was no way I would commit such a sin.”
Bisimwa Goes To Western Uganda
Nansamba continues that; “Around 2017, Eastern Congo started having serious security problems and he would send me gruesome photos and videos of dead or badly injured people and tell me things like ‘look how my people are dying. My people are being killed’.”
She says Bisimwa would emotionally tell her that DRC government authorities were claiming it is the M23 rebels killing innocent people yet it was actually government forces that were attacking innocent civilians in order to further discredit the rebel movement.
“He was really disturbed by the events in Congo. Although I kept updating him about my pregnancy he was focussed on what was happening in his country. At some point he suggested we switch to telegram because he was not comfortable with WhatsApp and I did just that but still, he didn’t give me the much-needed help I wanted from him as a man who had made me pregnant.
“When I finally gave birth to our son Favour Charity Bisimwa, I told him and even asked him to come and take a DNA test to confirm that he is the biological father but he didn’t come. Well-knowing I was 100 per cent sure of what I was telling him, I persisted and thought at some point he would have a change of heart.
“I kept sending him photos of the child in different positions and stages of growth. Afterwards, he told me that when the situation allows he would come back to Kampala but he didn’t do that or offer me any financial help.
Thrown Of Out Of House And Shunned By Friends
“Ever since I gave birth to my son, life has been so hard. I have faced all sorts of challenges. When the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) switched off all unregistered numbers I lost contact with him but I would send him messages on his Facebook account.
“Facebook would indicate he had seen the messages but I would not get a reply. I got frustrated by my circumstances and was not sure who to turn to, because almost everyone I knew had turned their backs on me. Even my family had become hostile, asking about the father of the child and why I had gotten pregnant before marriage.
“Eventually, I sent a message to one of his Facebook friends to help me contact him but he accused me of blasphemy and being another money-hungry Kampala girl who had no shame to say such things about a respected man like Bisimwa when I told him about our sexual relationship.”
As I concluded my interview with Nansamba, she said her child is now three years old and the only thing she wants is Bisimwa or his relatives and close friends to get involved in his son’s life.
“He is the father of my son there is no reason why a Ugandan girl like me would insist that a Congolese man whom I didn’t even know so well is the father of that boy,” She says.
Asked if she is ready for a DNA test, Nansamba responded that she would gladly take her son and Bisimwa to hospital for that test, even if it is to be done tomorrow.
Bertrand Bisimwa is a Congolese rebel, a trained lawyer, and human rights activist. He is the president of the March 23 Movement, often abbreviated M23, also known as the Congolese Revolutionary Army, a rebel military group based in eastern areas of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).