Three Poems by Samuel Kamugisha



Oh Happy Day!

For 15 cool years, Christmas eve was the day dad came home, his head

sinking in his neck under the weight of a sack of beef, rice and bread in

his hands. Welcomed by a basketful of millet flour mum milled on our

grinding stone.  My sisters manicuring the compound lawns. Planting

banana trees all over. Decorating the house with flowers, tree branches

and success cards.  Then a sumptuous meal. Belching. Little bellies swelling

to bursting point. The parading of new clothes. Watching Rambo at a local

shack for 100 Shillings. Impressing village girls with chewing gum and later

misbehaving with them in the bush near home or the plantation. The singing

of X-mas  carols, knocking at doors to sing for the occupants for a few coins.

trailing off in pairs and moaning in painful ecstasy under village trees.


Nohire[1] was the day we showed off our clothes: the holy attire contest

Like many others, it’d be my first and last time in church in 365 days

The day we caught up with friends some of who’d been working in Kampala

We envied them of the Kampala city. Even the pastor did and introduced

them to the congregation that filled the church and briefed them on what

had been done and what needed to be done – and asked them to contribute.

A sumptuous meal awaited. Then we w’d go eating life. Splashing the whole

year’s savings. Unaware of why Baby Jesus was born.


A whole 15 Christmases. Wasted. until the day, the happy day, when Jesus

was born in my heart. Disrobing me of the stinking and alcohol with which

I staggered to the pulpit after the altar call. The guest pastor had preached

about the meaning of Christmas  and I was a pack of all the wrongs committed

on that day. The acts that disgraced Baby Jesus and made Mary’s heart writhe

in pain and angered God the father and the Holy Spirit. I cried: Jesus I accept you.


[1] Runyankore-Rukiga equivalent of Noel, Christmas




Bethlehem’s Inn Keeper

Squirming  with labour pangs. Visibly dead beat from

the journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem’s census point

baby ready for delivery out of Mary’s round belly

A tinge of urgency in Joseph’s voice and a finger at Mary

pointing, he begged the town’s inn-keeper: an emergency room

Please, she’s in labour. No room, returned the reply.

The Creator’s son had no room in an inn built on land he

formed with his father. Only a manger was not as congested

for the world’s Saviour’s birth place shared with stinking cattle

mowing: happy birthday Baby Jesus; congs Blessed Mary

while the crickets shrilled away in jubilation and mosquitoes

hummed: welcome dear baby: this is Bethlehem!


History knows no man so pitiless like the inn keeper whose

hotel was so chock-a-block for a woman in labour. Couldn’t

he have offered the custodian’s room or the reception or paid off a guest?

Which human being abandons a woman in labour to the beasts

in Bethlehem’s farmlands or the trepidation that accompanies dusk?

What kind of heart did he have: wooden or made of stone?

Did he ever hear the word “love” in his life. What about “sympathy”

What of compassion or did he just not want to associate with the

Wretched couple of potter and carpenter fidgeting to produce

Bethlehem’s next taxi tout or whore as he must have imagined?


For his heart of stone will history know him as the biggest loser who

missed the chance to welcome the creator of the earth into the earth

He created with His Father and the Holy Spirit. And the opportunity to

welcome the King of kings and Lord of lords into the world. And the

chance to accommodate the owner of all accommodation. And the blessed

honour to host the Lord of hosts. And a rare chance to have his name

included into the books of history for I’m still looking for it in my Bible.





The Joseph and Mary of Kampala

Joseph, Bethlehem’s renowned carpenter

Had his eye on the village legendary potter

Mary but never dared fondle, caress and sleep with her

Never visibly mortified her when she

Declared she was oddly pregnant: He only sought

To end engagement on the sly.


But the Joseph of Kampala

Under lust’s dark cloud and credence

Will unzip the pants of the Mary of Kampala

On first date in the City Square dusk and

Hollow Mary will softly moan his sweet cruelty

Update her Whatsapp status to

Enjoyed my first date with powerful Joseph

Sprinkle Facebook with photos of their kissing

Curl her lip at the pastor sermonizing chastity

One Sunday to Christmas:

Does virginity pay bills

Or do carpenters make furniture out of hymen?

How could the Bethlehem’s Mary and Joseph be so raw?


The Joseph of Kampala will brand Mary loose with

her legs when she announces: “we’re pregnant!”

It can’t be me; go find the one who

planted The foetus into your uterus

And blame not the Holy Ghost for you’re not the Bethlehemite Mary

He’ll blacklist her,   block her on all social media sites, shift to

another neighbourhood. And the Mary of Kampala will abort

For the seventh time and the next day, Christmas, she’ll will

Piously sing in contralto: Long time ago in Bethlehem

While Joseph supplements in bass: So the Holy Bible Says…




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Samuel Kamugisha is a Ugandan journalist, poet and fiction writer. Born 25 years ago in Bushenyi, western Uganda, Kamugisha read Journalism and Communication at Makerere University and won the 2015 TabereMudini Award, sponsored by Monitor Publications, for his academic excellence.

 A former journalist with The Observer, Kamugisha is currently an editor at Living Word Publications, a Christian publishing house based in Kampala-Uganda.

Kamugisha’s poetry and prose have been published in Coursework Love: stories and poems from The Hill of The Learned, a collection about university life; NibsTears; African Crayons; and Parousia Magazine.

His two poems, Flying Papers and Priorities were long listed for the 2016 Babishai Niwe Poetry Award.

Download PAROUSIA Magazine Christmas Issue #4 pdf by following this link.


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