Uganda’s Amos Kiyingi: #AfricanGirlDad

African Parenthood: The New Age Journey

Twins are double the love, double the fun and double the eye bags! Parents of twins face the challenge of raising two same-age children with usually, two very different personalities, interests and likes. However, the rewards and blessings of having twins are abundant. In essence,  twins have “build-in” best-friends to go through the ups and downs of life with, how lucky are they!

Within the Ugandan culture, growing your family is a physical representation of the love between two people, for most African men is the ultimate level of success. Here, we share Amos Kiyingi’s story, father to two beautiful Ugandan girls!

Tell us your story. Who is Amos Kiyingi?

Amos Kiyingi is the Founder and National Director of Uganda Unites.   Uganda Unites is a national youth-led movement that connects youth from different religious and ethnic backgrounds to equip and inspire them with peace-building and leadership skills, to become agents of change and make their communities better places to live.

He serves on the Board of Wakisa Ministries, a teenage pregnancy crisis centre and on the International Board of Christ’s Hope International; an organisation focused on caring for children affected by HIV/AIDS. He is a 2018 Obama Leader for Africa, and 2020 Mandela Washington Fellow. Away from all this work, I am a family man that lives for his lovely wife Joan and our twin daughters Neema and Keza.

What’s the best part about being a father to girls?

The best part about being a father to twin girls is watching them grow and learn! The most interesting thing is their distinct characters and learning to appreciate their individualism without feeling the need to force them to be like each other. There is also, the aspect of their excitement every time I arrive home, the screaming and laughing  from both of them gives me a sense of calm and bust of energy, even when I am really tired. I, also, can’t hide the fact that I am looking forward to shopping with and for them.

Girls create a perception of themselves based on the comments and actions they experience in all their relationships, particularly at home. As your twins grow-up, what do you want to instill in them that will help as they encounter misogyny within Ugandan society?

I think it all starts with the way I treat their mother. I will always love and treat her with respect and as an equal that she is. I believe, if they see that I treat the women around me with respect and love, they will grow up knowing how they should be treated and will not expect anything else from the men they encounter. I, very much want them to know that contrary to original African culture that silences women, they very much have a voice, and their opinion counts.

Where do you go for information and advice on parenting your daughters? What was the best advice given to you thus far?

I think the first place I go to is the bible (God), I pray quite a bit for God to give me the wisdom on how to parent, but most of the time it is my wife who I run to with quick questions. She has read quite a lot, and has consulted with friends on what works and what doesn’t. I, also check in with my mum and my mother in-law. I think the best advice I have gotten was to keep a routine for the girls and to be very involved from birth. The routine has meant that the girls are disciplined and learn pretty first; plus it is easy for me to keep involved. I am able to feed them dinner, give them an evening bath, read them a bible story and turn them in. It is my time to bond with them! Because of the routine, and involvement I am never worried if the nanny doesn’t show up or if my wife has to go away for the day.

What’s your favorite outdoor activity with your daughter’s?

They are only 1.5 years ,and we have pretty much spent the first half of 2020 indoors, we don’t get much time to go out, but when we do, we love to play football in the garden and dig holes in the sand pit.

Children crave affection. How do you let your girls know they’re loved?

I believe that one can receive 1 million kind and loving deeds, but if they don’t hear the words, “I LOVE YOU” they can still feel unloved. So, while I work hard to ensure that they never lack and I buy them material things/gifts, I endeavour that everyday I verbalise my love for them, and deliberately spend time with them, to play, laugh, sing, anything that gets them happy and excited.

What advice do you have for your children, and their children about raising strong and compassionate women?

I think it is important for my children to be aware of their privilege, and how they can use that privilege to better their community. However, small that privilege may be, or however, small the transformation it will bring. I want them to want to live for more than themselves.

The Our Stories, Our Way Fast Three! 

1. What is your favorite book to read to your daughter(s)?

Little stories from the bible, but looking forward to introducing them to African literature like The Royal Adventures of Princess Halima!

2. What is your favorite song at the moment?

Ladipoe Ft. Simi – Know You. However, the girls and I have been jamming to Innoss’B Ft Diamond Platnumz – Yope Remix

3. If you and your daughter(s) could have lunch with any person, who would it be and why?

Michelle Obama; she is an accomplished black woman that didn’t get lost in the shadow of her husband’s Presidency. She has a sense of humor, has a great sense of hope and belief in everyone being part of creating a better tomorrow. Great public speaker and has raised two daughters. Not forgetting a great sense of fashion. That would be one fun packed insightful lunch for me and for the girls. Ha ha ha sorry couldn’t do this in one line or less.

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