A Tragedy for Gumutindo
Cooperative Coffees laments the loss of Lovis Masiga and his family. Mr. Masiga was a founding member of the Gumutindo Cooperative in Uganda. On August 28, 2011 a destructive mudslide carried away his house along with the nine lives inside of it... In the following letter, managing director of the cooperative Willington Wamayeye, describes the pain and the loss that members of the cooperative are now facing... We send our deepest condolences to the Gumutindo Cooperative.
End of the road for Lovis Masiga
By Willington Wamayeye - Managing director of Gumutindo Coffee Cooperative - Mbale, Uganda
“Masiga” means “tears” in the language of the people who live on the
western slopes of Mt Elgon. There were lots of them on Tuesday 30th August 2011 in the Mt. Elgon village of Sisiyi, approximately 1,500 m above sea level.
A family of nine members was buried alive by a massive landslide, following a heavy down pour in the night of
August 2011. Thousands of tons of mud, water, and rock slid off the
side of the mountain, destroying everything in its path as it hurtled
down the mountainside.
Mr. Lovis Masiga together with his 8 family members was killed by the slide. His son and all the children, a daughter who had come to visit with her children were among the dead. His wife, Zeeta survived because she was away from home, visiting her relatives in a nearby village.
Mr. Masiga was one of the founding farmers/members of Gumutindo. This is a man I have worked with since 1991. He was a role model in many respects but first as a person I could rely on. I have always advised my colleagues in Gumutindo to look for Masiga for help in case they encountered problems on their way to or down from Buginayanya. Considering that the road can deteriorate very quickly during rainy days, that piece of advice was a worthwhile one. And Masiga never disappointed me. He was always available and ready to help without complaining.
He was a very good farmer. One of our very best farmers of Gumutindo. Andy, you have taken a lot of pictures of his coffee garden, the garden lying opposite his former home. One picture that you took of him appears in the calendars of Trade Aid. Now the coffee, his home and himself are no more. His body was dug out from a mangled riot of mud, rubble, broken iron sheets, sticks, and stones. You cannot see Mr. Masiga’s house, it is buried 10 meters under. What you can see are the remains of houses, coffee trees and other bigger trees that were carried off from above the cliff. The broken remains of these houses are lying on top of the devilish heap. Cows, goats and everything else of the late Mr. Masiga’s is buried there.
Death occurs very so often these days in our part of the world. I had recently reduced attending burials because they are too many. Attending all the burials of my late relatives would leave me with very little time to do useful work.
But for all the reasons of my relationship with my friend, Lodovico Masiga, I had to attend his burial. There were nine dead bodies laid in the church... My friends!! Not many of us can stand one dead body, but nine bodies from the same family were beyond the emotional control of all the mourners. A lot of teas flowed that day.
The road to Buginyanya is closed, as you can see in the photos. I do not know how long it will take to open it. When it opens, we shall of course continue going to Buginyanya and Nasufwa but we shall not have the luxury of meeting and talking to our friend, Lovis. His road permanently closed on the night of 28th August 2011.