Barbie Kyagulanyi: The joy of family

barbie Matooke Republic copy

Weekends rarely find my children home. They do their early morning chores and one by one run to the neighbour’s. I asked them to bring their friends to our home sometime. This one weekend, they brought a swamp of children who looked alike. I asked who they were and on introduction, I realised they were all from one clan and were actually siblings! Yes, there’s no way my children were going to miss out on the fun playing with this huge number of children. The bigger the numbers, the more fun.


Growing up in a family of many brothers and sisters is so much fun. You play and exhaust all games. Every time is play time! Children from such homes watch over each other. They will defend one another and when one of them is bullied, they could cause a war to break out! Chores are done in groups and work is done and delivered in no time. Kids from a huge family are social and less likely to be emotionally needy because they have friends from within. A huge family has enormous advantages.

Our household was big. Our father, his brothers and their families lived in the same compound. I don’t remember us having boundaries. We entered any house, any room, any time and there was totally no privacy or ownership of property. We shared shoes and clothes. But some of us demanded that their property not be touched so there was a fight over stuff that was taken and never returned.

From experience, our house was never in order! You never found an item in its position. Older girls cleaned after us all the time! There was never silence! Noise day and night! How our parents rested in the afternoon as we played hide and seek, I don’t know. We fought at meal times; you know when you have to steal your siblings’ piece of meat? Although we terrorised our neighbours’ banana plantations in search of sweet bananas, we learnt survival skills from each other. We didn’t have enough at our disposal but at least we filled the church choir seats every Sunday and we are all good singers!

Children enjoy growing up in this environment to the core but do the parents enjoy as much? Your guess is as good as mine. They demand a good education, good healthy food in relatively good portions…Growing up, our parents were doctors, our auntie was a nurse, we grew our own food, our society was sane and each family looked after the other. Times have changed and things are quite different from how they were in the 80s. So it feels like the choice to have a smaller family has already been made for us, really.