“I regret for the bad things I did to my wife and children under the influence of alcohol,” says 45-year-old Ryoki Nyamsera, a resident of Ryamkoma village in Musoma Rural District. He is now a transformed man and a role model who preaches peace after years of heavy drinking.
A talented self-employed man engaged in plough making, Nyamsera says in the past he used to drink all kinds of alcohol, including the illicit gongo. The influence of alcohol would stimulate him to commit all sorts of gender-based violence to his family.
“Before I changed in 2009 my family had no peace; I mistreated and tortured my wife and children. My family suffered a great deal and I regret,” the transformed man says.
He plunged sank into alcoholism after marriage because culturally married men in his community are expected to drink. “Indeed, I ended up becoming a heavy drinker simply because the other men I was socialising with in the village were also alcoholics,” he says.
Nyamsera married Eliza 20 years ago and they are blessed with eight children. His wife admits that in the past she was valueless to his husband and she feared him so much that she would not dare ask him anything for fear of being beaten even in public
According to Eliza, Nyamsera’s children used to sleep without food and would not be able to attend school due to lack of school fees, uniforms and stationery.
“If I would ask anything he would end up beating me badly so I feared telling him anything concerning our children and myself,” she explains.
Because of his husband’s behaviour of not providing for the family needs she could not believe that he was using all the money for drinking. She believed that he had other women.
Interestingly, Eliza says after Nyamsera’s behavioural change he said had no woman outside their marriage.
“I only believed him after we went to a health centre to check our HIV status. After examination, the health officers told us we were free of HIV,” Eliza says.
“Today my husband, our children and I, live happily and peacefully,” notes Eliza, adding “after dinner we sit together and discuss the performance of our children at school.”
In an interview, one of Nyamsera’s children, Mwita Ryoki, a Form II student at Butiama Secondary School said during his father’s heavy drinking days his school performance was badly affected.
“In one examination I dropped from holding the number one position to number three because of my father’s violent acts,” he said.
Mwita recovered after his father stopped drinking
When Nyamsera abandoned alcohol four years ago and became a changed man, some men in his area started to laugh at him.
“I ignore them because it is my own decision… I enjoy life without alcohol and I have seen the benefits,” he says courageously.
He has now raised 500,000/- for his son who was selected to join Moshi Technical Secondary school this year. He has also paid school fees for his other children in primary and secondary schools.
The former alcoholic is role model who has persuaded more than 80 other men in his village and other neighboring villages of Butiama, Nyasirori, Bigegu, Tarani, Buhemba and Bumanji to stop drinking and engage self-development activities.
“I was persuaded by Nyamsera and stopped drinking confides 46-year-old Owalo Gidion married to three wives.
He admits that during his heyday drinking days he used to do things which made his annoyed his wives.
“All of us were victims of his violent acts. Those acts are now past event as we enjoy peace and love from him, says Nirea Owalo Gidion on behalf of the other two wives.
“Had it not been for his change of behaviour, our children would not be in school today,” she adds.
One of Owalo Gideon’s children studying at Butiama Secondary School, Onyango Gidion Owalo (15) admits that after abandoning alcohol his father has become a responsible parent..
The chairperson of his sub village of Manyawa, Kisonge Warutundu says a few years ago Nyamsera was rude but he is now a hard working good parent, the envy of the village.
He says fellow have emulated his example in promoting family peace working hard for family development.
What made Nyamsera stop alcoholism?
He says he was persuaded to stop alcohol after watching a cinema brought to his village by the Mwanza-based KIVULINI Women Human Rights organization.
“After watching the cinema and reading their pamphlets I felt that the message was targeting me. I could see my violent acts in the message and the suffering of my family. I decided to reform,” he says.
KIVULINI executive director Maimuna Kanyamala confirms that her organisation was influential as the cinema was screened in various parts of Lake Zone regions to raise community awareness on combating gender-based violence.
The cinema was being funded by Hivos, American Jewish World Service and Terre des Hommes.
Nyamsera is one of 350 selected to wage a relentless campaign against gender-based violence in Mara region.
“I did not attend any course in plough making”, Nyamsera says, adding with the availability of raw materials he could make more than en ploughs per month which he sells at 170,000/- each.
“His ploughs attract many customers because they are durable and easy to handle,” says Kisonge Warutundu.
Organisations such as the Small Scale Industries Development Organization (SIDO) could exploit Nyamsera’s talents through further training in the quest revolutionizing small scale industries for the good of the nation.