Her father sold Mariam Nabatanzi when she was 12 years old. Shortly after, she became pregnant and gave birth to twins at the age of 13. When Mariam was 36 years old, she became the mother of her 44th child.

Mama Uganda, the world’s most fertile

Her own mother abandoned her when she was three days old. Her stepmother mixed shards of glass into the food of five older brothers causing them all to die.

Mariam comes from Uganda in East Africa and is known as Mama Uganda, the most fertile woman on earth.

On average, Ugandan women give birth to 5.6 children, which is more than double the global average of 2.4 children, but even in Uganda, Mariam is an exception. She has given birth to twins four times, triplets five times and quadruplets as many times. Only once did she have a single child.

Grew up in tears

Six of the children have died, two of them were killed by Mariam’s half-sister, and her husband has left her. He took what money the family had with him. Now Mariam is a single mother with 38 children, 20 boys and 18 girls.

Gynaecologists have established that Mariam has abnormally large ovaries and a genetic predisposition to hyperovulation – the release of several eggs at a time – which significantly increases the chances of having multiple pregnancies. Birth control pills in her case would most likely cause serious medical complications. The doctors had to cut away the uterus so she could avoid giving birth to more children.

Lives in four small houses

Mariam lives with her children in four small brick houses with corrugated iron roofs in a village five miles north of the capital, Kampala.

After her husband left her in 2016, Mariam, who is a decorator, hairdresser, producer of herbal medicines that increase fertility and liquor, has worked day and night to support the family. She has been supported several times with fundraising and donations.

Wants doctors and engineers

I have grown up in tears and have never experienced joy. My husband had five wives. He was violent and gave me no love. I ran away several times, but my father sent me back because he could not pay back the dowry.

All my time has been spent looking after my children, whom I love, and working for little money. My biggest wish is for them to get an education and become doctors and engineers.

Kato the older – and the younger

Mariam is fond of films and TV series from Nollywood, Nigeria’s answer to Hollywood, and has taken inspiration from there when she has had to name them, but has several “Wassawa” and “Kato” – and then it becomes, for example, “Kato the older” and “Kato the Younger”.

Mariam’s home is a small village in itself – and grandchildren have started to appear. One of her daughters gave birth to a child aged 14. She has enrolled other daughters in schools to keep them busy.

Young and attractive

Mariam stays positive:

I am still young and can find a man of my own choosing.

Les også

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