President Kyagulanyi Ssentamu Robert’s speech at the burial of statesman Dr. Paul Kawanga Ssemogerere
LADIES, GENTLEMEN, FRIENDS, AND ENEMIES;
We’re gathered here today to send off a man who meant different things to different people.Some are mourning a colleague, some their former President, some a father, some a mentor, and some a teacher.
For me, I am mourning a grandfather because he was a friend to and worked closely with my grand father, Owek. Yozefu Walakira who represented Mawokota in the Buganda Lukiiko of the 1950s and 1960s. Walakira commanded the 1980 presidential campaign of Dr Ssemwogerere in Buganda region that saw Semwogerere win presidency.
When dictator Museveni went to the bush in 1981, Walakira joined him but he was killed two years later for hiding Museveni rebels at Bubuule in Mawokota. Walakira was secretly buried at Lubaga Cathedral by his friend Dr Semwogerere and his brother Evalisto Nyanzi because our family had run into exile in Tanzania, and our father was still under detention at Kasajagirwa Military Prison on treason charges. Six years after the war in 1989, Dr. Ssemwogerere helped our family exume Walakira’s body and we eventually gave him a decent burial at his home Bubuule in Mawokota.
In the 1996 presidential campaign, my whole family, my mother and brothers Chairman Nyanzi and Eddie Yawe played a very active role, in fact Eddie Yawe is the one who composed Dr. Semwogere’s campaign song. Dr. Ssemwogerere and our grandfather Yozefu Walakira were brothers due to a blood bond (mukago) that they executed amongst themselves. The Mukago followed their children, and us their grand children.
Therefore, ladies and gentlemen, today I speak to you in the shoes of Yozefu Walakira. I speak on behalf of our father and his whole family. I also address you as the elected President of Uganda. I grew up admiring Dr Semwogerere as an exceptional statesman. He knew me as one of the many gradsons of Walakira.
When I joined active politics 5 years ago, he took me under his wing and became my teacher and mentor. For these 5 years, I have had the privilege of walking into his home at any time, and drinking from his fountain of wisdom.
I had enough time to listen to and learn from him and I can confidently say that we talked about almost everything. We talked about the politics of Uganda, it’s lies, intrigue, betrayal and hypocrisy. He told me about his experience and how to relate with the Church and other religions; about how to relate with our Kingdom and other traditional rulers; about how to relate with other regions of Uganda and people from different tribes, and he taught me to be a national and not a tribal leader.
He told me many stories about Ben Kiwanuka, Milton Obote, and of course Mr. Museveni. He told me about Dr Andrew Kayiira and how he was betrayed and murdered in the same way they killed Kirumira, Kiggundu, and Kaweesa. Dr. Ssemwogerere was the minister for internal affairs when Kayiira was gunned down on 9th March 1987. I was very young at the time, but when I grew up, I had the opportunity to hear the story first hand from Dr Ssemwogerere. Dr. Ssemogerere’ s position then enabled me to know the details of Kayiira’s death and I want you to know that I know.
Those who work for Museveni, please tell him that I know and one day the whole world will know what I know. Dr Ssemwogerere lived for 90 years, but 90 years was not long enough for him to see a peaceful transfer of power from one leader to another in Uganda. He worked for nearly 70 years for truth and justice, but not even one day did he see truth and justice in Uganda. In 1980, Dr Ssemwogerere won the presidential elections against Obote but Museveni who did not get even 1% of the votes claimed he had been cheated and started a war here in Buganda, in Luwero where we buried Jakana Naduli.
He claimed that he was fighting for democracy and human rights, and our parents joined him. Half a million of our people were killed during that war, although they refused to call it a genocide. 35 years later, I defeated dictator Museveni in the 2021 presidential election but he did to me exactly what Obote did to Semwogerere in 1980. Incidentally, Dr. Ssemwogerere passed away on the 18th day of November, the same day two years ago when Museveni ordered for the killing of over 150 innocent citizens in Kampala and other parts of Uganda.
Together with Dr. Kizza Besigye, Gen. Muntu and other leaders, we commemorated the 2nd anniversary of this massacre in Nairobi — because you can not hold such an event in Uganda under Gen Museveni. You saw our brothers and sisters whose nails and eyes were removed and hands and legs cut off. Ladies (and men) who were raped and you also saw young men who were castrated like animals simply for supporting change. As I speak now, my brother Jamshid Kavuma is still missing. He was abducted on 5th November by soldiers in the same way Jolly Joe Kiwanuka and Ben Kiwanuka were abducted by Amin’s soldiers and disappeared. Jolly Joe Kiwanuka is the grand father of Kiryowa Kiwanuka, Museveni’s Attorney General who is supporting the kidnapping and killing of our brothers today. Jolly Joe Kiwanuka was nicknamed ‘Namwatulira’ because he spoke truth to power and maybe that’s why Amin killed him. It’s unfortunate that his grandson has become the exact opposite.
The Baganda have a saying that “engizzi ezaala enkolya”! For 16 days now, we don’t know where Kavuma is. I don’t know if they killed him and threw him into a swamp to rot away, or he’s still alive enduring torture in safe houses. I have not heard any voice about him from our elders, be they cultural or religious leaders. But unless we raise our voices, Kavuma might also completely disappear like JohnBosco Kibalama and very many others. Silence will be a convenient option untill they come for you or your children and then you will know that nobody is safe untill we are all safe.
Our father, as we bid farewell to you today, allow me to thank you for teaching us, and for being a good example. Those you told us to trust, we know them and those you warned us about, we also know them. We see them in their expensive suits but they can no longer fool us, we see them with their soldiers and their guns but they dont scare us.
Those whom you trusted with the legacy of Ben Kiwanuka and your own legacy and they instead sold it to the dictator even when you were still alive, we see them. Those who pretend to be green outside but are actually yellow inside, we see them. Just two weeks ago you told me that he had never visited you, not even once, since he made a convenant with the devil. He was too ashamed to look in your eyes while they were still open, but I know that you can still see him.
We know you died a very disappointed man, but we also know that you died a very hopeful man. Hopeful, because you taught us and you prepared us. We will keep the hope alive.We will never sell our souls and our people, KIKAFUUWE! We shall never betray our culture even when our culture betrays us. We shall always be disciples and decendants of Paul Kawanga Ssemwogerere.
Please never leave us alone; continue fighting with us and through us. Always visit us, in any way you can, whether in our dreams or in meditation. We shall continue your legacy, we shall tell stories about you to our children and grand children. In our hearts, you will nver die.
Rest in peace, Dr. Paul Kawanga Semwogerere.