President Museveni yesterday joined the chorus of tributes to Makerere University political science and leadership professor Nice Foster Byarugaba.
The 77-year-old academic passed on Sunday at Nsambya hospital in Kampala after suffering a stroke.
Both academic peers and students who interacted with Prof Byarugaba praised him as simple, honest, religious and a parent who extended true love and guidance to his students.
His son, Eric Byarugaba, said his father worked in Makerere University for over 35 years; teaching, mentoring and nurturing many of the finest leaders the country boasts of today.
Mr Museveni in a message delivered by Finance minister Matia Kasaija at the requiem Mass at St Augustine Church, Makerere yesterday, echoed the gratitude to Prof Byarugaba for accomplishing a great task of educating the country.
Earlier at St Jude Wabigalo Parish in Kampala, Dr Frederick Ronald Mubiru, revisited the brave and kind heart of Prof Byarugaba.
Dr Mubiru, who shared a flat with Byarugaba, said the professor saved Mr Museveni when he shoved him into his Lincoln Flats ceiling at Makerere University as the Milton Obote II regime soldiers hunted him in 1981. The soldiers, he said, failed to truck down Mr Museveni until Prof Byarugaba aided his escape two days later through Mitchel Hall.
Dr Joy Kategekwa, who spoke on behalf of the siblings, said it was pointless to mourn their dad urging mourners to celebrate his life because he educated the country by raising responsible leaders. And this was to show in the eulogies of peers and students alike.
Former premier Apolo Nsibambi said the late Byarugaba helped him understand and manage the Department of Social Sciences at the institution when he was the dean.
“Sometimes when I was rude, he told me I was rude and I had to apologise to him,” he said. He was “extremely versatile, knowledgeable and Regius. He knew how to handle different people and situations differently,” he added.
Another colleague, Prof Paul Mugambi, who met Byarugaba at Makerere in the 1990s, describes him as cheerful, cooperative and a good scholar.
Another peer, Prof Mahmood Mamdani who supervised Byarugaba’s PhD thesis in the first half of 1980, praised him as a wonderful human being, kind, modest, humble and no matter what situation in life, he always emerged triumphant. Other peers included late professors Ginyera Pinychwa, Dani Nabudere and Ali Mazrui.
Maxwell Chrysoslite Kamanyire, a senior liaison officer with UNHCR, said between 2002 and 2003, Prof Byarugaba identified his leadership skills and appointed him as the Political Science class manager.
Mr Kamanyire recalled how he taught them how to understand organisational behaviour, emphasising managers needed to understand that people interpret things and situations differently.
“He had an example where he would say; whereas he would look at a lady as an angel, another person would wonder why God created the same person ugly,” he recalled.
He said Prof Byarugaba always stressed to his student managers never to write down a decision in anger because it ends up into a wrong one.
He lauded the professor for his skills in explaining complex issues, including the often boring classical theories, using metaphors and humour.
Mr Francis Gimara, who was a students’ guild minister and president Makerere Law Society, described Prof Byarugaba as a nursery bed for training the leaders we have today.
He hailed him as passionate in mentoring young leaders and building a disciplined cadre of them.
Mr Stephen Kaheru, a project management consultant, who benefited from the East African Uongozi Institute which Prof Byarugaba helped establish in the 1980s, said the six-weeks summer school programme, exposed students to the latest leadership models.
Prof Byarugaba leaves behind a widow, Rosemary Carmela Byarugaba, eight children, among them two doctors, five lawyers, a certified nurse in England and an auditor, and 10 grandchildren.
He will be buried in Mugalike, Kibaale District.