The beginning of Year 2018 indeed was miserable to the Anglican Church. The demise of the former Archbishop Livingstone Mpalanyi Nkoyoyo struck hard the spine of many people.
It was a popular loss and sad news that cleared joy of the festive season from our mind. Nkoyoyo’s death was a mixture of agony and joy. The widow, Ms Ruth Nalweyiso Nkoyoyo’s, view on the death of her husband tallied with that of many religious leaders.
They described the death as “celebrating the life of a man, who has fought a good fight of loving God and man”. Indeed I saw celebrations as people smiled, sang with joy and danced at All Saints Church, Mukono Cathedral and Namugongo shrine.
However, the energy to celebrate dwindled and disappeared as the casket containing the remains of Nkoyoyo was being lowered into the grave. The emotions went high and several failed to hold up their tears and many occasionally were seen rubbing their eyes to destroy evidence of crying to maintain the status quo of the function. This describes how powerful death is! It was really about the loss of a person with scarce characters in the delivery of services in leadership in Uganda.
In his 80-year life journey, everyone had his or her own testimony about how Nkoyoyo had impacted many. To sum it up, Nkoyoyo has been a complete fighter. Who fought fierce mental, physical, spiritual and social successful wars. He confirmed countless new Christians, wedded countless couples and participated in countless activities geared to create a better Uganda as well as communities’ wellbeing. Gen Katumba Wamala, the minister for Works, said Nkoyoyo was a unique person, committed to work, had love for many people and a man, who observed the Ugandan Motto – For God and My Country.
A list of achievements was endless as every speaker came up with new one, people have never heard about. They all related to nurture and encouraged people to work for the heaven by doing good things on earth. Among the things that mourners did not mention include the following:-
The late Archbishop Nkoyoyo was an environmentalist. Apart from planting memorial trees at functions he presided, Nkoyoyo had extra-ordinary love for trees and wildlife. He reserved a forest at Bensaniya Hill near Uganda Christian University (UCU)- Mukono, specifically to protect the environment and safeguard the wild animals displaced by the human activities around Mukono town. The forest is now a safe-haven for many species of animals, including Duickers, locally known as Mpeewo, and monkeys.
Those, who have ever been at UCU- Mukono, the monkeys from the forest are common sceneries on the compound. Sometime back when the monkey population increased some university official proposed to kill some but the late Nkoyoyo opposed the idea and instead instructed them to invite the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) personnel to catch them by hand. Several were transferred to other places.
In addition, Archbishop Nkoyoyo was a scout. He pushed forward the work started by Can Henry Myre Grace in 1915. He encouraged lay leaders and church leaders to start scout units in schools and churches. I personally attended the launch of a scout unit for the Mukono Diocese at Rest Gardens-Bweyogerere in 2013.
During celebrations to mark 100 years of scouting in Uganda, Nkoyoyo was awarded the highest medal for his outstanding role in the scouting movement. His work is currently being propelled by Bishop William Ssebagala and Rev Kisekka.
He has been one of the friendliest persons to the media. He has been always ready to give an interview to a journalist. He has been a trusted man, who has been handling large sums of money from friends to conduct various church projects but no money, disappeared. The big question is “who can be like Nkoyoyo in Church of Uganda and Uganda?”
Joshua Kisawuzi is a journalist and human rights activist