Muniini K. Mulera
Farewell Amos Kaguta, lovable maverick and man of influence
Posted Monday, February 25 2013 at 02:00
His long life has taught us much. His death should teach us more.
Omugurusi Amos Kaguta, father of our President, has died where life’s evening witnesses the full moon mid-sky over Rwakitura, and where the herdsmen have repaired to their huts to await another morning.
Where many of his fellow sojourners gave up in the afternoon and evening on the highway of life, Kaguta marched on and on and on with a vigour that left men half his age gasping for breath. Few of us enjoy the privilege of living for 96 years, long past midnight on our terribly short tenancy on mother Earth. Fewer still will be gifted with good health and intact faculties at such an advanced age.
Therefore, even as we join President Museveni, my sister Juliet Kajubiri and the entire Kaguta family in mourning their patriarch, we praise the Lord who accorded him such great innings against extraordinary odds.
Childhood and youth were highly risky journeys for a child born in Africa then, as is now. Then there was the risk that came with being Museveni’s father during his armed rebellions of the 1970s and early 1980s.
Yet where others would have fled to nearby Tanzania in the early 1970s, Kaguta stayed put. Not even a reported attempt to kill him during Obote II encouraged him to seek refuge in a distant land. We are told that he evacuated to a safe haven not very far from his home area.
However, it was his conduct after his son’s ascension to supreme power that endeared him to many of us. Where other men and women sought to exploit their connections with Yoweri and Janet Museveni, the President’s father eschewed public adoration and proxy power that was his by traditional right.
There was something of a lovable maverick about him. To have understood that his famous sons’ control of the state did not allow for reverse inheritance was a mark of positive pride and self-esteem.
Like any father, he must have been very pleased with his sons’ high achievements. Yet he was a self-made man who did not need children in State House in order to be. Indeed the Kaguta boys took control of Uganda because of the mustard seed their father had sown when he sent them to school and instilled the stubborn resilience that propelled them to their conquests and ultimate control of the country.
Kaguta’s place in Uganda’s history has been secured by his sons. Long ages from now, his name, if not his story, will be part of the legends and history of our era. His enormous influence on our lives is without doubt through the nurturing of two formidable sons who have shaped and reconfigured Uganda for many years to come. Yet his greater influence will be that which is undocumented, unquantifiable and more widespread through the lives he has directly touched.
Imagine the number of boys and girls he has educated in the traditions of the Bahororo-Bahima of the Nkore plains. Then imagine the wisdom he has imparted to young minds and others during the last 80 years or so. Our lives may be short, but we are immortalised through living with others and passing on intellectual wealth to them. It is at once humbling and frightening. We are called upon to live our lives for posterity.
Since the news of his death, I have allowed my mind the licence to imagine Amos Kaguta in conversation with our President, the other men and women of the ruling party and all of us, days before his death. I imagine him opening the Old Testament Book of Amos, one of the shepherds of Tekoa, and handing it to his son. After berating us for abandoning the dream of justice, equality and transparent governance for which many fought and lost their lives, Omugurusi Kaguta asks the President whether he sees the irony of taking him to an expensive private hospital in Kampala, 300 km from home.
“What about those whose sons cannot afford to offer them such care?” he asks the President. “What are you telling Ugandans when you pass the hospitals at Mbarara and Masaka and even Mulago?”
The Old Man directs the President to read Amos Chapter 5; 11-17: “You trample on the poor and force him to give you grain. Therefore, though you have built stone mansions, you will not live in them; though you have planted lush vineyards, you will not drink their wine.
“For I know how many are your offenses and how great your sins. There are those who oppress the innocent and take bribes and deprive the poor of justice in the courts. Therefore the prudent keep quiet in such times, for the times are evil. “Seek good, not evil, that you may live. Then the Lord God Almighty will be with you, just as you say he is. Hate evil, love good; maintain justice in the courts. Perhaps the Lord God Almighty will have mercy on Uganda.”
Kaguta is gone. His long life has taught us much. His death should teach us more, for we are temporary tenants on this Earth. May the Lord comfort our President and his family, and open their hearts and ours to reflect on our own mortality.
Dr Mulera is a Daily Monitor columnist based in Canada.