Kategaya’s life typifies a story of a white bird
Posted Sunday, March 10 2013 at 02:00
When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He tempt anyone; but each one is tempted, by his own evil desires….
Watching a peaceful death of a human being reminds us of a falling star; one of a million lights in a vast sky that flares up for a brief moment only to disappear into the endless night forever. In Elisabeth Kübler-Ross’s words of wisdom, we pay homage to the passing of a clean man in our murky politics: The First Deputy Prime Minister and President Museveni’s childhood buddy, Brig. Eriya Tukahiirwa Kategaya.
Kategaya, 68, died last week in a Nairobi hospital and on Thursday, Parliament celebrated his life with a special session.
In Kategaya’s death, the country rejoices the life of an incorruptible man, a man of successes, and a translucent man in a sense that he rejected the temptation of the devil. Close friends describe him as a “true gentleman”, a high-minded politician and a patriot - a decent man whose modest life even in death holler the loudest in the war against corruption though many of his colleagues in Cabinet did not know what he was hollering about.
People like Kategaya do not die for us immediately, but remain bathed in a sort of aura of life which bears no relation to true immortality but through which they continue to occupy our thoughts in the same way as when they were alive. It is as though they were travelling abroad yet they will never come back to us. In Parliament, I have seen politicians who die and the lawmakers struggle to get what to say about them, but not for Kategaya - a man who rejected the lifting of the presidential term limits, an influential figure in the opening of the political space and more so, a role model in the fight against corruption. He will be greatly missed.
Kategaya understood that in a corrupt system, the devil is always about, prowling like a lion roaring for its prey. Kategaya obviously understood that Satan uses a wide array of methods to tempt politicians. His schemes are varied; ranging from short-term tactics to long range strategy. But even with all these venomous satanic setups, Kategaya remained unwavering.
At a time when veracity is a test for many of our politicians, Kategaya stood out in many ways. He was a gentleman, a patriot and a decent man who never showed any signs of self-indulgence. He dreamt of a united East Africa and wholeheartedly worked for his dream but he loved Uganda more. He was a sparkling man who respected the chain of command. In fact, in spite of his magical number RO002 and free access to RO001, which belongs to none other than President Museveni, Kategaya kept his cool and never showed any signs of a political braggart.
Kategaya was neither a pauper nor a corrupt man. He just chose a simple life. He never dipped his fingers in the public coffers and for that matter he has left behind a legacy that speaks for itself. In all this, it will be jealousy if not sheer abhorrence for anybody to link Kategaya’s name to the corruption scandals surrounding us today. He was a flawless politician whose character sketch points to a man with a golden heart.
This is why even those in opposition agree that he was impeccable. He lived by example and unfortunately he is no more. We thank God for his life.
At a time when the number of reported corruption cases, the amounts of money and the ranks of the officials involved continue to climb, Kategaya remained unblemished. In Kategaya’s death, a man who set standards in the war against corruption, the rocky challenge the President has to overcome, is to ensure that the breed of politicians in Cabinet emulate the political allure of his child-hood friend who never amassed wealth.
The more I listened to member after member praising Kategaya, the more I remembered a story of a white bird. This bird was resting on a branch for support. It enjoyed the view from the branch and the safety it offered from dangerous animals. Just as it had become used to that branch and the support and safety, a strong wind started blowing and the branch started swaying back and forth, with such great intensity that it seemed that it was going to break.
But as the story goes, the bird was not in the least worried for it knew two important truths. One was that even without the branch it was able to fly and thus remain safe through the power of its own two wings. This is how Kategaya managed to succeed where some of his colleagues have failed.
The second truth is that there are many other branches upon which it can temporarily rest without falling in the devil’s trap. This is the story of Ndugu Kategaya, a man who lived a simple life yet he had access to the serving table.
The death of a loved one is an event that all of us experience during our lifetime. It is also true that the death of a loved one is considered to be our most painful life experience. In fact, many of us would prefer ourselves to die rather than face life without someone who meant so much to us.
In the House, because of Kategaya’s unblemished record, in the heat of an emotional session on Thursday, lawmakers were asking philosophical questions, particularly on why God is taking away the good people and not the bad ones. In death of a loved one, everyone copes differently; some cry, others smile because they know they’ll see them again but in the end, as a well spent day brings happy sleep, so life well used brings happy death. May Kategaya’s Soul Rest in Peace.