Friday June 15 2012

Kakooza: The policewoman who has seen it all

BELOW: Kakooza being decorated a rank of Assistant Commissioner of Police last month. Photo by Andrew Bagala

BELOW: Kakooza being decorated a rank of Assistant Commissioner of Police last month. Photo by Andrew Bagala 

By Robert Mugagga

From Probabtion Police Constable to now Assistant Commissioner, Kakooza has withstood the test of time in the Uganda Police Force, writes Robert Mugagga

She is not your simple lady. Josephine Kakooza, currently the Head of the Police Music, Dance and Drama Department, has for the last 42 years been a force to reckon with and a shinning example of those police women never underrating themselves at any time but instead fighting heaven and earth to emulate the men in the force.
Little wonder that she has come all the way to become the first woman since independence to head the Music, Dance and Drama department in the Uganda Police Force.

Kakooza, who was recently promoted to Assistant Commissioner of Police does not only deal in music at Uganda Police, she has undergone a number of important courses which has enabled her contribute to the well being of the force.
For instance, being equipped with a TASO certificate in counselling HIV/AIDS patients, Kakooza has at times found herself counselling and offering advice to police women infected with the disease.

She says gone are the days when having AIDS meant the end of the world for the victims. She rather advises HIV positive police women and men to face reality and learn to live responsibly.

Kakooza has in addition done courses in “Safe Motherhood”, which has benefited her colleagues a lot and whom she gives tips on the subject. As to why she deals in services not directly related to her work in the force, she has something interesting to say.

“A healthy mind go hand in hand with a healthy body. There is no way I can successful direct music at the police force when band members are distracted with problems that can otherwise easily be taken care of,” she says.

ACP Kakooza has worked hard and with determination all the way to the top. She is indeed one of the shinning examples of ladies in service that have inspired so many women now seen joining the force in big numbers with a strong belief that gone are the days when one’s gender determined her or his promotion in the force.
Josephine Kakooza joined the police force in 1969 at the tender age of 14 with some of her colleagues who were as young as 12.

But why at such an age?
“There was then a belief within the police music department that young brains could master the art of music much faster than adults, reason they were always welcome,” she said.

According to Kakooza, the British, who at first managed the police band, encouraged young school drop-outs, especially those from the North, to join the police band. Those below 18 would be paid half salary until age 18 when they would start getting a full salary. The young Josephine had never dreamed of joining the police force as most Baganda of the time shunned associating with security organizations. Having attended Ntinda Nursery school, St. Agnes Naggalama, Nabagereka Primary School (for one year) and later Trinity College Nabbingo from Junior one to S.2 (1966-1968) she dropped out of school. This was when ACP Kakooza’s father decided that she does a nursing course at Butabika Hospital Nursing School. Kakooza joined the school but run away after just one month.

“I was scared of always seeing people dying and dead bodies which they would at times require us to treat, besides getting in close contact with terribly sick patients. I kept reminding them that I came to study but not to treat dead bodies,” she recalls.

Without her parents knowledge, she run away from the nursing school and sought refugee at her brother’s home who happened to be a policeman. While staying there she one day saw a police band marching and to her surprise it included young and smartly dressed women.

This made Kakooza instantly fall in love with the band and immediately expressed her desire to join the police force. Determined as she was, Kakooza one day found her way to the Inspector General of Police’s office of the late Erinayo Oryema. “I told him boldly that wanted to join the police force. He looked at me and said that I was still young but then suggested that I may instead join the Police band and referred me to then director of music in police, Amani Oduka,” she says.

She was thus recruited in the Uganda Police Force. Kakooza first underwent the normal police training and later spent two years of intensive training in music. And she has steadily gone through police ranks- from Probation Police Constable (PPC) to Police Constable, Corporal before becoming a Sergeant.

In August 1993 Kakooza was promoted to Assistant Inspector of police after undergoing an intensive three months course. She became a Police Inspector on February 1, 2000 and then Assistant suprintendant of police in December 2004. The sky seemed to be the only limit for her success. In October 2008 Kakooza became full suprintendant of police and was appointed the first woman head of Music department in the police force in December 2011.

In May, 2012, President Museveni promoted her again to the rank of Assistant Commissioner of Police skipping the rank of Senior Superintendent of Police.
Previously seven policemen held this post, namely Teddy Bear (1947-1957), John Moon (1957-1964), Oduka Amani (1964-1972), Hassan Yusuf (1972-1979), Venancio Okello (1979-1991), Nkore Eugene (1991-2002) and Yaweh Joseph (2002-2011). As head of music in the police force, Kakooza carries out the general administration work of the band by planning, promoting and supervising the band among others. Besides this, she can compose and direct music, conduct and lead band members.

Hailing the NRM government
Having served in all post independence regimes, Kakooza hails the NRM government for exposing and recognizing women. “Previously police women used to be sidelined. Police dogs, for instance would be regarded more important than police women. We thank the current government for bringing all this to an end,” she says. Kakooza is happy to note that a police woman like her can now lead, supervise and manage policemen as well. She encourages fellow women never to underrate themselves but instead work hard and challenge men, saying there are no jobs specific to men alone.