Eulogy: Prof Senteza Kajubi’s OB and student pay tribute

At the 100th birthday celebrations of Nelson Edmund Nkalubo Sebugwawo last Saturday on April 28, there was a huge presence of ‘who is who’ in Buganda and from other parts of Uganda.

Friday May 4 2012

The late Prof. Senteza Kajubi at his last public appearance at the 100th birthday celebrations of Nelson Edmund Nkalubo Sebugwawo last Saturday on April 28.

The late Prof. Senteza Kajubi at his last public appearance at the 100th birthday celebrations of Nelson Edmund Nkalubo Sebugwawo last Saturday on April 28. File Photo 

By Francis Drake Gureme & Matthew N. Rukikaire

From 1963 when he was the member of the Education Policy Review Commission, he has participated or chaired committees and commissions, including the presidency of Uganda Scientific and Cultural Society, National coordinator, East African Social Studies programme, first president of teacher education in Africa, Vice president, International Council of Education for Teachers, chairman Eastern Regional Council for Education (Nairobi) and Patron of Uganda Geographical Society. Between 1973 and 1976, Prof Senteza was chairman Regional Council for Teachers’ Education for Eastern Africa and advisory editor Africa Encyclopaedia.

He is the grandfather of universal primary education in Uganda, chair of the 1987-89 education review commission resulting in White Paper titled the Kajubi Report recommending UPE and wide range access to higher education, accepted in 1992, that remains the guiding basis for government’s investment and strategy in education at all levels.

Canon Matthew N. Rukikaire, Kajubi's former student

I first knew Senteza Kajubi in 1960 when I was an A-Level student at King’s College Budo and he a Geography teacher. The other African teachers, among an almost wholly expatriate teaching staff, were Deputy Headmaster, Sempebwa, and Erisa Kironde, an English language teacher.

Erisa Kironde and Senteza Kajubi represented a new breed of African teachers, beginning to penetrate senior secondary school teaching, an area hitherto dominated by expatriates.

Senteza Kajubi was one of them – brand new, brimming with infectious energy, and exuding brilliance in his field of Geography. Even students who did not take the subject were immensely influenced by the personality of the man which shone all around the school, not just in the classroom.

Later in his career, Senteza Kajubi exhibited unusual courage when, like (Boniface) Byanyima, also a Protestant, opted to join the Democratic Party (DP) against all odds and logic. He was driven by factors of outstanding reasoning. When I stepped forward to accept the Budo Order of Merit award recently, one of the things I expressed was my regret that although Uganda People’s Congress (UPC) appeared to many of us as a more liberal progressive party than DP, and for that reason attracted many young men and women of our time, I personally had serious forebodings about the future of Uganda on account of its leader, Milton Obote. I said so to my senior colleagues like John Kakonge, Grace Ibingira, Mathias Ngobi, George Magezi and Sir William Nadiope, etc. I would have preferred Benedicto Kiwanuka if only he had been the one leading a more ideologically acceptable party than DP of that time. To this day, I believe that even with DP as it was then, under Benedicto Kiwanuka, Uganda would not have been plunged into the subsequent political and constitutional upheaval that ensued.

With the benefit of hindsight, I now know that Senteza Kajubi was right and I was wrong. Both of us were taking calculated risks; he joining an extreme conservative largely Catholic organisation (at least in Buganda) and me joining a liberal-looking nationalistic organisation but with highly suspect leadership. Senteza Kajubi hoped he would change the texture of DP by joining it - which I believe he was able to do with modest success; me joining UPC with disastrous results.

To the end of his life, he continued to show that spirit of fierce independence. He was a towering, inspirational events shaper, with an underlying spirit of hope in whatever he was doing.

His public service is a tale of outstanding contribution comparable only to that of men like Canon John Bikangaga and Dr. Martin Aliker; Senteza Kajubi in Education and Politics, John Bikangaga in Education and Church, and Martin Aliker in the Corporate world.

In spite of the adoration that surrounded him, he remained a humble servant of the people, exhibiting outstanding humility, modesty and civility. When I was Minister of State for Planning and Economic Development, I recall Senteza Kajubi, then Vice chancellor of Makerere University, coming to my office in 1990 with his Management team to discuss the funding of projects at Makerere. I could not believe the humility and courtesy with which he met me, knowing how much I respected him as my former teacher and also as someone who belonged to a higher league of leaders than I belonged to. He had a diverse personality reflecting different facets of the man. He was a Muganda at heart but stood as a nationalist when he joined DP at a time when DP was perceived as anti-monarchy in Buganda. He was a man who belonged to his time but also to the future. The passing of Senteza Kajubi is reminiscent of the passing of Abu Mayanja. Mayanja never attained the towering heights he seemed to have been destined to. His political life spurning nearly 60 years, never achieved its full maturity, largely because of circumstances. Senteza suffered a similar fate – i.e. an unfriendly African political environment in which potentially average leaders remain dwarfs while outstanding men like Abu Mayanja and Senteza Kajubi remain average.

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