Reviews & Profiles
Uncle Sam was never too busy for anyone
Posted Saturday, December 21 2013 at 00:00
Many mourn Sam Njuba because he was family or friend. Even though he was an outstanding public figure who served in many important capacities, he didn’t lose track of his personal relationships.
The funeral service was slated for noon and I was already several minutes late when I stopped in Kisaasi on the road to Nangabo for the burial of my Uncle, Sam Kalega Njuba. A quick look at my phone revealed four missed calls from one really insistent caller. I returned the call at the end of which the caller sent me Shs40, 000 by mobile money. The significance of this amount, on a day when I was particularly hard up, did not strike me until during the funeral service, when it was announced that Sam Njuba’s memoir ‘The Betrayal’ was on sale at Shs40, 000. It was then that I understood what the gift on my phone was really for. I didn’t think twice. I bought the book.
Much has been said about the late Sam Njuba but the money and the book were a real godsend at a time when I was struggling for a way to bid him farewell.
My father and Sam Njuba were cousins but the way they related, they might as well have been biological brothers. There were no formalities between the two men. When Uncle Sam came home to see my father, he was unlike any other guest. As soon as he came through the front door, he didn’t wait in the sitting room. He would walk through the house calling my father’s name until he found him—even if he was in the bedroom.
Many people in my clan—both men and women—are known to be very stubborn but if ever there was someone who could make my dad see reason, it was Uncle Sam and if he failed, then no one else could.
If you invited Uncle Sam to a party, wedding or other social function, he would always honour the invitation, even if he turned up late or stayed only a short time. I vividly remember him standing on the steps of St Francis Chapel at Makerere University making small talk with family members after he had missed the church service for my brother’s wedding. It is memories like this that bring to mind just how Uncle Sam always made the time when his help or presence was required. Clearly, he was a man with many demands on his time but when it mattered, he was there.
Number one referee
At his funeral, he was referred to as the number one surety for Dr Kiiza Besigye. On a personal note, I think I would refer to him as the number one family referee. If there was any important paperwork that required a referee or an official signature, Uncle Sam gave it. My passport papers and a host of other applications bear his signature and stamp of approval. He took the risk and put his reputation on the line, hoping that I and others would use his endorsement well.
Never too busy
For a number of years, I have been resident in Kampala so I saw very little of Uncle Sam in the last few years of his life. In my earlier working life though, I remember an afternoon or two when I walked into Uncle Sam’s law chambers on National Insurance Building just to say hello or maybe because it was too hot outside and I needed a place to pause and think. Perhaps I had a message from my dad, I don’t exactly recall but what I remember is that I was always welcome and he was never too busy to see me.
One thing is for sure, there are many reasons to be thankful for the life of Sam Njuba. His presence shaped my life in more ways than I will ever know because the details will probably remain between him, my dad and their heavenly father.