Educated by the society, he worked to transform it

Sunday May 10 2020

Christopher Douglas Kateemba

Christopher Douglas Kateemba 

By Clare Muhindo

As she prepared to go to work, her frail father called out her name and held her hand, “my time is done, be strong my girl, you have done your part.”
Ms Doreen Ajuna, a Grade One Magistrate at Luweero Chief Magistrate’s Court had lived with her father at her home in Nansana for most of the time that he was sick. She knew when he became weak and when he was strong.
After that discussion, Ms Ajuna realized her father was losing the battle, so she gathered her siblings to call an ambulance which had been on standby during his last days.
But her father said to her again, “you have done your part, I do not think that where you are taking me, those people can do anything at the moment.”
Mr Christopher Douglas Kateemba breathed his last in the ambulance, on the way to the hospital.

A day before he died, Mr Kateemba yearned for a moment with a priest. He called his daughter and gave her thirty minutes to find a man of God. “I called my driver to take me to the nearest Anglican Church and we asked for a reverend. However, the reverends were out on pastoral work and would be back later in the evening. Dad was Anglican, yet the next available option was a Catholic priest. We drove home and told him we had found a catholic priest and he said it is okay, all I need is a man of God,” she recalls.

“The priest came home and prayed for him and took him through penance. Later in the evening, the Reverends came home and prayed for him as well.”
Unlike the earlier days when his children visited him at intervals and on different days, this time round all his children were around. Even his youngest son Godwin who lived farthest, made his way from Kasese to come and check on him. He arrived later that evening and they all dined together as a family.

Kateemba succumbed to lung cancer on July 12, 2019. His cancer started as a build up from a mere cough which was wrongfully diagnosed as an allergy around 2016.
“He developed a cough occasionally and visited several hospitals in Kasese district- Kagando, Kilembe and Bwera hospital and he was told he had a mere allergy. He would then take allergy tablets and get better for a while,” his widow Mrs. Florence Kateemba recalls.

But then the cough would return with much more strength.
“In January 2017, we decided to go to Kampala for further checkup. It is here that he was diagnosed with cancer, one of his lungs had collapsed. He started on chemotherapy and radiotherapy, but his illness was not improving, his cancer was discovered at stage three and it was already too late,” she says.
After a dose of chemotherapy, the body tended to become weak, but Mr Kateemba was a strong man. “He would wake up in the morning to jog, because he said it made him feel better after receiving the treatment,” Mrs Kateemba says.

The husband
Mrs Kateemba met her husband in 1978 at Nyakahya Primary School in Kasese District where she had been assigned to work as a licensed teacher after completing her Senior Four. At the time, there were very few primary school teachers in the district, and so, the sharp students were taken on as teachers.
The man who later became her husband worked at the same school as a grade three teacher. “I admired his intellect; we became friends and started a family a year later in 1979. Three years later he was appointed Head teacher at Katwe Primary School,” she recalls.


Love for education
She says her husband loved education so much and was always working to acquire more. “Two years later, he enrolled for a Diploma in Tutorship at the Institute of Teacher Education Kyambogo (ITEK). Once he was done, he came to Bwera Teachers college in Kasese where he was a teacher. About two years later he went back to Kyambogo University to pursue a Bachelor of Education degree,” she says.
After acquiring his Degree, he sold like a hot cake. He was appointed Acting Principal at Bwera Teachers’ College in Kasese and later Deputy Head Teacher at Bushenyi Teacher’s college. He served at Bushenyi PTC until 1996 when he was appointed Kasese District Education Officer (DEO).

Having grown up in Katwe Village, on the shores of Lake Katwe where education was not a priority, Mr Kateemba’s passion was to change the perception that people in his home village and district had about education.
“In his role as DEO, he worked hard to transform several private owned schools in Kasese district into government aided schools. Several teachers were upgraded into head teachers and others turned into deputies. The district performance improved. Other districts would invite him to train their people at seminars on how he had been able to transform Kasese. These included Bundibugyo, Kyenjojo and Kamwenge,” Mrs Kateemba says.

Mr Kateemba retired on May 8, 2010. But even after his retirement he continued to work as a consultant training different management committee of schools and became a member of several boards of directors of schools. train management committees and several boards of directors.
“He had studied from Bwera Primary school (now kitalikibi primary school) and in his retirement, he volunteered to teach English language at the school. He always said that his education would have been wasted if he did not create an impact on the school that nurtured him,” she says.

A caring dad
Mr Kateemba is survived by four children; Amos Murangi, Chrispus Kateemba, Doreen Ajuna and Gonwin Kateemba. To his children, Mr Kateemba was a caring dad and trusted friend who cared for everyone like they were his blood.
“I was so close to him and shared everything with him. He had an answer for every question I asked him. He was devoted. He worked hard for people, for the district and for God,” his only daughter Doreen Ajuna says.

She emphasizes that her father respected everyone, young and old.
“Two weeks after his death, a seven-year-old child walked up to me and said- this man who died was my friend. I was astonished and said, “Really?” she said, yes, should I take you home and show you our photos together? Should I show you my other friends who will also tell you that he was their friend?” Ajuna recollects.
Ajuna says her children loved him so much that to date, they say, “if grandpa was around, he would have given us money to buy chocolate.”

His eldest son, Amos Murangi describes his father as a generous man who never cared about tribe, age or religious differences, but treated everyone equally.
“We grew up with so many children at home. It was not easy to identify who his real child was. He would care for other children even more than his own, because he believed that we his own children would understand. He never minded being hated as long as he did the right thing,” he says.

His other son Chris Kateemba says his father was a disciplinarian who valued education. “He had a big heart. He died while still taking care of many children. Even on his death bed, people called him to share their problems with him. He would get his phone and send them money.”
Godwin Kateemba, his youngest son says his father was his advisor. “I never made any decision before consulting dad and he gave me the best advice. He always asked when I was getting married and always said, “There is nothing sweet like your own child.”

Early Life
Mr Kateemba was born on May 8, 1950, in a fishing village at the shores of Lake Katwe. There were no educated people. Most people dropped out of school to go and make a life at the salt mine and as fishmongers. Therefore, going to school was not easy since he was a total orphan but managed to go to school with the help of the community and elder siblings.

He lived to tell his children that since he was intelligent and disciplined, people were supportive when it came to his education. He studied at Kasagama boarding school (now Katwe Primary school), Kisinga Primary school, Bwera Primary school, (now kitalikibi primary school) and later to Ntare School where he became an athlete and footballer. His skills won him a scholarship at the school.
After senior four, he went to Shimoni Primary teachers’ college because he could not afford to go to A-level due to his financial background.