Despite the severe pain while on his hospital bed in Mengo hospital, John Lubowa spared time for something he had never missed on a daily basis. Thirty minutes after he breathed his last, after a cardiac arrest, the rosary was still in his hands. Lubowa died at the age of 84 and was indeed a man of the people. News of his death spread like bushfire. Little wonder that residents, friends and relatives who flocked his Musigula village home within a short time, were dispersed by security and the local council while close relatives and neighbours were reminded to observe their social distance.
Culturalist and devout Catholic
One of Lubowa’s sons, the Rev Fr Anthony Musuubire is the parish priest of Kitagobwa Catholic parish and describes his father simply as a true Muganda and a true Catholic.
“He was very supportive and loyal to the Kabaka and his Ngo (Leopard) clan of Buganda. Dad would never miss Buganda Kingdom activities such as the Masaza and Bika football.”
According to Fr Musuubire, the late professed Catholicism from birth up to the time of his death.
“He respected the Catholic hierarchy and leadership from Rome down to the last priest. Dad never missed attending the early morning Sunday Mass at Lubaga Cathedral, reciting the rosary daily and often read the bible,” the son says.
Lubowa loved reading books and tuning on to local and international television stations seeking knowledge.
One of Lubowa’s grandson, Felix Nkunda, a lawyer, lecturer of law and also a current affairs presenter at UBC can’t find the right words to describe his late grandfather.
“To me he was more of a father than a grandpa because he saw me and we have been close together right from birth to the time of his demise. Grandpa Lubowa taught me a lot of things that have shaped my life. If my life was a movie then he has been my director,” he said with a shaky voice. Nkunda says his grandfather is the reason he became a lawyer because when he was choosing a career he encouraged him to go for law, reasoning that this country lacked vibrant legal minds.
“He thought I could be one of those that would cover the gap. In 2012, when I was still at Law school, he ushered me into politics when he suggested that I run for the office of the law society president and I won to serve for the 2012-13 term.”
Lubowa produced sporting sons and daughters as well. Almost all his sons have at one time played football at different levels. Among them is Pius Ngabo, a former Express FC player and current assistant coach at Police FC while his daughter Annet Nakyejjwe once featured for Uganda’s netball champions, NIC (National Insurance Company).
During the late 70s and 80s Lubowa demonstrated his love for sports by accepting to serve as assistant treasurer at Uganda’s oldest football club, Nsambya FC. He will be remembered for sparing time and giving out resources for the survival of the club. He financially looked after some players who included former Crane International the late Mike Kiganda. He would be seen transporting the players to the training grounds and back home in his Volvo.
Lubowa had stayed with his wife, Annet Namaala Lubowa for almost 60 years. Like husband, Annet is a staunch Catholic and at one time served as the area’s catechist. Besides, Lubowa worked hard to support his children and make sure that they all get an education. Among these is Dr Matthias Mulumba Bwanika, an associate professor at Makerere University’s College of Education and External Studies who sometime back was appointed as coordinator for “study-in-Japan project” aimed at strengthening collaboration and partnerships between universities in Uganda and those in Japan.
Politically, Lubowa was a staunch supporter of DP but this could not stop him from noticing some qualities in politicians elsewhere. He was a friend of the Conservative party die-hard, John Kenny Lukyamuzi “The man”. Talking about Lubowa, the former MP for Lubaga South said he had lost a great friend who truly loved his tribe and faith.
“Lubowa was one of my chief campaign managers that enabled me to win a parliamentary seat on two occasions in 1996 and 2011.”
*He was born October 10, 1936 in Bujuni, Mubende to Cosma and Cissy Ssebowa.
* He studied at Bujuni Primary School before joining the Banakaroli Kiteredde Catholic Brother’s congregation where he spent nine years.
* He left in 1960 to work for the Masaka-based Medical Missionaries of Mary in the out patient department.
* In 1961 he left to join Kampala City Council as a senior tax collector and assessor where he spent four years.
* He resigned and turned into an investor by setting up the home chemical industry in Kawempe that used to produce body jelly.
* After the Kawempe industry was looted during the 1979 liberation war, Lubowa did a course in surveying and later worked for Kampala Archdiocese’s land board as assistant field surveyor