You can tell a lot about a man by the choices that he makes and the things he is passionate about. A scholar, an innovator, a teacher, a patient father and a loving husband, these are some of the many words that have been used to describe the Rev Dr Solomon Jedadiah Basabose Nkesiga.
Nkesiga succumbed to cancer of the liver which he had been battling since early last year. Nkesiga was the deputy vice chancellor of Bishop Stuart University Mbarara and the husband to the All Saints Cathedral Vicar, Rev Diana Barlow Nkesiga.
Born 55 years ago to Israel and Barbara Basabose on February 5 in Kihihi, Kanungu District, he was the sixth child of eight children. He became Born-again at the age of 11 and never looked back after. He attended Kihiihi Primary School, Kigezi High School for his O-Level, Makobore High School for his A-Level where he served as a head boy.
An avid sports lover, he actively played football, never wanted to support a team but always supported good players. He played football until he reached district level and dropped out when members of the team said he was too saved to harshly tackle an opponent. That was the kind of man he was. Nkesiga joined Kabale Teachers Training College where he gained a diploma in education. He then joined Bishop Tucker Theological College, now Uganda Christian University.
Nkesiga has been described as a loving, patient and kind man that loved children, having two sons and two daughters, many children have called his house their home.
“I used to bring in children without telling my husband, I would just get home and tell him I had brought some and his response always would be ‘okay we shall see’ but he never opposed opening the doors to our house for the children,” says his wife.
Ignatius Nkesiga, his oldest son, tells a story about how one day he was playing with his brother and threw a stone that shattered the window of his dad’s office.
“My father put me in his office and told me to think about what I had done then he came back into the room with a stick and I thought it was my time to receive my punishment,” he narrates. “He surprised me when he instead lay down and told me to hit him 10 times and to do it properly. After I had caned him he stood up rubbed his back and told me that someone had to take the punishment for the broken window.”
In his way, Ignatius says, his father’s actions had showed him how Jesus had taken the punishment for our sins. And this is a lesson he will carry throughout my life.
His children testify to what an involved and loving father they had who always took time to teach them about life and lessons they should learn.
Nkesiga was married to Diana for 25 years. Speaking fondly of her husband, she talks about how intelligent and well-spoken her husband was and these are the qualities that had attracted her to him. King Solomon, as the Rev Diana lovingly refers to her husband, loved to debate about theology and had calm disposition, traits that she loved about him. She describes him as a man that was a promoter of the value of women, with her loud opinionated nature; her husband in his own calm way always remained king.
Described as an innovative thinker, Nkesiga was the proprietor of Phumla retreat, a project that housed a chapel and structures he had built using cheaper and natural products such as papyrus walls and latex roofs. He was a great believer in use of local herbal products to create medicines that would help to control diseases and this was another project that he had put research into. Tapping into the tourism sector, he had created a tourist destination at Phumla.
A member of AAR, he initiated a project that would help people with chronic illness be brought into groups that would help them interact and support one another, a project that has been named after him, as the Rev Dr Solomon Nkesiga initiative. With several publications under his name, the keen scholar had just written a memoir in the months that he was sick that he titled “Reflections of a dying man”.
In the 13 years he lived in South Africa, he built a church and a school in Xnobo. In Port Elizabeth, where he had done most of his advanced education, he built a vicarage, a church and a youth centre. In Swatkops, he was the first Black minister to be a vicar of an all-White church.
Being a White community, there was nothing to build but he still itched to do something. He went out and gathered the women who worked in the area collecting rubbish and he created a church with those women and a quilting team that the White congregation helped and they built a church for them.
A great theologian, who when he preached it was way above the heads of the congregation always engaged with others in discussions, especially on the Church of Uganda website. He was a passionate member of the East African Revival Church and a Bible teacher. He moved to South Africa at a time of the apartheid and went ahead to share his beliefs and build churches in an area that was in serious turmoil.
Furthermore, Nkesiga served as the principal of Kampala Evangelical School of Theology (KEST) from 2006 to 2012 which was a show for his passion for ministry and ministerial formation, especially in training men and women that they would perform practical ministry to impact people’s lives directly. While at KEST, he pioneered infrastructure development.
From 2013, he was the acting vice chancellor at Bishop Stuart University and was instrumental in helping the university to get a charter which was given to them in 2014. A man of high Christian values, he made sure that the staff at the university was wedded in order for the school to represent the true Christian nature.
Clergy speak out
Rev Hannington Mutebi, the assistant Bishop of Kampala Diocese, remembers Nkesiga as a very down to earth person who was committed to preaching the word of God.
Rev Fred Komunda, the Diocese Secretary Anglican Church, remembers the late as someone that never showed his anger. He says he had never seen Nkesiga angry at anyone and he always had a calm persona.
Rt Rev Fred Sheldon Mwesigwa, the Bishop of Ankole Diosese and Chancellor of Bishop Stuart University, eulogised Nkesiga as a man that had a zeal for education and was very knowledgeable in different fields of academics.
Rev Bishop Edward Muhiima, a close friend to Nkesiga, says his friend was a great thinker whose theory in life was that a fool is one that never wants to experiment his theory.