The government has declared five days of mourning fallen former president Godfrey Lukongwa Binaisa, starting today. According to the funeral programme released by the government yesterday, the late Binaisa is to be buried on Wednesday at a yet to be disclosed place.
Minister for Information and National Guidance, Ms Kabakumba Masiko, yesterday announced at the Uganda Media Centre that flags would fly at half mast, as a symbol of national mourning.
Lawyers of Uganda’s fifth president say the former head of state had said he wished to be buried at Kololo ceremonial grounds next to former president Yusuf Lule and independence struggle hero Ignatius Musaazi. However, Ms Kabakumba said the wish for a Kololo burial wasn’t known to the government. “Family members from the UK and the US will arrive in the country on Saturday. Monday at 5pm, the body will leave Mulago for Parliament where a guard of honour will be staged,” Ms Masiko said.
Binaisa is survived by seven children, four of whom live abroad. “There will be an overnight vigil at Parliament and the following day will be the signing of the condolence book and paying of last respects,” she said.
Parliament will in a special session then pay tribute to the late in the afternoon; after which the body will be transported to his home in Makindye for an overnight vigil. The motion to pay respects to Uganda’s first independence Attorney General is to be moved by Prof Apolo Nsibambi and seconded by the leader of Opposition Prof Ogenga Latigo.
There will also be a funeral service at Namirembe Cathedral on Wednesday to be followed by his burial at 1 pm. Binaisa died in his sleep on Thursday morning at his Makindye home and a post-mortem report by Mulago Hospital indicates the 90-year-old died of cardiac arrest.
Opinion leaders speak out
Prof Tarsis Kabwegyere, who was a member of the National Consultative Council that put Binaisa into power, will greatly miss him because of his “intellectual humour and his Oxford English” that earned him the title Queen’s Counsel (QC). Binaisa’s role in the drafting of the infamous 1967 constitution that outlawed the Buganda Kingdom still lingers in his detractors’ minds.
Binaisa’s legacy in the eyes of contemporaries
Mr William Nyakatura, Tooro Kingdom Prime Minister. He was a gentleman, patriotic, in the past he worked under a wrong regime (Obote I) as an Attorney General where an arbitrary constitution was done under him but as a person and president for 11 months, he was a jolly and responsible man.
Prof Ogenga Latigo-Leader of Opposition
Binaisa was a key player in drafting the indigenous Constitution during former President Dr. Apollo Milton Obote’s regime. His role then demonstrated a sign of unity as someone from central Uganda was seen to work diligently with someone from the north. This dispelled the myth that there is nepotism in Uganda. So we will dearly miss him as a man who greatly contributed to the development of this country.
Prof Tarsis Kabwegyere, Disaster Preparedness minister. He was a scarce person. He was an educated elite who spoke good English. When we elected him chairman of the UNLF, he spoke in Oxford English and everybody was impressed. He was humorous and humane. He assumed the office of the President in a peaceful manner .He excelled as the queen’s Councilor (QC). I will miss his intellectual humour.
Israel Mayengo,a Member of Binaisa’s small Parliament of 30 people
I have known him for so many years. Before he became President up to the time he went into exile. We met in Moshi but he never attended the conference that toppled President Idi Amin.He was stopped at the gate. When I went back to the hotel, I found him smoking a cigarette and he told me that (the late) Kayira had locked him out of the Moshi conference. But I will always remember him for his total devotion to all Ugandans. He never discriminated against any tribe. The Acholis,the Banyankole,the Baganda and people of other tribes all felt they were at home.
Charles Peter Mayega
He is one of the technical people who crafted the 1967 Constitution which abolished kingdoms particularly the kingdom of Buganda. But later in life he identified himself as an ardent subject of the Kabaka. I remember him as the president who was here when the state was volatile at the time of cold blood murders when people were being gunned down. Mengo has since forgiven him and he has always been keen on what has been going on concerning the Kabaka and the kingdom.
Prof Apollo Nsibambi
He took charge when he became president. Uganda had gone through a lot of instability and the military factor was extremely significant. The military commission, however, accepted Binaisa’s decisions although it controlled and had a lot of power. Tanzania had assisted to overthrow Amin and the Tanzanian factor was also crucial. There was no civilian supremacy in his days. May he rest in peace.”
Francis Atugonza, Hoima town council chairman
Binaisa participated in the manipulation of the constitution in 1967. He has been part of the problem of this country. He set a precedent of changing constitutions in this country which has persisted to-date. He challenges us as leaders to leave a legacy behind well knowing we shall be judged by the decisions we take while still in office especially those who manipulate constitutions.
Prof Dan Nabudere
I knew Binaisa when we were organising the Moshi Conference in the US. He did not represent any of the 22 organisations. So, he was not included in the UNLF arrangements. He came into the picture when Lule was removed as president. He was in Nairobi and some factions within the UNLF fronted him to replace Lule. Among them was the faction led by President Museveni. I remember him as a patriotic Ugandan who was among the few Ugandans that fought hard to unite the country. I worked with his government until he was overthrown by Obote. He was Attorney General for a very long time in a turbulent period.
He was a nationalist who lived a political life. As President, he struggled very much to keep the UNLF umbrella government but in the end, he was defeated. I remember him as one who dared control the army by appointing the then army commander, the late Oyite Ojok as high commission, which actually led to his downfall. He was a person of integrity who never used his position of leadership for personal gains. He was a mentor who instilled values of leadership into people. I got interested in him in 1962 when I had just left the university. I also served as minister in his government. He had his shortcomings but who doesn’t?
Prof Edward Rugumayo
I remember Binaisa as a very humane person, intelligent, humorous and highly learned. He was a true patriot who loved his country and the people of Uganda. He harbored no ill intensions to anybody and he is one who forgave very quickly. He was a down-to-earth person who wanted to unite the whole of Uganda. I remember him as a good manager and a unifying force but he never had time to accomplish his mission. We shall miss him dearly and of course his family will.
Eng. Yabeezi Kiiza,the Bunyoro Kitara prime minister
He is remembered in Bunyoro for having drafted the 1967 constitution that abolished kingdoms. After his presidency; he became a friend to our kingdom and would at times attend the Omukama’s coronation anniversary celebrations.