Bill Clinton meets his Ugandan son

Sunday July 22 2012

Bill Clinton meets  his Ugandan son

Former US president Bill Clinton hugs Clinton Kaligana at Entebbe airport on Friday evening shortly before flying out. Courtesy photo 

By Emmanuel Mulondo

As one was just about to board one of his several flights, the other was taking the first ever flight of his life time in a police chopper, hastily arranged so that the Bill Clintons could meet for the second time in 14 years.

Master Bill Clinton Kaligana, the Jinja boy named after the former US President beat the odds to meet his namesake who sat patiently in a plane waiting for the arrival of the youngster after a brief but hectic day’s visit to Uganda on Friday.

Kaligana was airlifted to State House, Entebbe, catching up with Mr Clinton a few moments to take off. The two Clintons met on the former President’s plane.

“There was something like a room. We met there and he was very happy to see the boy. He asked him what he wants and the boy informed him he wants to become a doctor,” Ms Betty Namugosa, the boy’s mother narrated on phone yesterday.

She said: “He promised to look after his son in every way. Clinton told him he should study hard. He promised to fund his education up to the level the boy wants.”

President Clinton reportedly said: “I was leaving but I decided to wait and see you. I want us to do a deal. Will you study? Are you determined?”
He told them to compile the boy’s education needs and hand them over to US Embassy officials who attended the meeting.

“I feel good. He told me he also wanted me to be a doctor, that I should work hard and pass in my studies,” Master Bill Clinton Kaligana narrated yesterday, elated after the first air travel and meeting his namesake for the first time as a grown up.

The former President and his guests shared a drink, some juice and snacks. Clinton also gave some presents to Master Kaligana, which included “pens, key-holders and thing like that.”

President Museveni who had met the former US President was not at the meeting apart from other senior government and security officials.

A source at the Serena Hotel, Kampala where President Clinton stayed said the search for Kaligana was prompted after the President read the story of the boy in the Friday copy of the Daily Monitor and immediately asked his aides to find the boy.

The boy’s family had not been scheduled on Clinton’s visit and had not known about it until Daily Monitor broke the news to the family on Wednesday. On Friday at 1:00pm, Mr Joseph Kaliisa, an official running Building for Tomorrow, Mr Bill Clinton’s charity’s activities in Uganda called this reporter trying to locate the boy.

The mother’s cellular phone number was passed on to Mr Kaliisa who called her.

She was initially concerned about her son’s security and she also didn’t have transport to make an abrupt journey to Kampala.

When Mr Kaliisa informed State House of the position, an order was made to the Jinja District Police Commander, Mr Jonathan Musinguzi to ensure the boy and her mother were picked from their home in Wanyange and delivered to Kampala.

Helicopter ride
But to beat the time, a police chopper was dispatched to pick them at Lugazi. “So we boarded at Lugazi at Mehta’s airstrip. It delivered us some distance away, then we boarded a vehicle to the (Entebbe) Airport where he was waiting. We met him on the plane at around 5:00pm,” Ms Namugosa said.

After the meeting, the two Clintons parted, the former President flying off. The young boy and his mother passing through the VIP lounge to embark on a police vehicle that drove them back to Wanyange, Jinja.

“We first stopped at Fire Brigade (headquarters) to get fuel. So we reached at about 11:00pm in the night. We were very tired,” Ms Namugosi said.
“They (Clintons) are going to care for him. I am sure his life will never be same again,” Mr Kaliisa said yesterday.

He said he had missed the meeting of the two Clintons, having been engrossed in coordinating many other things.

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