The cruel hand of death that took the life of Commissioner of Police (CP) Josephine Kakooza, who had been head of the Police Band unit for nearly 50 years, has left the force fraternity crestfallen.
Kakooza, who joined the Uganda Police Force (UPF) at 14, died at Namirembe Hospital at dawn on Wednesday.
Inspector General of Police, Martin Okoth Ochola, announcing Kakooza’s death through police spokesperson, Emilian Kayima, noted that Kakooza was the force’s longest serving officer.
Kakooza served for exactly 49 years, three months and eight days having joined police in 1969.
“She will be remembered as a talented and extremely committed officer of the Uganda Police Force, a true patriot whose sense of duty and dedication was unequalled. Besides the duty as band mistress, she was seen as a mother to the rank and file given her rich profile and dedication to work,” Mr Ochola stated.
In her nearly five decades of service, Kakooza was referred to by both young and old police personnel as Maama Police (loosely translated as mother of police) given the fact that all the current 44,600 police officers joined when she was already a cop.
One would easily argue that a police function would be incomplete without her presence because despite her age, she would always be present at all police functions commanding either parade or the police band unit. The joy she displayed while directing her band team was outstanding.
Kakooza was and has been the first police woman to command the Police Music, Dance and Drama Department, which is always a unit to rely on for fabulous entertainment for police, government and national events.
Police officers of different ranks took to different social media groups to praise Kakooza eulogising her as an inspiration, mentor, mother, counsellor and an icon of the Force.
CP Moses Kafeero, the Kampala Metropolitan police commander, said Kakooza was a committed officer who would command parade for long hours yet she was aged.
“She was a jolly lady despite her age. She had stamina. She commanded parade with energy for many years regardless of the weather conditions she was always there,” CP Kafeero says.
He said they would often ask her to tell them what the police force of 1970s, 80s and 90s looked like since most of them had only joined the forces in the early 2000s.
He applauded the fallen officer for often encouraging them to be patient, respect time and never to rush solutions to problems.
“Be patient because time is the solver of things. As time moves, events unfold, solutions are always got… I got that quote from her and it stuck in my mind,” Kafeero says.
Kakooza inherited the name of her father Joseph Kakooza who was a Buganda county chief from Masaka during the colonial era.
The deceased’s father grew up admiring British policewomen who were managing the police band at that time. Kakooza liked the uniqueness of British female cops in holding instrument and admired their smartness.
In an interview with a media house last year, Kakooza said it was normal in late 60s and 70s for young people (teenagers) to be recruited into police since there was a perception that their comprehension was faster compared to adults.
“I was at Trinity College Nabbingo, but I dropped out of school in 1968 and my daddy told me to join a nursing school though I didn’t like the course,” Kakooza was quoted by the media house.
Joining the Force
When she returned from a nursing school at Butabika, Kakooza said she was connected to the then Inspector General of Police Erinayo Oryema by a relative with the intention of drafting her into the police force. The police chief did not frustrate her dream, but enrolled her into music training.
Kakooza underwent a two-year training at Kibuli Police Training School before she was deployed to the Police Band under the police music department where she served until her demise on Wednesday.
“She enlisted in the Uganda Police Force for a three months training on September 1, 1969, passed out as Band Woman Constable on December 2, 1969,” Mr Ochola said.
Mr Kafeero says Kakooza was a definition of patience since she got her promotions in recent years despite having served for nearly half a century. She was never demoralised by ranks but served with commitment and loved her work.
Kakooza was first promoted in 1982 to the rank of Corporal, then to Sergeant in 1987, elevated to Assistant Inspector of Police in 1993. She had previously done a junior Command Course and other short courses.
In 2004, she was promoted to Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) and in 2008 attained the rank of Superintendent of Police (SP).
President Museveni at a public function in 2012 cited Kakooza commanding a parade and asked the then IGP, Gen Kale Kayihura, to promote her to Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP).
Promotion. In October 2014, Kakooza was promoted to Commissioner of Police (CP). The promotion did not please Kakooza, expressing her ingratitude to Gen Kayihura due to the fact she had been the only promoted officer in a police band comprised of almost 200 officers.
Gen Kayihura during the rank decorating ceremony, apologised to the unit and promised that other officers in the band would also be considered in the subsequent promotions.
This act earned her enormous respect as several officers praised her for being selfless. Away from police band work, Kakooza was a counsellor to several police officers especially female officers living with HIV. She learnt counselling after undergoing training with The Aids Support Organisation.
Burial programme. Kakooza’s funeral service was held at St. Peter’s Church Nsambya yesterday and another will be held at Rubaga Cathedral today. CP Kakooza will be buried at Namumira Village on Katosi Road in Mukono District tomorrow.