In 1956, while delivering a speech in Montgomery, Martin Luther King Jr taught members of the civil rights movement about how they were to approach work.
“If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as a Michael Angelo painted, or Beethoven composed music or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, ‘Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well,” King stated.
Dr Simon Kagugube, who succumbed to a heart complication on Saturday morning excelled in taxation and public finance, corporate law and corporate governance, international trade systems, intellectual property law and public international law.
Dr Kagugube went about his work in a manner that suggested he had heeded King’s call.
By the time of his demise, he was serving as the Executive Director at Centenary Bank, board chairman at Uganda Revenue Authority, and board chairman of Monitor Publications Limited, among other key roles in the business sector.
He was at the same time a member of the Board of Nation Media Group (NMG), the parent company of Monitor Publications Limited, a member of the board of the African Medical Research Foundation and President of the East African School of Taxation.
“I was deeply saddened by the passing of our Board Chairman, Dr Simon Kagugube. I worked closely with him, from my initial interview at MPL, right through to when he was taken ill last week. The team at NMGU will miss his wisdom and guidance. May his soul Rest In Peace,” the NMG-Uganda Managing Director, Mr Tony Glencross, said in his message.
Turning down juicy jobs
Dr Kagugube also had a tendency of turning down jobs that many would have grabbed at first invitation.
In February 2000, he was offered the job of deputy Commissioner General of URA, which would have put him in charge of all URA taxation activities. He declined and opted to join PriceWaterHouseCoopers Uganda (PwC) as the director for Tax and Legal Services.
Two years later, PwC offered him a Tax partnership, but he declined and instead joined Centenary Bank.
Upon receiving news of his death, Mr Amin Mawji, the envoy of the Aga Khan Development Network in Uganda, expressed regret.
“Uganda has lost a great business leader and public servant. Kagugube will be remembered for his thoughtful and balanced approach to the complex challenges that he took on. I came to know him as a man of great integrity, wisdom and honour. When I visited him in hospital last week, the doctor described him as a fighter. We were all hopeful that he would pull through but, alas, it was not to be. May God bless Simon Kagugube and May his soul Rest In Peace,” Mr Mawji said.
The second born of Mr Joseph Seguya and Solome Nakayenga Katesigwa Kagugube was born in Mulago Hospital on January 7, 1956. He grew up in what his sister, Ms Bertha Ssempa, described as a “large happy home” in Maganjo.
He went to Namilyango Junior School before joining St Mary’s College Kisubi (Smack).
From there he joined Makerere University in 1976. He graduated with a Bachelor of Laws degree in 1979 before joining the Law Development Centre for a Diploma in Legal Practice.
After a brief spell of part time teaching law of business associations and torts at Makerere University’s Law School, he joined the University of Yale’s Law School as a Fullbright Scholar graduating in June 1985 with a Master of Laws degree, majoring in Corporation Law, Taxation and International Trade Systems.
Kagugube was the editor of Yale Journal of International Law (YJIL), one of the world’s preeminent international law journals, published biannually. He published scholarly articles and commentaries on a wide range of subjects in international, transitional and comparative laws.
In 1988, at 32, Dr Kagugube earned his Doctor of Science of Law from Yale University, majoring in immigration, refugees and asylum law, which he followed up with postdoctoral research in international humanitarian law, focusing on international refugee protection and the movement of persons across international borders.
He later went to the University of Bath in the UK, where he got a certificate in public finance. Dr Kagugube also enrolled for a commonwealth tax inspectors’ course at the UK Inland Revenue training centre in Leeds.
“He was a very bright student, which helped him get his doctorate degree at a very early stage in life, but it was not always about work. He loved music and it was not about just listening to it or dancing to it. He also sang quite a lot,” says Ms Sempa.
His love for music only came to light in March 2007 during the launch of the Centenary Bank logo. Soon after the Governor of the Central Bank, Mr Tumusiime Mutebile, had unveiled the logo, Kagugube stood out as a tough taskmaster, took to the microphone and started singing Tom John’s 1967 pop hit “Green Grass of Home” leaving the bank staff and guests including Kampala Archbishop Cyprian Kizito Lwanga excited.
Given such a highly remarkable Curriculum Vitae, there are no prizes for guessing that he was a hard worker, but he still found time for family, friends and even his culture. He was a sub-clan leader in Baganda of the Ngabi clan.
“He was a workaholic, but he also knew how to balance between work, fun and his other responsibilities. If he wanted to have fun, he would not hold back,” Ms Sempa said.
Down to earth
In a statement yesterday, Centenary Bank described Dr Kagugube as a “man of sound wisdom, a remarkable leader, charismatic, intelligent, affluent and yet down to earth. He was very passionate with staff and brought much joy and laughter into our lives.”
One staff, Bella Muwonge, on WhatsApp wrote, “Our Panadol is gone.”
“He was open to meeting any member, and I mean any of staff, right from the lowest cadres. Besides, he always had a calming effect on everyone. That is why we looked at him as our Panadol. One would never be the same after interacting with him,” Muwonge posted.
Mr James Serugo, a member of the board of Monitor Publications, said he was always amazed by how lightly Dr Kagugube carried his weight and authority.
“As a person he was really down to earth. He never let his obvious intelligence and academic credentials carry him away,” Mr Serugo said.
Centenary Bank noted: “He played a key role in the growth, direction and expansion” of the bank, adding that “he played a key role along with the board in conceptualising and setting up Mapeera House.”
Waldo Emerson, once advised: “Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.”
Dr Kagugube has no doubt left a trail and what a trail it is!
Wife recounts Kagugube’s final moments
Jennifer Kagugube, the wife of fallen Monitor Publications Ltd Board Chairman, on Sunday said that her husband’s health complications started two weeks ago when he collapsed in a city clinic where he had gone for a check-up.
Jennifer, who married Dr Simon Kagugube in 1994, said that on February 1, he went to Victoria Clinic on Lumumba Avenue, for a check-up but collapsed on arrival.
He was referred to Nakasero Hospital where doctors noticed a blockage of heart arteries and they referred him to the Uganda Heart Institute.
“The arteries were unblocked. A pacesetter was inserted and doctors realised that he has been operating with only one artery and he had never noticed,” she said.
She said that at the heart institute, he was resuscitated. On Wednesday, a full set of the pacesetter to help his heart function normally for 10 years was inserted in his heart and on Friday, he regained consciousness.
“Doctors at the Heart Institute asked him to choose the ward where he would like to be admitted so that they would continue monitoring his condition as they stabilised him before flying him out of the country for further management and he opted for Nakasero Hospital,” she said.
She said: “I would like to thank doctors especially at the Uganda Heart Institute. We have specialised people who performed a complex operation. We have good facilities. They managed to assemble the team of all specialists very fast moreover on a Saturday afternoon,” she said, adding that after a week of admission, he was discharged from Uganda Heart Institute and taken to Nakasero Hospital.
While at Nakasero Hospital, he was taken to the High Dependency Unit because the procedure at the Heart Institute had affected his blood sugar and pressure, and the kidney was accumulating a lot of acids and minerals which necessitated dialysis.
However, he did not recover and on Saturday, he was pronounced dead at 2:30pm.
Asked whether the late had any other known life-threatening illness prior to his collapsing at the clinic, she said he has been suffering from diabetes for the last 10 years.
A requiem mass was held today at St. Charles Lwanga Parish Ntinda, and later, another mass was held in Ttanda Church in Mawagga in Mityana at 5pm. A night vigil will be held tonight in his ancestral home in Mawagga. He will be laid to rest on Tuesday.
What others say....
Paul Bukenya Musoke, businessman. I got to know him in 1971 at St Smack. We then met at Makerere University, we met in the United States of America in Boston. I was in Massachusetts, and he was in Hartford Connecticut where he got his PhD from Yale University and he returned to Uganda. , I have known him for 49 years
Jeff Kagonyera, In-law. He was a very good man. He worked in several companies, he was a lawyer, a certified accountant, chartered secretary and he was abnormally knowledgeable and I think that is why many companies, including the Daily Monitor, applied to him to work for them.
Joseph Kimbowa, GM Operations Centenary Bank
As the Chief Executive Officer, he was a great leader, father, parent, and very intelligent. He had solutions to everything. He knew how to handle people at all levels and respected everybody in their capacity. The bank will greatly miss him.
Bishop Emeritus Christopher Ssenyonjo. I remember when he invited me to conduct the last funeral rites for his father in Mityana that is when I learnt that he loved God and his country.
Patrick Batumbya, engineer. I met him in St Charles Lwanga Ntinda when it was being constructed and he was at the centre of things and he was also at the centre of construction of the St Andrews Church Bukoto where he supported his wife a lot in the construction of the Church.
Louise Kaleng, Physiotherapist. He was a hardworking man. I knew him in 1991. I used to work with his wife at the Central Purchasing Corporation, where she was a secretary. He enjoyed himself and loved his family. He was very hardworking.
Sarah Nanziri, housewife. He was a jovial intelligent man. You could discuss all issues including economics, politics and he was very versatile which is reflected in wherever he worked. He loved dancing Lingala.
Apollo Makubuya, lawyer. He is among the few lawyers with a PhD in Law. He was very simple, likeable, approachable and responsible. He was a director in several organisations.