Ugandans mourn Mzee Mukwano

Friday July 12 2019

Deceased. Amirali Karmali aka Mzee Mukwano.

Deceased. Amirali Karmali aka Mzee Mukwano. File photo 

By STEPHEN OTAGE & FRANKLIN DRAKU

Amirali Karmali, 80, who died Wednesday evening was a respected businessman at the centre of Mukwano Group of Companies that and qualifies as a top conglomerate in East and Central Africa.

Karmali also known as Mzee Mukwano – a friend of many, founded Mukwano Group and by the time of his death, it was not one or two but several brands sold on the market, following heavy investment in agriculture, manufacturing, real estate development and logistics.

Mukwano Group’s roots date back to early 1900s when family members came to East Africa and set up a trading company. But the operations of Mukwano Industries Uganda Limited, as it is at times referred today, took off in the 1980s, with one general store in Kampala.

The company’s big break came in 1986, when it ventured into manufacturing soap and edible cooking oil. It was not until the late 1990s that the company made what would become one of its major investments in manufacturing of detergents and plastic products.

Mukwano Group has since diversified its products and geographical business reach.
Additional products on its production line, besides a horde of household items, include cosmetics and bottled drinking water.

Also, its agricultural projects are based in Bunyoro sub-region, western Uganda, and Lango sub-region in northern Uganda. It is there that sunflower and soya bean are produced for oil. The company further made its mark in the real estate business after opening Acacia Mall shopping centre, in the upscale Kololo, in Kampala.

Following his death, many Ugandans have joined the aggrieved family in mourning Mzee Mukwano who will be laid to rest at the Ismaili Cemetery on Archer road in Kololo on Saturday after a public viewing which will be conducted at Kololo Airstrip from 8:30am to 11:30am.

WHAT THEY SAY........

Sudhir Ruparelia, Chairman Ruparelia Group of Companies. Mukwano will be greatly missed. Together with Mukwano and other local entrepreneurs, we made our humble contribution to the country’s economic transformation after years of turmoil. He was a nationalist, humble and a business legend of my time. He rose from being a turn boy, to truck driver and has died a successful businessman.

Godfrey Kirumira, chairperson Kwagalana Group. Mukwano was very humble, jolly and nice guy who was very aggressive in business for which he has left a legacy. There is no home in this country whether poor or rich background without a Mukwano product. He created jobs for unemployed Ugandans and paid taxes to build the country.

King Oyo Nyimba, Omukama of Tooro Kingdom. To Tooro kingdom, the passing of Mzee Mukwano is indeed a very big loss. We celebrate his life and I would like to urge the children to continue to love, support and invest in their home place and Kingdom. May the soul of Mzee Mukwano rest in eternal peace.

Dr. Rajni Tailor, President Hindu Council of Africa and former Buganda Kingdom minister. Mzee [Mukwano] recalled from Canada his son Alykhan Karmali, the current MD Mukwano Group, to come and take over part of his business. His son is a bright and intelligent businessman. He had settled in Canada with sister Rukhsana Karmali, and both have progressed the business to what you see today. Hats off to this young entrepreneurs. God bless them.

Dunia Kambale, gardener. My twin brother [Martin Kambale] started working here and he asked me to join him. You can imagine working in the same position for 35 years without threats of being sacked or losing one’s job. It is not an easy thing.

Paul Bagoye, sales executive. Mukwano adopted me as his son without me knowing because I have done all the mistakes that would have warranted my dismissal but he has never fired me because my father, who was also a truck driver, used to help him with his business in the DR Congo when he ventured into that market. We will surely miss him.

Richard Nakibinge, former Mukwano employee. Right from leaving Namasagali College in 1998, I was given a job in the Kampala office where I worked for eight years before joining my father in his business. Mukwano was so close to my father in the 1970s when he was the chairman district land board. He is the one who allocated him the land where the soap factory is built.

Farouq Fuod, former Employee Mukwano Industries. He has done a lot for Uganda by building schools, mosques in Fort Portal and Kampala. During Eid cerebrations, he served milk and bread in hospitals.

Patience Kananura, Tea packer at Rwenzori Tea. We were not employees at Rwenzori Tea, one of Mukwano factories, but as his children, as long as you were a woman, he had a lot of care.

Martin Kambale, Gardener at Mukwano Industries. He has been my father and employer since 1993. I have worked as a gardener for 35 years and married a wife and got children.

Vincent Bakaluba, Mechanic at Rwenzori Tea. I worked with Mukwano for 23 years and his name is not farfetched. He was a friend to people. I dropped out of school in Primary Seven but he paid my tuition.

Deogratius Kimera, Head of drivers at Mukwano Group. You can never find a boss like Mukwano. Whenever I would sack drivers, he would call them back to work. This man was a special parent.

fdraku@ug.nationemdia.com

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