Mr Badru Namuyimba, a former pilot in the late 1970s, during an interview in Masaka City last week. PHOTO/MICHAEL J SSALI


70-year-old Badru Namuyimba started saving aged 12

What you need to know:

  • Namuyimba, who is currently the chairperson of National Resistance Movement (NRM) Entrepreneur’s League in Greater Masaka, praises his father for teaching him a saving culture at a very young age.

Seventy-one-year-old Badru Namuyimba has lived a storied life. He was one of the first black children to study with Indian and other Asian children at the prestigious Aga Khan Primary School in Masaka City (then a town) in 1961.

Namuyimba says he loved mathematics while in primary sc-hool  and was inspired by the head teacher, Mr Emmanuel Pinto, who was a knowledgeable and talented teacher.

“I was loved a lot by Asian pupils because I was always the best in class and they nicknamed me the clever African boy,” he reminisces.     

Namuyimba was born on June 26, 1952, to Abdu Rawuuf Ssegirinya, a former bus driver. Namuyimba’s father used his connections with Asians who owned Lulangalanga Bus Services, to secure a place for his son at Aga Khan Primary School.

He says his father inculcated in him a saving culture at an early age. While at primary school, he started saving part of the pocket money his father gave him.

Namuyimba, who is currently the chairperson of National Resistance Movement (NRM) Entrepreneur’s League in Greater Masaka, says his father owned several commuter taxis. His father drove one of them while the other taxis were driven by his sons and hired workers.

According to Namuyimba, his father used to ply the Biharwe- Mbarara route.
“He could shop essential items for the family and would save Shs70,” he says.

Namuyimba adds that his father ordered that the money he saved be kept by him. He was by then 12 years old and in Primary Five.

At the end of every month, Namuyimba says his father could collect all the money from him and leave him with Shs5 for upkeep.

When his money increased to a substantial amount, Namuyimba decided to open a bank account.
 However, when he went to Standard Bank, the workers sent him away, asking him to come with his parents because he was still a minor.

The bank manager later decided to open a savings account for him where he deposited Shs56.  
He says by then, few natives owned bank accounts.

After completing primary education, Namuyimba joined Kololo Secondary School.

Namuyimba says his father deposited Shs5 every month on his account while he was at secondary.

He later commenced his Advanced Level education, studying Mathematics, and Physics at the same school. After completing A-Level, Namuyimba joined Kyambogo University to pursue a two-year diploma course in civil engineering.

“I planned to acquire a diploma in civil engineering and earn at least Shs6,000 per month. 

Unfortunately, I did not finalise my course because I was still in year one in 1971 when announcements calling for applicants to join the Air Force were aired on Radio Uganda, I decided to join the piloting career,” he says.

Unfortunately, Namuyimba’s parents were not impressed by his decision.
“Over 3,000 applicants participated in the interviews conducted by Israeli military officers and I was among the 308 selected applicants who were later taken to Bombo Military Barracks for training.”
Namuyimba says owing to the toughness of the training, 28 recruits ran away. The training at Bombo lasted one year and three months.

“After receiving the basic military training skills, I and others joined a cadets course to train as a pilot and in this training, only 14 of us qualified as pilots and were earning Shs2,800 per month,” he adds.

“We used to get payment in instalments, the first pay used to come in the first two weeks and another in the last two weeks of the month,” he says.

Namuyimba adds that he never wasted his money on luxuries.   
 “I opened up another bank account and started saving my money. During my training as a pilots at Gulu training school, I was earning Shs265, which was the minimum wage for those training as pilots and we used to receive it in phases. The school was providing free food, medical services and other basic requirements, and that was an advantage to me who had a culture of saving to save Shs260 every month and only spend Shs5,” Namuyimba, a prominent elder in Masaka, says.

After completing his training in Gulu in 1972, which was the same year when the late President Idi Amin expelled Asians from Uganda, Namuyimba and others were transferred to Entebbe Air Force base for further training.

By this time, Namuyimba’s savings had accumulated to an impressive figure and he decided to buy a Volkswagen Shs3,000, a princely sum then, from an Asian called Gokaldas.

“I drove the car for a few months and later decided to put it in special hire business to fetch for me some money every day.”

By the time Amin’s regime was overthrown in April 1979, Namuyimba was still a pilot in the air force where he flew wings aircraft and helicopters.
Namuyimba says he fled to exile in Kenya with his family because of persecution against members of the security agencies who served under Amin.

“I decided to go to exile in Kenya with my wife and four children.”

During the 1979 liberation war, Namuyimba lost his residential house which was located between Bakuli and Nakulabye and another house which was still under construction at Lukuli -Nanganda –all in Kampala City.

Before reaching Nairobi, Namuyimba first sought refuge at a place called Malakisi in Western Province.He says in Malakisi they lived in a dingy, small room that could hardly accommodate the entire family. 

“We were rescued by a Somali woman who gave us a home and she would provide us with free food and some other necessities,” he says.

Later, Namuyimba and his family left Malakisi and relocated to Nairobi.
“While in Nairobi, I joined the Pioneer Airline Company which was owned by a Somali national called Buruhan, where I was training pilots. Here, I saved some of his money and even managed to purchase a Mercedes Benz at Shs62,000, which I drove for some time and later sold off and bought cargo trucks that could transport commercial items within Kenya and neighbouring countries like Uganda and DR Congo,” he says.

Before serving as a trainer for pilots in Kenya, Namuyimba went to the United States of America where he received a commercial pilot’s licence.

He still boasts of wearing shirts from Rael Brook Company and Van Heusen Peter England and shoes which he bought from London in the early 1970s.
“For me, I never compete with anybody, I usually let others compete with me."

“At first, my father thought I was extravagant, but it wasn’t the case, I aimed to avoid cheap things because they are expensive in the long run,” he says.

From the money Namuyimba saved, he managed to purchase seven cargo trucks in installments. He used the trucks to transport goods from Mombasa and DR Congo. 

NRA mobilisation
While still in Kenya, he participated in building the foundation of the then National Resistance Army by mobilising Ugandans who were in Kenya to join the campaign to overthrow Milton Obote’s government.

He spent 10 years in exile in Kenya and came back to Uganda in 1989 after the NRM had taken overpower.
Namuyimba later sold off his trucks and invested part of the money in educating his nine children. 

He started participating in politics and was elected village Resistance Council chairperson. 
“Our main task was to distribute necessities like sugar, and soap, among others to people after the war. I was later in 1989   elected as secretary for mass mobilisation and education rehabilitation in the Town Yard area in Masaka City, which was later named Soweto Village, my residential village,” he says.

While serving as RCI, Namuyimba constructed several spring wells in Town Yard and the neighbouring places.

Grassroot leadership
He served as chairperson of the Resistance Council (RCI), from 1989 to 1992 and the people he served wanted to elevate him to chairperson RCII but he refused at the beginning.

Namuyimba was later elected as chairperson of RCII and served Town Yard and Katwe Parishes. 
He was later elected as the chairperson Katwe-Butego Division where he served for 10 years (1993- 2003).

As chairperson of Katwe –Butego, Namuyimba, also served as patron of Kiyimbwe Primary School, a privately owned school.  

“I found the school premises in a bad situation and teachers were demanding their salaries, which I cleared using my money and managed to connect electricity and water to the school, which was later extended to the neighbouring villages. I also participated in the construction of health facilities in Kitabaazi, Kirumba and other areas in Masaka City,” he says.

Namuyimba advises the government to tackle corruption seriously and to continue inculcating a culture of patriotism among Ugandans for the betterment of this country.

Involvement in politics
In 2006, Namuyimba contested for mayorship in Masaka City with the late Tebyasa Matovu (Democratic Party) and the latter won the election. 

In 2011, he again contested as an independent candidate for the same position and lost to the former mayor Kayemba Afaayo (FDC).

In 2016, Namuyimba vied for the same position in NRM party primaries but lost.

Locals speak out 

Swaibu Makumbi Sulambaaya, a social activist in Masaka City: “I have known Namuyimba for a long time, he is a hardworking man and has diligently served people at local councils. We are proud of him.’’ 

Samuel Ndawula Mutebi, chairman of Kairikiti Cell, Masaka City: “I know Hajji Namuyimba as a principled and intelligent man, it is hard to compromise him on anything.’’