Renowned entrepreneur Martin Aliker dies

Dental surgeon and businessman, Dr Martin Aliker. FILE PHOTO/ FILE

What you need to know:

  • His story started in 1928 in the village of Awaranga, south-west of Gulu where he was born to Lacito Oketch, a Rwot (chief) and Julaina Auma, a daughter of Musa Ali, the first ordained Anglican priest in the region of the Acholi.

Dental surgeon and businessman, Dr Martin Aliker is dead, family sources said Monday. 
As a former Monitor Publications Limited (MPL) board chairperson, Dr Aliker is credited with overseeing the merger between the Monitor and Nation Media Group (NMG).

He was very instrumental in making the paper's position of independence understood and recognised by the various stakeholders in the Uganda.

As an executive of repute which led him to chair different boards of noteworthy companies, Dr Aliker was the pioneer East African dental surgeon who set up the first black owned private dental practice in East Africa.
He served on boards of many companies, including Coca-Cola, Uganda Breweries, Stanbic bank, and Standard Chartered bank, among others.

From 2004 until 2014, he served as the founding chancellor of Gulu University, a public university.

His story started in 1928 in the village of Awaranga, south-west of Gulu where he was born to Lacito Oketch, a Rwot (chief) and Julaina Auma, a daughter of Musa Ali, the first ordained Anglican priest in the region of the Acholi.

Being the son of a chief, he was admitted into King’s College Budo –a school started mainly to educate sons and daughters of royals.

Aliker went on to study at Makerere University and then North Western University in the USA, where he graduated as a dentist in the mid-1950s.

After his doctorate studies in the United States, Aliker returned to Uganda and took up employment as a government dental surgeon. Later, he left the civil service and set up the first private dental practice in Uganda owned by an African.

He married Camille, an American, with whom they have four children: Julie, a teacher; Martin, an athlete; Philip, an economist and lawyer; and Paul Okello, a dentist.


Starting in the 1960s, Aliker began buying shares in blue chip companies, including the Uganda Commercial Bank and the National Insurance Company. 

By October 2014, Dr Aliker was a shareholder in the following publicly traded Ugandan companies: (a) Stanbic Bank Uganda (b) Uganda Clays Limited (c) Nation Media Group (d) National Insurance Corporation (e) East African Breweries, among others.

Life as Amin’s neighbour

“In 1971, when the coup took place by Amin’s soldiers against Obote’s government, my house was directly behind the command post where Amin lived. Amin was my neighbour but we didn’t socialise because there was a huge fence separating us. He was on Prince Charles drive and I lived on Hill Lane," Dr Aliker told this publication in 2013.

A week after the coup, Amin’s private secretary told me that I was a security risk therefore, I had to leave my house.
“I left ‘two hill lane’ and I acquired a plot Plot No.2 on Summit View from Kampala City Council. I started building in 1971 and completed in 1972. Building this house took me only one year because I used a contractor and an architect. Interestingly at that time, all houses on Summit View had to be worth £25,000 (it was a lot of money, at least an equivalent of £250,000 today(Shs1b at least)). They wanted to keep the value of the property high and the street had only 10 houses.

Difficult times

“Amin’s regime brought the whole development of Kololo to a standstill. Many occupants left Kololo and abandoned their houses. On the other hand, Mboijana and I had to go in to exile leaving my houses behind.

People just moved in. “My house was taken over by the Commissioner of Police, Kassim Obura, after I went in to exile. He was very excited about the house and decided to throw a big party to show off his new house. Among the people he invited was the Governor of Kampala, Abdul Nassur Abdullah, (He was condemned to death and Museveni forgave him, his now a free man in Bombo). He came at night and was impressed by the beauty the house presented. He looked and saw all the lights of Kampala below him. The next day he sent an army to kick Obura out of the house.

“The governor moved in and occupied the house. Just like all of Amin’s people, he believed in telephones. There were 22 rooms in the house and he installed a telephone receiver in every single one of them. The master bedroom for one had four telephone lines going out. All this was for show- he was important, governor. Notably, the guest wing had a bath tub; his visitors from Koboko would fill it up, stand outside and bathe.

Buying back his house

By the time we got back the house, it was pretty damaged. It cost me £35,000 to build the house in 1972 and to renovate it after I came back from exile took $100,000 in 1998.”

“However, after Amin fell, I managed to buy back my house at Shs400m while I was living in Kenya. Some people occupied it while I was still in Kenya but they did not do much. I came back in 1998 and lived in the governor’s house, still on Summit View, as I renovated my house. When I reclaimed it, there were over eight families living inside with no water and electricity. I contracted ROKO and asked them to gut the whole house and do a makeover since most of things I had put in were very old.

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