What you need to know:
In many ways, he was a man born before his time. His causes will endure in the journey of our country for the next hundred years. We shall miss you our father, whom we shared with our country
This is a short tribute to the man I have been proud to call my father. On my behalf and the entire family, we are touched by the tributes, messages of condolence from near and far and the memorable send-off you graced at his farewell ceremonies at Lubaga Cathedral atop the hill where he arrived first as a relief teacher in 1951 and in Nkumba Nattale where we kept him in the grounds of a village at the confluence rapid changes in our environment, the healthy conflict between our traditions, the future and a melting pot. In my sub-clan, my father was an Earl of the Court, the favoured children of their great ancestor, Ssebwana Ggere who once reigned as a great chief in the Kingdom of Buganda in the inter-regnum period between two kings of Buganda, Chwa Nabakka II and Kimera I.
We thank the Missionaries of Africa and Verona Fathers who were instrumental in giving him opportunities that were exceptional. His birth, a partial breech was attended to by a Catholic missionary priest. When he was orphaned at the age one, the White Sisters offered his mother a job as a cook at the Kisubi mission and trained his eldest brother as a medical orderly in Kisubi Hospital to support the young widow and her six children. His uncle Ibrahim Lumigiro, a retired clerk, took him into his home, first in Nkumba and later in Butoolo Mawokota, setting him up for success. Later the Brothers of Christian Instruction at St Mary’s College Kisubi played a key role in nurturing him. By the time he reached Makerere University, he was bursting with youth, energy and intelligence. He was physically agile, a boxer, mentally astute, a debater who could simply run out the clock and a leader.
He had been head prefect and was later vice president of the students guild. We thank the American government, which awarded him a two-year Fulbright scholarship that expanded his horizon and steeled him mentally for the tribulations that lay ahead in his 90 years of life.
We thank Ben Kiwanuka, who having first interacted with him at Makerere, sought him out from St Leo’s Kyegobe where he had begun teaching and recruited him formally into politics. He was indeed a career politician serving at all levels in Uganda. In his life’s journey many Ugandans and friends put their confidence in him, supported him emotionally, materially. Our father was a man of very modest means, incorruptible and a leader-servant.
In an interaction with Harry Blaney, one of his classmates who worked at the State Department, in Washington DC in 2018, he told me: “Paul took positions which were very risky and went against the conventional thinking at the time, challenging ruthless regimes and paying dearly for it.”
His professor at Allegheny, Wayne Merrick and his protégé Francis Giles Wayland Smith, who later became a professor came to his rescue when he fled the Idi Amin regime in 1972 after the abduction of Ben Kiwanuka, setting him up again in school at Syracuse University.
The duo were responsible for his voracious appetite for reading and digesting written material. In the Cabinet of Uganda and later, he had a gift for editorial, crisp definition of issues. The Cabinet is a practical university of its own with detailed processes and consumption centre of information. He chaired many Cabinet meetings and sub-committees even though his politics was quite different from the President because of the confidence his colleagues had in him.
In death we celebrate a hero who has lived close to all the causes he called his own. To Ugandans he has left you a challenge of ushering a more equitable political and social order.
A politics that is less adversarial, unity in diversity and more argumentative and issue based. In many ways, he was a man born before his time. His causes will endure in the journey of our country for the next hundred years. We shall miss you our father, whom we shared with our country but remain in gratitude to God for keeping you with us so long.
Mr Ssemogerere is an Attorney-At-Law and an Advocate. [email protected]