Remembering Francis Ayume 18 years later

What you need to know:

  • The suffering which Ayume’s family and friends have endured since 2004 has a silver lining, namely that God is with us.   

Tomorrow, May 16, marks 18 years since death robbed Uganda and Africa of a distinguished, exemplary and illustrious son, Francis Joash Ayume (RIP). It was a very sad day which will always live in my memory. 
Francis was a friend, a fellow citizen of Uganda, a fellow OB of Busoga College Mwiri, a fellow alumnus of University of East Africa and above all a fellow Christian.

I thank God our Father in heaven for comforting and looking after Ms Elizabeth Ayume and the bereaved family during very difficult and challenging times. May the Lord continue to bless, guide, protect and watch over the family.

In this connection, I would like to express deep appreciation to the voters of Koboko Municipality for electing Dr Charles Ayume as their MP, purely on merit, in last year’s parliamentary elections. 

Dr Ayume, a gentleman par excellence like his father, has within a short period of time proved himself as a distinguished, confident, worthy and outstanding legislator. I am proud of his exemplary performance.

Dr Ayume’s election as MP proves decisively that change is good and positive for society. On the contrary, “no change” is bad policy and strategy for society and all African countries. 

The failure to effect peaceful political change in Uganda, in accordance with the original 1995 Constitution, has done enormous damage and harm to the body politic and economy of our country.

What a difference one year has made in Koboko and the West Nile sub-region as a whole. We are enjoying a breath of fresh air once again. No more noisy gongs and clanging cymbals making lots of empty, irritating, shrill and useless noise. Thanks to wananchi for putting an end to absurdity, mediocrity and outrage in Koboko politics.

The last time I met and interacted with Francis Ayume was on July 4, 2003, at the Chancery of the Embassy of the United States of America (USA), Kampala. We were guests at a well-attended reception to celebrate the 227th anniversary of the declaration of independence of the USA. 

I left Uganda for Brussels a few days after that encounter on assignment at the Embassy of Uganda to the European Union, Belgium, Luxembourg and Netherlands. I returned to Uganda in 2008.
Early in the morning of May 16, 2004, I received a long distance telephone call from another dear friend, Tom Buruku (RIP) to inform me of the tragedy which had befallen our mutual friend Francis. I was devastated and could not believe what I heard. I took a few days off to recover from the shock.

I recall with pain and sorrow an opinion by Ssemujju Ibrahim Nganda published in The Observer newspaper of Thursday, June 3, 2004, titled, “The mystery of Ayume’s death” which accurately captures the mood, contradictions and how I felt 18 years ago this week. 

The pertinent and salient issues Ssemujju raised in 2004 have to the best of my knowledge not yet been addressed or answered which is frankly unbelievable, outrageous and unacceptable in a country which claims to respect and abide by the rule of law.

To paraphrase Scripture, only the truth will set Uganda free. The suffering which Ayume’s family and friends have endured since 2004 has a silver lining, namely that God is with us.

I would like to propose and request the mayor and relevant authorities of Arua City to name a major street in honour and memory of Francis Ayume who is a great son of West Nile and Uganda. 
May his soul rest in eternal peace.

 Mr Acemah is a political scientist and retired career diplomat.