A mammoth crowd, a tense training session, a round of tough heavyweight boxing, a motivational signature song, and a salute from Mando’s army, speeches from artists and politicians, moments of security discomfort, heavy security presence, boos, politically motivated slurs, and tears of sorrow highlighted slain boxer Zebra Ssenyange’s last funeral rites, before his body was buried at Kanzizi village, Masuuliita, Wakiso District on Thursday evening.
All that might soon fade from human memory, though, but those who appreciated his role in transforming the ghetto youths of Kawempe, from criminals and potential delinquents to good citizens, have offered to honour his legacy in a special, lasting way by naming a road after him.
“For a long time, Zebra did a great job of showing the youths of Kawempe the better way to live than engaging in criminality,” said Kawempe Mayor Emmanuel Sserunjogi.
“He has taught them sports especially boxing, and discipline and tried to source help for them. He fought them against crime. He was a role model and we want to name one of the main roads in Kawempe after him.”
Chants of affection greeted the suggestion, which the mayor said would be effected immediately.
Sserunjogi suggested the section of Nabweru Road, off Bombo Road, between Eden Service Park and the Kawaala junction to be named Isaac Zebra Ssenyange Road.
Ssenyange, 40, was killed by security operatives near his home in St Francis Zone, Bwaise, in the early hours of Wednesday night. His killers, according to witnesses, wore masks and civilian attires and moved in two white numberless vans (aka drones, which are known to carry security operatives).
But hours after Ssenyange’s burial, President Museveni, in his televised New Year’s address to the nation, confirmed that the renowned boxer, and trainer who was also an avowed NRM mobiliser, was killed by highly trained soldiers who fought Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) rebels at the DR Congo border and Al-Shabaab terrorists in Somalia.
Museveni, however, apologised for the killing of Ssenyange and promised to investigate the controversy surrounding the shooting, because the mission was to “take in Zebra and do some inquiry” into allegations “that some of the people he trained were being used to cause havoc.” But the armed men shot him dead, allegedly, because he tried to fight them.
At the burial the deceased’s younger brother Twaib Mayanja cited the murder and ongoing arrest of several boxers and tasked Kampala Metropolitan Police commander Moses Kafeero to “tell us what’s wrong with boxers.”
Uganda Boxing Federation president Moses Muhangi, artist and Kampala lord mayoral aspirant Joseph Mayanja and other mourners, echoed the concern.
Meanwhile, former Commonwealth gold medalist Justin Juuko was released Thursday night after nearly three weeks in detention when the General Court Martial withdraw the charges of treachery against him.
But in two days after the Ssenyange murder, three other boxers have gone missing: 2002 Commonwealth silver medalist Joe ‘Vegas’ Lubega; Mudde Ntambi and Robert Mukasa aka Soldier Man, who was reportedly arrested in the operation that killed Ssenyange.