By Raymond Baguma
TANZANIAN President Jakaya Kikwete joined hundreds of mourners during the burial of President Yoweri Museveni’s father, Mzee Amos Kaguta.
The burial, which took place at Rwakitura in Kiruhura district, was attended by thousands of mourners, who included delegations from South Sudan, Tanzania, as well as cultural leaders from within and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The Julius Nyerere Foundation was also represented by a delegation.
Kikwete, who is the current chairperson of the East African Community (EAC), said: “We join you in mourning the loss of your father and may you get strength to overcome the grief.”
Kikwete flew into the country from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, where he had gone to attend the signing of the framework agreement aimed to restore peace in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
President Museveni was represented in Addis Ababa by his Vice-president, Edward Ssekandi.
President Kagame, who was also in Addis Ababa, sent a message, saying: “The death of a parent is always a terrible loss, however, we can find solace in the knowledge that from South Sudan led by the Minister for Cabinet Affairs, Wek Mamer Kuol. There were also written messages from President Salva Kiir of South Sudan, who said Kaguta’s life was ‘well-lived.’
In line with the Ankole custom regarding the death of a head of the family, the First Family killed the principal bull from the herd of cattle that belonged to Amos Kaguta.
The casket containing the remains of Kaguta was lowered into the grave at 6:00pm.
Addressing mourners, Museveni advised the elite to play a role in transforming the lives of their families from subsistence, to commercial oriented production.
He advised youths to spearhead the creation of wealth in their families instead of getting embroiled in property wrangles over their parents’ property.
“Young people must learn to create wealth and not just fight for parents’ wealth. Each generation should add to the wealth of the family,” he said.
He cited that according to the 2002 population and housing census, 68% of Ugandan households are engaged in subsistence, with only 32% employed in the formal sector.
He said each family in Uganda has at least an educated person who should lead the families into market-oriented farming.
“After my O’level, I started helping my people get rid of nomadism (sic). With all this big elite we have, why can’t we convert from subsistence to commercial? The elite should help change the lives of the family and then the neighbourhood,” he said.
He also cautioned the youth against being overbearing on their elderly parents and relying on them for financial support, which he said puts pressure on old people and hastens their demise. He said his late father helped him to write the Runyankole thesaurus.
“It is unchristian to disturb old people. They are a store of good knowledge we need to preserve them. Pressure on them is not good,” Museveni observed, adding that: “These days there is a problem of too much pressure on the elderly people. Those above 75 years need to rest.”
The President also recognised three of his relatives who had nursed his father when he was ailing and in hospital. As a token of appreciation, he offered 10 cows to two of them, while the third one received five head of cattle.
Speaking on behalf of the grandchildren, Brig. Muhoozi Kainerugaba described his grandfather as a strong man with love for people and his nation, and a lover for the truth.
Dr. Violet Kajubiri, a daughter of the deceased, in her eulogy Mzee Kaguta’s life had lasting impact to many.”
Kaguta, 96, who passed away on Friday morning, was laid to rest during a ceremony attended by family members, religious leaders, opposition politicians, prominent people in Government, diplomats, as well as friends of the First Family.
There was also a delegation described her father as a great man. “My father was a herdsman, but God called him wherever he was and promised to make him a great man.”
The First Lady, Janet Museveni, thanked God for granting a long life to her father-in-law, which enabled him to see his children as well as his grandchildren become important in the country.
“God lifted Mzee Amos and made him a tall tree where all birds with no home found their home. Thank God for guiding Amos for bringing up and grooming his family,” Mrs. Museveni said, adding: “Yoweri, thank you for giving a good example of how children should take care of their parents.”
“Amos was a man of humility and simplicity and this shows. Mzee Amos gives a true picture of how Ugandans should nurture their children. He has run his race, finished his course and God will reward him. Thank you Ugandans for the love you have showed us by being with us today,” she said.
The Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga, in her message to President Museveni, said: “We look to you are the father of the nation. In him we have lost a grandfather.”
A cross section of people sent messages. These included the Katikkiro of Buganda, Eng. J.B. Walusimbi. The FDC president, Maj. Gen. Mugisha Muntu’s message was delivered by Amanya Mushega. The UPC chief, Dr. Olara Otunnu also sent a condolence message.
The NRM vicechairperson, Moses Kigongo sent a message on behalf of the party, saying Mzee Kaguta “gave to Uganda and Africa great leaders.”