By Moses Walubiri
The body of the fallen First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for East Africa Affairs Eriya Kategaya has been returned from Kenya.
The body was conveyed by a small chartered plan ‘Grand Caravan’ which touched Entebbe International airport at 9:41am.
The minister for the Presidency Frank Tumwebaze, the Chief of Defense Forces, Gen Aronda Nyakairima and the Inspector of General of Police Kale Kayihura received the body.
Government has released a provisional burial program. On Tuesday at 9:00 am, Kategeya’s body will lie in state at Parliament for the public to pay their respects, before a special parliamentary session sitting in the afternoon.
On Wednesday, a service will be held at All Saints Cathedral in Nakasero, Kampala beginning at 9:00am, after which the casket will leave for his ancestral home in Itojo, Ntungamo district.
Burial is scheduled for Thursday in Itojo Village, starting at 12:00pm. Kategeya died on Saturday afternoon in a Kenyan hospital.
The minister for ICT, Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda, Kategaya's longtime described the late as a committed and a principled person.
Rugunda stopped short of thanking the gods of destiny for willing that his and Kategaya's paths crossed many times as evidenced by their exile in Zambia in the 1970s, work in NRM external wing in Nairobi and later in parliament and cabinet.
"We first met as young people concerned about the trajectory our country was taking. As university students, there was a meeting of minds with Kategeya, especially on ideological issues and the kind of country and African continent we wanted to see," Rugunda said, as he tried to recollect his time with a man he described as " a disciplined, committed nationalist and Pan Africanist."
About their Zambian exile, Rugunda said that was the best option available given what he called "horrendous human rights violations" by the Amin regime.
"Kategaya was working with Ministry of Legal Affairs while I was at the University teaching hospital in Lusaka. But life in exile is replete with painful loneliness, so, logic demands that you seek solace from members of your own community. So, we met quite often."
Later in Nairobi during the armed struggle that brought NRM to power, Rugunda says Kategeya was appointed as the chairman of the Political and Diplomatic committee of the External wing that was headed by former Vice President, Dr. Samson Kiseka.
Kategeya's committee was tasked to carry out clandestine political work - inside and outside Uganda - and also mobilize international opinion to support the armed struggle.
"Kategeya has been a committed and a principled person, a patriot, who has been concerned about the welfare of ordinary Ugandans. He has above all been a simple and incorruptible person who has been able to escape the consuming spirit of materialism.
"From my first encounter with him, till his departure, those have been the ideals that have shaped his life," Rugunda said, describing Kategaya's life's journey as "a life well lived.