All the people who spoke described Nkanji as a hero and he really deserves it for his patriotic love
By David Serumaga
Saturday, May 9, 2018, Uganda will be celebrating the National Heroes Day which commemorates the contribution of the people who tremendously contributed to the development of this country.
On Monday March 06, 2017, Uganda was shaken by the ultimate death of former Buganda Kingdom Premier Jehoash Mayanja Nkanji at the age of 85. An exemplary servant, Nkangi rose from a humble peasant family and climbed all the ladders of success. History shows that all his education background was built on scholarships because his father Isaiah Sibakyalwayo, was a village chief and could not afford to finance his son to Oxford University but rather the good performances won him bursaries.
He was one of the few certified barristers in Uganda after the Oxford training. On returning to Uganda, Mayanja Nkangi went into private legal practice and immersed himself in the fight against colonialism.
In 1960 when he had just returned home, Nkanji joined politics and at that time, there was a movement against Indians and Nkangi started his own party ‘United Party’ which later became the “National United Party” with an aim of uniting everyone. In 1962 he left it and joined the Kabaka Yekka (KY) party. Nkangi was elected KY MP for Masaka East in May 1962. He is among the few Ugandans who in 1962 witnessed the lowering of the British Flag and hoisting of the Uganda Flag on Independence Day in 1962.
In that’s same year when Uganda was gaining it independence, Nkanji was the Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Affairs in Obote’s, government as well as holding his position of a Member of Parliament for Masaka East. Then for the next two years, Nkangi was the Commerce and Industry Minister.
By 1963, Nkanji had gained political popularity and he was representing Uganda in the East African Legislative Assembly. Being determined, fearfulness and exemplary leader, Kabaka/King Edward Muteesa 11 called him on board to lead the kingdom with Nkanji. In 1964, at the age of 33, Mayanja Nkangi was appointed Katikkiro of Buganda, a position he held through the tumultuous years of Uganda-Buganda bickering until 1966 when the Kabaka was exiled.
Nkangi also fled to England and continued to perform his duties of Katikkiro albeit, even after Muteesa’s death in 1969.
In 1971, when Idi Amin had taken over power from Obote, Nkanji returned to Uganda and persuaded President Idi Amin to return the remains of Kabaka Mutesa who had been buried in exile in the United Kingdom which President Amin accepted and gave Kabaka Muteesa in March 1971
In 1980 Okello Lutwa overthrew President Idi Amin Dada which encouraged Nkangi form the Kabaka Yekka Youth Wing and later Conservative Party. He served as Labour Minister under Lutwa’s government between August 1985 and January 1986. When President Yoweri Museveni’s governmemt took power from Lutwa in 1986, Nkangi joined the system and served as minister from 1986 to 2002. In 1986, he served as Minister of Education.
In that ministry, Nkanji is remembered in overseeing the creation of Kyambogo University. He was the Minister of Planning and Economic Development (MoPED) from 1989 to 1992. In MoPED, Nkanji will be remembered for overseeing the establishment of Uganda Investment Authority.
From 1992 to 1998, he served as Minister of Finance. According to the Governor of Bank of Uganda, Prof. Emmanuel Tumusiime Mutebile, while paying a visit in Nkanji’s home, he applauded Nkagi as a person who played a leading role in making Uganda realize a remarkable decline in the inflation rate ensured the success of the national economic recovery. He revealed that Uganda liberalized its foreign exchange regime in 1990 when the late Mayanja Nkangi was Minister of Finance and Economic Development.
Nkanji also served as a Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs from 1998 to 2002. He was later appointed the Uganda Land Commission Chairman, until recently when he retired from public service to concentrate on his law chambers.
In Buganda and Uganda at large, Nkanji will never be forgotten for his great contribution in the restoration of Kingdoms in Uganda through negotiating with President Yoweri Museveni. In 1993 after the restoration of Kingdoms, Nkanji who had kept damula (royal scepter) installed Kabaka Ronald Muwenda Mutebi as the king of Buganda which brought joy to the people of Buganda. Nkangi's service to Buganda as Katikkiro was a challenge in many ways but the deceased never denounced the Kabaka and the kingdom at large.
He has served in almost all governments in Uganda as a minister but his name was never heard or seen in any corruption scandal. This showed that late Nkangi was transparent, truthful, a wise speaker, role model and a man of integrity. He will also be remembered for his great input in the formation of the 1995 Constitution.
During Nkangi’s death, President Yoweri Museveni went to his home to grieve with other mourners. He eulogized the late Mayanja Nkangi as a man of immense integrity and a dedicated public servant who lived to serve this nation with loyalty and honesty.
“I came to pay condolences. He worked with us for very many years. I came to salute this great man who served the country for a long time. We in NRM appreciate him. This is because we were young people and he was ready to work with us,” Museveni said.
All the people who spoke described Nkanji as a hero and he really deserves it for his patriotic love, integrity, love for peace and being an exemplary leader. His legacy is visible even after his death that is why his body received heroic send off.
Nkangi kept the faith, and fought the fight; the duty to enrich his gains is ours.
Writer is the president of the Buganda Youth Wing