Eleanor Byarugaba Kembabazi is famous in the catering circles but also has a huge following of friends, fans and family
Tributes continue to pour in after news broke that veteran hotelier Eleanor Byarugaba Kembabazi had died.
The proprietor of Kembabazi Catering Centre died in an ambulance that was rushing her from Entebbe Airport to Kampala. She had just returned to Uganda from India where she had gone to seek medical attention just last Thursday.
“We used to eat good food in her Kembabazi Restaurant on Kampala Rd opposite the then City Square in the early 1990s. May God reward her soul abundantly,” one Didas Byaruhanga commented on the New Vision Facebook post announcing Kembabazi’s death.
Abbi Kwikiriza wrote; “Auntie, you are my mentor. You have left a legacy. I believe you have not died, you have just shifted your position. Your body is down but your innerman is alive. Rest in eternity.”
Kembabazi is famous in the catering circles but also has a huge following of friends, fans and family. More tributes came in from the Bakiga community, All Saints Cathedral Nakasero family, where she fellowshipped and regular clients and the Naguru eatery.
Julius Mucunguzi, a communication specialist who hails from Kembabazi’s home village of Bukinda, Rukiga district, wrote a detailed tribute celebrating the Kembabazi he remembers right from his childhood days to the generous lady she was today.
“We grew up in Ryabirengye, in Bukinda, Kabale hearing about and seeing auntie Eleanor transform the lives of young men and women who were helpless and hopeless by giving them a chance to learn skills, go to school and become self-reliant,” he wrote.
He further described her as; “A very firm and no-nonsense woman. Seeing her, her children, and accomplishment gave us (village kids at the time) rays of hope, almost by osmosis, that we too could make it someday.” Adding that he had personally experienced her generosity when she agreed to host the launch of his book Once upon a time, The Story of Keeping Hope Alive in 2014 at a huge discount.
“In addition, she offered to display and sell the book for me from the restaurant. For our community of people from Ryabirengye, Bukinda residing in Kampala, Aunt Kembabazi freely opened and offered her place as the venue for all our meetings,” he further wrote.
Several other testimonies of similar free hostings abound. Other groups which have benefitted from this generosity are the All Saints Cathedral Mother’s Union, “Bahara babeinika” – a group of bakiga ladies of the Beinika clan, among others.
Kembabazi started feeling unwell two weeks ago and was admitted at UMC Victoria Hospital in Bukoto. “As a family, we agreed to transfer her to India for further medical management. She was treated and we decided to return home. She managed to walk onto the Emirates plane but unfortunately, her heart was weakened further by the journey back,” a family member said.
Kembabazi, is survived by a husband and five children. Burial arrangements are being finalised and will be announced later.