Dr Kiggundu: The passing on of a generous business icon

By Vision Reporter

The curtain fell on the illustrious life of Dr. Sulaiman Kiggundu on Friday June 20, in a South African Hospital after losing a two-year battle against intestinal cancer.

By Dr Edwadi Kayondo

The curtain fell on the illustrious life of Dr. Sulaiman Kiggundu on Friday June 20, in a South African Hospital after losing a two-year battle against intestinal cancer.

Sula, as he was popularly known, was born on March 1, 1947 to Bulaimu and Amina Kikabi in Ntolomwe Village, Gombe Sub-County, Butambala, in Mpigi District.

He showed an early aptitude for reading and writing and was sent to Gombe Umea Primary School at the age of five where he completed both primary and junior levels with excellent grades.

He joined Budo in 1961 and was a resident of Canada House. The last words his father told him as he boarded the bus to Budo were: “Always love your religion and the King’. Sula did this to the end of his life. He, with other Muslim students, formed the Young Men’s Muslim Association, a group which prided themselves in their religion, education and was confident of their future under the watchful gaze of Prince Badru Kakungulu the patron of Uganda Muslims. Sula’s activities came to the attention of Abu Mayanja, then a minister of Education in the Buganda Government.

Abu mentored Sula and their friendship was such that Sula adopted some of Abu’s mannerisms. Actually most people believed Sula and Abu were relatives.

Budo has always been sensitive to the political temperature at Mengo. So after the May 24 attack by the Uganda army on the Kabaka’s Palace the school went on strike. The monarchists, led by Kiggundu, were pitted against the Republicans who comprised mostly of students from northern Uganda with James Wapakhabulo leading the moderating group.

Sula studied economics at Makerere University, where he tried unsuccessfully to become guild president. He got a first class degree and was retained as a teaching assistant before going abroad for further studies. He obtained a Master of Science degree in Development economics from Strathclyde University in Glasgow, Scotland, a master of Arts in /mathematical economics from Purdue university, U.S.A and a PHD in economics from Boston university Massachusetts, U.S.A. He published several papers and worked as a consultant for the World Bank, Institute for Economic Development and the Overseas development Institute and was Awarded the International Award for academic excellence and leadership. He lectured at the University of Nairobi in the 1980s and joined the external wing of the National Resistance Movement (NRM).

When the NRM captured power in 1986 Sula’s brain and world class education landed him the pivotal job of the governor of Bank of Uganda from 1987-90. He presided over the 1987 currency exchange, promising that the new currency would be as strong and scarce as the American dollar. He introduced worker-friendly reforms at the Central Bank.

He was sacked with the finance minister, Dr. Crispus Kiyonga, in 1990 over their differing economic outlook. Sula went ahead to start Greenland Bank, which expanded rapidly to become a multi-national bank with branches in Dar-es-Salaam, Nairobi and Zanzibar.

This rapid expansion caused management problems which made the bank go under in 1999 after losing colossal liquidity in the aborted purchase of Uganda Commercial Bank.

Sula was charged with causing financial loss to the bank, a trial which never ended, but he was jailed for six months in a civil jail for failure to repay a loan.

Sula’s generosity knew no bounds. He built the Kakungulu Memorial Laboratory at Budo, a computer laboratory at Kibuli Senior School, a library at Gombe Senior School and an extension of the library at Nkumba University.

Sula was awarded the prestigious order of merit of Kings College Budo, in 1995 and was chosen by the board to spearhead the school’s 90-year celebrations. He became the first chancellor of Nkumba University 1997 — 2001 and honourary consul of Indonesia in Uganda and was the national chairman of the Forum for Democratic Change. He is survived by two wives and six children. May Allah grant his soul peace.

The writer worked with Dr. Sulaiman Kiggundu in 1996

Dr Kiggundu: The passing on of a generous business icon