By Arthur Baguma
LIVING to see your 97th birthday is a blessing. But living to see over 200 of his grand and great- grand children was a double blessing for Mzee Nelson Nkalubo Ssebugwawo, who celebrated his 97th birthday recently.
Among his guests at his home in Nkumba, Wakiso district was his granddaughter, Nnabagereka Sylvia Nagginda, the wife of Kabaka Ronald Mutebi II.
The Queen described Ssebugwawo as a father, grandfather and teacher. â€œIâ€™m the second eldest grandchild in this family. I learnt from him good manners, trustworthiness, honesty, the fear of God and integrity,â€ she said.
On behalf of the royal family, Prince David Wasajja thanked Ssebugwawo for the precious gift he bestowed on Buganda, that of the Nnabagereka, and for his love for his kingdom.
These days, when people pass on, they are quickly forgotten because few people care to keep record of their lives and achievements. When they die, their story ends there.
Ssebugwawo, however, is different. His autobiography is already written. The 39-page book entitled My life, begins with a 21-year-old Ssebugwawo, who had just buried his father in 1933 and named his heir.
Highlights include his marriage to his first wife, Kasalina Namayaza, which was arranged by his uncle Nnyondo, who was a friend of the girlâ€™s father, Chief Matayo Lukiza. Ssebugwawo says he had seen the girl at Gayaza High school while he was a student in Budo and was impressed by her beautiful face and legs. He was not asked for dowry and he thinks he would not have afforded it because he had just completed school and had no money. They were wed in 1936 at Namirembe Cathedral and were blessed with 13 children.
In 1950, 14 years after his marriage to Kasalina, he married Princess Robinah Naluwaga, with whom he got 10 children. Naluwaga passed away in 2001 while Kasalina died in 2007 at the age of 88. Ssebugwawo testifies that God blessed him with a large family and the capacity to provide for them. He writes that all his life he was in a position to feed, shelter, educate and take care of all his children and, in many cases, his grandchildren.
At the birthday party, the retired Archbishop of the Church of Uganda, the Right Rev. Mpalanyi Nkoyoyo, said people should emulate Ssebugwawoâ€™s business acumen, whom he said was still maintaining his diary farm and piggery.
Ssebugwawo was born in 1912 in Nnalya, Kyadondo to Omutaka Saul Ssebugwawo Mudduagonda and Zabeti Nankya. He had nine siblings and two of his seven sisters, Catherine Kimbowa and Dorothy Nabankema, were married to Kabaka Chwa.
He studied at Nkumba day school, Mengo High school and Kingsâ€™ College Budo, before joining Namutamba Farm school top study agriculture.
He inherited his fatherâ€™s position of parish chief and was promoted to sub-country chief. In 1950, he was appointed a junior judge in the kingdom, before joining politics. Ssebugwawo served as a chief for several counties.
He played a significant role in the London conference and preparations for the election of the first Ugandan president.
His favourite car is a Benz which he drove until seven years ago.
Ssebugwawo donated the land on which Nkumba University and Nkumba primary school stand today. He was one of the delegates who represented Buganda in the drafting of the 1962 constitution and was also a finance minister in the Buganda Government.
In the 1970s, he opened up a night club and a restaurant in Entebbe.
His secret to a long life is staying away from alcohol. â€œI do not drink and have never drunk alcohol,â€ he stresses.