Death is an inevitable journey awaiting each one of us on this earth. But unlike other normal occurrences life presents to us, death is a dreaded experience that comes with fresh shock and pain whenever it occurs.
Such pain was commonplace this year, especially since it was largely an extension of massive deaths that had happened in 2020. Here are some of the notable Ugandans which the ugly talons of death clawed away from us in 2021:
Maj. Gen. Peter LOKECH
General consensus is that this amiable soldier was among Uganda’s most likable security men in a country where the officers and men of the forces are increasingly losing touch with the wananchi due to increased brutality of the police and lately the army. Christened the Lion of Mogadishu, Lokech, 55 at the time of death on August 21, was a battle-hardened General whose exploits in Somalia with the AMISOM Mission helped to pacify the entire great lakes region.
He was a selfless, devoted servant; which made him get deployed in the much loathed Uganda Police Force as Deputy IGP at a time government looked stuck on how to handle the pressure from Bobi Wine and his National Unity platform. During his short stint in the post, he made key achievements, the most prominent being the arrest of the attackers of Gen. Katumba Wamala who in the process of attempting to assassinate him killed his daughter, Brenda. Much was expected from this son of Uganda and Acholi, but a freak accident at his home in Kitikifumba, Kira Municipality Wakiso district cut the expectations short. From this accident, Lokech suffered a blood clot that moved to his heart, causing bilateral pulmonary embolism which killed him. He was posthumously promoted to Lt. Gen. in appreciation of his illustrious service to country.
Maj. Gen. Pecos Kutesa
A member of the NRA core liberators, this member of FRONASA was 65 years when he passed away on August 26 at a hospital in India where he had been rushed after getting complications related to the Covid-19 jab. His widow and friend revealed that the Covid vaccine triggered an autoimmune reaction that led to rejection of his liver which she had donated to him in 2009 to save his life. Pecos will be remembered for being a multi-skilled man who apart from his military work was a great author. He is among the few bush war generals who documented the NRM/A liberation war for other Ugandans to know. This, he did in his book titled ‘How I saw it’.
Metropolitan Yonah Lwanga
He was the leader of the Roman Orthodox religious sect in Uganda. He will however go down for his empathy for the oppressed as he is in the records as one of the fervent defenders of human rights in the country. In 2020 and towards his death that occurred on September 5 in a Greek hospital in Athens, Lwanga openly and strongly criticized the NRM government for veering off the pro-people agenda that it pledged to Ugandans. He particularly spoke against the increasing torture and imprisonment of critics, warning NRM to change. He succumbed to cancer.
Archbishop Cyprian Kizito Lwanga
He is the famous fearless and heavily ‘political’ head of Kampala archdiocese. Like his namesake Lwanga, Cyprian openly found himself at loggerheads with the government after he took every opportunity to fault government for abusing the rights of Ugandans. It is no wonder that his death on April 3 raised eyebrows, with rumors that he was killed by state agents going rife. This was also because his death was abrupt, occurring about a day after he had just led faithful in a procession of the way of the cross. Lwanga was 68 by the time he was found dead in his house and a postmortem revealed he had succumbed to heart disease.
Bishop John Baptist Kaggwa
The retired Bishop of Masaka Diocese, the most Reverend Kaggwa went down as a poison-tongued cleric whenever he commented on any issue to do with abuse of human rights. So direct were his attacks at rights violators that he openly attracted the wrath of the state machinery that saw him as a divisive figure by the time of his death. In this regard, two landmark events stand out; the first being when he was tear gassed when leading prayers for Mbogo clan members on October 17. Apparently, the security operatives suspected that the same function would be attended by NUP boss Bobi Wine. The second incident perhaps is his quote thus: “Even if you kill me now, I’ve told you”, which he made while calling on government to stop killing and torturing Bobi Wine supporters. He was 77 when he died of covid-19 related complications at Mulago Hospital on January 20, 2021.
Pastor Tom Kula
Hitherto unknown Kula came to prominence when his then pastor, Imelda Namutebi, admired and went ahead to snatch him from his wife. The incident culminated into a mother of sex scandals as Kula’s wife fought to cling onto him. However, Namutebi would compensate her with hefty sums of money and even offered to fully take care of the couple’s children. Kula thereafter became Namutebi’s official husband and even rose to the level of pastor at Liberty worship centre in Lugala. He was, however, a noble man of God who led a low profile until he died on June 17 of what Namutebi described as a short illness. This however happened in the thick of the deadly covid-19 second wave.
Pastor Stephen Senfuma
He was the lead pastor at Uganda Christian Centre (UCC) Church in Makerere-Kikoni who was famed for his deep spiritual gospel. He was popular for his Innerman spiritual nourishment gospel, which gave birth to several projects including Innerman broadcasting services and several Innerman charity projects benefitting less privileged groups such as orphans and women. Like any other mortal being, Senfuma was blighted by a family feud he was embroiled in with his new wife after he lost his first wife to a strange illness. He however remained very popular among his followers and beneficiaries, which is why he left them in deep pain when he succumbed to Covid-19 complications in the wee hours of June 26 at Nakasero Hospital.
A man of many talents, Awori was among the few men Uganda was blessed to have. At the height of his powers, Awori established himself as a brave, intelligent, patriotic and suave politician who even aimed for the highest political office in the land in 2001. His political star, however, shone brightest when he established himself as one of the most eloquent legislators while representing Samia-Bugwe County in parliament. Awori was also a famed athlete (who even represented Uganda in the Olympics), diplomat, administrator— but he rested with all these talents on July 5, 2021, the day he passed on at a private hospital in Naalya. He is now eternally resting in a grave he personally dug for himself at Buwuni Town Council in Bugiri district, ten years before his death. He died of COvid-19 at the ripe age of 82.
Bulaimu Muwanga Kibirige aka BMK
On September 10, 2021, city tycoon BMK breathed his last at a hospital in Nairobi, Kenya. His demise at just 67 years dealt a huge blow to the country as it meant the loss of a man with exceptional entrepreneurial talents. From scratch, BMK is said to have built the Hotel Africana Hotel brand and grew it beyond Uganda. He was also a pioneer of sorts, with him being credited for introducing the now popular and extremely essential bodaboda business in Uganda. He was laid to rest at a cemetery in Nkoowe; cementing his modesty. He was also a popular philanthropist who help mentor and support a big chunk of our modern Kampala tycoons.
Regina Mukiibi Mugongo
The ex-banker died aged 67, on June 29. A very humble woman, Mukiibi pioneered the funeral services business in Uganda when she teamed with her late brother in 1994 to found Uganda Funeral Services Limited. She brought the hitherto seemingly weird business to Uganda after completing her training in funeral services & embalming in London, UK. Because of her innovation, we have a proliferation of funeral services companies and as such thousands of Ugandans feeding off her bold move. She succumbed to Covid-19 at Entebbe airport while being evacuated for further treatment abroad.
Hajji Musa Ssenyondo aka Kasasiro
Another pioneer in his own right, Hajji Ssenyondo opened Ugandans to the reality that there’s gold in garbage when he founded garbage collecting company Nabugabo Updeal Ventures. The company went on to rake in billions from city garbage, which made it grow exponentially, while also making Ssenyondo a billionaire. This fame got him many detractors, many of whom were city mafia intent on edging him out of business and taking over his tenders. This explains while upon his death on June 6, speculation was rife that he had just been bumped off. The Kasasiro mogul died while being rushed to Rubaga Hospital over suspected Covid-19. However, tests later revealed he was Covid-free and cause of death shifted to suspected heart failure.
Hajji Musa Katongole UTODA
He is another name who was known more by his business name. Hajji Katongole died on March 30, 2021 at TMR Hospital in Naalya, of Covid-19. An astute entrepreneur, Katongole was famous for his Uganda taxi operators & drivers association (UTODA) which he founded and headed for decades until the government sabotaged him when it took over management of KCCA through the executive director. A lover of life, Katongole was popular on Kampala’s social and sports scene as he was in business. He also ran a football team, UTODA FC which played in the super league. In the latter years of his life, however, he got troubled by disease, which saw him get a heart operation in India. In about the late 90’s Katongole also underwent liposuction to reduce his over bulging potbelly. He had two city homes and another in Kitwe, Bugerere where he had a very large dairy farm.
Hajji Haruna Ssemakula aka General Parts
In the 1990’s this businessman ran a very successful motor spare parts business which grew so large that it became a household name in the country. Sadly, Ssemakula died on June 27 as a low profile man who had lost most of what made him a force to reckon with. He will however be forever remembered for his signature one arm (following a motor accident) that made him cruise cars with one hand. He was also known as the very generous trader who took customer care to unprecedented heights. This was after he ensured that every customer who visited his business got a bottle of soda. Sadly, even idlers consumed this soda when they learnt of this offer and began masquerading and simply window-shopping as genuine customers.
Tom Kaaya Kigoonya Kaki investments
He was a youthful businessman who revolutionized the taxi transport business by doing it on an extremely large scale. At one time, he had over 200 taxis playing the different routes of the country. He was also known to love life and the highlight of this trait was when during one of his happening moments in 2016, he gave a Range Rover sport car, UAY 667T to musician Eddy Kenzo. Sadly, Tom who represented the young money in the Kampala tycoon club succumbed to Covid-19 complications on August 9 at TMR Hospital in Naalya.
Kayondo’s death on June 23 at Lifeline International Hospital in Zana shocked many, especially in the business fraternity because it happened so suddenly. Kayondo was famous as the long serving chairman of Kampala City Traders Association (KACITA). Through it, he did activism for traders’ rights but also had huge investments in the tourism sector where he was chairman of Uganda tour operators.
For over ten years, Gideon’s name was synonymous with the Private Sector Foundation Uganda (PSFU) which he served as chairman. He however, had served at NEMA and UMA. He succumbed to Covid-19 aged just 54 on Monday June 21 at Mulago hospital. His plight however raised more awareness about the financial and emotional burden of the ugly pandemic as he was ailing at the same time with his wife. He was buried at Muyira, Namable Sub County in Iganga district.
HAJATI AISHA NAKASUJJA
She was a famed herbalist and proprietor of Aloesha Organic. She died on Friday July 2 from Covid complications and was buried at Katubwe in Wakiso district.
Obey’s death on July 2 epitomized all that which can go wrong when one puts the love of money before anything else. This is because Obey, hitherto a wealthy principal accountant with the Ministry of Public Service, died a lonely dejected inmate at Luzira Prison. Incidentally, his death largely passed as retribution for those people whose decent pensioner’s lifestyle he had robbed by taking part in the infamous ghost pension scam which ultimately got him jailed together with Jimmy Lwamafa, and Oloka Japians and later controversial lawyer Bob Kasango who also died in prison. A prisons statement revealed that he died of pneumonia from Mulago Hospital where he had been referred from Luzira’s Murchison Bay Hospital.
A brilliant and generous lawyer, Kasango diluted the good qualities he stood for with an untamable love for money which saw him run into one scandal after another. After establishing a name as a celebrity city lawyer, Kasango soon found himself mired in controversies including the pension scam and later one where the Toro queen mother accused him of fleecing her shs4bn. He was jailed for such controversies and unfortunately died on Feb 27 at Luzira prison. His death was attributed to heart disease, pneumonia and blood clots. He is however also remembered for having been locked in scandal when his relatives and wife fought over his proper burial ground. It took court intervention for the man hitherto known as a Musoga but later turned out to be a Jap, ended up getting buried by his wife at his in-laws’ place in Tooro.
Prof. Anthony Mbonye
The former Director General of Health Services at the ministry of health was husband to former State House Comptroller Lucy Nakyobe. He died on July 26 after a long battle with cancer. He will however be famed for his bitter split with Ministry of Health PS Diana Atwine, Minister Ruth Aceng and Christine Ondoa, to whose sabotage and malice he attributed his unceremonious resignation after 30 years of dedicated service. To leave his frustration on record, he even authored a book detailing the three ladies’ scandalous moves at MoH.
A distinguished journalist in his own right, Basiime had made a name as a multi-tasking scribe. While he excelled at environmental journalism, he was equally good at agricultural reporting, winning an award from the National Agricultural Research Organisation (NARO). His life was however cut short by the cpovid-19 pandemic when it struck monitor publications and claimed three of its journalists including Basiime on June 18. At the time of his demise from Mbarara Referral Hospital, Basiime was only 58 and a father of 4. He was buried at his home in Kakoba, Mbarara district.
The senior journalist was formerly President of Uganda journalists association and worked with national broadcaster, UBC. The journalism fraternity lost him to thugs that trailed and shot him dead at his brother’s home in Bugembegembe on the night of April 29 as he returned from his late brother’s burial.
SPECIAL MENTIONS: these Ugandans never died in 2021 but died towards the year, with their deaths being much publicized and hurting the counyrty in various ways: Zebra Senyange (shit dead by security men on December 30, 2020 over links with NUP/People Power), Kirunda Kivejinja (died December 19, 2020), Sheikh Nuhu Muzata, Watongola, Anas Kallisa (November 2020), and Shaban Bantariza (October 2020).