KAMPALA. The family of Lawrence Mukiibi Ssemakula, the fallen educationist, whose story has dominated local tabloids and social media in the last few days, has asked to be allowed to grieve as some women withdraw children they had earlier claimed were his orphans.
Ms Maria Justine Tulina, the daughter of the renown educationist, who was flanked by two brothers and another man only identified as Charles Bwogi, told Sunday Monitor at St Lawrence Horizon Campus on Friday, that they are focused on upholding their father’s legacy.
Ms Tulina’s brothers Peter Richard Ssemakula is the operation manager at St Lawrence University, while Peter Kimuli Ssemakula is the director St Lawrence Schools.
“As children, we are focused on his legacy of taking forward the institutions. Whatever is going on in the media will not move us,” Ms Tulina said.
She also said they would keep their father’s legacy of looking after the needy to whom their father was a guardian.
Asked about the number of biological children the late Mukiibi had left behind, Ms Tulina said their Ssenga (aunt, Ms Regina Ssemakula), has only identified 24 orphans and seven widows.
“In Buganda, every child that is born is introduced to the Ssenga. The good thing we have already had an interface with our Ssenga [Ssemakula]. She has already mentioned the number of children and number of wives. There are 24 children; she told me.
They [children] are from seven women,” Ms Tulina said.
“We already know them; they were introduced to us and we already know them. You don’t quote secondary sources. The good thing you have it from good sources. It’s the Ssenga I want you to hear from,” Ms Tulina said, adding that Ssenga Ssemakula has the details on their late father’s children.
“When Ssenga started registering them, the numbers we had received earlier reduced drastically. Some women took off. Our next step is DNA test,” Ms Tulina said.
In an interview, Ms Ssemakula, who is Prof Mukiibi’s sister, said all the children are welcome and no one will be denied an opportunity of paternity.
“We cannot deny any child who comes up. If anyone says this is Mukiibi’s child, they are welcome but since the burial, I have not received any more child. We had a week of mourning and all the children came so we don’t expect any more unless they are coming from abroad,” Ms Ssemakula says.
She added that with a valid explanation, anybody who comes up will be admitted into the Mukiibi family.
“The children at the burial were 26, but two have since been withdrawn by their mothers due to reasons best known to them. The number of children has since remained at a constant of 24 children. I know all the children that my brother has left behind and they are from seven mothers, who are all adults, not girls,” she said.
Ms Ssemakula said after grieving, the family will sit down to decide on whether they should subject the younger orphans to a DNA test as earlier requested by Mr Gregory Mutyaba, also brother of the fallen professor.
“We are still grieving, although the media has torn us apart but if need be, after mourning, we shall see whether we do DNA or not ,” she said.
The family also blasted Ethics minister Simon Lokodo on his remarks about the late Mukiibi’s legacy.
A local news daily quoted Fr Simon Lokodo last week as saying: “It was regrettable that a man like Prof Lawrence Mukiibi, who was regarded with high esteem but lost it to the dogs at the last hour. He had done well but the matter of turning students into wives is destructive and unacceptable.”
“Fr Simon Lokodo is entitled to his opinion. None of us has spoken to Fr Lokodo. We have not seen any breastfeeding woman coming up or claiming to carry Prof Mukiibi’s pregnancy,” Mr Peter Kimuli Ssemakula, one of the sons of the late professor, said.
“We have not met any police officer. There was no issue that would lead us to invite the police. That has not happened and we don’t see that option because we have not disagreed,” he adds.
Ms Tulina also recounted how her late father was a hardworking man who disciplined his children and students plus building teamwork among the teachers.
“To us children, he was a mentor, he was a disciplinarian, hard work was a key and he did not tolerate any lazy child and he was prayerful because all us were raised in the Catholic Church,” she narrates.
She said after the late Mukiibi was involved in an accident before he died, he thanked all his children for taking a quick decision to fly him to Nairobi for specialised treatment.