IBANDA – Homesteads cleared, village paths conveyed and the compound filled. Residents, relatives, friends, government and religious officials and people of diverse backgrounds from across the country on Monday converged at Kyaruhimbi village in Nyabuhikye, Ibanda district to bid the final farewell to former Ibanda South MP and Ambassador Deo Kajunzire Rwabiita.
The surging crowds confirmed Rwabiita was a legend.
Rwabiita served as Member of Parliament for 14 years, first as MP for Ibanda County and later Ibanda South when the county was split into South and North constituencies. He was later posted as Uganda’s ambassador to various European countries.
The requiem mass was conducted at his residence in Kyaruhimbi. It was led by Pastor Laban Jumba of Deliverance Church under the Pentecostal faith in Kansanga, Makindye in Kampala. He urged the faithful to always be prepared because death knocks any time.
Rwabiita was laid to rest at 4.00pm. Rwabiita who was a staunch Catholic since his childhood changed faith in 2012 to join the Deliverance Church and became a born-again Christian.
In his tribute, the Minister for Karamoja Affairs and current MP for Ibanda South, Eng. John Byabagambi praised Rwabiita for setting up many projects in education, health and creating Ibanda town council which is now a municipality when he was still a Member of Parliament.
Mr Byabagambi said because of Rwabiita’s outstanding contribution to Ibanda’s development, Ibanda municipal council under Mayor Deus Rogers Mulinde passed a resolution to name one of the streets Deo Rwabiita. The Rwabiita Street exists to-date.
Mr Byabagambi explained that Rwabiita was not accorded a state funeral by Parliament because of the 9th National Hero’s Day celebrations on Friday, which were preceded by the reading of the National Budget.
He said Parliament also had adjourned for recess. Mr Byabagambi promised the mourners that after the recess, he would table a motion in Parliament in honour of Rwabiita.
Speaker after speaker gave glowing tribute to Rwabiita as a father of Ibanda, author of several books and a man who supported education.
In her tribute, the widow Mrs Connie Rwabiita, said the couple led a good life during their 40-year marriage. She said she and her husband had retired and all their five children have completed education. She said her husband died at a time when they had just started enjoying the fruits of their marriage.
She thanked President Museveni whom she said promised that the government would meet Rwabiita’s medical bills including burial arrangements.
The widow told mourners that her husband had spent one year and six months at Kiruddu Hospital, an auxiliary of Mulago Hospital, battling diabetes and hypertension.
The Anglican Bishop of Ankole Diocese, Rt. Rev. Sheldon Mwesigwa reminded mourners that the Bible puts the life span of a person at 70 years, although some people clock 80. But the bishop said entering the 80-age bracket would be to invite immense suffering.