“Distinguished guests present, DP president general, Government Chief Whip, ministers, family, Members of Parliament, and all mourners present, in Ankole this is what we call ekyoosi. Ekyoosi are the four days we spend in mourning when someone dies. I have come here in the name of NRM and in the name of the government of Uganda to condole with you over the death of Mzee Ssebaana Kizito.
I first got to know of Mzee Ssebaana Kizito when he was in East African Legislative Assembly at the time we were fighting against Idi Amin. He used to come to Tanzania to attend EALA sessions in Arusha. I met him through Tanzanians; there was one Tanzanian who was a member of EALA because one of them was my former classmate. From then I got to understand that in Uganda there was a leader called Ssebaana Kizito.
When we returned after toppling Idi Amin, I started seeing him with other DP leaders. That DP you are talking about (murmurs, laughter), I am the one who knows it best (laughter, clapping) and my witness is here, Dr Paul Kawanga Ssemogerere.
In 1966, I came from Mbarara and came to DP offices which were located just below Kampala Road, on the right side; I don’t remember what they were calling the street.
I came and called him together, with Humphrey Luande and I invited them to Mbarara to talk to students of Ntare School who I was leading then, because I was a DP member from 1960 to 1970. But when I observed the developments, I decided to seek sanctuary elsewhere; and you can see the fruits of my decision to try from elsewhere (cheers, clapping). Therefore, I understand DP issues better than these (DP president Norbert) Maos (cheers). Those ones have just come.
So when we toppled Amin, I tried to coordinate DP and my fellow bushmen because Mao has talked about us the bushmen. I tried and failed. I then went the other side and you can see what came out of it. But the main point I came is not politics. I have come here to mourn the passing of an important person we have lost. Therefore, I don’t want to digress into the things we have been through all these years.
I have observed several things about Mzee Ssebaana Kizito. The first one, and the rare one in Uganda, is entrepreneurship. That is rare; very rare indeed. Talkers, eaters; we have so many of those. Rumour mongers, liars, those are many. But entrepreneurs are very rare. That is why I appreciate Mzee Ssebaana Kizito indeed. But the bad thing is that he stayed on the other side (of the political divide). We didn’t get to work together.
We would have done much more. Now I hear the companies he owns, the properties he owns, and I have read in the papers that he has no bank loan. That has been written in the papers. That shows that he is a serious businessman. Because the problem we have in Africa is that we have very few businessmen who have discipline and know how to live on a tight budget.
And for me I know something about living on a tight budget; because going to the bush with 27 soldiers and you defeat 60,000 soldiers, that shows that you know something about living on a tight budget, using little to yield a lot. The Banyankore call it okutunguura, I don’t know how it is called in Luganda. So that is one qualification that this Mzee had.
These members of Kwagalana (group of prominent businessmen); I don’t know their number, may be they are 40. But if you measure in kilogrammes, how do you rate compared to this late Mzee (cheers, laughter)? Because the country called America, which you admire very much, the people who developed it most were religious people; those they called Puritans.
It was because of their discipline, their self-control; they did not drink alcohol, etc. They were able to build America. So whenever you see businesspeople like this one, I didn’t know him a lot, but it seems he had discipline. So the rest of you, especially the youth, should learn from this late Mzee.
Economists tell us that the basic factors of production are natural resources, labour, capital and entrepreneurship. If you lack any of those, a country cannot develop. This one was an entrepreneur.
The second one, and I pointed it out to him when he was with his wife; is his wife here? Because one day he surprised me; one day he came with his wife to Nakasero (State House) to see my late father Amos Kaguta. He was there in Nakasero; he has also since died.
They just passed by me when they had finished seeing him. I asked him how he got to know my father. He told me he had met with my father when I was in bush; they started their friendship and left me out of it (laughter). And I am sad that his wife is not here because she would bear me witness on this one because I saw them and got surprised. So whatever others have said that he had a unique way he dealt with people of all types is true.
The third and last thing I saw about him, when we came from the bush, these old people helped me; Dr Ssemogerere and many other DP people because I came bearing the burden of government and I asked them to help me with it. And I would like to thank them because he was also one of them; he was a minister for a number of years although later they left me on my own but I said, alright, there is a God! But they had at least contributed to the job of stabilising the country.
So I have also come here to pay tribute to the good works the late did when he lived.
I didn’t know that he was our fellow Luweero resident. Because, there in Luwero, not many had gone far in formal education. So he was a pioneer in education, because they say he went to Makerere in 1955. At that time I was in Primary Three! So you see that he has done a lot because going to school is also an important contribution and the people who went to school first helped us a lot.
So I have come here to express my condolences; but to also bear testimony to the outstanding work done by the late (Ssebaana), and what Mao talked about, the question of non-confliction politics.
Because when we came out of the 2006 elections, I invited my former opponents to State House Nakasero, Mzee (Ssebaana) came, Mrs Obote came, but one of those I had been competing with refused to come.
Those of us who had come shared a meal, we discussed and went forward. Those who refused to come did not stop us from going forward. So that is also a good sign, because what will develop this country is peace, infrastructural development, human resource development and wealth creation.
All that cannot happen when you have instability in the country. If you see the countries neighbouring us that have conflict; they cannot experience transformation.
Therefore, those leaders who are keen on confrontational politics and don’t use good language; they will delay the transformation of our country.
So I have just come here to pay my tribute to his contribution and to bear witness to the good work he did. May his soul rest in eternal peace!
Can I see the children?”