My Fond Memories of Mzee Yowasi Rwamango Makaru
By Dr. Elioda Tumwesigye
When I received the sad news of the passing on of our Mzee Yowasi Makaru, I immediately wrote a short condolence message to the family through my long-time friend Bernard Makaru. I thought I didnt have to write a public message. However a tribute to Mzee Makaru written by Chris Mugasha and published in the New Vision of Wednesday 2nd February 2022 has provoked me to make a public comment.
The tribute rightly mentioned many good deeds by our Mzee but of all competitions Mzee has gone through since 1950s, the writer only chose to highlight the unfortunate incident in 2010 when I stood with Mzee Makaru for the position of District NRM Chairperson for the newly created Sheema District.
I dont know why the writer had to include such in his tribute but he may be like some others who have since 2010 been capitalising on this contest to opportunistically perpetuate or time and again seek to ignite conflict or put me on collision course with not only Mzee Makaru but also some of his family members.
This is regrettable but allow me to inform everybody especially reasonable men and women that that contest was now no longer an issue between Mzee Makaru and myself to the best of my knowledge.
It is worth noting the reason I contested with him was due to credible information I had gathered to the effect that if he became the District NRM Chairperson then, he was going to ensure that I loose my seat as MP Sheema North in the 2011 elections and be replaced with someone from a “recognized family or appropriate sub-county from where leaders ought to come from”! I thought that was detrimental to our area especially given the various infrastructural development programs that we had just began. I thus (for survival and for fulfilling the vision I had for the transformation of our area” had to insist and stand for that position and fortunately Mzee stood down. We did not go on to cast votes. I regret that I hurriedly made that decision to contest with him as it showed me in bad light and created for me a number of “enemies”. By hindsight, may be I could have consulted more and a better solution found than outright contest with my Mzee.
However such hurried actions and political contradictions were not unique to me. A story is told of when Mzee Makaru having served with deligently in the Ankole Legislature, he wanted to become a Member of the National Parliament and chose to stand against Hon C.B Katiti for I think Ankole Central Constituency which included among others sub counties like Kagango, Kyeizooba, Shuuku etc.,
It appears last minute changes to electoral rules and regulations to unfairly disadvantage some candidates had already began and thus just before election day in 1970, a decision was announced that those working for Government could not contest and yet apparently Mzee Makaru was working in Government as well. He was thus disqualified from standing as an MP. His team also hurriedly conscripted Engineer Bwakumanya to stand against Hon C.B Katiiti. Well all this never yielded anything useful as Idi Amin overthrew the Government in 1971 before the general elections.
The second point is that may be friends should not contest with each other because such contests not only risk loss of friendship but also leave common friends and supporters of candidates confused and more often than not bitterly divided. Recently in 2018, I stood with Madam Virginia Mugyenyi, the wife of my long time friend and OB (Dr Posiano Mugyenyi) of more than 11 years (6 years at Ntare School and 5 years at Makerere Medical School) plus internship.
Furthermore recently in 2020/21 another family friend Dickson Kateshumbwa stood against me ( My wife worked at URA for 27 years before retiring in Oct 2020 and for the last decade worked with Dickson in the same department while coincidentally Dickson’s brother Mr. John Kateshumbwa was head of my Constituency Task Force and actually chaired my campaign team in 2016)!! In both these 2018 and 2020/21 elections, Mzee Makaru and I had differences in political opinion but I wish to emphasize that we never became personal enemies as possibly Chris, the New Vision writer and some others like him may want the public to believe.
Mzee and I have had our fond moments. After the above-mentioned 2010 NRM Party Structural elections, we went through a successful mediation exercise Coordinated by Bernard Makaru and Christopher Mugumya (common relative to both parties and working with Bushenyi Medical Centre) both of whom I will forever / eternally grateful for their efforts. Following this mediation, we restored our friendship. Actually 21st June 2016, goes down in history as one of my most important and memorable days of glory and happiness when I was sworn in at State House Entebbe as the First-ever Full (Cabinet) Minister of the Stand-alone Ministry Science, Technology and Innovation in the Republic of Uganda since Adam and Eve were created. On this very auspicious occasion, besides my wife and children, it was Mzee Makaru who accompanied me and we were received and congratulated by our Great Leader, Gen (Rtd) Yoweri Kaguta Museveni as the photo attached herewith shows. In addition, for many years after 2010, he has been willingly and on his own volition coming to my health facility in Kabwohe to receive musculoskeletal care and my foundation has been paying a dedicated technician to take care of him at the health facility and where necessary at his home.
This went on even after the recent and above-mentioned elections in which we had divergent political opinion. What we should learn from Mzee Makaru is that Political competitions should never make people erstwhile enemies.
Like Mzee Makaru, I also committed my life to Jesus Christ, our Savior and I can say without fear of any contradiction that although I may not stand shoulder to shoulder right now with him, I am certainly standing soul to soul with him as a believer.
Lastly a lot has been written as to what we thank and remember Mzee Makaru for but allow me to list or emphasize a few more deeds in which I have personally worked with him.
In 1998, when I returned from my Masters training in U.S.A, Bishop William Magambo asked me to operate the Church owned health facility at Katungu named Bushenyi Medical Centre. We started a unique health pre-payment /micro-health insurance plan called School Health Made Easy Scheme and when I introduced it to Mzee Makaru as the Greater Bushenyi District Chairman, he wholeheartedly accepted this innovation in healthcare especially focusing on schools, the first such a scheme in the country and got it endorsed by the District Council. Furthermore he welcomed and supported an indigenous NGO I founded called ICOBI to implement a World Bank funded Nutrition project (1999-2002) in the sub counties of Rwengwe Buhweju, Kyangyenyi Sheema, Kanyabwanga Ruhinda, Ryeru Bunyaruguru, and Bumbaire Igara. This foundation offered a strong springboard for ICOBI to grow and operate countrywide, providing employment to hundreds of Ugandans, generating wealth and contributing to PAYE revenue for the country while at the same time providing quality services.
In 2001, when Sir Richard Kaijuka got a job at the World Bank, he offered me an opportunity to stand as MP to succeed him. Given my humble family background, I only had managed to buy a Toyota Camry car and so when I briefed Mzee Makaru, he gladly offered his open roof station wagon which I think was a Toyota Surf. His son Alex drove me in that car. This is why however bitter the political differences I may have with Bernard, Alex, Komu and other members of the family, I will forever treat them as my brothers and sisters.
In 2002, I was selected by West Ankole Diocese to serve on the Steering Committee for the establishment of a University. From that time I have witnessed the unparalleled support of the University Project by Mzee Makaru and his family. This is extremely crucial for our area. Universities stimulate tremendous local area socioeconomic transformation and human capital development For example 67% of employees in Baltimore city, USA do work related to two Universities- University of Maryland and John Hopkins University. In UK, Manchester City economy rotates around the ecosystem created by Universities that are now attracting many Chinese with their money. Locating Ankole Western University in Kabwohe was one of the most important transformational decisions ever made that can catalyze development of our area. When indications emerged of possible migration of the University away from Kabwohe, Mzee Makaru fought tooth and nail including going to court to save the Univeraity!! He led delegations to the Anglican Province headquarters Namirembe to meet the Archbishop, fought to keep the affiliation to Uganda Christian University (UCU), and as Senior Presidential Advisor played a leading role in getting us to meet overnight with H E The President in Fort Portal. I also cannot forget to thank Mzee Makaru for the good nurturing of his daughter: the U.S Based Madam Christine Makaru who mobilized support from her friends in USA to construct a resource centre at Ankole Western University. Whenever we have meetings in this building I always remember that spirit of Christine giving something back home. Mzee Makaru could have biased her to build something at their home but because of his interest in public good, he advised and worked for the location of this building at the University. It is our utmost responsibility to emulate Mzee Makaru and work day and night to grow this University into a Chartered University serving as a centre of excellence in learning and research.
Sheema getting a district status also could not have materialized without the fearless support and commitment of Mzee Makaru. Now the benefits accruing out of this status are there for anybody to see. The 5 districts that occupy the same geographic space as the original Bushenyi district now receive much more resources than if they had stayed together. A case in point is the number of road units now in the same geographic area.
For all the above, your over 90 years on this, our shared planet were worthwhile. We thank God who brought you into this World, our Leader our Friend Yowasi Makaru. I pray to God to receive you and give you a well deserved place in heaven. It’s a matter of time that all of us now living as Biological Entities also emerge out and leave these biological elements here to transcend the sphere of energy and join you. BYE BYE YOWASI RWAMANGO MAKARU. REST IN PEACE