24 March 2017

Uganda: How Kaweesi Death United Foes, Turned Village Into Frenzy

Photo: Daily Monitor
The late Andrew Kaweesi (file photo).
analysis

In the wake of the assassination of Andrew Felix Kaweesi, political nemeses put their differences aside and united in mourning for the fallen police spokesman. SADAB KITATTA KAAYA captured some of the behind-the-scenes incidents.

During Monday mass at Lubaga cathedral, former prime minister Amama Mbabazi sat next to Justine Kasule Lumumba, his harsh critic and successor as NRM secretary general.

On arrival, Mbabazi had found all front row seats taken and as ushers struggled to find a vantage seat for him, Lumumba quickly signaled them to a seat next to hers.

Throughout mass, the two talked and seemed to share messages on their smart phones. Interviewed about the chit-chat after mass, Mbabazi told The Observer that despite his acrimonious ouster as NRM secretary general in December 2014, Lumumba remained his colleague.

"We are colleagues, we consult each other," he said.

Lumumba, however, declined to speak about the engagement.

"You people, we are mourning, we came here to mourn, don't bring in other things," she said.

The Lumumba-Mbabazi make-up was part of the broad show of togetherness exhibited by opposition and pro-government politicians during the five days of mourning.

From Kaweesi's residence in Kulambiro on Sunday, to Lubaga cathedral and to his ancestral village in Kitwekyanjovu, opposition politicians including Kampala lord mayor Erias Lukwago, FDC secretary general Nathan Nandala-Mafabi, MPs Muwanga Kivumbi, Medard Lubega Sseggona and Allan Ssewanyana, who took the harshest brunt of the deceased's anti-riot operations, praised him as a professional officer.

When he arrived at Kitwekyanjonvu, Mafabi sat in Kaweesi's expansive plantation until one usher picked him out and led him to one of the VIP tents.

KYAZANGA

A morning downpour created a muddy and slippery road to Kitwekyanjovu village in Kyazanga sub-county. Nonetheless, friends and relatives made their way to the remote village for the final sendoff of the slain assistant inspector general of police.

Several vehicles, including a counter terrorism truck, got stuck in the mud, causing heavy traffic jam on the narrow stretch. Members of a church choir from Kampala had difficulty walking half of the journey after their bus got stuck but school children from various schools around Kyazanga seemed to enjoy the day out.

They were eager to see some of Uganda's top politicians and the four helicopters, which landed in the village. By the time the bishop of Masaka diocese, John Baptist Kaggwa, arrived at 11:58am to lead the final funeral mass, many of the Lwengo locals had forgotten about mourning.

Many kept at the ground below Kaweesi's house where the helicopters were parked.

"I will live to remember this funeral for bringing some of my favourite musicians. I have had a chance to see King Saha, Bobi Wine, among others," a boda boda cyclist told this writer.

Besides the artistes, the cyclists also had a field day, ferrying mourners whose cars got stuck more than 2km away. Boda boda fares ranged between Shs 2,000 and Shs 4,000.

MASS

Owing to the heavy traffic on the road, Bishop Kaggwa arrived almost two hours late. This meant he couldn't wait for the choir from Kampala. In a tent on the left of the altar sat the widow Annette Nabwaami and her children. Apart from the 13-year-old daughter and the nine-year-old son, the youngest two orphans didn't seem to take in much of what was going on.

What got mourners teary was the sight of Kaweesi's three-year-old son playing during the requiem mass. About three female cops seated under different tents sobbed as different speakers sang praises for Kaweesi but many burst into wails when the police band played the funeral hymn 'Weeraba' and the casket rolled to the grave.

MUTABAAZI

There was plenty of food and some impatient mourners stormed the cooking area to get their share of the food. But George Mutabaazi, the Lwengo LC-V chairman, couldn't let them.

Known for beating his district's residents into doing community work or attending his meetings, Mutabaazi picked a stick from a heap of firewood to whip the impatient mourners.

He forced many to drop the food they had been given before he was restrained by policemen and some locals. By 4:30pm, when the casket was lowered into the grave, long queues had formed at all the serving points, leaving no chance for the VIP mourners to be served.

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