31 May 2017

Uganda: Ivan Ssemwanga Laid to Rest in a 'Stash of Cash'

Photo: The Observer
Hundreds of mourners descended on Kayunga to see off socialite Ivan Ssemwanga, who was buried.

When Ivan Ssemwanga died in South Africa last week, his friends promised that they would organise a glitzy funeral, in keeping with the flashy life the late socialite lived.

And indeed, before he was laid to rest at Nakalilo village, Kayunga district, Ssemwanga's friends, going by the moniker Rich Gang, threw stashes of cash into his grave. The Observer could not verify if it was genuine currency. However, their actions gave a different twist to the usual practice of throwing flowers or pieces of earth into a deceased's grave.

Like his life, Ssemwanga's death has been steeped in flamboyance and controversy. His friends gathered an array of fuel guzzlers to escort their friend to his final resting place. Ssemwanga was the president of the Rich Gang.

At the same time, there is a raging fight for his property between former wife Zari Hassan and his family. When the funeral started, speaker by speaker praised Ssemwanga for his kindness and good heart, at a ceremony which drew people from all walks of life.

Anita Rwanda'gaza, who lives in South Africa, said she had come to send off "a wonderful friend" who often helped her while she was studying in South Africa.

"When I was still at Wits university, every time he met me, he always gave me pocket money," she said.

Zari, the ex-wife to Ssemwanga, was seen weeping silently throughout the function, as her three sons took turns to console her. During the burial, Ssemwanga's children read a message saying, among other things, that they believe without him, their lives will never be the same.

"We think of the good old days when we were still so little; consumed in your love, and in your smile," they said. "Those days are gone and no matter what we do, life will never be the same. Dad, if only we could turn back the hands of time and hear your voice once more, but God called you to a better place, so peaceful and free of pain. And when we see you sleeping, we can only wish the best for you."

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