The Nile Post has recently reported that “KCCA is to erect bigger statue in memory of Benedicto Kiwanuka, (23rd September 2021). I will return to this in a moment, but first, let me call my usual expert witness, William Shakespeare to give his testimony.
“Tis in my memory lock’d, and you yourself shall keep the key of it”, he wrote in the tragedy of ‘Hamlet’.
Shakespeare also wrote in King Henry, “When I imagine the lawless days and rotten times that you will face when I am dead and sleeping with my ancestors, the blood weeps from my heart”.
You could be forgiven for thinking the pre-eminent British poet and dramatist was back on stage, acting as former President Milton Obote and addressing a joint audience of the Oyima clan and UPC members.
Sixteen years ago on 25th October 2005, Obote was buried at Abeibuti (meaning, stranger, come and sleep) village in Akokoro sub country, Maruzi.
His grave is simple that it will soon be washed into oblivion, along with the memory of the man Lands Minister Sam Mayanja has tacitly acknowledged as founder of the Republic of Uganda.
Instead of preserving that memory, those otherwise invisible figures who had been illuminated by Obote’s bright light, namely, his own family, the wider Oyima clan and UPC as a party, are at each other’s throat, legally.
For example, as a member of the Oyima clan, I have learnt with a palpable pain and embarrassment that Obote’s immediate family members have been to court, fighting over his small house in Naguru and his undeveloped 700-acre land in Akokoro sub-county.
With an equal pain, I have also learnt that top UPC members are going in and out of court, ostensibly fighting over the leadership of the party. In reality, they are fighting for control of the Obote Foundation, the company that owns the lucrative multi-storied Uganda House in central Kampala.
For the uninitiated, Uganda House is the crown in the UPC jewel, making billions in rent receipts from office accommodation, residential flats and a private parking lot taking hundreds of vehicles a day.
Obote, a former English literature student and Makerere University, must be crying in his grave, ‘Et Tu (even you) my family and UPC members’?
Prophetically, in 1949, he had similarly cried, on stage when, as Julius Caesar, his best friend Marcus Brutus had inflicted “the most unkindest cut of all”; hence “Et Tu Brute”? Andrew Fredrick Mpanga, the late farther to city lawyer David Mpanga was Cassius
It is not too late for the Obote family, clan and UPC leaders to atone for their sins against the former president by contracting a Memorial Garden and Library in his name. There is everything needed, except imagination and the will, to turn this proposal into reality.
The former president left behind substantial land, a small piece of which must be used to contract his Memorial Garden and Library. Some money from the Uganda House, his brainchild, must also be used to fund the construction.
And there are plenty of precious historical materials about his life, now gathering dust in Uganda and across the world. These must be gathered and stocked in the library, digitally or in hard copies.
It is not for glory, nor riches, nor honours but for the preservation of our history that we must construct ‘The Obote Memorial and Library’.
That is why the DP have recently erected a statue in memory of their founder president, Benedicto Kiwanuka.
That is also why Ghanaians have constructed the Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Park and Mausoleum outside Accra. It is the final resting place of their first President and Africanist. His wife, the Egyptian-born Fathia Nkrumah is also laid to rest there.
Crucially, the Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Park and Mausoleum host rare artefacts relating to Ghana’s independence and tours at the park give visitors in-depth history of the struggle for independence.
I strongly believe that President will welcome and support ‘The Obote Memorial and Library’ because he has shown that his disagreement with the father of the republic was not personal, but political.
That was why he allowed his best friend Amama Mbabzi to be arrested during the 2016 campaigns, pointing out that ‘there are no sentiments in politics.’
Any country that does not preserve its history, good or bad, is doing a serious disservice to posterity.
Should Obote say anymore, through his hero, William Shakespeare?
“Tis in my memory lock’d, and you yourself shall keep the key of it”.
Is anyone in Oyima clan, UPC party, Uganda government and the general public listening to this?
Author: Sam Akaki-Ayumu