From Gen Aronda to Archbishop Lwanga: Prominent Ugandans who have died "suddenly"


One scholar once described death as the "highest form of democracy" because we shall all participate in it.

Yet even when we live in the midst of death, it is one phenomenon that one can never get used to.

Over the years in Uganda, there has been a rise in cases of "sudden deaths" a trend many doctors attribute to lifestyle changes that have led to the proliferation of the so called non communicable diseases.

From media reports, the most common causes of "sudden death" appears to be heart attack or cardiac arrest.

A heart attack happens when blood flow to a part of the heart is slowed or stopped, usually because of plaque rupture in one of the coronary arteries. This causes death of the heart muscle.

Prominent Ugandans including politicians and religious leaders have been victims of heart attack. We look at a few prominent cases of Ugandans who have died suddenly, most times without the opportunity to be rushed to a health facility.


Archbishop Cyprian Kizito Lwanga

To say that the sudden death of Archbishop Cyprian Kizito Lwanga sent shock waves is an understatement. It caused an earth quake. Lwanga died on April 3, a day after he had participated in events related to the way of the cross. He was found lifeless at his residence.

Archbishop Cyprian Lwanga

Not surprisingly, his death led to a lot of questions which were put to rest by a post mortem report which revealed that he had died of a heart attack as a result of a blood clot in the blood vessels.

Gen Aronda Nyakairima

The death of then then Uganda's minister for Internal Affairs on September 12, 2015 was a real shocker. The former CDF died aboard a flight from South Korea to Uganda. It is suspected that he died of cardiac arrest.

During his short time as minister, Aronda had turned around the immigration department and citizens were starting to receive their passports in record time. He also delivered his signature project, the national identity card, which had eluded the country since independence.

Med Kaggwa

Med Kaggwa, the chairperson of Uganda Human Rights Commission died on November 20, 2019. Kaggwa collapsed in his car, moments after leaving his home in Mulago, on the outskirts of Kampala.

Med Kaggwa

He was rushed to Case clinic, where he was pronounced dead on arrival. His death, too, shocked the nation because it was sudden.

Dr Anas Kalisa

Dr Anas Kaliisa, a prominent Islamic Scholar and Lecturer died on November 5, 2020. His death was sudden

According to family members, on that fateful day, Kaliisa left office and returned home to have a rest as was his routine. Hours later, he collapsed and died. He had never complained of any illness.

Charles Muhangi

Muhangi, a businessman and rally ace died suddenly on December 6, 2018.

Muhangi’s lifeless body was reportedly found lying in his bed by his child around 7:30am.

It was reported that Muhangi retired to bed at 1am after holding meetings with unnamed people at his home in Buziga. Family members said he was diabetic.

Charles Muhangi

At the time of his death, Muhangi was embroiled in a wrangle with businessman, Drake Lubega over the ownership of Qualicel Bus Terminal in Kampala.

Dr Stephen Mallinga

The former minister of Health died on April 11, 2013 at his country home in Butebo, Pallisa district. Mallinga, according to a daughter-in-law, collapsed and died after having supper. He had not complained of any ill health at the time he collapsed and died.

Ambassador Najuna Njuneki

Like Gen Aronda, Ambassador Najuna Njuneki collapsed and died aboard a plane to Johannesburg, South Africa on September 4, 2016.

Njuneki was reportedly returning from a meeting in Stockholm, Sweden, with Ugandans living in Nordic countries.


“He got up from his seat, but before he could disembark, he collapsed and before they could take him to a health facility within the airport, he died,” Foreign Affairs minister Sam Kutesa said then.

Njuneki was the ambassador for Special Duties at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs headquarters in Kampala.

He was in-charge of the Diaspora community and coordinated the Ugandan aspect of the regional Northern Corridor Infrastructure projects.

Stanislaus Okurut

Okurut, husband to minister Mary Karooro Okurut, died at his home in Ntinda on April 5, 2014.

He was a a veteran politician who served as the Minister of Sports, Minister of Labour and the Minister of Transport in the early days of the NRM.

Reports indicated that Okurut died from a heart attack, a week after undergoing minor surgery.

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