News and Views

Fare-thee-well James Mulwana

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Celebrated indigenous businessman James Mulwana was laid to rest in his Masiriba home in Kiboga District yesterday, in a function devoid of pomp, as he wished.

Besides a simple burial, speeches were restricted to only the family members, religious and cultural leaders, and the President.

And keeping to his wish, few wreaths were placed on the casket.

Most mourners were also surprised that the requiem service was conducted in the village mosque but the family explained that it was one of the late businessman’s wishes.

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His teary son, Geoffrey, who was named the heir, said the family would keep their father’s legacy alive.

“His humility and respect to all is something that we will carry on,” said Geoffrey Mulwana, his only son.

Mulwana’s wife, Sarah, said her husband’s fortune, despite his limited education, was built on hard work and the burning desire to learn.

“Each time he travelled, he returned with something. And if it turned out that he wanted something, he would go out and get it,” she said.

On their bond, she said: “James was my friend. He trusted me and also told me 99 per cent of his secrets.”

Ms Mulwana noted that the duty of managing her husband’s string of businesses was no easy task but expressed optimism that with support, she would manage.

Gone too soon
The President described Mulwana as “having good eye glasses”, indicating his concern not just for the present but the future too.
“Mr Mulwana knew the usefulness of Buganda, Uganda and Africa, and that is why I worked with him. He was not like others who were stuck with tribal lines like Ffe Banyankole or Ffe nga Baganda (we Banyankole or we Baganda),” the President said.

Mulwana might have gone to rest at 76 years, but according to the President, the entrepreneur had gone “young” because his father, Mzee Amos Kaguta, is above 90. The President added that if heaven exists, then the deceased’s impressive resume would guarantee him a place there.

In a statement that got tongues wagging, President Museveni admitted to using services of sorcerers.

“When you talk about the abasamize (sorcerers) everybody here does it,” said Mr Museveni. “As for me, I was taken to them by Christians and people who believe in your churches,” he said.

The President was reacting to the Rev. Livingstone Nkoyooyo’s earlier remarks that the population should guard against the services of witchdoctors if they are to access the Kingdom of God.

He urged the mourners, especially leaders, to emulate Mulwana’s life: “Mulwana was a man who would return missed calls, something few VIPs do.”

The archbishop of Kampala Archdiocese, the Rev. Cyprian Lwanga, said the fallen businessman did not discriminate against anybody, and asked leaders to copy this trait.

One of James Mulwana’s wishes was to have the simplest of funeral services and for his body to be buried immediately after his death. Also, he did not want a vigil held for him.

His wish, to an extent, was granted. During his funeral service and burial ceremony at Masiriba Village in Kiboga District, the prayers made were short and simple. Speeches made were short including one from President Museveni who spoke of how the late was a man of the people.

But other than that, the funeral could not be called simple as hundreds of individuals travelled not only from across the country, but the world as well to pay their last respects to the fallen business entrepreneur.

The 76-year-old was laid to rest at his ancestral home.

In the intensely packed crowd stood one elderly man of medium height, Patrick Kasujja. He was the personal driver of the deceased for the last 25 years.

Driver’s account
The 65-year-old started working with Mulwana when he was 40 years old and says he was one of the people who had spent the last moments with him.

“I was with him on Saturday and Sunday at his Jesa farm. When he began feeling abdominal pain on Sunday night, I had to drive him back to Kampala to his residential home in Muyenga,” Kasujja says.

The following day, (Monday), Kasujja drove him to hospital together with the deceased’s wife and their three children.

“Sadly, he passed away on Tuesday morning at about 4am when his condition had worsened,” Kasujja says.

Kasujja refutes earlier reports that Mulwana had driven himself to the hospital.

As much as the sun was scorching down on the mourners, they bravely endured the heat until the casket was put into the ground.

Mulwana will be remembered for building his business empire from scratch, for his dedication, sheer hard work, humility and honesty.
editorial@ug.nationmedia.com

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