The Minister of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities, Prof Ephraim Kamuntu in Parliament, eulogised fallen former UPC National Chairman, Maj Edward Rurangaranga as a caring brother and a great mentor.
Prof Kamuntu, himself a former member of the Uganda People’s Congress was seconding a motion for Parliament to pay tribute to Maj Rurangaranga.
Below is his full submission
Mr Speaker, I have every reason to thank you and every much indeed.
First, for giving me an opportunity to pay tribute to a great leader, a teacher a nationalist and indeed a parent.
I also thank you for maintaining high standards of decency, rebuking members who bring matters from private and make them public. That standard of decency is quite appreciated I must say.
Mr Speaker I really want to thank very deeply, the Rt Hon Prime Minister Ndugu Dr Ruhakana Rugunda for having brought this motion. We must also thank you, Ndugu Rugunda for the sympathy and solidarity you have shown during this trying moment, it has been quite comforting
In a special way, Mr Speaker, I would like to thank H.E President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni for according Maj Rurangaranga an official burial. We are eternally grateful to him.
You know in the Bible, it is said, “blessed are those who are merciful to others [for] God will be merciful to them.” And for those who have been very kind, very sympathetic to the demise of our parent, our educator our liberator… I am sure God will be very merciful.
Friends, comrades, members of parliament, we have lost one of the greatest figures in the political history of this country, the country is mourning.
I have had the privilege to know Maj Rurangaranga since the days of my childhood. I represent part of the constituency he represented in Parliament as Bushenyi West in the 1980s and the way we know him; one, as a parent: colleagues, Edward was a great parent; he was a dedicated and accomplished educationist who loved his wife, Joy.
He loved his children, Jenina, Jennifer, Petua, Matsiko. They know; to the extent that he did not mention the name of his wife. He would call her Mama Bushenyi.
If Bushenyi had been a nation, Joy would have been the mother of the nation, Bushenyi and that is the respect Edward gave to his wife.
For us who literary grew up in the house…Joy was very charming, she was very jolly, very warm and the children really loved their father. When Joy passed on, and Edward married his second wife, Winnie who is here, I am sure it must be a shock to lose Edward at this time. It must be a very difficult time.
Edward, I pray that colleagues and the family particularly, I pray that the honour that the nation has given Maj Rurangaranga today will soften the sting of death and the grief that you have, in the knowledge that your father and your husband did not die in vain, the nation has honoured him.
We can say many things about Maj Edward Rurangaranga, but I will single out just a couple; the struggle for independence…
For us who were young at the time the struggle for independence started, we know vividly the role these people played in getting Uganda become independent in 1962.
Rurangaranga was one of the founding members of political parties in this country; he was a member of UNC and when UNC became UPC, he was a founding member of UPC and I can mention names of those who became household names in our time; Milton Obote, Ben Kiwanuka, CP Katiiti, WW Lusiba, Bazilio Bataringaya and I can go down the line…. And Rurangaranga was with them and with him at his level, those who are still living I am sure Chris Rwakasisi would help sing along his rattle.
I can tell you, he would sing. He is very famous. He is told to have sung and a lady who had just passed her menopause, conceived, because of the excitement that was generated that time.
Maj Edward Rurangaranga, you go down in history as one of the greatest communicators and mobiliser. Yes they mobilized the population [and] there is no way the British imperialism would have survived under the mobilization these people had done, and we thank them.
Uganda is independent; we are members of parliament as a result of their efforts. We shall forever be grateful because of them.
Secondly, as a leader, Edward Rurangaranga was a visionary and very fearless leader and from the positions he held during the period he was in leadership, it demonstrates clearly that there is a science of “deliverology” (it means to deliver), a science of effective service delivery.
Edward was a dedicated service man and the evidence is there, I don’t have to repeat it. You can never accuse him of lack of service, he delivered. Whether hospitals or health centers, he has a mark. Whether it is education, bridges or roads, he has a mark. If it is empowering women or the youths, he is there.
He believed very vividly in education as a foundation of any nation. For him, education was the destiny, it was instrument of making equal opportunity for many and he made it, whether Primary or Secondary, I am sure the University of Ankore will honor him for his contribution.
On the nature of his death is in a way something God has really ordained. Rurangaranga died peacefully at his home, in the hands of his wife, at an age of 84 years.
There are many deaths; violent deaths, murder, earth quakes, thunder ….and if I reflect the experience of Rurangaranga’s life, this was a decent death. Look at this…
In 1971, he resisted a military coup and together with others he was detained in Makindye Military prison where he was brutalized. I went there to see him, along with Yona Kanyomozi, Kanyomozi can bear me witness.
Those [who were] in prison with him who are still alive, I can only remember Chris Rwakasisi, the rest are all dead.
Then in 1972, he collaborated the failed invasion of Tanzanian and Uganda forces, he was shot at and left for the dead in River Rwizi. This man survived it, he was smuggled into Kenya under a pseudo name Fabiano Wanga, and again Yona Kanyomozi will bare me witness. While in Kenya, he survived as a teacher.
He later joined “kikosi-malum” as a soldier and he came in the Uganda-Tanzanian forces in the war of Liberation in 1979, he survived the war.
In 1983, he survived a helicopter crush in Bwebajja along Entebbe Road. Now why I am narrating these, is for this man for having survived the violent deaths and instead died peacefully without brutality, I regard this death as the death he himself would have wished for, without suffering.
Why I am grateful to God is because Rurangaranga lived up to 84, died peacefully in his home, in the hand of his wife and he has given us chanced to pay him tribute which cannot happen under turbulent times.
We pray that God grants him a peaceful eternal rest.
But again fianally Mr Speaker, Edward Rurangranga was a formidable opponent and for those who ever competed with him, they would only know it too well.
Members of the Democratic Party know this well and I am sure my brother Kahinda Otafiire would attest to this because he experienced it.
I should also add, ladies and gentlemen, Hon Members, I competed with Rurangaranga in the primaries for 1980, at that time he was minister of State for Local Government, I was a full minister of Tourism and Wildlife. So Edward went to a huge rally and said that “Kamuntu is a minister of tourism wildlife and something else, I am minister of Local Government (your government)…you know what minister of tourism means (people listened attentively)…it means he is a minister of crocodiles, snails… (If I say it in vernacular it is more dramatic…”
“Akari minisita wa embura mikoro (idlers), ebishejesi, ebinyabwooya, ebinyantida… and people clapped…so I looked helpless and left the race for him…I just left and went for a neighbouring constituency, Bushenyi North which was neighbouring game parks and they voted me.
He was a fearless competitor. Even in the church. He has been elected time and again, until they imposed an age limit…but without age limit they were always sure he would win.
This is the Rurangaranga we are bidding farewell. He was loved, extremely loved by every community he served.
In conclusion, he has been a great mentor and I am really pleased that he has been give and decent send off.
His body is modeling in that coffin but his soul and ideas he stood for will live forever.
May the Lord God rest his soul in eternal peace.
Thank you Mr. Speaker.