Encyclopedia' Kivejinja Laid to Rest in Bugweri, Zambia: Joseph Kizza
KAMPALA, Dec 20, 2020:: The late second deputy prime minister of Uganda, ali kirunda kivejinja, was laid to rest in bugweri district on sunday, a day after succumbing to covid-19 at the age of 85. At a burial ceremony that brought together a host of politicians, religious leaders, the bereaved family and local people under strict observance of standard operating procedures against potential contraction and spreading of the coronavirus, Kivejinja was hailed by many as an "encyclopedia", whose death has left a huge dent not only in Busoga sub-region, but also in Uganda at large.
Prime Minister Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda, the highest-ranking government official at Bubinga Primary School, where the funeral took place, was the chief mourner. Also in attendance was Mufti of Uganda Sheikh Shaban Ramadhan Mubajje, Minister for the Presidency Esther Mbayo and legislators of the region. A team from the Islamic University of Uganda (IUIU) was also present. Kivejinja was one of the pillars in the establishment of the 32-year-old university.
A Uganda Funeral Service hearse transported Kivejinja's Ugandan flag-draped casket to the spacious playground of Bubinga, where tents had been pitched and mourners had gathered for the funeral prayers before interment at his home in Buwabe village. While addressing mourners, the family of Kivejinja extended an invitation to anyone wishing to write about him to approach them because "we have better stories about our father".
One of his children, Saleh Kivejinja, briefly explained why their father had decided to maintain a lean body, how he had suffered seasickness on his way to India for studies decades ago and how his studying about lions during his zoology course at Delhi University had inspired him to grow a beard. These and many more are the untold stories that the family want people to read about Kivenjija. "Please come to us," urged Saleh.
Meanwhile, area MP Abdu Katuntu (Bugweri County) said he was particularly "honoured and privileged" to have competed against Kivejinja in four parliamentary elections. Despite their recurrent political rivalry being typically hot, no enmity was bred between the two, he told mourners. "He is a giant who has walked a very long journey. As Bugweri, we shall miss him. He was so rich in history, he was so rich in culture - and that is a chapter that is being closed today - of a great man," said Katuntu.
"As the people of Bugweri, it is important to acknowlege his contributions in the area and therefore, we ask Government to construct a big institution in Kivejinja's honour.
Being a high-ranking government official, Kivejinja was accorded a customary gun salute, as mask-wearing mourners, albeit falling short on the social distancing bar, stood several feet away from the grave in adherance to the anti-coronavirus standard operating procedures.
At an emotional ceremony, many could not back their tears as they watched funeral staff wearing protective suits lower Kivejinja's body into the ground. A policeman consoling a relative of the late Kivejinja, who broke down upon seeing the casket arrive Kivejinja died at Mulago National Referral Hospital in Uganda's capital Kampala, where he had been admitted for over a month after testing positive for COVID-19.
On Sunday morning, national send-off prayers were held at the National Mosque in Old Kampala, as the finishing touches were being applied in his native Bugweri - where his body was - to lay him to rest. Mufti Mubajje said Kivejinja was instrumental in the foundation of the the Islamic University in Uganda - and always proudly carried his identity of being a Muslim. He added that Kivejinja, described as a "very good and close friend" of President Yoweri Museveni, guided the president and the Prime Minister on Islamic issues.
On his part, Rugunda said "elder, friend and comrade" Kivejinja was very articulate in matters pan-Africanism and that "wherever he went, he would make positive connections".
He said his passing is a "huge loss to Uganda" and saluted the late politician "for his stellar service to Uganda, Africa and humanity" and that "his wisdom and counsel will be deeply missed". Represented by the PM, President Yoweri Museveni described Kivejinja as having been "a dedicated pan-Africanist" who used his advanced education to help in the liberation of Uganda.
"He lived a life of sacrifice, discipline and humility", a life "saturated with great commitment", added the President, who extended "heartfelt condolences on behalf of my family, the Government, the NRM and Ugandans at large". Minister Mbayo, who lost her son only last month, said Busoga has lost "a great man" in Kivenjija and the country "a historical encyclopedia". "He has been my mentor," she said.
Bugiri Municipality MP Asuman Basalirwa said Kivejinja's was "a life of adventure, a life of impact, a life of successes" and that "as a politican, he has been a broadminded person".
"He was lived a very good political life." Isaac Musumba, who represents Buzaaya County (Kamuli district) in Parliament, said Kivejinja was as much "a community mobiliser" as he was "a selfless man". By Joseph Kizza
Kampala, The Capital City of Uganda.