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Byanyima was champion of education, agriculture - Museveni

President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni on Thursday paid tribute to Mzee Boniface Byanyima, describing the deceased politician as a champion of education and agriculture.

The 97-year-old veteran politician passed away on Tuesday, May 16 at Nakasero hospital in Kampala.

As a principled leader, Byanyima is remembered for standing his ground in the early 1960s to oppose the new independence, even when almost all Democratic Party (DP) Members of Parliament crossed the floor and joined the ruling Uganda People's Congress (UPC).

Museveni said Byanyima was among the pioneer Ugandans who loved teaching. He said his first interaction with Byanyima was in 1959 when the future president joined Mbarara high school where the DP icon was a teacher.

President Museveni addressing the mourners

He notes that his contribution in education cannot be under-estimated, having been among the first people in Ankole to get education and become teachers. Byanyima taught Museveni in Junior one and two.

“When somebody dies, we cannot resurrect him but it is important to put on record his contribution. Some of us who know him, Mzee Byanyima was among the Batembuzi in Ankole in a number of fields.

First of all in education, he started teaching several years ago. I came to know him as a teacher in Mbarara high school in 1969 when I went for what they called junior secondary one, which was like primary seven and therefore he was among the pioneers of education in Ankole. He taught me in junior one and junior two”, Museveni said.

Museveni hailed Byanyima's contribution towards modern farming in the Ankole region; saying that Mzee Byanyima was among the first three groups of people to practice modern agriculture which included paddocking, ranching, and spraying of animals from ticks.

“The second area in which he pioneered together with some few others was modern farming. You can call it evolution because in our area, farming was traditional. But him and some few others; taking advantage of the programme which was started by the colonial government in 1958 when they cleared tsetse flies. He started modern ranching in what they were calling Ankole-Masaka ranching scheme, whereby they he became one of the three examples of modern farming in our area. There was one other example by a man called Mbiire - another example of these ranchers. For them they concentrating on beef livestock", added Museveni.

Museveni also hailed Byanyima for playing a significant role as chairperson of DP for a long time. He noted that he had a unique character that he always stood his ground in politics.

“He was one of the early members of the Democratic Party…I was a very active youth of DP, when I see these DPs of today, I just keep quiet. He left teaching and joined politics. We elected him in our constituency, Ankole northeast. Again, there Mzee was a pioneer, and he was a principled one and not like the others. So because of those principles the alliance of DP and UPC collapsed because of the lost counties. These 24 DP MPs once they got elected, many of them changed sides by joining UPC. By 1971, only 8 of them were remaining in the opposition including Mzee Byanyima”, said Museveni.

President Museveni condoles some members of the Byanyima family

Museveni and Boniface Byanyima were once like father and son. While still in school, Museveni was adopted into the Byanyima family where he would spend his high school and university holidays. The Byanyimas treated him as their own, and to this day, Museveni's high school and university books hold their place in the Byanyima family library.

Byanyima would later narrate that even as a young boy, Museveni was ambitious and never hid his desire to be at the helm of political change and leadership, whether in his local community or on the national stage.

They later bitterly fell out, with Byanyima accusing Museveni of lacking principles and honesty.  Museveni himself has confessed that when he was entering politics, it was only Mzee Byanyima who understood and encouraged him. And for that he would be eternally grateful to him.

"I was a very ardent supporter of DP and when I grew up I became very active after my A'level in 1966, I liaised with Byanyima who introduced me to some elders some of who I knew, others I didn't know in 1967. That is how we were able to do some work there," Museveni said.

Museveni noted that Byanyima has left a legacy having played his part and most of the times as a pioneer, starting new things.

"Later on when I joined freedom struggle, although he remained in DP, we remained on good terms," the president said.

Born in 1920, Boniface Muyogoma Byanyima is a great-grandson of Kyamufumba Kya Ndagara Rwamigano, eldest son of Omukama Ndagara, the last king of Buhweju. In his early years he lived in the court of chief Ndibarema in Nsiika, Buhweju.

Byanyima started school at Kinoni primary school where he is said to have completed three classes in one school year, moving on to Mbarara high school for primary four. A gifted and disciplined student, he won a scholarship to Kings College Budo. He excelled at Budo and entered Makerere University College, where he studied Education.

After graduation in 1951, he was posted to teach at Bishop Tucker theological college, Mukono. Among his students were the late Bishops Amos Betungura, Yustace Ruhindi and Misairi Kauma among others.

Byanyima returned to teach at Mbarara high school. He was a devoted teacher, who brought out the best from his students. He was known to be extremely punctual, strict but kind and approachable.

A music lover, Byanyima taught himself how to play the piano and joined Mr Yuda Nyondo as a second pianist at St James's Cathedral, Ruharo. Among his many students were Yona Kanyomozi, Ephraim Kamuntu, Amanya Mushega, Yoweri Museveni and Ernest Rusita.

In 1954, Byanyima went to Exeter Universty in the UK to pursue a post-graduate diploma and on completion he returned to Mbarara high school.

As Independence approached, Byanyima was persuaded by friends to contest the Ankole North East constituency. He said he joined DP because it represented the interests of the excluded. He won the 1961 election with a landslide and joined the DP pre-independence government as minister for public service.

In 1962, there was another election which resulted in a UPC/Kabaka Yekka government. Byanyima was re-elected to parliament and served until 1971 when Idi Amin overthrew the government. The Democratic Party had been banned in 1969 and Byanyima and 5 other DP MPs remained in parliament as opposition MPs.

He served as national chairman of DP throughout the period it was banned and was instrumental in reviving the party after the fall of Amin in 1979. A consistent champion of multiparty politics, of truth and justice, Byanyima retired from active politics in 1980 but remained an adviser to DP leaders.

A successful rancher, Byanyima married Gertrude Kabwasingo, also a teacher and future political activist, in January 1956. They lived together for 52 years until Gertrude passed away in 2007. They had 7 children; Edith, Winnie, Bernard (RIP), Anthony, Martha, Abraham and Olivia.

Byanyima will be buried on Sunday at his home in Ruti, Mbarara municipality.


+3 #1 Mubiru 2017-05-19 17:14
One noted historian when reviewing a book by an academician wisely observed that: the book contained much that was good and much that was new.

The pity of it was that the good was not new and that the new was not good. That applies to the President's praising of our nationalist Bonifance Byanyima only after he is no longer with us.

It is only in a country of political obfuscation and hypocrisy like Uganda that a man who contributed so immensely to Uganda's progress can be ignored during his life time and only extolled after his death. May Mukulu Byanyima Rest Peacefully.
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+2 #2 Mubiru 2017-05-19 17:30
Further to my comment: Giving a State Funeral to the dead when Mukulu Byanyima was never given a"State " treatment during Museveni's reign, is the height of hypocrisy of the human creatures.
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+2 #3 Betty Nalubega 2017-05-19 18:16
I am afraid I will always remain buffled by the bizarre indescretation of "making up" with the dead.

The late Byanyima died at 96. For the last 30 years , the late has on more than enough occasions expressed his dissappointment and dislike for Museveni as a person and as a President.

It is on record that the late complained about a lot of things , including the way the "boy" he helped to educate and raise, had turned out to be the man who persecuted Byanyima`s family.

The question is why didn´t Mr. Museveni say the things he is saying today while . Mr. Byanyima was alive and able to forgive and forget where possible ?
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+2 #4 Betty Nalubega 2017-05-19 18:16
Now a dead Byanyima is a champion !!!!

A " champion" of farming who was never consulted for the last 31 years of Mr. Museveni`s "farming revolution" ?

A pioneer of teaching and education from whom no expertise was ever sought after ?

A principled man who was disrepected by unprincipled adventurists ?

If I were one of Byanyima`s children , I would spit at this insulting attitude.
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+1 #5 jacinta 2017-05-19 22:42
Dead people are sweet, when alive they re bitter. this is just mockery without shame this guy.

He knows it from his heartless soul.
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0 #6 Lagoro Pido 2017-05-20 13:32
Fellow Ugandans,
Let us pray for God the Almighty to keep Soul of our late nationalist Mzee Boniface Byanyima in Eternal Peace.

Unfortunately, fellow Ugandans, M7 can always speak good about a person when such a person is dead.

Why all these talking about the good legacies of Mzee Byanyima when M7 could not make such praise when our Mzee was still living?
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