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Kintu Musoke: the detribalised Muganda

The book Sapoba Legacy, co-authored by former ministers Jaberi Bidandi Ssali, Ali Kirunda Kivejinja and Kintu Musoke chronicles their personal journeys through life.

In this last part of our three-part series on the co-authors, Sulaiman Kakaire reports on the life and personality of Kintu Musoke, or KM, as captured by the book.

KM is the youngest of the three co-authors and in the book, he refers to himself as a philosopher, pan-Africanist and a humanist who believes that all humans are equal.

Born 75 years ago in the original Masaka district, Musoke is a son of Yafeesi Kintu and Eseza Nassiwa.

He went to Kabungo Native Anglican Church School and Buwere primary for his primary education. For his secondary education, he studied at King’s College Budo.

He read Political Science, Philosophy and Journalism at Delhi University in India, where he met KK. Both Kirunda Kivejinja (KK) and KM were leaders of the African Students Association (ASA) that brought together African students in India and Pakistan.

Musoke was born in a big family of 15 children and a host of relatives and friends.

“Although my father was comparatively well-off, there was never quite enough of anything because of the large numbers of people in our home. So, we learnt early on how to share anything and everything,” Musoke writes, tracing the origins of a life of sharing, discipline and sacrifice –  attributes that apparently defined his political life.

In the 1960s, he shared the same house with KK and at one time raised his siblings’ children.

“When I left university, we lived together with Kirunda Kivejinja in one house. We even got our first wives while living together,” he writes about an arrangement that lasted at least four years.

Though it is unusual for people to live together without quarrels, the two families of Musoke and Kirunda lived harmoniously and remain friends today.

Out of dad's egg shell

Although he was bred in a monogamous, Christian and staunch Buganda family, Musoke has lived a life contrary to his father’s.

“I am a detribalized Muganda, a Ugandan nationalist and East African integrationalist, a pan Africanist, a humanist and a religiously not conformist being. I am not pressed into a situation just to conform to what you are doing,” he says.

On Buganda, Musoke says: “I am a Ugandan nationalist, while in Buganda I am a detribalised Muganda-detribalised because according to me, tribe does not mean anything. Tribe is embedded in my understanding of nationalism, but it is of no more value than that,” he writes, adding that he does not see Buganda as a separate or more important part of Uganda. In fact, Musoke attests to love Uganda more than he loves himself.

Despite the fact that Musoke was born in a monogamous family, he lives a polygamous lifestyle. He fathered 20 children with six different women. It is not clear whether he stays with his wives who include Jane Akiiki Kabasambu, the only wife who is quoted in the Sapoba book. Interestingly, she does not mention a single word about her co-wives apart from praising the other Sapoba women.

Determined man

Since childhood, Musoke has been a determined man. For instance, after completing his secondary education, he turned down an admission to Makerere University after he was denied a course of his choice.

“Political science was what I wanted to do, because I saw politics as an opportunity to serve. So I told the authorities in Makerere that I would not join Makerere College if I could not study the course that I wanted,” he writes.

Musoke was considered mad by his family for turning down an admission to Makerere because it was prestigious. Musoke’s love for politics defined his adult life after graduating from Delhi University. “By the time I left India I had changed my outlook.

My friends and I had all sworn not to get jobs. We vowed instead to dedicate ourselves to sensitising people,” he writes, arguing that his time in the media was a sacrifice to society.

“I enjoyed writing for causes. I thought I could make a contribution to society by writing and exposing social evils.”

Musoke was born a writer and in the book, he shows how he utilised this talent to found newspapers to champion his cause. In fact, he was the first African journalism graduate in the country and used his qualification to professionalise the media in Uganda by, among other things, founding the Uganda Journalists Association.

He worked for several newspapers including, Uganda Eyogera, Uganda Argus as well as founding The African Pilot and Weekly Topic, where he was a director.

Political animal

Like the other two, KM says being a leader of ASA in India helped him interact with people like Jomo Kenyatta (Kenya), Kwame Nkrumah (Ghana), Sekou Toure (Guinea), and Fidel Castro (Cuba), liberation leaders who made a mark on their lives as well as ignite the spirit of socialism.

“We had a common outlook; we also saw Africa’s problems in the same way…in my view, it is that common world outlook that has kept us together up to now,” he writes.

Talking about his political life, Musoke says he entered politics in 1963 as a UPC youth winger and climbed through the ranks until 1965, when he was expelled from the party together with the other progressive forces that were led by the then UPC’s Secretary General John Kakonge.

He talks of the challenges he confronted, including at one time witnessing the killing of the late Dr Frank Kalimuzo during the murderous Idi Amin regime. However, this tumultuous episode of his political life made him determined to fight any kind of oppression in society.

“My involvement in politics came about because I did not want to be oppressed. I, therefore, resolved to fight for justice, which is what I will continue to do till the end of my life,” KM notes.

KM withdrew from active politics from 1965 until 1980 when he participated in the formation of UPM, which eventually morphed into NRM wherein he served as prime minister.

Conspicuously, he does not discuss his post-1986 political life though he advises future politicians in Uganda and Africa, “political leadership [should] be about service and sacrifice in the interest of the people.”

skakaire@observer.ug

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