Friday, 22 August 2014


Before Uganda celebrated 50 years’ of Independence, I thought of a personality (an Old Boy of St. Mary’s College Kisubi) who is a role model, and whose works are positive as regards Uganda’s ambitions at Independence.  I came up with Hon. Paul Kawanga Ssemogerere.  I thought that response to a questionnaire would give my audience a good picture.  Fortunately, Hon. Ssemogerere took his time, and today, I can say with authority that his response is good basis for my respect for him.  You find a few people who can put in as much time, and dig deep to explain situations as did Hon. Kawanga.  Below I reproduce the questions which give what I published and can be accessed on the link -
Dear Dr. Ssemogerere,
I wish to come up with a publication which will try to put up your political roles in Uganda, and also give the Old Boys of St. Mary’s College Kisubi and other publics a picture of a true democrat, the type Uganda badly needs. 
I kindly request for answers to the questions that follow:
1)   What are the names of your parents and where were you born?
2)   Where did you spend your childhood and what are the memories?
3)   What is the type of food you enjoy most?
4)   Where did you go to primary school and which years were they?
5)   When did you join St. Mary’s College Kisubi?
6)   What House did you belong to at St. Mary’s?
7)   What are your memories of SMACK?
8)   What Sports were you involved in at SMACK?
9)   Any photos that show you as a student at SMACK?
10)Where did you go after leaving St. Mary’s College Kisubi?
11)How did you meet the tuition for your higher studies?
12)How did you get to join politics?
13)You are one of those students who did Boxing at School.  How come you have been a peaceful politician all the time, non - violent?
14)What are your memories of the Late Ben Kiwanuka and your relation with him?
15)When DP was in Government, what was your position, title and roles?
16)What are your memories of Uganda after the Democratic Party got out of power and challenges?
17)How did the misunderstandings between Mengo and the Catholic Church come about in those years?
18)What can you say about Obote 1 and the Democratic Party challenges?
19)What were the challenges of the Democratic Party during Amin’s time and what role did you play then?
20)What do you have to say about the 1980 Elections?
21)Can you tell us the countries you have visited on various missions of either the Democratic Party or Uganda Government and briefly about those missions?
22)Are you happy with the roles the Democratic Party played during Obote II; what challenges did you have and how did you overcome them, like insecurity?
23)Can you tell us the roles you played in the Post Obote II administration of Uganda and the achievements?
24)When Museveni captured power in 1986, do you think it was right for the Democratic Party to have joined hands to give the regime credit?
25)What achievements did the Democratic Party get by involving itself in the Museveni administration?
26)What made you leave the Museveni cabinet?
27)What do you think went wrong in 1996 such that the Democratic Party was not able to get power?
28)Do you think the Democratic Party was right to leave Kiiza Besigye contest as Presidential candidate in 2001?
29)When you handed over power, the party seemed to show that it was not united, what helped you to keep differences minimal?
30)What can you say is the future of the Democratic Party in Uganda?
31)What advice do you have for the people of Uganda who would like to see democracy prevail?
32)Any other remarks you wish to share with Old Boys of SMACK and other readers of this publication?
33)How would you like to be remembered as?

In December 2006, Ssemogerere was interviewed by the Observer newspaper, and an excerpt from the write up shows what personality Hon. Ssemogerere is.   
MICHAEL MUBANGIZI talked to PAUL KAWANGA SSEMOGERERE (Prisoner no. 202 at Luzira), ex-DP President General and this was published in Uganda Observer of December 8, 2006:
I got interested in joining politics when I was a student at St. Mary’s College Kisubi to be part of the independence struggle.

Obote bans parties - After independence, Obote followed what other political leaders in Africa did to entrench themselves in power, by undermining, persecuting and eventually banning political parties and introducing a monolithic political system.
It was the surest way to perpetuate oneself in power without any effective challenge. On December 17 or 18, 1969, the ruling party, UPC, had its delegates’ conference graced by Julius Nyerere (Tanzania) and Kenneth Kaunda (Zambia). They were all talking about One-Party State as the African model.
At that conference, a resolution was passed that Uganda becomes a One-Party State. I heard the news at 4:00p.m. I was sure the next move was to effect the resolution. We spoke against it. As DP Publicity Secretary, I was at the frontline of fighting all these things.
The day they were closing the conference, there was an attempt on Obote’s life at Lugogo. The explanation for the attempted assassination comes from very many concerns and grievances which had accumulated.
There was a lot of discontent; in 1966 Obote had overthrown the Constitution and abolished monarchies.
In 1967, Parliament had adopted a new Constitution and extended its life. There was supposed to be elections in 1967 for a new parliament and government. This was rescheduled, so there was a lot of anger.
 At midnight that day, there was a cabinet meeting that endorsed the ban on all opposition political parties and societies except UPC.
That is when my friends like Prof. Dani Wadada Nabudere, Natoro Masaba, Rait Amongin who had been UPC members were expelled. Nabudere had formed a society (Uganda Vietnam Solidarity Committee), which was not a political party but a political group similar to UYD (Uganda Young Democrats) and The Free Movement.
There was a new party, OMUTU-Uganda Monarchist and Traditionalist Union, formed by disgruntled Kabaka Yekka. All those were banned.
The following day was a Saturday. As I was coming to town, I bought a copy of Uganda Argus when I reached Kajjansi. It was saying that all political parties are banned.
I drove straight to Ben’s place in Lubaga. We talked about it.
 Among other things, I told him that now that they had banned the Democratic Party, “you and me are going to be arrested.” I said, “They know you and I are not going to succumb, we are not going to join UPC and we are not going to remain silent.”
He eventually believed me and said he hadn’t thought it that way. We parted and I returned home in Nkumba. Along the way, I went talking to friends, preparing them for the worst.
I went to my brother’s home in Lweza. At Nkumba, near Abayita ababiri, a very close friend, now dead, came looking for me at about 4:00-5:00p.m.  He had a big Russian built car. He told me Ben had been arrested. That was the day I met him, in the morning. I told him I was not surprised, and that I was sure they were going to arrest me also. He said “yes, we believe so, that is why I have come. This car is full of fuel. I want to take you away.” He had come to hide me somewhere. He said he had foreseen the prospect of my arrest and didn’t want all of us to be arrested.  I refused. I told him let them come; he understood me. I went to my home in Nkumba. I did not fear; I was ready for it.
 From the very beginning, government showed total rejection of the opposition, they called us all sorts of names, harassed us and our members. If I was avoiding trouble, I would long have left. I chose to struggle for democracy.

Police arrive - The following day was Sunday. I was preparing to go for Church Service at Kisubi when police arrived. After Ben’s arrest, word had gone round. They knew I was the next target. They (police) surrounded my house and went even into plantations.
I am not sure how many they were but they were over 10. They knew me and were very, very polite. I wasn’t frightened. They were surprised I did not care. I sat down with them and asked them “what do you want?”
 They said “we have been asked to take you to Entebbe Police Station.” I asked why. They said, “well, they did not tell us why, but they said they want you.”
I said “you have come to arrest me”, they said “no.” I said, “no, you just tell me the truth because I am not a staff, I am not employed by Entebbe Police Station, I have no work there.” Then they said “yeah, we have come to arrest you.”

Writing a will -I said “if that is the case, allow me some time.” I was writing a few things, giving some few directives in anticipation of a possible arrest. It was kind of summary of a will … and they let me do it. I had started writing at night. They gave me plenty of time, I think half an hour.  I had no illusions that people arresting me would treat me kindly. I did not see why they would kill me immediately; they could keep me the rest of my life or even kill me afterwards. I had committed no crime. I couldn’t see myself beg or plead for mercy.

Their only objective was to effect their objective of turning this country into a One-Party State. But by killing the Democratic Party, I couldn’t quit DP.
As I was writing, they searched everywhere. I remember they went to my bedroom where they found George Orwell’s book, Nineteen eighty four.
 The man in charge of the group called me in the bedroom and asked, “what is this?” I told him “read it, it tells you exactly what you are doing.” He never did anything else; he spent all the time reading that book, eventually he “borrowed” it and never returned it.

I don’t know what he found, but it must have been big education for him. It was written when the dictatorship was in full swing. It talks of discrimination, the secret services, ministry of “Truth” that distorts facts (lies, spreads propaganda, controls information and re-writes history to suit interests of the regime).
It predicts a good cotton harvest, but by the time the harvest comes, it’s not that good, so they re-write and doctor the original report to make the forecast more humble and modest to say we have had a bumper crop. (It also talks about the Ministry of “Peace” that makes war, ministry of “Plenty” that administers over shortages, rations and controls supplies, and Ministry of “Love” that arrests, tortures and inflicts misery on enemies real or imagined.)
It also talks about espionage, mistrust in a family; the father, mother and children don’t trust each other. It talks of places like Owino market, where many people are disgruntled but they fear each other and can’t say anything.
Orwell wrote that such people can’t rebel, because they don’t know their power and they will never know their power until they rebel.
 With so many people disgruntled, he said, they would overthrow the government if they knew their power but they can’t know because they fear each other.

When I finished writing, breakfast was served, we ate with my friends but they (police) refused to eat. When I finished, we left.
 I was not handcuffed. The policemen respected and liked me. I had my shoes on, clothes. They knew I was innocent, they had to do a job but I am sure none of them believed it was the right thing.
I did not spend [much time] at Entebbe police post, before fresh orders were given to transfer me to Kampala Central Police Station (CPS) where I found Ben.
He had spent there a night with several others, like Dr. Sendegeya, J.W. Kiwanuka, Stanley Kemba and Sebastian Kibuuka, all deceased.
 I was saved from going to what you may call a dungeon, the common place down there (at CPS). I was not taken there, I went upstairs.
 I briefly talked to Ben; like the rest he was in good mood. We all believed it was political harassment; nobody was weeping.
We spent there about two or three hours before we were served with detention orders signed by Basil Bataringaya (former DP Secretary General), then Minister of Internal Affairs to take us to Luzira.
 All of us, including Ben, were charged with engaging in subversive activities, nothing more; nothing less. At about 4 or 5:00p.m, we were taken to Luzira.
It was Sunday, December 20. Again by luck or whatever it was, I wasn’t handcuffed; they handcuffed all my friends, including Ben, two by two; but when it came to me, I was the odd number. We were over 10 and were put on a truck and off to Luzira.

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