Retired Civil Servant Narrates Former President’s Gentility

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By Magemeso Namungalu

Time to remember.

Around five o’clock, Dr. David Anyoti, Minister Information, came to my office and told me that I and the people who reported in Parliament on that day were needed at the office of the president at Parliamentary Buildings.

Two women reporters, one became high ranking in New Vision and the other is a university professor, were on duty in Parliament, but I won’t name them.

I gathered the two women and we got in a Land rover and went to Parliament. At the fourth Floor, at the office of the President, one of the secretaries, a Muzungu, welcomed us saying that the President was waiting for us and led us into the office.

Obote welcomed us with an extremely present smile and led us to a conference table, inviting the two women to take their seats. He pulled one of the chairs and asked one of the women reporters to take her seat and gentlemanly did the same for the second.

Thereafter addressing himself to me he said: “Sir and your colleagues, you are welcome. We are waiting for two ministers to join us. Feel free: after all, it is past five o’clock. We can have some drink, Matues (wine) as we work.”

Soon the two ministers, Dr. Luwuliza Kirunda and Dr. David Anyoti joined us. Soon we began working at an article on the proceeding of the day’s Parliament that was to be broadcast on both Radio Uganda and Uganda Television. It was unusual, but the President explained that was being done for state security.

At first I did not know that one of my reporters, a Muganda, who had been fed with a lot of negativity about Obote, was actually excited about Obote’s gentility.

As we worked, a secretary who was with us at the table, would take down the sentences in Short Hand that we agreed on, and when we agreed on the last sentence, she went to type and made three copies of the one page news story and brought it to Obote.

President Obote handed the news story to me saying, “Sir and your two wonderful ladies: thank you for coming.” Thereafter, Obote stood up and escorted the three of us to the door and said bye to us by once again thanking us for going to his office.

As we sailed down in the lift, my Muganda women reporter asked: “Is that the true Obote I have always been told about? I have been given an impression that the man was monstrous! Naye nga (But) the man is gentle and respectful. His wife must be lucky.” From that day the girl preached about how, “wonderful, gentle and respectful,” Obote was.

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Chris Kato

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