Former Bushenyi Chairman Makaru Reminisces Old Times With Rurangaranga

The body of Maj Rurangaranga leaving Mbarara Hospital on Tuesday

Former LC 5 Chairman of Bushenyi District yesterday took Chimpreports through the good and tough times he had with his now departed friend Major Edward Rurangaranga.

Rurangaranga, a seasoned UPC politician succumbed to hypertension last Sunday night at his home in Sheema.

Mr Makaru, now a retired politician, told us in a phone conversation that he and the Rurangaranga were childhood friends and they served together on different political and cultural platforms.

These also faced grave persecution under the high-handed regime of Late President Idi Amin.

The two went together to Kabwohe Primary School in 1949 and 1950. They later trained as teachers.

Makaru says Rurangaranga graduated as a teacher in 1962 but also joined the Ankole Kingdom Council in the same year.

“I joined him in the council the next year and we served together. He was later appointed Deputy Speaker of the Bushenyi District Council in 1964 while I was put in charge of education in the whole of Ankole Kingdom,” he said.

In 1965, Makaru recollects, the laws were amended to disqualify civil servants and other professionals like teachers from serving in the Kingdom Councils.

He says however, that having attained a lot of experience and become consultants, he and Rurangaranga decided to quit teaching to remain in the council until 1971, when Idi Amin took power and banned all the councils in the country.

Shortly after the Coup, Makaru recalls that he and Rurangaranga were rounded up because of their political influence, and locked up in a dungeon in Makindye where they spent three months.

They were released after Amin’s adviser Godfrey Binaisa pleaded on their behalf. From there he said they lied low in the villages, until 1978 when the Tanzanian forces invaded the country to oust dictator Amin.

Once again Amin arrested a number of politicians suspected of helping the so-called bakombozi (Tanzanian liberators) and killed them.

Makaru says Rurangaranga was in this group of people who were shot in Ruti, Mbarara, but he survived.

He managed to escape with bullet wounds and was sneaked to Kenya where he got treatment.

Amin later learnt of Rurangaranga’s nephew, a one Karuhanga who had helped him escape to Nairobi. The Kyambogo teacher was publicly shot dead in Mbarara.

When Rurangaranga recuperated, Makaru says, he joined the army which managed to defeat Amin in 1979, and he was elevated to the rank of Major.

 “When Amin went away, the deceased was made the district CAO of Bushenyi. He later stood for parliament against Kahinda Otafiire and was elected MP, before President Milton Obote made him State Minister of local government,” he said.

Even after losing his cabinet seat, Rurangaranga remained supporting Obote and UPC.

Makaru said of the deceased as “a fighter and opponent of injustice in Ankole”

“At the time of his death, he was actively involved in development initiatives for Sheema,” he said.

“He was sitting Synergy Committee of west Ankole Diocese and also a member of stakeholders who fought for Ankole Western University in Sheema district which was meant to be moved to Katungu in Igara.

“He also fought for Sheema to be named an independent district and succeeded.”

Makaru also recounted that Maj. Rurangaranga was one of the people with a best houses in Bushenyi before it was bombed by Amin’s soldiers.

He owned a big shop in Ishaka municipality; good looking Frisian cattle, and lots of land.

 “A country like ours needs people who can fight for the truth like he did. He hated corruption, and was not afraid of speaking against it.”

 The deceased will be honored in parliament on Thursday and burial will take place on Saturday.


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