By Joseph W. Kamugisha
Besides his family, the nation’s business sector and East Africa, at large, the loss of BMK is a great loss to two diaspora organizations, mainly UNAA and the Sickle Cell organization.
Just to give a summarized overview about the late Kibirige’s contributions to the two major indigenous disapora organizations, in 2008, under the leadership of Dr. (Owekitiibwa) President Frank Sentamu, Ugandan American Association of Greater Dallas-Fortworth (UAA-DFW) invited Major (Then Captain) Lukia Mulumba, as guest of honor during the community’s Uganda independence celebrations.
It was during the Major’s key note address, besides her humanitarian accomplishments during that summer, when doors of various interest groups of sponsorship began to open for the Sickle Cell organization.
After his victory in one of UNAA’s highly contested UNAA general elections, Mr. Moses Wilson, began his search for someone who would add a difference on the face of UNAA, infested politicians. It was going to be someone with a different reflection of change as keynote speaker.
Fast forward, Major Lukia Mulumba, was chosen to serve the honor’s. Thanks to Wilson’s cabinet which included Madame Henrietta Nairuba Wamala Ssenabulya, as Executive and Francis Ssenogga, as VP.
The key note address centered around the awareness and plight of of the deadly disease especially among the vulnerable children of Uganda.
It was during Major Mulumba’s impressive, yet emotional presentation when Mr. Ibrahim Kibirige, noticed and felt touched by helping and partnering with the fight against the spread of Sickle Cells in Uganda.
Year’s ahead, through UAA-DFW and UNAA, the leading disapora based Sickle Cell organization, was not only one of the major beneficiaries of BMk’s generosity but Mr. Kibirige, also accepted the honor’s of being the humanitarian organization’s patron.
It must be noted that though, that Kibirige’s involvement with UNAA had been going on from way back in the early nineties. To jump start his services to UNAA, he first offered himself during the UNAA Atlanta, 1999 convention, Mr. Kibirige, was elected as UNAA’s first Board member and UNAA’s envoy to Uganda, a position he held and served with great respect and dignity.
In 2000 UNAA, held her first ever off-site convention in Kampala, Uganda. It is needless to mention that the historic convention was held in BMk’s leading Hotel Africana.
All the diaspora guests were treated to a handsome room discounted rate and the same discount for disapora guests continues even today.
A number of negative connotations as a result of taking the convention to Uganda, lingered to the point that UNAA’s first breakaway was engineered by Dr. Joseph Otengho, with some notable UNAA Member’s such as Hon. David Mureeba, Nick Kalanzi, Sebastian Lwanga, and many others.
However, the break away did not last long and little did it affect the achievement and great accomplishments such as tabling the motion for dual citizenship, during the summit whose guest of honor was non other than the man himself, President Y. K. Museveni.
The persuit for parliament to pass the motion did not yield quick responses, nevertheless, after several years, UNAA landed one of her major landmarks. The attainment of dual citizenship for the diaspora community.
The late Ibrahim Kibirige’s contribution and personal involvement with UNAA, did not stop at that. In 2014 during another heated test in the history of UNAA, Hajji Kibirige, offered himself among eight other volunteers to converge at one of the UNAA San Diego, hotels to discuss and devise means through which amicable resolutions could be reached in an effort to resist a third possible breakaway in the organization’s history.
Inspired by his love, passion and commitment to UNAA’s progress and wellbeing, and despite his health conditions, Hajji Kibirige, tried everything he could until the late morning houts (2:00AM) on Sunday, trying to convince the UNAA team which was lead by Mr. Moses Wilson, who was adamant and opposed to holding “Peace Talks” with what was labeled, ” The rebel Council of eight.”
After the aborted attempts to reunite both parties, a very dissapointed Hajji Ibrahim Kibirige, left the hotel, the following day and that was the last time he was seen in future UNAA conventions.
On a personal note, this writer, has fond memories of the late Ibrahim Kibirige, dating from as far back as 1982, during his stay in Nairobi, Kenya.
I first met ” BMK” as he was famously known by the Ugandan community in Nairobi. He was by that time running a high end boutique store (Kavatas) at the Nairobi Hilton hotel.
In 1988 while I was working for “ChildCare International” Administrator/Field Cordinator, I quickly discovered that much as having a motor vehicle at the Ssese Islands, where my main responsibilities were, was very essential, but I equally quickly learned that having a motor bike, was even a better option due to some impassable roads at the Island.
As such, I resorted to my old friend “BMK” for advice on what kind of bike to buy.
BMK, graciously recommend a “Yamaha 7500 CC” the price was right for the organization. I made the payment. The bike was delivered in good condition. And that made me one of the first “Boda-Boda” owners, although mine was strictly for work related trips to the eighty four islands of Ssesse.
Rest in Peace, dear comrade. Inshallah
Joseph W. Kamugisha <firstname.lastname@example.org