By Andrew Irumba
JOHN KOMURUYANGE KALEKEZI 1930-1960
JOHN KALE LINKED UGANDA’S INDEPENDENCE STRUGGLE AND AFRICA’S LIBERATION MOVEMENT TO THE WORLD FROM 1957-1960:
“It’s our incessant duty and a historical occasion to present to the world a picture of nationalistic movement in Uganda.
We do so in the framework of the Uganda National Congress, the only country wide mass and mammoth political party in Uganda pledged to achieve ‘Independence for Uganda now’. In so doing the congress wishes to ally world opinion and support from the inhuman subjugation.
Up to this time,the imperialists could plan leisurely for their stay in this country falsefully describing it as their model economy. Today even the most ignorant colonial official knows that the days of his stay are numbered, as indeed they are for the whole colonial age.
The Uganda National congress has to resist the imperialists who insist on ruling by force on the one hand and on the other hand the puppets, subservient and pliable Africans who serve imperialist interests under the colonial dictation. It’s a common practice when imperialists want to play dirty game on nationalists they set African against African and with a keen interest they watch the boxing ring”
John Kale Speak at the opening ceremony of the Uganda National Congress (UNC) office in Cairo, March 30th 1958:
Few can stand and be counted as having been at the forefront of Africa’s anti-colonial struggle.
The names Ignatius Musaazi, Joseph Kiwanuka,Milton Obote,Barnabas Kunuunka,Abu Mayanja,Godfrrey Binaisa and others are often mentioned as Uganda’s nationalists.
The anti-colonial campaign reached its heights in the late 1950s when the torch bearers of this campaign mobilized international support to end colonialism in Africa. One of the un-sung heroes who stood side by side with these anti-colonial crusaders was John Muhima Komuruyange Kalekezi or John Kale as he was popularly known.
Though his contribution was short lived,Kale created one of the greatest impacts in bringing colonialism to its premature end in Uganda and within Africa.
This year 2017 marks the 57th anniversary of the death of John Kale,a Ugandan and African patriot who died in a plane crash on August 17th 1960 in the then Soviet union. He was based in Cairo at the time of his death where he was the foreign secretary of the Uganda National Congress (UNC) and permanent secretary of the Afro-Asian solidarity committee.
As we mark kale’s untimely and tragic death, it’s noted that 17 African countries are celebrating 57 yrs of Independence!
The fact that Kale’s name is not well documented in the annals of Uganda’s pre-Independence history is not by accident, but was by design of the colonial Gov’t which banned all his publications and his work through the penal-code act legal notice of 1958. This silencing by the authorities meant that Kale’s contribution was neither documented, known,nor recognized by majority of Ugandans.
Today we celebrate Kale’s life and accomplishments from the foothills of Gisorora in Kisoro to Cairo Egypt where he spent his last important years and where he was able to effectively support the anti-colonial campaign.
It’s said that when Kale secured a hearing through the general assembly to petition before the fourth committee of the trusteeship council,his African comrades were amazed and proud of his accomplishments and from that point on they respected and admired his charisma.
The journey of retracing Kale’s steps has been both inspiring and fulfilling with compelling evidence found of the great work and deeds that this true son of Africa and Uganda accomplished.
Both primary and secondary sources have been used from the interviews done in Uganda and Cairo to trawling through archives in Makerere University College,Entebe,The United Nations and the Nation archives in London.
Kale made contacts through clandestine means with other Nationalists in Africa.The Afro-Asian conference was due to be held in late December 1957 and Kale was desperate to attend this conference.
Many in the higher echelons of the Uganda National Congress (UNC) leadership dismissed his intentions as mere wishful thinking.
The colonial Gov’t had barred any delegation from attending the Cairo conference. Kale soon made a personal decision to attend. He trekked on foot from Nakawa-Uganda to Juba-Sudan and used a chartered plane to Cairo Egypt. Dr.Mursi Saad El-Din (1st Official spokesperson for President Nasser Sadat),in his weekly Egypt Newspaper article, described Kale’s determination to walk through the dangerous terrain as ‘sheer patriotism and heroism that Africa had not seen before’.
Kale died as a true nationalist while on an Afro-Asian people’s solidarity Organization mission which was to ensure world justice and peace. He died at the young age of 30 but fortunately his legacy lives on with his only son Gen.Kale Kayihura currently Uganda’s Inspector General of police,himself one of the gallant National Resistance Army liberators who restored the very ideals and principles that his father soo courageously struggled for.
John Kale was born in 1930 to the late Gabriel and Feresta Akomulyange of Gisorora Nyakande Bufumbira. His father was a sub chief (Muluka) and was the eldest son of Yakobo Rwanyonga a renowned elder in Bufumbira.
Kale joined Mutolere Primary School which was the first Catholic primary School in Bufumbira. It was during this time that Catholicism was spreading fast and the need for priests was raising.
He,like any other teenagers then was lured to join the seminary. He subsequently joined St. Mary’s College Kisubi to continue with his Education between 1949 to 1951.
In 1954 when political agitation was on the increase in Uganda,Makerere University College became the hotbed of the nationalistic activities. Kale was deeply involved in students’ politics holding apposition of V/Chairman of the students’ guild council which linked him to the international union of students.
He later attended a student leadership course in vienna in December 1955.While on the course he visited Czechoslovakia and other countries in eastern Europe.
While on these visits, Kale addressed several meetings and seminars to inform the international community of the demands of self-governance which was being espoused by Uganda National Congress (UNC) and other small political parties.
Before his departure for a broad, he had been singled out by the authorities as a radical political activist and was therefore on the radar of the British protectorate officials.
The protectorate Gov’t soon got knowledge of kale’s extended stay in Europe and like many other students who broke the college rules, he faced serous disciplinary action on his return.
His passport which had been issued in December 1955 was withdrawn and he was subsequently expelled from Makerere University College in March 1956 before he could finish his studies. Meanwhile, he drew admiration from International Union of student officials who later offered him a post at their headquarters in Prague. He was unable to take up the position because his passport had been withdrawn.