By Spy Uganda
Kampala: Ugandan Pan-Africanism community today morning has been engulfed by the bad news of the death of the icon of the Runyankole-Rukiga local language cultural author and translator, Omugurusi Festo Karwemera, who succumbed to multiple organ failure aged 95.
Karwemera was famous for his love for Pan-Africanism, culture and promotion of speaking Runyankore-Rukiga languages on public functions and radio programs.
Be the time of his death he had authored 17 books in Runyankore-Rukiga languages to help the coming generations appreciate their heritage.
Among the books he authored include the popular Katodozi (Dictionary) which he co-authored with President Museveni, translating the Holy Bible and the constitution of Uganda in the local language and on addition of Pan-African books like emicwe nemigyenzo y’a Bakiga, translating to (Values and Norms Of Bakiga), Otebwa Orurimi Rwawe, (Don’t forget your language) the history of Kigezi among others.
Because of efficiency in authoring books in the Rukiga local language, Kabale University on June 24 2017, awarded him an honorary doctorate of literature, the function that was presided over by the university’s chancellor Prof Mondo Kagonyera.
Among the Pan-Africanists left in sombre mood and shock is Andrew Irumba Katusabe, the Chairman and founder of Pan-African Pyramid (PAP), a movement that encourages the solidarity of Africans worldwide basing on the belief that unity is vital to economic, social, and political progress and aims to ‘Unify and uplift’ people of African descent.
Irumba paid tribute to Omugurusi Festo whom he referred to as a ‘Pan-African rock’ who was descent and open when it came to promotion of Pan-Africanism among the young generations and an influential member who was an active participant in the struggle to rekindle African cultural roots.
“Today morning i was much hurt to hear about the death of comrade Omugurusi Festo, a person who was solid and hard to mislead into anything related to demotion of Pan-Africanism. Actually he is a living testimony to all the coming generations since he not only preached Pan-Africanism but also authored a variety of books to keep them updated even in his absence, May His Soul Rest In Peace” Chairman PAP said.
In addition, according Mark Bahati a grandson to festo, his grandfather has been a role model not only to the family members but to the whole country and African continent because of his dedicated service in promoting and conserving the local languages in Kigezi Africa atlarge.
“He has been an amazing man in translating English literature into the local language. He has been so loving and would quickly guide any one that poorly pronounces the Runyankore-Rukiga words. The country shall miss his expertise in this field,” Mr Bahati said, adding that family meetings are yet to be conducted to discuss burial arrangements.
The late has left wife Aidah Karwemera, 5 children, 25 grandchildren, 35 great grandchildren and 2 great-great grandchildren.
According to Bahati, Omugurusi Karwemera was born in 1925 in Karubanda village Buhara sub county, Kabale District and went to Muyebe, Kinyasano and Kigezi High School for primary and secondary education respectively, after which he joined Nyakasura Teacher Training College where he obtained a certificate in primary school teaching. He later joined Mukono Teacher Institute where he obtained a diploma in the same field.
He served as a teacher in several native Anglican Church schools, an inspector of schools for Kabale District before he was appointed as the head teacher for Hornby high school from 1964-1965 and in 1966 he was appointed to head the Save the Children fund by the diocese of Kigezi administration.
In 1970 to 1972 he was appointed to head the national trading corporation in Kigezi by the central government.
“Since he was heading several committees of churches and educational institutions before he retired to concentrate on authoring books in Runyankore-Rukiga local language,” he said.