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Abdunoor Kyamundu’s grandfather was almost ordained priest, only for him to become a sheikh

Abdunoor Kyamundu

Abdunoor Kyamundu

SSENTONGO ABDUNOOR KYAMUNDU aspires to replace Asuman Basalirwa as the president of Justice Forum (Jeema) political party. Quick Talk recently caught up with him and had a chat about his Catholic roots and more.

Who are you?

My name is Ssentongo Abdunoor Kyamundu. I was born in Kalungu district in a village called Kisiiwuula. My parents are Hajji Musa Kiggundu Kyamundu and Hajjati Sulaina Nanyonjo.

Eeeh, Kyamundu; what a name...

This was my grandfather’s name. His father Silas Mwasanje was one of the most prominent Catholics in Masaka; he and the Pookino [Buddu county chief] asked Bishop Sitenseera [Streicher] to allow locals to train as priests.

The bishop bought the idea and one of the first recruits was my grandfather Zakaliya Kyamundu. He enrolled for priesthood in 1903 until 1912. But just a few months to ordination, he converted to Islam. His decision annoyed his family a great deal. He left Masaka and went to Butambala to study Islam. He was ordained a Sheikh.

Tell me about your schools...

I started school at Makerere kindergarten, I don’t know whether it is still there or not.

But you said you were born in Kisiiwuula. How did you end up starting school at Makerere?

My mother was born at Wandegeya in the Mutenda family. So, I was with my mother’s side.

Okay carry on...

From there I went to Bilal Islamic Centre Kakiri, then Buganda Road primary school. But when I was in Primary Six, I registered to do PLE at Lukaya Muslim primary.

Then I went to St Charles Lwanga Kasasa for S1. But I was expelled that very year because I participated in Holy Communion yet I wasn’t a Catholic [because of his family background, Kyamundu’s extended family has many Catholics].

I then joined Lutengo Secondary School Kalungu where I was briefly before I went to St Lawrence School Kabaka’s Lake campus. I also didn’t stay long and went to Makindye Secondary School where I sat my S4 and S6. I then went to the Islamic University in Uganda in Mbale.

These are so many schools; why were you a nomad?

Well, I used to look for schools myself. So, whenever there was a need for me to leave, I would leave without fearing consequences from my parents.

What did you study at IUIU?

Bachelor of Arts in Education, majoring in History and Economics.

Did you ever teach?

Yes; I taught at Hanna International School Nsangi, Lugazi Mixed Secondary School [now Naalya SS Lugazi], Lutengo Secondary School, and at Lweru Secondary School. I left teaching in 2011.

Why?

There was no money. The salary for teachers is in heaven, yet for me I had things to do here on earth. So, I decided to join my elder brother who is in clearing and forwarding. That’s the work I’m still doing up to now. But I loved education; that’s why I decided to start a school, Kyamundu Islamic Centre Lukaya.

When did you enter politics?

Right from primary throughout university, I was a student leader. I remember during my time as the leader of Nkoba za Mbogo, we hosted Kabaka Ronald Muwenda Mutebi at IUIU. I then joined Jeema in 2010. My grandfather Hajji Musa Buwembo told me we go to Jeema’s delegates’ conference and since then I have never left.

I have been the spokesperson of Jeema since 2016 [Kyamundu has since been dropped as spokesperson. He is now the secretary for Foreign Affairs].

But why Jeema?

My family has supported Jeema since the times of Hajji Kibirige Mayanja. In fact, during the 1996 presidential elections, Mayanja won most votes in Kalungu East, the constituency I come from. So, when they told me to go to Jeema’s delegates’ conference, it wasn’t hard because at home we had supported it.

What has kept you in Jeema despite the coming of numerous political waves?

You can’t excite many people in Jeema, because we have an ideology. It’s hard to join Jeema and then leave it because it’s the only party with a clear ideology. People don’t join this party because they want to win elections; so, when someone decides to join, it’s hard to leave because it’s a party that has beliefs.

We focus on the human resource to build a holistic individual. We allow people do whatever kind of work they wantto do including as public servants but then train them in what a good public servant should do. Let me tell you this, public servants who do their jobs morally, if you investigate, you will find that many have a connection with Jeema.

You know one of our major focus is morality which has sunk a great deal in these years of Museveni. I think Jeema is the only party in the opposition that can win power and it has the human resource needed to do the work without the need of retaining the current group. We are a very forward-looking group.

I hear you want to replace Hon Asuman Basalirwa as the Jeema president...

Yes; why not? I have been oriented very well and the only position this orientation is pushing me to is being the president. We want to give this country democracy but the only way we can do that is by practicing it ourselves. Basalirwa has been president for 15 years. We think that is enough time for anybody to make a contribution.

It would be immoral for him to ask for a fourth term. Would we have any moral authority to tell Museveni that he has overstayed yet our own president also refuses to go? Also, there are some things we would like to do but we can’t do because we don’t have the power to do them. So, we think to take Jeema to another level, we need a change of leadership.

What is that level?

For us, we want to take the leadership of this country. I don’t think that is the interest of the current leadership. We are moving around the country creating leadership and we think we are the people who can take this campaign forward.

What is your vision for Jeema?

We are going to see Jeema on the presidential ballot paper for the first time in this multiparty dispensation.

Haa, don’t you fear being like John Katumba? [Fringe candidate who got very negligible votes]

No, our candidate is not going to be like those ones who can’t even get one percent of the votes like Norbert Mao, Amama Mbabazi or John Katumba. We shall have a formidable candidate who Ugandans also agree is presidential material.

Will that be 2026?

We shall cross that river when we reach it.

Do you see that candidate being you?

Well, I also have all the qualifications, but there are also many other party members with qualifications. The current party president Asuman Basalirwa is fit to lead this country. But like I told you, there are other very formidable candidates in our party.

By the way; are you married?

Yes; with a number of children.

How many wives and children do you have?

Nvaako, tonkyayisa bantu [Leave me alone, you want people to hate me].

Why would they?

Eeeh, if I say the number of women I have, I will have disappointed some who still think they have a chance with me.

Are all the four slots [allowed by Islam] filled?

Ndeka ssebo [leave me alone].

mmkakembo@gmail.com

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