Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni has said he doesn’t believe the death of Africans is attributable to God as some religious leaders claim but to “something else” that African leaders must look out for and stop.
Museveni was speaking during the send-off of the Late Jacob Oulanyah at Kololo Independence Grounds today, where the former speaker of parliament was accorded a state funeral following his death due to Cancer in a US hospital on March 20, 2022.
The president eulogized Oulanyah as strong cadre and an exceptional leader but expressed concern about his death at a younger age (56) yet he would have been of great importance to the African struggles for development.
The president seemed to imply that Oulanyah compromised his health at the expense of his job and it was later that he (Museveni) got to know about Oulanyah’s sickness when it was too late to intervene and possibly save his life. According to the postmortem report, Oulanyah’s case was diagnosed late when his body could not respond to drugs.
“If he (Oulanyah) contacted me, I would have told him to concentrate on health but I dint know until much later. You people please; health is wealth and is a weapon and you need to look after it very very carefully. Don’t play around with health” President Museveni said Oulanyah had to deal with many things including constituency work, NRM party responsibilities and the Speakership yet he was weak health-wise.
Museveni emphasized the importance of personal health in the struggle for Africa’s development, and for that reason, Africans should take personal health as a priority. He said health is a weapon of struggle which must be protected at all cost. “Afiya ni Kyombo kya Mapambano” he said in Swahili.
“Comrades, your health is very crucial. Don’t risk it… If you die when you shouldn’t have died, you abandon us” Museveni said it is the reason why he always discourages Ugandans from reckless lifestyle like drinking alcohol and engaging in risky sexual behavior.
“So please people, health is wealth but also a weapon of struggle” he added referring to a minister in his government whom he discouraged from running for speakership owing to the minister’s health situation which the president was privy to.
Museveni said he disagrees with the common belief among religious leaders who say the legacy ends with someone’s death and the dead are called by God, questioning why “God” calls Africans at a younger age than their counterparts in the Western world.
“This business of God calling us; Uuhh? But why does God likes to call Africans only? He has called Oulanyah at 56 years but he calls Japanese at 79! Why does God doesn’t like to call Japanese. I don’t think that it is God calling these people. We must look at causes of death in Africa. It is not God, It is something else.” Museveni noted saying Oulanyah has not even reached the 63 year average life expectancy in Uganda.
He appealed to leaders from Northern Uganda to strive to advance Oulanyah’s legacy through his children instead of being compassionate for the the late Speaker. He said it is the only way for the family to continue and proof for eternity on earth.
“But for Oulanyah, in the short time he was here, he has made his contribution.” Museveni said he will support Oulanyah’s children so that they continue the good work of his father.