Samson Babi Mululu Kisekka
Samson Babi Mululu Kisekka (23 June 1912 – 25 October 1999) was a Ugandan politician who was Prime Minister of Uganda from 1986 to 1991 and Vice President of Uganda from 1991 to 1994. He also worked as a medical doctor and diplomat. He was closely associated with Yoweri Museveni.
Dr. Kisekka Samson was born in the evening of Friday 23 June 1912 in Mengo, Kampala, Uganda and grew up near what would become Uganda’s capital, Kampala. The third child out of only five sons of his parents, belonging to the Lion clan of Buganda tribe. His father was Paul M. Babikulya, a Muluka Chief, and mother Yaeri N. Babikulya were strong believers of Anglican Church.
At only nine years, young Samson was taken to Kira and Ngogwe Central Schools away from his home in Nakifuma County. After five years, as a result of his impressive performance, was awarded a scholarship for a period of three years for secondary education tenable at King’s College Buddo. After Buddo, he gained another scholarship, this time for six years to study medicine at the Makerere University Medical School and became a respected doctor. He was a First Class Scholar, Administrator, and an ardent sportsman as he was part of the “first eleven” team footballer (representing Uganda Vs Kenya) winning the Archer all round prize for the best all rounder at Makerere University in December 1935.
He was a strong believer in self-sustainability and was always in search for self-confidence while still a young man.
In January 1939 still a young man, he joined the Uganda Ministry of Health. Though this presented many challenges to him, him being a strong believer and a man of principles he sailed through with success and commitment. During his fourteen years stay in the Uganda Civil Service (from 1939 through 1953), he played a strategic role in fighting for recognition of African Physicians. He got deeply involved in medical programs that mainly benefited the general public, orphans and other disadvantaged groups.
Dr. Kisekka was very entrepreneurial in character, which came to light as far back as the 1940s. He got involved in many business ventures that included; a transportation company, a fishing company, a farming association, a dairy cooperative, an insurance company, and a transportation cooperative.
His political life begun when he was elected as a representative to the Buganda Lukiiko representing Sentema constituency in Busiro from 1959 to 1964. While in the Buganda parliament of Buganda, the King of Buganda Muteesa II appointed him to be Minister of Health and Works for the Buganda Government for the period 1964 to 1966.
During the period from 1981 to 1986 and the years before that were characterized by political turmoil and instability, he went into exile due to government reprisals and persecution because of his outspokenness against what he considered wrong. After becoming an ally of Yoweri Museveni, he served as an international spokesman for his rebel group, the National Resistance Movement. He was a spokesman of the National Resistance Movement (NRM) in September to December 1985 during the Nairobi Peace Talks between NRM and the Uganda Government headed by Tito Okello Lutwa.
Immediately after becoming president of Uganda Yoweri Museveni appointed Dr. Kisekka to be the Prime Minister of Uganda on 31 January 1986, in which position he served for five years. He was later elevated to the office of the Vice President on 22 January 1991. He also served as a special presidential adviser until his retirement in 1994.
Dr. Kisekka belonged to a new generation of African leadership which emerged with clarity of thought, honest evaluation of Africa’s history, and a vision for a bright future for Africa. He supported a type of leadership which breaks down the political, economic, and social boundaries, and suggested a leadership culture oriented to economic development. He never reconciled with colonial educational policies but believed in a pattern of education tailored to the needs of the African society.
He considered himself under debt to the community whose tax payments had provided the scholarships for his studies at secondary school and university. He only wished he could repay the debt.
Dr.Kisekka was known as a hard-working statesman, an advocate of mixed farming, which activities covered horticulture and dairy farming. As a politician, he supported an end to ethnic tensions and a government without corruption.
Dr. Kisekka was a recipient of numerous awards and honors both on national and international level the most recognizable ones being listed in Men of Achievement-International Directory of International Biography, “International Who’s Who of Intellectuals”, the first Ugandan to ever be included, decorated with Paul Harris Fellowship-Rotary International. He considered unity of Uganda as the best mission for political leadership of the country.
The time-conscious, responsible celebrity who could never tolerate punctuality being defeated, Dr. Kisekka was a model personality and a grand source of inspiration to both young and old. He remained a presidential adviser until his death. He died at University College Hospital in London, England, of a heart attack on 25 October 1999, while awaiting heart surgery.
He was an ardent member and an Elder of the Seventh-day Adventist Church and a very religious man, was Director of Uganda YMCA for a period of ten years from 1965 through 1975. He was a life member of the Uganda Bible Society, and a member of the International Religious Liberty Organization since 1987. He was married and had several children.
Rebuilding Uganda (
Dialogue Interview with Samson Kisekka (Volume 1, No. 2 (1989))
# How did you feel when you were asked to be prime minister?
I was overwhelmed with the weight of the responsibility. I couldn’t be sad, because it was a chance to help my people. Yet I couldn’t be glad, because I didn’t know what to expect in the future. But I thought that God could use me since I knew my people’s problems, their fears, and their potential. For me this is an opportunity to help them rebuild the country through national restructure, and also to help them rebuild their own lives through spiritual reformation. I believe Uganda can get better!
# How does one lead a country?
Like anything worthwhile, it takes thought, wisdom, and hard work. But I strongly believe that part of the master strategy for governing any nation includes effective communication:
(1) To give clear directions about our programs;
(2) to encourage people and unite them on a common agenda;
(3) to be specific in what we want people to do to achieve success;
(4) to support positive action in needed areas; and
(5) to develop self-reliance and regularly check progress. Government service is not easy, but when we see even a little progress it is very rewarding.
# What was it like to live in Uganda under two consecutive dictatorships?
It was dark and terrible. The prospects appeared glum. Liberties were curtailed, people were being killed. We prayed a lot during those years and waited for God to show us what to do. I and millions of other Ugandans felt powerless. If you spoke up or sought to bring about lawful change, you endangered your life and the lives of your family. We did what we could to help and then just trusted God.
# It was during that period of persecution that you had to go into exile. What was it like?
It was one of the most disturbing periods of my life. On Christmas 1981 we had to leave behind all our possessions—farms, hospital, belongings, everything! I didn’t believe God caused those terrible things to happen, yet allowed them to take place. This was hard for all Christians in Uganda. But I’m thankful God carried us through.
# You often refer to your childhood in your speeches and writings. What lessons did you learn then?
My father was a chief in Uganda, and he taught us the value of service to others. From him and from my mother we learned lessons of discipline, industry, cheerful contentment, and determination. Without their example and a Christian upbringing, I would have been nothing.
# Who are some of the people who have been positive models for your life?
There have been many. I consider George Washington Carver worthy of commendation for his ingeniousness; Booker T. Washington, for his reliance on self-help; Mahatma Gandhi, for his humane civil persistence; Florence Nightingale, for her self-sacrificing service; Martin Luther King, Jr., for standing up for the oppressed and mistreated; William DuBois, for his concepts on freedom and independence. I also think highly of Kenneth Kaunda for his courageous outspokenness; of Julius Nyerere, for his openness in leadership; and of Sandro Pertini, for his magnanimous support of Africa. I have been also inspired by Bible characters such as Joseph, Daniel, Esther, and most notably, by Jesus Christ, who is the supreme example of a true mature Christian leader.
# What motivated you to be a medical doctor?
I saw the health needs of my people and felt I could be of best service in this area. I also knew that my father had unnecessarily died of an illness because a colonial doctor chose to go on a safari rather than to give him the medical treatment he needed. That hurt me very badly. I determined that as Ugandans we had to do something to help ourselves. As a professional, I have always tried to give anyone the medical attention he needed when he needed it.
# What made you decide to become a Seventh-day Adventist?
In 1954 I attended some public meetings that the Seventh-day Adventists held in Kampala, and I became convinced that they were teaching Bible truth. I must confess that I was very surprised when I discovered that according to the Scriptures the true Sabbath was on Saturday, but when my wife and I saw it we accepted it. We were also attracted by the kindness of Seventh-day Adventists, and immediately knew that their Christian teachings were just what the people of Africa needed. I was also greatly influenced by Dr. E. E. Cleveland, a black Seventh-day Adventist evangelist who conducted meetings in Kampala in 1955.
# Dr. Kisekka, we know that through the Seventh-day Adventist Welfare Association (SED- AWA) you played a leading role in preserving the church during the period or persecution In Uganda. What are some or the needs or your church today?
Several important areas deserve attention. Provide more comprehensive education and training for church leaders. Ensure that new believers thoroughly understand the teachings of the Bible. Involve laypersons in the operation of church organizations. Remind leaders, both young and old, that they must look, talk, and act like leaders if they want to deserve the respect of the members. In education stress the value not only of book knowledge, but also of the practical skills in agriculture and in the technical fields. By meeting these needs the church will be better prepared to face the future.
# What are some of your general concerns now?
I am getting older and I don’t know how much longer I will be in office. My strongest desire is to have good, wise, strong, honest leaders ready to assume the responsibility of leading this nation and my church. I believe that Jesus is coming back to this earth, as he promised, and that when he does he will do away with all the problems we are now facing. But in the meantime, by God’s grace, I plan to be faithful as a Christian and as a leader until my last day.
dialogue.adventist Volume 1, No. 2 (1989)