Senior presidential advisor on media affairs John Nagenda, is dead.
Nagenda, a veteran journalist died on Saturday afternoon at Medipal International Hospital in Kampala where he had been admitted for weeks, according to the presidency.
“He had been admitted to hospital for three months,” President Museveni’s deputy Press Secretary, Faruk Kirunda told this publication on phone.
Nagenda who lived in England for over 10 years before returning to Uganda has been a writer and newspaper columnist since the 1960s.
Minister in Charge of the Presidency, Milly Babalanda said Nagenda was unique, principled and knowledgeable.
“I regret to announce the passing on of Senior Presidential Advisor on Media Matters, Mzee John Nagenda, who has passed on at Medipal in Kampala. He was unique, principled and knowledgeable. His services will be dearly missed,” she tweeted.
He attended Namutamba Primary School, King’s College Budo and Kigezi High School before joining Makerere University for an honours degree in English.
Although he loved academics, he was also a good sportsman.
“I played football, cricket, tennis and athletics. To this day, I have a house in Mengo where I had a tennis court,” he said in an interview with this publication’s sister station, NTV-Uganda in 2020.
Born John Mwesigwa Robin Nagenda on April 25, 1938 in Rwanda, the former cricketer played a One Day International (ODI) in the 1975 World Cup for East Africa. He appeared in one first-class cricket match in England in 1975, and played cricket for Uganda.
As a writer of fiction and poetry in the 1960s, he is regarded as having been one of the pioneers of writing in East Africa.
He said he started writing while he was at Budo in 1950s.
He once worked in Nairobi at the Oxford University Press before travelling to the United States of America where he lived and spent years criticizing Ugandan governments of the time.
“I’m lucky to have lived outside Uganda. If I had stayed here (Uganda), I would have been killed, I’m sure. I would never have shut up because I can’t,” he said.
He returned to Uganda after Yoweri Museveni captured power through a guerrilla warfare in 1986.
“From that time onwards I am in the National Resistance Movement (NRM). It’s not perfect because sometimes I have little fights with the rulers of whom I am one,” he said.
In his One Man’s Week column of March 3, 2018 Nagenda, wrote: “If the Movement is currently being wafted by some high winds, not of change but staleness, it is not to be wondered at, for four decades is a hugely long time in politics. Children at the start of it are now beginning to feel the wobble of middle age. Those with achieved property and riches (not always without the stench of corruption!) take their most comfortable station in life without a backward glance, thus missing the glares of those who stagger in their wake.
But in 2020, he said he was done chastising the regime and President Museveni who’s six years younger than him.
“I think in Museveni we have a very good leader. Some people think he has been on the chair for too long. I used to write and say it’s time he went but these days, I don’t do so, not because I’m afraid of him, but because when I look around I can’t see anybody else who could do the job. He’s done a fantastic job. He lives for Uganda, and he’s never happier than when he’s talking to Bakopi (common people),” Nagenda told NTV in 2020.
He further prognosticated Mr Museveni’s 2021 victory against Mr Robert Kyagulanyi, alias Bobi Wine, and said it should be his last term as president.
“He will win… in 2021…. but I think those should be the last five years. I also think he should start training a successor. But if he has no intention of doing it, I’ll lecture him about it, Even though I can’t see anybody who could take his place…but you can’t find anybody if you’re not looking for them,” Mr Nagenda told then NTV’s Agnes Nandutu who’s now Bududa District Woman MP and State Minister for Karamoja Affairs in the Office of the Prime Minister.