Kajabago ka Rusoke; A Maverick Cadre, Intellectual, and Pan-Africanist goes to rest

Friday, June 18, 2021

Comrade Kajabago ka Rusoke, the lanky and maverick Marxist intellectual, who died this week aged 86, was son of Samson Rusoke, the Omuhiikirwa (prime minister) of Tooro under the reign of Sir George Kamurasi Rukidi Mpuuga, grandfather to the current Omukama Oyo Nyimbwa Ibamba Iguru. Rusoke also served the first reign of Oyo’s father, Patrick Olimi Kaboyo from 1965 to 1967 when kingdoms were abolished.

Known to friends and rabid critics simply as Kajabago, has been one of the most dependable true ideologues of the NRM revolution from the early days. Since he never believed and confessed publicly that God didn’t exist, it would be an affront to him to say let his soul rest in eternal peace. He extolled the unchallenged power of the state and its apparatus, and rebuked mechanical application of the doctrine of separation of power, arguing eloquently that it was indivisible. As a thinker and prolific writer, Kajabago never shied from invoking the State’s use of coercive means to subdue, or destroy, if necessary those opposed to it. 

As a “biological substance” as he often referred to all living things, Kajabago, has simply turned into another state of matter, in conformity with the laws of the negation of the negation, which he taught in philosophy, political economy, and ideology. As a universal law of contradictions his life has entered into a perpetual contradiction with nature where he now rests. 

I first met Kajabago at the NRA School of Political Education (SOPE) in Kitala, Katabi sub-county, on Entebbe road, 1988, where together with late Noble Mayombo and Shaban Bantariza, we taught soldiers political education, supervised by two rabid NRM ideologues, Ondoga ori Amaza (RIP Capt.), and Amanya Mushega (Maj.) then deputy minister of Defence.

While some of us might have slacked, Kajabago remained till death one of the most consistent ideologists of the NRM not in general terms, but in his clarity of the philosophy, political economy, practice and trajectory of the revolution. I doubt if Kajabago ever had a bank account, or appetite to accumulate earthly material possessions of please. He was an institution in itself by sharing his deep knowledge and world view with different strata of people, young, old, in and out school, and on the streets. 

At the National Leadership Institute, Kyankwanzi, where we have been teachers, students who returned for refreshers programs or those who had heard about him often demanded more of his fiery lectures in philosophy and political economy. A course was never considered complete without him giving a dose. 

At a personal level, which l know transcended all his interactions, Kajabago was a loud conversationalist with an amazing dead and live humour, which he applied to kill and resurrect his audiences, including, quite often, President Yoweri Museveni, whom he never called Your Excellency, but simply, Senior Comrade. And he had recently developed a trademark, to come into the lecture theatre with a bag holding his bottles of ‘sanitiser’. And no matter what quantity he had swallowed, would subtract the clarity of his thoughts. The bag also carried his special food, and chicken never missed. Due to old age, Kajabago had developed a limp but employed it more as swag rather a discomforting growing disability.

He lived more like another ideologue, Chango Macho wa’Obanda (RIP), who, I never saw using fork or spoon to eat food because he said his fingers were better and superior. Kajabago was ever smartly dressed in very bright single colour of snow-white, yellow or green. Whatever he chose to wear was single colour, perhaps not to give any drop of dirt the chance to hide.

While still in the bush, NRM was variously described as Communist, Marxist, Socialist, or even without any ideology, and bandits. And this stood to reason because it united traditionalists, feudalists, peasantry, monarchists, practicing church leaders like Fr. Leo Kyazze Sseguya, and known socialists like Yoweri Museveni. NRM embraced atheists like Chango Macho and Kajabago, who all struggled for the common good. Museveni had come from cattle-herding origins. That is what Prof. Kajabago ka Rusoke was.

It is safe to assume that Kajabago grew up within the precincts of Karuziika, the royal palace of Tooro and probably was being groomed into aristocracy. But, in furtherance of his academic career, Kajabago, of all countries, went to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), then the citadel of world communism with a total disbelief and disdain for rule by birth or monarchism. Communism had atheism, a total refusal that God exists.

Like Chango Macho, Kajabago openly and repeatedly stated that he doesn’t believe in God or any deity and that he held a very dim view of those who cherished what he considered unscientific beliefs. I shall not reproduce any of his statements on things supernatural, especially God or Mary, Mother of Jesus, because they belong exclusively to Kajabago and he is gone. But l can say that this prevented many people from paying attention to his extremely important teachings, yet, atheism, constituted a very tiny part of Kajabago’s Epistles.

Amazingly however, this revolutionary atheist was a firm believer in the traditions of Tooro. He was exceedingly proud of his ‘Wahuma’ ancestry and when fortified with something bottled, was never afraid to say that Men were NOT EQUAL, but that for some to load it on others was unacceptable. That is how controversial Kajabago was to those who didn’t know him.

If he ever understood him at all, one man who Kajabago petrified was our venerable man of letters, John Nagenda, aka “One Man’s Week”. Appearing before the “Commission of Inquiry into Human Rights Violations 1962-1896”, in 1987, Kajabago’s testimony rattled some of the commissioners. This was where Kajabago infamously described the past regime leaders as “the enemy” and “mere biological substances” which made headline news for weeks.

For the NRM, Kajabago’s departure proves that the ranks of the Old Revolutionaries are thinning, not because of natural causes but for lack of replacement through deliberate training of cadres. Although it is not too late, it is indeed late, for there is no way to properly salute Comrade Kajabago ka Rusoke without watering the revolutionary seed he has been nourishing in the last 60 years. Adieu Senior Comrade!