REPATRIATING DEAD BODIES TO UGANDA


My friends,
This is an issue that mainly affects Ugandans in the diaspora. At the height of the HIV/AIDS pandemic in the 1990’s here in London, maybe one body a week was being repatriated. To their credit, a lot of organisations sprung to help, including my own. But people are now questioning whether this time-honoured practice should continue for three reasons:
1. Funeral fatigue has set in. Much as people try to help, the need problem is so relentless.
2. In the UK, the legal loophole we used to get money from the social security system to help in the repatriation has been closed now, so family and well-wishers have to bear the cost.
3. Many children have now grown up in the UK. We now have second and even third generation Ugandans and a good number, like mine, have no connection whatsoever with Uganda. It is this generation that argues against repatriation of bodies, in fact they assert openly that they would never allow their mother or father to be buried in a foreign country where they can not visit the grave. The death of their parents alienates them even more and more from Uganda.
On the weekend we had a meeting about the issue and I would appreciate comments from Ugandans in the diaspora who have had to deal with this issue of repatriation.
On a humorous  and less sombre note, one person who attended the meeting tried to lighten up the conversation. He told a story of a  Ugandan couple, both devout  catholics, who went on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem.The wife had usually been a shrew and a bully. Unfortunately, the wife died in Jerusalem and the husband began the process of repatriating her body to Uganda. The travel agents quoted to him $10,000, an amount he could hardly afford. He went to the priest to get advise. The priest told him:
“But why do you want to repatriate her body to Uganda when you can bury her here in the holy place? And it will cost you only $200 . You can bury her in the cemetery of my church”.
The man pondered for a while and then :
Husband: Father, thank you, but I think I will repatriate her to Uganda.
Priest: But why when it is going to cost you a lot of money. You would be pleased for her to be buried in the holy land would you not?
Husband: Father, many years ago, a man died and was buried here and a few days later, he rose from the grave. I DON’T WANT TO TAKE THAT RISK!!!!
George O.Pacu-Otto
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Comments

19 Comments so far. Leave a comment below.
  1. ugandansatheart,

    To those with authority and power in Uganda:

    1. Are they any plans for Ugandans in Diaspora to start voting in presidential elections? We can start this process with countries that host Ugandan embassies. Already some embassies do encourage Ugandans abroad to register with them while abroad-so they are in position to know who is who abroad. Embassies should be facilitated to continue with the registration process.
    2. Ugandans abroad need help with transporting their dead bodies back home. We really do a lot for the Uganda economy not to get something in return as small as this. I recently witnessed a Ugandan family struggling with funeral costs for the dead one and the feeling was so bad. They tried to get Ugandans to contribute but the money was still pea nuts for the total amount required. Please I request the government to come up with a formidable arrangement to help us with funeral costs. We have already discussed this issue on this forum but we did not conclude it effectively. However, from what I gathered people always need help while in this situation.
    3. I don’t know whether prisoners in Uganda do vote or not unless somebody on this forum helps me out. My take on this is that they should be allowed to vote because they have got rights.They are allowed to vote in Ghana.

    Thank you.

    Abbey.K.Semuwemba

    Concerned citizen

  2. ugandansatheart,

    Dear Abbey.K.Semuwemba

    Concerned citizen

    As much as I appreciate your concern on the plight of Ugandans abroad on poits 1 & 2 there is need for ugandans in diaspora to be serious like the indians as far as their life styles are concerned. Indians come with a mission ans save all their money for a rainy season.We should not expect other people to contribute money( mabugo) to take our dead bodies home.

    When David Basokokwe mentioned it people said he was abusing them. how many of you used to listen to the late Dr.Samson Kisseka’s lectures? One time he amused us when he tested a son of his close relative. This young man approached him and asked for assistance. The Famous Omusawo omutendeke gave him an appointment plus his business card so that they meet in his office.

    The young man went around boasting how he was going to get good money from the big man. VP. He was welcomed at the officed by the personal secretary as per appointment. He entered the VP’s officeand was given a good seat.They talked a wide range of things and at the end of it al, the ”big man” picked a few bags containing seeds of cabbages, tomatoes, onions etc… and told the young man to go and start farming business. He also gave him some money enough to open up some gardens and then called the driver to drive him to his home.

    A few months later the VP expected the young man to be harvesting and decided to give him a surprise visit. On reaching the young man’s home there was not even a single garden to show that his plans had been implemented! The VP later was told that the seeds were sold and that he even left the village.

    The VP told them that the young man had failed a test because his main objective was to turn him into an extensive farmer so that the rest of the villages could learn from him by supporting him in term of agricultural inputs and all the requirement.

    EM has propsed a very good idea of insurance form the bank. Ugandans can also work together as indians are doing in Uganda by having a group account for Bataka Mwezikye which can transport the dead bodies to Uganda. As EM says no government is interested in importing dead bodies.

    On the question of registering with the Ugandan missions abroad, it is the duty of every ugandan to register with the mission as soon as you arrive in that country. In times of disaster and ther is need for evacuations, the mission will only take care of only those who are register with them. I know very many are ignorant of that.You do have to be there physically. Just photocopy relevant pages of your passport including the page with the Visa that allowed you to enter that country.Indicate your physical address and telephone number and what you are doing in that country. Then send these by registered letter to the mission. You may need to put in some passport size photos in case they are neeeded. If the High Commissioner/Ambassador sends these back to you then we shall know that actually these missins refuse to register ugandans.

    David Guma
    UK

  3. ugandansatheart,

    Bro Abbey,

    These a very pertinent questions that you have raised. Thank you.
    Robert Nviri
    UAH FORUMIST

  4. ugandansatheart,

    MwamI Robert Nviri

    I intended to respond to Mwami Ssemuwemba last night but I though I was un subscribed for all my postings last night have not been coming through, well few minutes ago they have started to come through, I guess I did a mistake of calling Buganda pretending supporters a DP bunch yet those are hard facts. So I think I am just moderated for now, and I will respond according to what I see coming out. Our people need kids gloves and we must never tell the facts the way they are. Let me respond to the two reasons Mwami Ssemuwemba raises.

    1} Ugandans in Diaspora are not important for Uganda election, and if I was in a government I would not even spend a penny to enable them for a very simple reason, Uganda is mainly divided into two parts. The rural and the urban, most of the votes that are important and that make a change in Uganda elections are rural votes. If you look carefully into the elections that brought UPC two to power they won mainly in the rural than in the urban. In fact it was in that election that a statement “you can win a Uganda election with out winning a single sit in Buganda” was coined. The Movement has also based its winnings in rular areas, yes some areas in Buganda but mainly out side Bugada and in rural areas, and I remain the only Ugandan reasoning that the movement is winning these elections fairly, and with out malice. The people actually support them. And you can take that truth any where and deposit it. Why do people in the rural Uganda vote for the Movement? Mwami Emmy Wasirwa gave a good writing about this issue, and I beg to add one more. Elections in Uganda are a local issue, it does not matter how much noise you make in the FDC head quarters in Najanankumbi a man sitting in Kinkizi will vote according to the issues in Kinkizi his own village. And twisted as our people are they love what the Movement has done. It has neglected the law and order, it has allowed Police Officers to be corrupt, it has failed to build the roads but in so doing it has allowed the leaders of those local areas to be the masters of the universe. They go to the people and talk to them on a daily basis, so the campaigning to the Movement is a daily business. Use Mwami Wasirwa’s example to the Police Officers, Wasirwa did not understand any thing to do but to go to court and be charged if he has a case. A Ugandan in Kinkizi would have paid the bribe and moved on for he and the Police Officers would have been friends up to today. So as the Police Officers eat they are friendly with a society that has been turned into corruption and every one sees a light in this kind of administration.

    Through corruption every one is making money, and Ugandans are making very serious money through this corruption. If you ask them why they vote for the movement they tell “Munange omusajja atukirizza netukola ssente” So to them selling that Aspirin that was supposed to be in hospital is better to them that having it in a hospital and that is why Uganda has been turned into Dog eats Dog. This system will continue on till elections and they again will back their dead government and the cycle continues. All those dollars you hear the world bank sending to Uganda run in the population and Uganda Government that is why they have managed to build those houses. They are built on debts to be paid by your children and grand children. The Ugandans in the urban centers, many vote according to issues, but many are eaten by DP, if DP gets a good leadership, a new vibrant and focused leader, DP can beat FDC because it will take most of the urban votes than FDC. There is a huge fear about FDC because it has a mirror of Movement covering it, and Ugandans know it, but DP has failed to get a leadership. And if I was a member of DP I would go back into the by laws and remove a by law which states that to lead this party one must be a Catholic. That statement is going to hold them back in 2008.

    With that back ground, how will an Edward Mulindwa in Toronto be able to vote for an MP in KInkizi? I am far out and un informed on local issues that at all stretch I will end up voting with the rural vote, and that is why mwami Ssemuwemba is asking for these votes for he know they will all end up in the FDC hands. Educate Ugandans teach them what a good government is and educate them the good things they can plan for the future Uganda and let them vote. And if you are so touched by the election in Uganda, this one is going to be held in 2010 can’t you save between an election to the next to get a ticket to go to Uganda and vote? Give me a break. Fly into Uganda two weeks before the election and elect. You have a government that has a real problem maintaining her embassies running, the one in London has been threatened many times to be closed and you want them to pay for your love of your nation? Many of our embassies especially in the Western countries are running thanks to the Rwandese government and now you want the Rwandese to pay for our hydro but also bring a bucket for you to drop in a vote? Go home and vote.

    2} On shipping the bodies at home I have done this explanation many times and I do not need to repeat it. It is shallow useless old culture and plain stupid. If getting buried home is that crucial for you, there are things called insurance in these countries buy them. You can buy a policy to only return you home to be baked. And guess what? When you are many people as members in this forum Abbey Ssemuwemba can buy a policy from Loyds of London and all members and their families will be insured to be shipped home. Ugandans must stop to think in charities because now you want to turn Uganda government into an NGO when you die out side, did they bring you out side? You are here on your own, use the system you have here and then get your little and petty corpses sent home. Go to you bank and open up a bank account to ship you home when you have died, do some thing for God’s sake instead of asking for government’s well fare. And how exactly do you want this done? A minister of finance putting up a budget of importing dead Ugandans?

    Mwami Ssemuwemba surely you can do better than that.

    EDWARD MULINDWA
    Toronto

  5. ugandansatheart,

    Mw. Abbey, no govt under the sun will take your body back. You better open an account for the return of your demise. What does your Local Authority do whom you pay your yearly council tax?

    Some illegal immigrant died here about 6 months ago, people made so much noise to return the copse to S/leone but the LA refused, took the body and burnt it.

    You guys you are not serious. You go to Uganda and buy beer for everyone in the bar and you can not transport your copses? Did the govt send you here or have you seen any president accusing you for not sending money home?

    This really should not have originated from Abbey.

    As for voting at the Embassies, I think this is possible but you will be surprised at Uganda Embassy, if you voted for your FDC, the High Commissioner would along the way give them to whoever sent him/her here.

    Youi are Amazing.

    Eng.David Basobokwe
    London

  6. ugandansatheart,

    Mw. Mulindwa,

    Thank you for your contribution on this thread. However, I have heard that
    Israelis do all they can to take back their dead to Israel. Why not
    Ugandans? So far Ugandans we have been doing well in this area, to the envy
    of other nations.
    ROBERT NVIRI

  7. ugandansatheart,

    Bwana Abbey,
    While the first two points raised are of great value, point number 3 needs more flesh on its bones. Any national constitution stipulates what are the citizens’ rights and puts bars on them, because if they were to be free from bars, total anachy would have been in place in any given community, nation and so on. In Europe and USA, a citizen not only relies on the rights granted by own constitution, but also European Convention of Human Rights..especially articles 1-13(in UK Human Rights Act 1998) and Bill of Rights(USA). However, those rights, that is, ECHR and Bill of Rights are again subject to restrictions.

    For the case of prisoners to still be allowed to participate in their respective national political affairs, e.g voting, I would should suggest it to depend on the graveness of the offences committed, the way it is done in USA. In this case, only prisoners who are convicted/charged of minor/petty offences deserve the right to vote. Those ones who commit serious offences/felony don’t deserve the right at all as they disregard or undermine the importance of those rights in the course of violating them. Aagain, if you revist the ECHR(HRA 1998), the Bill of Rights and any other country’s constitution, be it UK, Japan etc, you will find bars/restrictions on those rights.
    ROBERT SSENKINDU
    SWEDEN

  8. ugandansatheart,

    Dear all,
    I really get baffled as how ugandans are obsessed with how and where they are burried. I would have no quarrel with anyone getting burried in whatever way and wherever he wishes provided the individual in question made prior arrangements to fund this activity. It makes no sense to spend $12,000 to
    transport a body for burial and then on the burial day someone makes an apeal for contributions to the deceased’s children’s school fees. my appeal to my brothers out there is that, it is your right to get burried wherever, but please do make prior arrangements for it.
    Godfrey Bwire
    UAH forumist

  9. ugandansatheart,

    This living in the 21st century thing is to me living in the dark ages when it comes to burning people. Why burn? the bazungu burn because they do not have space. We can not copy every thing even those we have no idea why they exist in the first place. Some do it for religious reasons, some for caltural reasons, and some for luck of space, and why should we cremate? When I was young, I used to see the hindus burn dead bodies at Naguru, and every time the liver or the kidnneys exploded, they clapped their hands and shouted. The ash was later transported to Kololo near Jinja rd for burrial. To them, its normal, to me its disgusting. Don’t burn the man.

    John Nsubuga(Charles Kibuka)
    UAH FORUMIST

  10. ugandansatheart,

    In Ugandan culture families wish to have graveyards and so ash will serve a purpose in this case. The problem in our country though is that we still live he past. We need to understand that we are in the 21st century and immediately style up. However as for me if I die and anybody tries to burry me in the coldland more than ten clan members will be here straight away and exhumation procedure will be executed through courts of law. Unfortunately this is not because of my wish but because of the ignorance of my clan.

    Emmy Wasirwa
    UAH forumist
    London

  11. ugandansatheart,

    The successfuly popular participatory democracy through resistance now local councils/committees, has been a successfull experiment. Islam does not allow cramation and i think Christianity and Judaism don’t do so. Uganda is a religious and traditional country.
    Ahmed Katerega
    Newvision

  12. ugandansatheart,

    Abby Ssemuwemba

    So in all Ugandans from Diaspora that have gone to Uganda and got murdered you are asking why we are taking mortgages. Let me put it this way sir, if Uganda government respected our lives I would not even have waited to be 40. It is un believable how Baganda do not see Uganda’s problem, Abbey had you been an Acholi would have you been eating organic food from Apach today?

    I honestly did not expect that from an informed person like your self but here we are.

    Just on record.Uganda government actually has a fund managed by embassies to ship Ugandans at home, and this government has used those same funds to send Westerners home. Whether the fund is still available or not is another question, but I know that for a fact it existed. All you had to do was to talk to the Embassy and prove the citizenship of the defunct.

    Edward Mulindwa
    Toronto

  13. ugandansatheart,

    You see Emmy, we’re a government in waiting and I don’t want this to turn out to be a problem for us in the future. I will defend government on this issue, that it is not their duty to transport those dead things back home. They can not afford it, for there is simply too many Ugandans scattered around the world. This short life expectancy thing seems to follow them even out of Uganda too. Yes! if you’re a Ugandan, living abroad, and over the age of 45-50, you should know your living on a bonus. Every thing about you is expired, you’re not supposed to be here, and you should start saving just in case disaster strikes. This doesn’t include Ugandans that were born and raised in first world countries, and those who migrated at ages below six on average.

    In the 90’s Ugandans in the UK where dyeing at a rate of 3 per day, mainly because of aids. By now, you already have a rough idea how much it would cost to transport a dead body from the UK to Entebbe. Ugandan’s, especially those in advanced ages, should seriously consider putting aside some savings to transport their dead thing back home to Uganda. You hear them say that, when I die, I want to be buried in Uganda. After they die, you can not trace a dollar to buy kwete for the mourners, and you wonder why? I insist we should not be too hash on our own by cremating them, but if we can not raise money to transport the body back home, we should give them a decent burial here, there, or any where.

    In the 90’s, I attended the burial of Binaisa the former president’s daughter in Denmark, and I do not see any problem with that. But for me I insist that, should I die out side Uganda, the government should shoulder the burden to transport back my dead thing regardless. Mine is a special case, for they know I hate them, and its in their interest to make sure that there is proof, omusajja agenze. They will have to wait for a very long time though. I know what the fortune reader has told me.

    John Nsubuga

  14. ugandansatheart,

    I am amazed that some of you are asking the government to be of assistance in terms of transporting the dead back to Uganda. I have a few questions: Did the government send us out in our countries of domicile? Does the government help Byamukama from Kambuga in Kanungu district transport the body of his son that has drowned in Sezibwa river or hit by a car at corner kilak? Do we send the money to our people at home throught the government or we do it privately, willingly and sometimes clandestinely? I can understand if the government funds the return of its employees from abroad but to ask it to cater for all of us abroad is just a wastage of taxpayers’ money. Yes I know that a lot of money is stolen and wasted but that does not justfy the issue. I say: let the government use all or any extra money (assuming that there is any left considering the grand theft in the country) on those guys in Bukakata, Ishasha, Chua, Sebei, Hoima, Bweyogerere, etc who toil day in day out for a mere survival as if there is no government in the country. “Let the dead bury their dead” using the methods and in places which all of us (especially those in the diaspora should plan for if at we’re to be considered “educated not learned per se) since we know that such calamities are inevitable. And do not misunderstand that I do not care about my friends’ or family’s departed for I have contributed a good amount of my hard earned money during my stay in US, Canada, Botswana and Kenya.
    Cliff Musimenta mwene Kinyagyiro

  15. ugandansatheart,

    Emmy,BK and JN,
    I agree with Charles that Ugandans in the age group 49-60 should not even be in foreign countries in the first place. They should be at home eating that organic food and enjoying the sun shine. There is no better place to grow old and die from than at home. There is no better medicine to keep one’s body healthy than consuming organic food. That is why I’m amazed at Ugandans who keep mortgaging homes abroad instead of building homes at home when they are already in their 40s. It is not economical in the long run and very expensive compared to someone investing in Uganda. Africa is changing its economic outlook. Those investing in structures now at a cheaper cost in Uganda or Africa will be the millionaires of tomorrow -other factors remaining constant.

    As for costs of transporting a dead body to Uganda, this is more of a touching subject. The balugwala in North London have got an organisation that helps fellow tribes mate in this situation. It is my understanding that every body who is a member chips in with some agreed amount of money at the end of every month. It is more like an insurance company for the Balugwala community in North London. So this could be one way of meeting this problem. Ugandans in various parts of the world can start up an organisation to help them when disaster strikes.

    I would also like to ask the government to set up an amount of money that it can contribute to the transportation of dead bodies of Ugandans abroad. The government does not need to meet the full costs but they should help. There is a lot of money being wasted by the government back home through silly projects like: delivering VIP babies abroad, giving big allowances for trips made by ministers and the like abroad, e.t.c. The Ugandans abroad have now replaced coffee as the biggest income generators to the economy of Uganda. Surely, they should be helped in one way or the other. It is very difficult to save money to the tune of $7000 while abroad. Ugandans abroad send most of their money back home to meet the problems of their relatives and friends. We can’t save so much. We send reference numbers on a daily basis. Honestly, we deserve a pat at the back in form of transporting our dead bodies when we die. We would all like to be buried at home and prayed for by our relatives and friends. We need government facilitation on this one though we never supported the 3rd term facilitation. Providing us dual citizenship in the constitution is not enough. Please Mukyala Beti Kamya, take our views to the parliament of Uganda.

    Thank you.

    Abbey.K.Semuwemba

    GOD BLESS

  16. ugandansatheart,

    JN,
    Why shouldnt the government do the needful if the transportation cost is as
    expensive as the current one in USA. At the end of the day the more the body
    stays in the morgue the more expensive it becomes. Why should we bail out
    the government whenever they fail to do what they are supposed to do.
    Actually that is what any government is supposed to do. To account to the
    public all of her people. If it cant then we need somebody who can do this
    to us. We pay taxes to help us who are in need but not to help those who eat
    the GAVI fund and then the interest be paid by us. At the of the day,
    somebody should be responsible if there is no policy on this the government
    need to tell us about it.
    However I do find your opinion confusing; on one hand you support the
    government on the other you want the government to recover your carcus to
    Uganda when you pass on to the next stage of your life.

    Emmy Wasirwa

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