by Conrad Nkutu
I met Eriya Kategaya at Forest Mall two weeks before he was hospitalised. We have had a long friendship that was unfortunately diluted at the level of face to face contact by his about-turn when he rejoined Museveni’s Cabinet.
He had been away from work for about 6-8 months after a back problem compressed his lower spinal cord and paralysed him. He was just learning to walk again and was using a cane, which saddened me. I did not know about the blood clot at the time and I wonder now if he himself did.
Typical Eriya, he was in his aging 15-year old personal Volvo. When I asked about the govt 4-wheeler, he smiled and said he had been away from work for a very long time and could not justify using a state vehicle while on sick leave!
I respected his historical contribution to the country but always felt that having to discuss his about-turn would embarass us both, given the strong views he’d earlier given me in private and in public and my continued respect for him.
Reflecting on this though, I would still say he was a very good man and a committed patriot who did things that left the country a better place than he found it. If he was to ask me to judge him, I would say: “No problem Eriya, just like the rest of us, you did not do enough good. But unlike some people in that government, you did no evil. Perhaps we expected more from you than the reality of your relationship with Museveni and the limitations of your personal power and influence could deliver in practice and you retained my respect to the very end…” Rest in Peace.