REMEMBERING ANOTHER SPORTS HERO- BENSON MASANDA


Benson Masanda is a good person, he is a humble person by nature and not because the times have changed. He is also a kind person. I knew him for many years and had also the pleasure to be in the National Boxing Team with him. At work, he was also with me in the UAF, as I was in-chage of Boxing in the Uganda Armed Forces and Captain for the UG National Boxing Team.

I met him when I left prison and he treated me just like a brother. He was already working with the new Uganda government of the UNLF, just before I had the courage to accept re-enstatement in the new UG military services. He gave me the courage and also advised me that it was the only way for me to be alive. He personally accompanied me to my re-enstatement and as he had advised me, I was grateful that I accepted his advice. I have lost his contact and that of Tom Kawere. I believe that I am alive today because of the brotherhood exhibited to me by Benson Masanda, Tom Kawere and others I shall mention some other time.

Sports in Uganda brought us together, as I stated in my previous article. As sportsmen and women, we simply were as close as a family. In one of my e-mails to the UAH, I wrote about the time I met John Akii-Bua at the Airport in Germany. Akii-Bua had accompanied the father of President A. Milton Obote for treatment. It was joy to meet. The feeling was mutual, although he was close to the family of the President whose government I had fled. As sportmen and women the politics of our country did not concern us personally, or should I state that we did not envolve ourselves in politics, but saw ourselves as a family. Even today, some Ugandans at Heart don’t understand why I show respect to the leaders of Uganda today and always write to discourage violence and find another way to unite our people and work together for the good of our country.

Today, I had the pleasure to talk to Mzee Peter Grace Sseruwagi, thanks to John Nsubuga who availed the contact. The old man has not forgotten my language. We spoke Runyoro / Rutooro throughout our conversation and he never made a single mistake in grammar. We agreed that I call him again tomorrow afternoon. He told me though, that Mityana is the nearest town from his village, but that it is 18 (eighteen) miles away. I told him about the article I conveyed to the UAH and the postive response we have seen from fellow Ugandans who wish him well.

My idea was for Mzee Sseruwagi to open a Bank account to which he could save donations the kind Ugandans at Heart may be willing to send him. As we spoke, I suggested to send him some money by Western Union and he told me that I should call him tomorrow afternoon, so that he will advise me how best we can convey any donations to him. With this e-mail, may I appeal to all of us to kindly help our Mzee. We may keep the discussion here on how best to help, but I promise to contribute Euro 150 at the beginning of this coming week. With this money he may open a Bank account to which he can be able to keep the donations from the Ugandans at Heart who wish him well. I await further discussion with Mzee Sseruwagi, tomorrow afternoon.

Talking to Mzee Sseruwagi on the phone, his voice simply provoked the tears of joy, so that I kept wiping the tears from my eyes as we spoke. All of a sudden, my memory flashed back to the days when we used to sit at the dining table after the evening boxing training, listening to him, as he talked about his past boxing tournaments. I remembered how he used to discourage us from ‘professional boxing’ and perhaps all of us thought that he did not wish us well. At times I thought that he wanted us to remain and keep the UG team strong, therefore to maintain his good name as a successful National Boxing Coach. But today, I know that he wanted the best for us and not simply to keep his good name, as I’ve just stated.

For now, let us discuss how best we can be of help to Mzee Peter Grace Sseruwagi. I shall talk with him tomorrow and perhaps some of you have also spoken to him, or intend to do so.

Byaruhanga Jonny Rubin.
UAH member in Netherlands.

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