By K. David Mafabi
Yesterday, I received the very painful news that Compatriot Dr. Obyara David Anyoti, had just passed on in Nairobi.
I am most saddened that Dr. Anyoti has passed on away from home – when he could have been here and fully active, and contributing to the drive for national socio-economic transformation. I extend my deepest condolences to his family and friends – both at home and in diaspora.
Dr. Obyara David Anyoti was Minister for Information and Broadcasting in the Obote II Government (1980 – 1985), and a Specially Nominated Member of Parliament.
His father James Anyoti, was Minister of State for National Service (1968 – 1971) in the Obote I Government. Born 1947, Dr. Anyoti was (I think) the youngest Cabinet Minister in the Obote II Government. He was an African Patriot, a distinguished legal scholar and lawyer – educated in Tanzania and the United States.
I first met Dr. Anyoti in 1983 at Makerere University – at a meeting of the Uganda-Korea Friendship Association – when he was a Minister in Government and I was doing my final undergraduate year (I was 22) in Makerere.
I was very impressed by his strong and clear anti-imperialist views, and his position that the African people had to continue the struggle for complete African liberation. After the meeting, as I walked him to his car, he invited me to go and visit him at the Ministry.
As fate would have had it, I, that very year sat and passed a Public Service Commission interview conducted by the late Canon John Bikangaga himself, and was appointed an Information Officer with the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.
I at the same time, also received a scholarship from Bulgaria, to undertake a 1 year Post Graduate course in National Economy Management at the Academy for Social Sciences and Management in Sofia, Bulgaria. When I called on the Minister, he helped to expedite my study leave.
I remain eternally grateful to him and to his memory – I left for Bulgaria, returning home in July 1984. Dr. Anyoti immediately had me transferred me from the Press Section (headed by Mr. Namungalu) to his Office to head the Foreign News Desk.
Thus started a close comradeship and friendship with Dr. Anyoti – which lasted up to 1997, when we disagreed fundamentally on the necessary course of the Ugandan and African revolutions, and related questions of Strategy and Tactics.
We last met and talked in Nairobi in 1997. One of my deepest regrets is that he has passed on without us meeting again to take stock of the issues that divided us in 1997. My other very deep regret is that I have not lived to see him work again with his compatriot Yoweri K. Museveni.
I have however retained the greatest respect for Dr. Anyoti all these years – for his fundamental clarity on the overall challenges for the self-becoming of African peoples. I consider him one of the best merited children of the homeland – in terms of overall ideological clarity.
To him, I owe great debts of gratitude:
He added immensely on the ideological foundation laid by my teachers Prof. Mahmood Mamdani and Dr. Joshua Mugyenyi. This foundation was later to be consolidated with Dr. John Garang and President Yoweri. K. Museveni.
He introduced me (1984) to the struggles of the SPLM/SPLA and the compelling need to support them and their leader, Dr. John Garang.
He introduced me (1984) to Yoga Adhola, Kintu Musoke, Jaberi Bidandi Ssali and Paulo Waibale. Our discussions were always at Sapoba Printery or Nnalongo’s – in Katwe.
I discuss all this and more in greater detail, including my 12 year “Sabbatical” (1985 to 1997) with Dr. Garang and the SPLM/SPLA in the War Zone in South Sudan – in my forthcoming autobiography.
Go well, Compatriot Dr. Obyara David Anyoti! May the African People Bless You in Your Eternal Rest!
The writer is a Senior Presidential Advisor/Special Duties State House