Abwooli Rujumba Omurungi w’Abasambu, I perceive you now should be desperately indulging those wonderful and indefatigable repositories of our people’s knowledge and bearers of their sacrosanct secrets, the elders, seeking their aid in interpreting the curious case of a kinsman’s prolonged silence.
I can imagine you take those royal but slightly impatient strides, traversing the nooks and crooks of our old beloved village Nyangahya, throwing yourself into the homesteads of those to whom Al- Majid, the All-Glorious, Has bestowed the abundant gift of demystifying events, all the while in search for answers.
Trouble your gentle feet no more my kinsman. For the last twelve or so months, I was holed up at the Law Development Centre pursuing a Postgraduate Diploma in Legal Practice which, if passed, qualifies me for the practice of law in Uganda. I must say it was both a humbling and fulfilling experience.
Today, however, I write of the passing on to eternity of a wonderful and trusted friend whom in the early years of our knowing each other told me he was Tobin Josh. It was about 3pm on Tuesday the 20th day of August 2013 that I returned a call that had gone unanswered from a friend Tumukunde Benjamin.
Upon picking up, the ever-calm Mr. Tumukunde sounded strangely distraught and broken, and, from the tell of things, I predicted something had gone fatally wrong. Little wonder then that when in a few seconds he spoke of the tragic loss to Sickle-cell Anemia of our mutual friend, my fears were confirmed!
Now, Abwooli, how can one fittingly eulogize a man of such character as Tobin Josh Sahib Ojok—that wonderful bespectacled Itesot from Lira, without appearing to be buckling yet again to that despisable human tendency of speaking benignly of a departed one at his funeral as if that is all there is to speak!
We must have met around 2009 in one symposium which was hosted at Makerere University’s Lumumba Hall. He instantly struck me as man of frugal disposition, refined habits and excellent intellect. What a rich cocktail he was in combining the cheerfulness of the Itesot and finer qualities of the Langi!
We continued to exchange thereafter on a motley of subjects ranging from Pan-Afrikanism, Geo-politics, Colonialism, Law, Art and Economics—at which he excelled by far. But it was always on matters touching upon governance and respect for fundamental human rights that one would see the lion debater in him.
He always argued that much of Uganda’s so-called major problems today mainly stemmed from the arrogant refusal of those seized with power to learn from our harassed history. A way around this thus had to urgently be gotten if the country were to be saved from descending into further political abyss.
He proposed that there needed to be formed proactive think-tanks in Universities and other tertiary institutions which would then act as a launch-pad for the arousal of the greater national consciousness. Ideas generated from these sessions would then be distributed to the populace through publications.
Such was the mind of the man, Abwooli. Not one wont to deriving pleasure from criticizing and personality profiling, but advising. It was always left to those he sought to offer alternative solutions to contemporary problems to take or leave them. For him, he had played his part in building his country.
Unfortunately he dies at a moment when the country hungers for much more men as him. Men of impeccable integrity and unadulterated love for country. Selfless men that sacrifice so much in search for the solutions to their country’s problems and yet are so humble as to expect nothing in return.
In Tobin, the country has lost a man whose smile radiated the hopes of his generation; a ferocious reader, consummate economist, fine gentleman, excellent debater; country- music lover; skilled editor and budding writer. One wonders why death must always come knocking upon the doors of good men!