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Jack Mucunguzi

Eulogy: Jack Mucunguzi, The General in Civilian Clothes

posted onJune 20, 2023

By Dennis Katungi

Jack Mucunguzi who breathed his last on Sunday 18th June was a remarkable man. Although liver cancer quickly ravaged his body and finally took him, it did not touch his soul. He remained a resilient fighter to the end. Born to Mr & Mrs Nathan Bahuuku on 2nd August 1958, he studied at Mbarara High School. He joined Fronasa forces in 1979. When he completed Cadet course, he was deployed to Kitgum. 

Soldier, Munduli cadet [17 Long], rebel-combatant [one of the 27 who attacked Kabamba], senior bush war Commander [Abdul Nasser],Corporate Security Manager and finally businessman.  He transited through these stages, surviving extreme adversity, remaining resilient and upwardly mobile.

It is on record that Jack exited the NRA on the instruction of the Commander in Chief, Yoweri Museveni. He had shot and killed a colleague, Hannington Mugabi in the bush. Jack was saved the guillotine by the Commander in Chief who commuted his sentence and discharged him from NRA.


In the photo above: Jack & Jim Muhwezi [sqwarting], L to R: The lates Sam Magara, Hannington Mugabi, Museveni & the late Rubereza. [1981]

Mucunguzi left the bush and went straight to exile in Nairobi until 1986, when the war ended.  Earlier in 1979, his course-mates at Monduli [Cadet 17 Long] included Gen Joram Mugume, Gen Katumba Wamala, the late Gen Elly Tumwine, the late Gen Pecos Kutesa, the late Col Napoleon Rutambika, the late Hannington Mugabi and others.  There’s no doubt that - had he not been compelled to leave NRA in those circumstances, he certainly would have been a General Officer of UPDF.

Jack was not held back by that tragic incident in the bush when he returned to Uganda.  I have read most of the books on the NRA bush war; The Mustard Seed, by President Museveni, Impassioned for Freedom by Eliya Kategaya, Betrayed by my Leader by  Maj. John Kazora, How I saw it - by Gen Pecos Kutesa and Combatants, a Memoir of the Bush War by William Pike. They all skirt around the incident or leave it out altogether. The reader is left none the wiser on what exactly transpired.

I got to know Jack in 1988.  I had just completed my A ‘levels.  During the long vacation, I got employed at the Coffee Marketing Board, where he was the Principal Security Manager. Jack gave me the first induction of the huge Coffee Plant at Bugolobi where his office was. He then handed me over to the late Jolly Ngabirano [sister to the late Gen. Aronda] who was at Amber House, the CMB headquarters for deployment.  As a naïve young student, I give credit to Mr Sam Kigundu, then Deputy Board Secretary who employed me on recommendation. Strait from School, with the help of these few [now departed souls] save for Sam Kigundu, I was settled into the world of work.

In CMB circles, Jack Mucunguzi was known as the no nonsense - tough incorruptible ex-Soldier. Wherever there was trouble or a whiff of wrong-doing in that huge Organisation [CMB], Jack was dispatched to sort it out. The Coffee Marketing Board was a huge and rich Organisation. We had branches all over the place. Mombasa, Dar es salam, London, New York etc. As the Officer responsible for staff travelling abroad, my desk handled passports [processing], buying air tickets, processing airport tax and arranging per diem for all Executive travel. Quite often I handled Jack’s travel between our branches, alongside other officers. He was among the most frequent fliers who included [Dr James Makumbi, Ernest Kakwano, Elly Rwakakoko, Sam Rugundu, Okoed, Waswa Birigwa and Peter Bibangamba. 

That team was soon joined by Hannington Karuhanga and Henry Ngabirano hired straight from exile in London. I dealt with Jack quite regularly because of his travels. I noticed the name sequencing in his passport Jack Bahuuku Mucunguzi. Jokingly, I stopped calling him Mr Mucunguzi and refered to him by his initials - JBM.  Until his demise, he was JBM and I was DPK.  When he crossed over to URA and I left for UK for studies, we still kept in touch. At URA, he was the master strategist for anti-smuggling initiatives.  

I always visited him at his URA office whenever I returned to Uganda.  He introduced me to the late Nyakato then Commissioner of Customs at URA.  I was alerted to the fact that as a returning Diaspora, I was entitled to tax exemption on personal effects including a vehicle.  I benefited from that scheme because he gave me access to that information.  He was generous and unselfish in many ways.  I remember visiting him at his first flat in Bugolobi where there’s now a Hospital [Bugolobi Medical Centre].  In those days, he was an avid Tennis player and his team mates included Hannington Karuhanga and Henry Ngabirano, all CMB Executives.

Much later, providence secured us another connection by marriage.  My nephew Douglas Rukaari married Jack’s sister Carol who he really dotted on.  He was more of a parent to Carol than a brother – given that she was the youngest in the Bahuuku family. She had grown up in the hands of Jack and his sister Mrs Loy Tumusiime. That was like a bonus on our longstanding association.  He was strong on family values and kept his friendships intact. Even when we spent years apart, in different countries, it was easy to reconnect with him at any time. By the time he fell sick, JBM was a successful businessman in his own right. He is survived by his wife Harriet Mucunguzi, four children, Kakwanzi, Phillip, Nadia and Timothy.  We pray for fortitude and a dose of the Mucunguzi resilience for his family.  Fare-thee well brave soldier.

one evening in the pouring rain, In our hearts were arching pain

Rivers were muddy and wild, Jack was no more. 

You gave life your best shot JBM, Fare-thee well senior Comrade. 


The author is a long standing friend & work associate of the late Jack Bahuuku Mucunguzi.                     


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Kp Reporter - Chief editor

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