Shaban Kirunda Nkutu

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Shaban Kirunda Nkutu

Birthplace: Nakibembe, Bugweri county, Eastern Region, Uganda
Death: January 11, 1973 (42) (Killed by Idi Amin regime)
Immediate Family:

Son of Prince Haji Ausi Kirunda Nkutu and Zaflan Namuwaya Nkutu
Brother of X

Managed by: Karl-Erik Alalooga
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

About Shaban Kirunda Nkutu

Shaban Nkutu was born in Nakibembe village, Bugweri County, Iganga District on November 15, 1930. His parents were the late Haji Ausi Kirunda and the late Zafalan Namuwaya.

The young Shaban Nkutu studied at Mwiri College and was trained at Kibuli and Makerere College as a teacher. He was one of the first Muslims in Uganda to get a secular education. During his twenties, he served as a teacher and later as a headmaster at Bwala, in Masaka.

Across Africa in the 1950s, it was common for educated African teachers, then a rarity, such as Julius Nyerere of Tanzania, to emerge as nationalist leaders. It was during this period that Nkutu became involved with the nationalist movement for Uganda’s independence, first through the Uganda National Congress (UNC) and later the Uganda Peoples Congress (UPC). He had earlier met Uganda’s future Prime Minister, Milton Obote, during secondary school at Mwiri and the two were close friends.

On the eve of independence, in April 1962, Nkutu, with the backing of Prince Zirabamuzaale and the populous and well organized Baisemenha clan (which produced Chiefs in the area), stood for and was elected to Parliament on the ticket of UPC to represent Busoga South East constituency, which comprised of the present day Bugweri and Kigulu counties (Iganga District), Bunya County (Mayuge District) and the whole of Bugiri and Namayingo Districts. He represented Busoga South East in Parliament until the military overthrow of the Obote I government by Idi Amin on January 25, 1971.

During this 9-year period, Shaban Nkutu served as Parliamentary Secretary for Economic Affairs in the Office of The Prime Minister (1962-63), Deputy Minister of Education (1963-64), Deputy Minister of Works (1964-66), UPC Government Chief Whip/ Minister in Parliament (1964-66), Minister of Health (1966-67) and Minister of Works, Housing, Transport and Communications (1967-71). He was also the National Chairman of the Uganda Peoples Congress (1968-73).

Following the military coup in 1971, Nkutu was arrested and detained without trial at Makindye Military Police Barracks for several months. He shared a cell with Chris Rwakasisi and Edward Rurangaranga. Following his release, he retreated to a quiet life of private business and refused to flee into exile, despite repeated threats and harassment from security personnel.

On January 11, 1973, Shaban Nkutu became the 8th former member of the Obote Cabinet to meet the same fate. In the run-up to his death, after the abortive 1972 invasion, Nkutu was repeatedly hunted and harassed by State Research operatives and Military Intelligence officers from the army’s Gadaffi Barracks in Jinja, forcing him to frequently shift residences amongst his relatives. Close relatives and members of the Baisemenha clan were often rounded up and detained in large numbers in order to force him to report to the authorities. Relatives and friends in the Madhvani family urged him to flee the country.

But at a meeting in early January 1973, at Baitambogwe (half-way between Jinja and Iganga), Nkutu told a secret meeting of his brothers and cousins that Amin was reportedly massacring soldiers from Obote’s Langi ethnic community, together with civilian members of their families and home areas and that while his going into exile might trigger a massacre of Baisemenha and Basoga by President Amin, his individual death would restrict tragedy to his immediate family alone and that he would not flee Uganda because he did not want the blood of many people on his hands. He was killed less than a week later and remained, on Amin’s orders, buried at a secret location for the next 32 years until an incredible opportunity that brought his family in contact with the grave-diggers who buried his body.

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Shaban Kirunda Nkutu's Timeline

November 15, 1930
Nakibembe, Bugweri county, Eastern Region, Uganda
January 11, 1973
Age 42