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Entrepreneurial icon Katatumba succumbs to cancer of the colon

At the age of seven, Katatumba squeezed juice out of ripe bananas that he would sell along the Kampala-Mbarara route. It is what sparked off his long walk into building a business empire that saw him own Katatumba suites, Hotel Diplomate Muyenga and a private chartered flight company with planes he often piloted himself. His business empire extended across East Africa.

Even at a young age in senior six vacation, Katatumba’s bid to manage Nganwa Hostel in the defunct Ankole Kingdom turned out victorious. At such an age, it would be daring but Katatumba successfully ran the hostel for two complete years, before moving to Kampala to take on A-level studies at Old Kampala Senior Secondary School.

The lengthy walk into business including managing a student’s hostel and running a car wash, mirrors the life of entrepreneurs like him, who worked his way to the top but later gets tested by a potentially destructive property wrangle with far-reaching implications.

In November 2014, the Commercial Court in Kampala ordered businessman Mukesh Shukla to return property worth millions of shillings which had been illegally transferred from Katatumba.

Katatumba and Mukesh have been wrangling over the three properties, each claiming to be the rightful owner.

The sight of an overwhelmed Katatumba breaking sweat with his bare palm, kneeling and throwing hands in the air as if in prayer after the court ruling will forever be a descriptive feature likely to live beyond the businessman.

The 69-year- old businessman, flanked by his family, would not hold back after Justice Henry Peter Adonyo had ordered Mukesh to reimburse all the monies collected from former Blacklines House since it was occupied by Mukesh (Shumuk House) in August 2008.  The judgment seemed to have ended a six-year legal battle, but Mukesh has since appealed, asking court to stay execution of Justice Adonyo’s judgment.

Katatumba was the youngest in the family of five brothers and four sisters. He attended Nyamitanga Catholic Parish Primary School, before proceeding to Ibanda Junior School, where he was enrolled on a Shell BP scholarship. From Ibanda Junior, he moved to Ntare School, Mbarara and later to Old Kampala High School, where he completed his secondary education.

In 1969, he joined Makerere University, where he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Sociology and Economics in 1971.

At the time of his death, Katatumba held a number of honorary awards from various institutions in the US and Europe and has served as president of Uganda National Chamber of Commerce and Industries, member of Economic Policy Research Centre and chairman of United Nations G77 Chamber of Commerce and Industry Developing Countries, among others.

On Saturday February 25, Katatumba’s body was flown to Mbarara aboard Eagle Air courtesy of Allan Katatumba after which mass was held in his honour at Nyamitanga cathedral. He was laid to rest on Sunday February 26, at 3pm at Nyakayojjo, Rwekishokye Club in Mbarara district. Katatumba is survived by his two wives; Gertrude and Grace Katatumba and several children.

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editor@independent.co.ug

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