By Joan Akello
Ssalongo Erias Lukwago, 44, Lord Mayor of Kampala spoke to Joan Akello about being a self-made lawyer and politician.
Anything we need to know?
In the beginning I didn’t like the title Ssalongo. II was given Social Work and Social Administration (SWASA) but switched to Law at campus. I’m not embattled like the media portrays me; sometimes as crying in public to show that I’m suffering. I have tough skin.
What is your idea of perfect happiness?
Being true to yourself, live within your means, and don’t live in denial, or a fictitious life no matter the circumstance.
When and where were you happiest?
Whenever I register success like scoring highly in school or win a case. My first time to join elective politics was 2006 in Kampala Central where Capt. Francis Babu had been there since 1989 and it had become the Babu Empire. It was a typical case of David and Goliath. But I defeated Babu even after he went to court twice contesting the results. The lord mayor election was a walkover because I had a record.
What is your greatest fear?
Loss of public trust; it gives me sleepless nights that I’ll wake up one day and people won’t want to see me.
What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
My generosity and magnanimity; many people have hurt me but I forgive easily.
Have you extended this to your greatest critics?
I respect President Museveni as an elder and would not wish anything bad to happen to him or his family, I went when Jennifer Musisi lost her mother last year, and I assisted Hon. Frank Tumwebaze to work in our law firm; Abaine, Lukwago, Alaka & Spencer Advocates, when he did not have formal employment.
What is the trait you most deplore in others?
Betrayal and dishonesty; it’s painful and an insult to my intelligence.
What is your current state of mind?
I may not be enjoying the current situation but I’m not embattled or bitter because my consciences is clear and I ‘ve no regrets of any decisions I took considering the circumstances. I have no blood on my hands or looming prosecution to convict me.
What is your biggest dream?
Where everybody is free and there is constitutionalism and rule of law. I ‘ve done my best to participate in ushering this process though it’s not in sight.
Do you harbor any presidential ambition?
I can be anything in the not so far future beyond the lord mayor.
What do you consider the most overrated virtue?
Society thinks that for you to be happy you must amass and grab wealth. But you can still be miserable or suffer emotional stress with everything.
What is the quality you most like in a woman?
Not nagging and picky, many people say they can tolerate infidelity but not a nagging man or woman in a marriage.
Which talent would you most like to have?
Footballer; I’m a football fanatic but not good at all. I support Arsenal and KCCA.
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
I have no godfather; I’m self -made in my career as a lawyer and politician though I got assistance too. Keeping people’s trust for a long time in Kampala Central. Very many have failed that test especially those in opposition with sacks of money being dangled in your face to compromise you. But I’ve always said no deal and not succumbed to the scramble and partition of Kampala.
If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be?
A Zebra; considering how wicked humanity is.
Where would you most like to live?
I believe that however beautiful a place is if it is not your home, it is not. I feel like building my country home in, Masaka
What is your favorite occupation?
Being an advocate; that is why I’m not bothered about Museveni scraping my emoluments.
What is your most marked characteristic?
Outspoken, sociable, and loves people.
What do you most value in your friends?
Comradeship; social security in turbulent times. The people of Kampala have supported me; they yearn to see me which gives me the charisma to soldier on even if some abuse me.
Who are your favorite writers?
Robert Green; his books are user friendly like 48 laws of power, 33 strategies of war, Chinua Achebe’s Man of the people.
Who is your hero of fiction?
Chief Nanga in Man of the people; Napoleon and Squealer l in George Orwell’s Animal Farm I have seen many like them in NRM and society .
Which historical figure do you most identify with?
Martin Luther King Jr; his charisma and character, Steve Biko, Walter Sisulu, Chief Albert Luthuli, Nelson Mandela.
Any president of Uganda you admire?
Kabaka Edward Muteesa II; he was said to have ceremonial powers like me . He struggled to assert himself, yet he had the option to enjoy all the luxuries in Mengo.
Who are your heroes in real life?
Kabaka Mutesa II and Benedicto Kiwanuka though he accepted to be chief justice (CJ)at a time there was no rule of law. This was his mistake. Today, if Mr. Museveni gave me two choices to either become CJ or go to exile; I ‘d jump on the next plane and go
How would you like to die?
All death is painful because there is no way Allah will take life out of you without pain..The most peaceful way is in my sleep.
What is your motto?
In life you don’t get what you are entitled to but what you fight for.
What is philosophy about life?
Never put off till tomorrow what can be done today.