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INTERVIEW: Harold Kaija was born into opposition politics

Harold Kaija

Harold Kaija is the deputy Secretary general of Uganda’s largest opposition party FDC. He made a failed attempt to be MP for Kampala Central and says the loss taught him a few lessons; including that voters are so ignorant and poor that many politicians take advantage of them. He has also been a political prisoner at Luzira Upper prison in Kampala.

But it is all in a day’s work for one who spent most of his childhood in a very political family. He recalls how soldiers brought home one of his uncles “after inserting a bayonet in him”. The fourth born in the family of five boys and one girl, Kaija was born 38 years ago to a very outspoken opposition politician Mary Gorreti Nassanga and Boniface Nyakabwa. He was born and raised in Kampala and Wakiso districts. His maternal uncle was an MP and political Commissar in the Federal Democratic Movement (FEDEMU), a 1980s rebel group led by the late Andrew Kayiira.

“We became close as he taught me what and when to say if I was to become a good politician,” says Kaija. It also possibly explains why Kaija does not recall when he “entered politics” – he was born in it.

Although most of his relatives were Democratic Party (DP) diehards, Kaija says he has succeeded in changing many to FDC. His siblings are not into active politics but, he says, they are signed to FDC and are known as staunch FDC personalities which gives him hope.

For school, Kaija went to Makerere Kindergarten which was close to LDC where her mother worked before proceeding to Aga Khan Primary School. He later went to Light College Katikamu, Kyambogo University for a diploma and Makerere University for an accountancy degree and an MBA.

Along the way he gathered a battery of funny school tales including how he once drew cartoons of a short girl at school. In one, she was presented as sitting on a plastic cup and her legs failing to touch the ground. In another he portrayed her next to a soda bottle – and they were of equal height.

“I was a big time teaser,” he says.

He was expelled “for engaging in many strikes”, emerged best performing student of the year at A-level, and attempted to study law but failed to raise tuition.

Kaija is single but would love to marry. He says he wants a woman who is not just a compliment but one who follows politics.  The kind of woman should also be assertive, interested in people and is self driven. “I don’t want a woman whom I will make decisions for but one who is my critic,” says Kaija. He says such women are the likes of Michelle Obama, Hillary Clinton, Winnie Byanyima and Salaam Musumba.

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