Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Young and aging Ugandans can hardly envisage a police band without Josephine Kakooza. She was the face of the band and the band was her life. Many called her Maama Police, a name she won on the basis of a service that spanned five decades in the Police force.
Born to Joseph Kakooza and Theodora Namutebi in Masaka, Josephine Kakooza dreamt of becoming a nurse. But that was not her calling and on one of her recent interviews, she affirms that she could hardly stand a sight of dead bodies. For this reason, she dropped out of Butabika hospital nursing school, where she had enrolled, to pursue another dream.
At 14, she joined the police force and thanks to the guidance of the then Inspector General of Police Erinayo Oryema, she underwent intensive music training, opening a blissful journey that saw her life turned around.
Kakooza rose from the lowest rank of probation constable to Commissioner of Police at the time of her death on Tuesday, January 8, 2019. At the time of her death, Kakooza was the longest serving officer of the Uganda Police Force, credited and praised for her discipline, clean record, and service above self.
She was Calm, she was smart, she was amiable, and she was the mother of the police band. These are some of the sentiments you get from many within the force, just by asking their thoughts about Kakooza at the time of her demise.
Whether playing the flute and her famous clarinet or leading the march, Kakooza stood out among all the members of the band, displaying grace and authority on the task. Asan Kasingye, her immediate supervisor at the time of her death describes the deceased as extraordinary.
Kakooza has trained hundreds of dancers, musicians, and actors in the Police Music Dance and Drama Department. Many of these were picked from communities by Kakooza, after spotting their talent. The department has grown to about 180 personnel out of these, 100 are instrumentalists trained by Kakooza.
Veteran Journalist Joachim Buwembo, a friend to Kakooza says, she worked so hard to train herself in most of the things she excelled in and was guided by persistence to rise through the ranks.
Polly Namaye, a police officer and close friend to the deceased recalls that when she was not performing or training with her team, Kakooza would be thinking of her children. It had been her dream to have one of her children follow in her footsteps and by the time of her retirement, two of her children joined the force.
For all the 50 years of her service, Kakooza stayed in the Nsambya Police Barracks. There she was a friend, a counselor, a mother and sister to many.
“We would always run to her with our problems. She would listen like a mother and counsel us. She would help resolve conflicts between our husbands and us, or among us, Sarah Akello a wife to a police officer and neighbor to the deceased recollects. She says the force has lost a very important person.
Kakooza had retired from the force at the age of 60-year and was serving her third contract which was renewed last year, 2018. She was already preparing for life after police and had just completed a house in Namumira village in Mukono Central Division, where she had also bought land for farming.
Residents of Namumira village told Uganda Radio Network that Josephine Kakooza was exemplary and irreplaceable.