Kampala, Uganda | AGNES. E. NANTABA | He is the son of former president of Uganda, who was a minister in the colonial government, vice chancellor of Makerere University and assistant secretary general in the Commonwealth Secretariat. He is also very exposed and travelled, is a former Deputy Inspector General of Government and former Member of Parliament. But 68-year old Wasswa Lule has not let any of that spoil his love for the simple life. In fact, he finds it absurd when asked why he prefers to live a quiet and humble life.
“By now you should have realised the kind of person you are interacting with as one who lives a basic life,” he says.
That does not mean the welcome to his home in a humble part of Kampala in the Rubaga-Lungujja city outskirts is not warm. But where one would expect guards or at least a gatekeeper opening the gate, Wasswa does it himself. And he lives alone too; being unmarried.
Apart from the lofty mane of Afro on his head (which is now white and shorter with age but still well-kept), simplicity has been the mark of Wasswa. He has never been one to be taken up by the high life. In 1979, for example, when his father; Prof. Yusuf Kironde Lule, was named President of Uganda, Wasswa stayed at his job with Deloitte Haskins and Sell in London where he was a trainer of newly recruited staff.
“I couldn’t return only to be a First Son because such excitement was for people who had nothing to do and their life had been made overnight,” he says.
But even when he received news around 1988 that he had been appointed assistant IGG from then-vice president, Dr. Samson Kiseka, Wasswa took more than a year to respond to the appointment. At the time, he was working with Lloyds Bank in London as head office inspector.
“As a professional I could not just quit the job for another appointment,” he says. But it is also possible that some of his associates had also advised him against taking the position in President Museveni’s two-year new government. He possibly still recoiled from the 1979 events when his father was President for only 68 days before being replaced. In any case, he joined the inspectorate of government in 1989 to battle corruption and human rights abuse with the puritanism of a saint. He did not last long. Three years later he terminated. But then along came the Constituent Assembly elections in 1994 and he won the Lubaga North seat and later was MP in the 6th parliament until 2001 when the electorate decided otherwise.
Wasswa appears to have inherited both his hair and the quiet sophistication from his mother,Hannah Namuli Wamala Lule, who; despite being First Lady, was never much into the public sphere. She died in 2011 and was eulogised by many as polite.
Wasswa, however, maintains that in any case, he was already a grown up man when his father became president and so he cannot be expected to know “what life is like for a child of president”. But that is another sign of his humility because even without living in State House, Wasswa already had a privileged life as a son of a minister in former colonial government, vice chancellor of Makerere University and assistant secretary general in the Commonwealth Secretariat.
With such a background, he had the privilege of attending top schools; Nakasero Primary School, Kings College Budo, and Makerere College School. He briefly studied at Makerere University before getting a scholarship to pursue a Bachelor of Science in accounting at the University of Lagos in Nigeria. He recalls being challenged to eat meals with lots of chili.
Upon graduation he went to the UK to study to study an accounting professional qualification and returned home to work for Gill and Johnson in Uganda up to 1972. He says following the expulsion of Asians, life became risky as more people were killed under unclear circumstances. He fled back to London and worked with Deloitte Haskins and Sell until 1981.
He was a member of the Uganda Group for Human Rights with the likes of Prof. George Kanyeihamba. When the National Resistance movement (NRM) was formed from the merger of People’s Resistance Army (PRA) of Yoweri Museveni and the Uganda Freedom Fighters (UFF) of his father, Prof. Lule, he joined the NRM London branch, as a member of the executive. He holds no political office today but is not complaining.
“I am always consulted on political issues in the country and that is where my participation stands today,” he says.