She heads a factory that produces bullets and repairs weapons such as cannons; and her husband is seen as an arrogant, strong-headed man who drives around in the company of gun-wielding soldiers.But now – surprise, surprise – Jacqueline Susan Mbabazi has been ordained as a Canon of St. Peter’s Cathedral Nyakatare (Kinkiizi Diocese) – in recognition of her work for the Church.
And as Canon Jacqueline was being installed at Nyakatare recently, we found out something else; that her husband – the tough-talking security minister, John Patrick Amama Mbabazi, can be a very romantic man.
Jacqueline and Patrick have been married for 35 years and the event at Nyakatare coincided with the renewal of their marriage vows. And going by the day’s proceedings, the decades have only strengthened the couple’s love.
For instance Patrick gave his wife a surprise gift.
“These are shoes,” Mrs Mbabazi repeatedly guessed as she opened the gift to eager looks by her siblings who sat next to her, including the Minister of Agriculture, Hope Mwesigye.
Her guess was wrong as it turned out to be a plaque in which Amama poured out his heart to her.
She read out his message on the plaque word for word, to ululation from the audience that interrupted her recital; “Jacqueline, My most enchanting, Precious, Dependable, Admirable and Pivotal inspiration of my life. Amama.”
But the thrill wasn’t only among guests. Jacqueline repeatedly paused, smiled and laughed as she read Amama message.
But the minister who wears another hut as the secretary general of the ruling NRM foresaw that his gift being in blue colours would raise eye brows as it actually did as people shouted “FDC colours.”
But Amama was quick to explain why he used blue which is associated with the main opposition party, FDC.
He said, “Blue is the colour of the sky and the sea. It is often associated with depth and stability. It symbolises trust, loyalty, wisdom, confidence, intelligence, faithfulness, truth and heaven.” And Jacqueline, Patrick said, he saw just that. That silenced the critics.
This message and their conduct indeed showed their love is still alive and strong. For instance while appreciating her husband for the gift, she said, “Thank you, darling.”
Jacqueline put up a spirited defence of her husband, saying he is not arrogant like most people think, but rather principled and equipped with the pride everybody needs to weather storms life throws one’s way.
So, why was Mrs. Mbabazi made a Canon?
Rt. Rev. John Wilson Ntegyereize, the Bishop Kinkiizi Diocese, told The Observer that her installation was a decision of the diocesan synod.
“It is given to people who have worked faithfully and tirelessly for the church,” he said.
The clergy described Canon Mbabazi as a committed Christian who even built a church in her home area in Karubizi.
“She was also very instrumental in the founding of our diocesan church (St. Peter’s Cathedral Nyakatare.)”
The pretty canon has also been generous with her earnings. She for instance single-handedly bought Ntegyereize his first vehicle upon his consecration as Bishop in 1995.
And together with her husband, they jointly bought him his current vehicle. Amama Mbabazi is also building a new Diocesan church - St. Peter’s Cathedral Nyakatare.
However some people close to the Mbabazis in Kampala told The Observer that they were surprised at her installation.
In fact, to some the ‘Canon’ before Jacqueline Susan Mbabazi sounds more like a gun, as opposed to the cross.
See, Canon Mbabazi is the Manager of Luwero Industries, an arm of the National Executive Corporation which is the trading arm of the UPDF.
Luwero Industries manufactures bullets and repairs guns of various kinds.
“She and her family hardly go to church. She is usually in churches only during funerals,” a harsh critic told The Observer.
Told about this, Bishop Ntegyereize said, “Whether she goes to church in Kampala or not, she has been very instrumental here in Kinkiizi and that is why we are recognising her.”
Speaking after her installation, Canon Mbabazi thanked the church for the recognition and promised to lead an exemplary life befitting the title.
According to the Macmillan Dictionary, Canon is “a Christian priest who works in the Cathedral.” So will Canon Mbabazi work in the Cathedral?
Rev. Canon Grace Kaiso, the General Secretary Council of Anglican Provinces of Africa says lay canons are for guidance purposes.
“They must have a sit in the Cathedral and they basically guide the Bishop to ensure that the practices of the church are consistent with the doctrines and canons (laws) of the church.”
He added that in case of deviation, a Canon walks to the Bishop and informs him of the anomaly for redress.
“In so doing they keep the church in the right direction.” Thus Canons have to be well conversant with church teachings.
Indeed being made a canon appears to be more ceremonial and its holders being a yardstick for good deeds.
For instance in the order of service used during her installation, the Bishop prayed that God “gives her knowledge to understand and do your work following the truths of your teaching. Help her to be a good example in her service so that your name is glorified.”
The function was attended by ministers Syda Bbumba, Hope Mwesigye, Musa Echweru, Ruth Nankabirwa, David Wakikona, Winnie Kabakumba Matsiko and Jessica Alupo.
MPs Milton Muwuma, Tashobya Stephen, Barnabas Tinkasimire, Meddie Mulumba and Abraham Byandala also attended.
Others were security chiefs Dr. Amos Mukumbi (ISO Director General,) Robert Masolo (ESO Director General) and Dr. Johnson Byabashaija (Commissioner General Uganda Prisons.)
Also present were moneybags Charles Mbiire and Habib Kagimu.