Imagine all public officers had the heart, zeal and mind of the late Bulaimu Muwanga Kibirige aka BMK! This country would be destined for greatness.
BMK as he was fondly known succumbed to cancer last week. Doctors had given him two years to live. He beat that odd and lived four more years. The demise of BMK should nudge us to reflect on our accomplishments, competencies, values, dreams, plans and how to be useful to our communities.
His human faults notwithstanding, multitudes of people who eulogised him, remembered a man who did business with integrity. Integrity is one of the hardest virtues to find in public service.
This explains why we have so many integrity enforcement agencies; the police, inspectorate of government, the judiciary and public service disciplinary entities but cannot find many men and women of integrity in public offices.
We have public servants whose wealth far outstrips their known meagre incomes. They are rich not because they are hardworking like BMK but because they have stolen with impunity. In BMK we learn that one can start humble and still make it as a model entrepreneur.
BMK recognized that we live in interdependent communities. So in terms of employment he didn’t segregate anyone on account of colour, tribe or religion. He made his fortune out of hard work and creativity. Life didn’t offer him much in terms of formal education but he had the mind and ability to turn his handicap into a fortune. In the end, his daring streak yielded hotels, and other enterprises.
He became a modern hotelier and businessman without converting what is Ceaser’s to his personal pockets. There are a number people who have become billionaires not out of hard work but by dipping their hands in public coffers.
BMK has shown the country that you don’t have to rob public funds to become a billionaire. Imagine if all thieving public servants had a heart for this country, like BMK had. Ironically, the public affords these officers many privileges including health insurance, chauffeur driven cars, houses and armed protection. But those privileges are abused.
Their appreciation is akin to the legendary scorpion who asked to be carried by a hippopotamus across the water and a few meters to the shores, the scorpion stung the tail of the hippopotamus – forcing it to fling it across the water.
The taxes that BMK’s enterprises pay have maintained some of these public servants. Imagine if all the taxes, grants, loans were put to good use, probably BMK wouldn’t have died in Nairobi. Uganda would have built capacity to handle his cancer.
But how can we grow local expertise when money meant to build hospitals and educate experts is stolen by public officers. BMK has been working hard to grow indigenous investments while some public officers have been pocketing huge bribes to bring in fake investors.
He realized that we literally breathe each other’s air and therefore we need everyone to play his or her part in order to live a better life. He exploited his talents to the fullest and little wonder that we not only shed tears for his passing but we also celebrate the life of an enigma.
We now live with immense gaps between the haves and have-nots and the country appears to have no clear conviction on fighting inequalities and poverty. The best prize we can give to BMK’s memory is to return to the basics: do good to your neighbors as you wish to be done to you.
Life is mortal and there is no amount of wealth that can overturn mortality. We shall all die, but the question will remain, how useful have you been to your community or country. Fare thee well, BMK you have been useful person.