Uganda: Tribute to Aggrey Siryoyi Awori (1939 – 2021)

Awori and daughter Taaka
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Aggrey Awori shown relaxing with his daughter Taaka. Photo: Facebook.

Harold Acemah 

[Aluta Continua!]

The cruel hand of death has once again struck a heavy blow and robbed Uganda of a distinguished son, Aggrey Siryoyi Awori, who passed on in Kampala on July 5, 2021 at 82 years old. He was buried at Kibimba on July 10, 2021.

I would like to convey heartfelt condolences to Mrs Thelma Awori and her family. May God comfort her and the bereaved family during this very difficult time of mourning for a great man.

Aggrey was a dear friend for many years. We first met in 1968 when I was a student at Makerere College of the University of East Africa and he was Director of Uganda Television (UTV) which was the sole television network in Uganda in the good old days. Aggrey did a fantastic job as head of UTV. 

During the 1968 long vacation, Aggrey hired about twenty students from Makerere College to undertake the first survey of viewers of UTV in Kampala, among them Mwima Mudenya (RIP) and yours truly. We did a fine job which prompted Aggrey to offer me a part-time assignment at UTV based at Nakasero which kept me busy, on and off, until June 1970 when I graduated from university. Soon after graduation, I was recruited into the Uganda Foreign Service.

Aggrey was a courageous, adventurous, decent, eloquent, generous, hardworking, innovative and jolly good fellow whose family background is similar to mine. He was a graduate of Harvard University, a Pan-Africanist, a global citizen and a jack of all trades. Aggrey’s father, Jeremiah Awori (RIP) was a priest of the Anglican Church like my father Enoka Yada (RIP). I thank God for Aggrey’s exemplary life, his family, his friendship and above all his Christian witness.

Our paths crossed again in 1981 when Aggrey joined Uganda’s diplomatic service on appointment as Minister Plenipotentiary at the Embassy of Uganda accredited to the USA, located in Washington DC, where he served with distinction.

In 1985, Aggrey was transferred to Brussels as Ugandan ambassador to the European Union, Belgium, Luxembourg and Netherlands, after which he returned to Uganda and joined politics. I followed him to Brussels in 2003 and served at the Embassy of Uganda for five years.

Awori as a top athlete at Harvard.

Aggrey Awori's legacy: Like many Ugandans who come from border areas, Awori's Samia ethnic group is divided between two countries, Kenya and Uganda while my Lugbara ethnic group is divided between Uganda and DRC. Unlike most of his brothers and sisters who chose Kenya as their motherland, Aggrey who was born in Tororo chose Uganda as his motherland. I can attest to the fact that Aggrey Awori was a true patriot who loved Uganda and struggled relentlessly for a better Uganda throughout his life on earth.

His wife, Mrs. Thelma Awori, is a Liberian by birth, but like Aggrey Thelma is a Ugandan at heart and has devoted her life to serve the people of Uganda to the best of her ability, including the period when she was UNDP’s regional director for Africa based at UN headquarters in New York. May God reward Thelma and their children abundantly for a job well done.

Aggrey contested as a Ugandan presidential candidate in 2001. Although he did not win, I believe given a chance Aggrey would have been a good president of Uganda, certainly much better than many mediocre and shameless African leaders who have turned vote rigging into a lucrative enterprise.

In 2009, I paid a courtesy call on Aggrey when he was ICT Minister in the NRM regime. He received me warmly and after we exchanged pleasantries Aggrey explained to me why he reluctantly quit UPC and joined NRM. He believed that a few good men, like him and Dr. Nsaba Buturo, could change the rotten mindset of the corrupt and decadent regime, from within, by setting a good example, but as I feared and warned, NRM is beyond redemption and salvation. Most of its leaders are perverted, unpatriotic and self-condemned.

Despite his brief association with NRM, I believe that the verdict of history on Aggrey Awori will be positive unlike the verdict on most contemporary African leaders, including some in our neck of the woods. May his soul rest in eternal peace.

Arua, Uganda

July 14, 2021.

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