Home Opinions Omugurusi Festo Karwemera’s Departure calls us to Preserve our Culture and Heritage

Omugurusi Festo Karwemera’s Departure calls us to Preserve our Culture and Heritage

by Amanyisa Zadock

Zadock Amanyisa

On Sunday 30th August, 2020, South Western Uganda woke up to the sad news of the passing on of Omugurusi Festo Karwemera, a renowned author, educationist and historian with a rich knowledge of Runyankore-Rukiga literature evidenced by his tireless efforts in revolutionizing the African culture and heritage. Reports say he succumbed to multiple organ failure due to old age.

Though he went to school at an older age, Omugurusi Karwemera defied odds by discovering his purpose and having the ability to recognize, develop and use his gifts and talents to make an impact. This made this Kiga revolutionist live to the purpose for which God created him. I must say, Karwemera made things better than how he found them. History has it that he did contributed to the translation of the Runyankore- Rukiga Bible, the Ugandan Constitution and other translations.

A wide collection of Karwemera’s works speak to the fact that he has not just lived and left.  He has left a legacy that many of us like pride in and wish to follow. His existence was for a reason most especially in promoting local language proficiency. He wrote books including Oteebwa Orurimi Rwawe, Shutama Nkuteekyerereze, Ija Twevugye, etc. Omugurusi has been this person that hurts whenever the Runyankore-Rukiga language is poorly pronounced, a feeling that I have also experienced.

As his body descends to the grave not far from today, I well recall the day I met him for the very first time at his home in lower Bugongi, Kabale town, through Prof. Manuel Muranga, another linguist and store of Runyankore-Rukiga literature. I was then pursuing a course in Mass Communication at University. That evening, the soft spoken old Mukiga in Karwemera seemingly got fascinated by my love for our indigenous languages. He encouraged me to join his class. We there and then courted and planned next our next move before he suggested taking me for his Sunday night Kigyezi n’ebyamwo program on Voice of Kigezi radio in the heart of Kabale town. As I enroll for advanced studies in language translation and development, I cannot forget his contribution to what I am today.

Omugurusi Karwemera, has been a moving cultural encyclopedia in Kigezi and Ankole with a clear grasp of cultural affairs. Angels must be smiling at him as he sleeps in glory for putting to good use what God gave him. As we celebrate a life well lived by Karwemera, let us think hard around what happens when such minds with rich history of our cultures fall asleep. Who is ready to adjust the knob and continue? Shall we sit and look on as our culture and heritage wade a way into oblivion due to infiltration of the western powers? No! Let us not just spectate. This is the time for us to put on Karwemera’s shoes and walk onwards.

 I personally promise to do something. Like-minded people can join together to preserve our cultural identity, history, and heritage for sustainable development.

Losing our culture and heritage will be a huge shame on our heads and an act of betrayal to the contribution of Omugurusi Karwemera, Prof. Manuel Muranga, the Late Bishop Amos Betunguura, and others.  

May the soul of Omugurusi Festo Karwemera and others that have gone before him rest in power and glory.

The writer is a journalist and conservationist

Phones: +256-706-139795/+256-782-711457

Email: zadock.amanyisa@gmail.com

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