Mzee Patrick Kakunta, a former Uganda People’s Congress (UPC) stalwart who abandoned wearing shoes from 1985 when then president Milton Obote was deposed, to 2007 when he (Obote) died, has passed on. He was 104 years of age.
In 1965, Kakunta pelted the then president of Uganda, Sir Edward Muteesa II, with a rotten egg at Kinoni as he visited Rwampara County. He and other youths were protesting the constitutional order at the time demanding the establishment of a republic.
He was arrested and detained in Mbarara following the incident. He was, however, released after the Kabaka was deposed, and was given the portfolio of a Sub County chief of Bwongyera in the Obote I government.
“I have no regret for whatever I did when I was young; the only challenge is that there are no people who can now fight the way we used to fight. We have a system that is in place that even when we fight for the right, the wrong comes out, people in offices are so selfish. I did everything in the interest of my country,” Mr Kakunta told Daily Monitor in an interview in January 2022.
At the time of his death, he was a newspaper vendor and a farmer. He had done newspaper vending for at least 25 years.
“It is actually so hard to get people who understand politics and work for politics like Mzee Kakunta, he believed he had to be what he supported. When he was UPC he became UPC all through and when he joined NRM, he became NRM,” Mr Tom Muhoozi, who spoke as a friend to the deceased at his burial on Thursday, said.
Mr Muhoozi said he is the one who bought him the first shoes he put on in 2007 after 22 years of not putting on shoes protesting Obote’s oust. Following the fall of Obote II government and takeover of the military commanded by Tito Okello Lutwa and later the NRA, Mr Kakunta swore never to put on shoes. Even as a newspaper vendor, he walked on foot and rode a bicycle with his bare feet until 2007.
He in 2008 joined the ruling NRM and was awarded a Nalubale Medal in 2014.
Speaking at his burial, the Ntungamo District vice-chairman Mr Asuman Kigongo asked mourners not to relent to the condemnation of the community if they truly believe in what they do.
“He said he was not going to give any of his sons land, he died without doing that, he wanted them to work and acquire their own property. People condemned him, he kept his faith. There are things he went to extremes but I believe he was a great man,” Mr Kigongo said.
Born in 1918, Mzee Kakunta died at his home in Nyakihanga village, Ngoma Sub County in Ntungamo District on Monday, March 7. He was laid to rest on Friday. He is survived by 7 children, 40 grandchildren, and several great-grandchildren.