Samson Kisekka (1912-1999)

Seventh-day Adventist statesman Dr. Samson Babi Mululu Kisekka, former Ugandan vice president, died October 25 in a London hospital. The 87-year-old politician from this central African country also served as prime minister, health minister and political advisor in a varied career spanning 40 years. Known as "the great physician" for his campaign to heal political and racial divisions in Uganda, Kisekka's work was marked by an emphasis on greater government accountability and a concern for the rights of ordinary people.

Kisekka died of a heart attack at University College Hospital, London, where he was awaiting heart surgery. His body was flown back to Uganda and he was buried October 31 at his ancestral home of Ttemamgalo, near the Ugandan capital of Kampala. The funeral service, held at Najjanankumbi Adventist Church, was attended by the president of Uganda, Yoweri Museveni, along with members of his cabinet, representatives from the diplomatic corp and judiciary, and other political and religious leaders.

"With the passing away of Dr. Samson Kisekka, the nation has lost a strong, reliable and rich fountain of wisdom," said Justice Minister Mayanja Nkangi, as reported by the Ugandan paper, New Vision. "Dr. Kisekka's outstanding role, as prime minister and as vice president, is an open record for everyone. Even as the senior presidential advisor, Dr. Kisekka carried on his crusade for good governance, personnel advancement and national development." Nkangi said that Kisekka has been "a great nationalist and leader who was always ready to guide, to encourage and to warn."

Along with his political achievements, Kisekka was also remembered as a principled and caring Christian man who lived his faith. "He was a man of God, [an] active and committed Seventh-day Adventist Christian who believed in respect for one another," said current vice president Specioza Wandira Kazibwe during a special parliamentary session held October 30 to honor Kisekka.

Born in 1912, Kisekka first studied medicine at Makerere Medical School and practiced as a surgeon before entering Ugandan politics. He helped found the National Resistance Movement, which led to a change in government in 1985. Kisekka was appointed prime minister in 1986 and later served as vice president from 1989 to 1994.

During Sunday's funeral service, Kisekka's son, Samson Kisekka, Jr., paid tribute to his father as someone who taught his children, first and foremost, to "work hard and to love each other."

-Bettina Krause