The first post-Independence Ugandan Minister of Foreign Affairs Sam Odaka is dead.
Odaka, 83, died of kidney failure at 2 am on Wednesday, August 5 while undergoing treatment at the International Hospital, Kampala.
In his political life Odaka also served as Minister of Planning and Economic Development, and was also the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Milton Obote Foundation (MOF), the financial arm of the Uganda People’s Congress (UPC).
He was also instrumental in organizing for the first papal visit to Africa, honoured by Pope Paul VI.
Two years ago, Odaka underwent a successful operation in South Africa and on his return he was put under monitoring by a team of health experts from Mulago Hospital.
Meanwhile, by the time of posting this story, the family was embroiled a bitter fight as to where the deceased former Minister would be buried.
One of the family members who spoke to EagleOnline but asked to remain anonymous said Odaka’s wife had insisted the deceased be buried in her home area of Bulemezi in Luwero, while Odaka’s family from Busia are demanding that he be buried at his country home in Lumino.
The two sides failed to agree and the Odaka family has opted to seek a court injunction till the matter is resolved.
“There is a disagreement within the family and we are trying to resolve it. We are trying to secure a court injunction so that he is buried in Busia,” said one of Odaka’s family members from Busia.
Bank of Uganda Governor, Emmanuel Mutebile who closely worked under Sam Odaka in the Ministry of Planning and Economic Development said Odaka can only be summed up as an “excellent man”
First post Independence Foreign Affairs Minister until 1971 military coup.
After coup went to exile in Tanzania with others
Came back after the collapse of Idi Amin reign and joined private business and reorganizing MoF.
In 1981 elections, won elections as Member of Parliament Jinja Municipality West.
Named Minister of Planning and Economic Development in 198.
After 1985 coup, Odaka retired into private business and named Chairman of MoF in Obote’s absence until 2012 when he was replaced by Ignatius Barungi.
Below is Mr Peter Walubiri’s description of Odaka.
Sam Odaka was one of the pillars of the Uganda Peoples’ Congress (UPC) party and was one of those who could see through any difficult situation. He was among a few UPC Members of Parliament who opposed the Daudi Ochieng motion.
However, during that time, Odaka saw through an attempt to throw out the government through illegal means and stood his group and opposed the motion and now we know it wasn’t a motion but an aim by opposition and Mengo to grab power.
As chairman of Milton Obote Foundation (MoF), through the hard times of 1980s and 1990s Odaka fought hard attempts by three Attorney Generals to take over the property of MoF.
He was among those who held the party together and I know he was party to a small group that advised the party leadership in Lusaka Zambia to form Presidential Policy Commission (PPC) in Obote’s absence.
He was party of the reconciliation groups that brought together the party and this could be seen when Cecile Ogwal, Patrick Mwondha Dick Nyai, Okullo Epak and Ben Wacha returned to the main stream and it is through initiatives like those that we were able to have National Organising Committee (NOC) under for party mobilization and mass registration of members before parties where allowed to operate.
He was critical for thinking and preserving the party but more so, very social but also very principled and such is the man we all miss day. He is a man who believed in unity of the country and the congress.
Mr Walubiri is the chairman of board of trusts of Milton Obote Foundation and Former Secretary of the UPC.