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Memories of Edward Disani Nsubuga Wilson (1953-2021)

Memories of Edward Disani Nsubuga Wilson (1953-2021)

Another week of widespread sorrow. The novel coronavirus continues its killing spree, inflicting grief on families and friends. One braces oneself for the next report of a dear one’s death. There is hardly an opportunity to mourn before turning one’s attention to the next. 


Even as we focus on the stubborn virus, the more common diseases are not yielding their fatal power over our fragile bodies. Diseases like diabetes, hypertension, immunodeficiencies, alcoholism, cancers and such continue to kill unaided or make people susceptible to the devastating effects of Covid-19. It is a fool who is not afraid of the terror that has taken yet another one of my friends. 


Edward George Disani Nsubuga Wilson, my classmate, my brother and my friend, died in Kampala on Sunday June 27. He was only 68, felled by complications of Covid-19, days after he had been discharged from the hospital. Shocking. Unexpected. 


Now, what does one say to his brothers Albert, Moses and Daniel and his sisters Victoria and Betty? What does one say to his mother, Mary Wilson, one of the kindest and most honoured of our elders, age 92, who must now go on without yet another member of her nuclear family? Her husband, the Rev. John Wilson, was murdered by two gunmen in April 1986. The killers have never been apprehended. He was only 63. Her son Phillip’s life was cut short by pancreatic cancer on June 19, 2020. He was only 64.


Now the family must go through another dark and cold season of grief, but this time under the restrictions imposed by the havoc of Covid-19. Four of his siblings live in the United States of America. Another sister lives in Europe. Yet a quick burial is mandated by the rules of the pandemic. So, their oldest sibling must be interred on Tuesday June 29, 2021, in their absence. As though their pain needed amplification.


By God’s grace, the Wilsons are blest with resilience and realism. I believe that they will go through this awful event with the grace and courage that enabled them to weather their father’s death when most of them were still relatively young.  They are assured of our prayers that the Lord surrounds them with His grace.  We join them in celebrating Edward’s life and thanking God who lent him to us.


Edward was born on Friday January 16, 1953. After his early education at Ntinda Primary School, Nnabagereka (Lubiri) Primary School and Nkumba Primary School, he joined  King’s College, Budo for secondary education. That is where we met in Senior One at the end of January 1967. We were assigned to the same class, along with a wonderful group of classmates, with whom we embarked on a shared life whose memories still bring sweet smiles more than half a century later. 


I recall his smile and easy laughter. His pedigree and travel opportunities offered him a broader worldview than most of us had. He was the grandson of the late Rev. Disani Mukasa of Menvu , a former parish priest at Martyr’s Anglican Church Natete and founder of neighboring MacKay Memorial Secondary School, and of the late Edward Wilson of Wakwale, Uganda, a sand contractor for the Owen Falls Dam at Jinja.


Edward was a great grandson of the Late Hamu Mukasa of Mukono, a former Ssekibobo – (county chief) of Kyaggwe, and of the late Festo Manyangenda, a co-regent of Buganda during the first exile of Ssekabaka Edward Mutesa II, and of the late Sir George Wilson, a former Deputy Commissioner of the colonial British Protectorate of Uganda.


His stories about places and things he had seen were always fascinating and instructive. An active Boy Scout and skilled photographer, Edward  shared his talent with others in the school. Our classmate Jimmy Sevume, now an IT expert and Data Scientist, recalls: “I remember that in senior one Edward taught me how to kwooza ebifananyi (developing photographs) in the dark room. Since then, I have enjoyed photography as a hobby.” 


Charles Kwizera, a statistician, recalls Edward and his cine camera, a very rare possession those days. “He was a nice boy and I remember his jokes and laughter,” Kwizera wrote. Samwiri Njuki, a retired senior banker, recalls Edward’s skills in Kiganda dancing. 


George William Semivule, another classmate, a former headmaster of King’s College, Budo who now teaches at Ndejje University, recalls: “Edward was my housemate and scout patrol mate. He was clean and smart. l occasionally borrowed his spare 'white' shorts and his notes. We parted when we left Budo at the end of 1971.  We met again in 2019 at the burial of Dr Daniel Musisi Kyanda, his uncle who was our headmaster in our final year at Budo.” 


Upon graduation from A-Level at Budo, Edward left for England where he obtained a degree in accounting. He then attended the Bible Institute of Los Angeles where he read business administration and theology.


After college, Edward worked for the African Evangelistic Enterprise in Pasadena, California and was ordained a minister in the Anglican Church. He served as an associate pastor of a church in California, but his heart remained focused on giving back to his homeland.  He founded a non-profit organization called Hope International to promote education and access to clean water in rural communities in Uganda.


Edward returned to the world of business and founded Nile Enterprises that marketed African-themed spices and cosmetic products in the USA. He worked with his brother Moses in the latter’s engineering company in California for about 5 years. Then a diagnosis of diabetes mellitus and advanced heart disease prompted him to return to Uganda and spend the rest of his life near his mother. His devotion to caring for his elderly mother was a touching reminder of what really mattered in life.


The advent of easy Internet communication enabled us to keep in touch. He shared dreams and evident opportunities that he saw in Uganda. His witty and accurate observations of various aspects of life in Uganda added value to my education and my writings. 


We think of Mary Wilson who must now live without her oldest child by her side. We think of Edward’s siblings whose ranks have been prematurely pruned so soon after Philip’s death. We think of all who have shared memorable moments on his journey. One struggles to find fresh words of condolence that convey one’s feelings. What we know is that we are all poorer without him. Rest well my dear friend.


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