Festo Karwemera Mwene Karagare Kabure-Nkeecwere, one of the greatest sons of the Kigezi Sub Region passed on (died) early yesterday morning aged 95. The details of his death are still unknown but his family intends to speak to the press in the day that come on matters regarding his death.
A great thinker and writer, Omugurusi Karwemera toiled away at his desk, not for profit, but to save a language and culture, passed down to us by generations of ancestors, now threatened with erosion and extinction in a new world of Euro-American domination.
A visit to Kabale, Kigyezi is never complete without an hour or two spent at his home, learning from him, milking his inexhaustible database of the language, history, customs and traditions of Abakiga, and partaking of his wit and humour.
Occasionally his conversations with people are always punctuated with corrections of their misuse of a word here, a mispronunciation there and a test of their knowledge of the clans and totems of Abakiga.
Once in a while, he will ask for the origin or meaning of a word. With a smile and twinkle, he awaits a response that is likely to be incorrect. Occasionally, people get it wrong, and his duty is to correct them.
Among his significant contributions is his support in translating the Bible from English to Runyankole-Rukiga, and authoring the Runyankole-Rukiga dictionary called “Katondozi” that he co-authored with President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni.
The old man owned the only Bakiga Museum in Kabale at his home in Kibikura lower Bugongi where tourists occasionally come in to check out the things that were used by the old Bakiga.
Festo Kagwemera has been writing even at an old age and he regularly exercised which ofcourse made him flexible at an old age. Every morning at 6am he would jog from his home in Kibukura going up Rugarama hill that is very steep and down. Something even the young ones can’t manage.
Omugurusi Karwemera, has been one of the brightest people that lives. Born in Karubanda – Buhara Kabale district, he went to Muyebe Sub Selected Grade School, Kinyasano Junior Primary School and Kigezi High School.
May his soul rest in peace.