Published By UNNGOF |  January 6, 2016

A Civil Society Tribute to Warren John Nyamugasira, January 5th 2016.

It is a deep honour and privilege to say a few words about our dear Comrade Nyamugasira, on behalf of hundreds of civil society organisations, thousands of colleagues who work in the NGO sub sector and millions of people served by the non-for-profit sector.

For decades, the name Warren Nyamugasira was synonymous with the great struggles for justice, major innovations, inroads and works of civil society in Uganda, in the region and globally. Be it challenging the unfair rules defining global trade or the injustice meted on developing countries by global financial institutions or fighting for civic space and increasing choices for people living in poverty, it is hard to imagine any organisation that Warren’s footprints can’t be traced upon. While a few organisations were privileged to have him as a staff such as Scripture Union, World Vision in Uganda and Rwanda, the Uganda Debt Network, Uganda National NGO Forum, the Development Research Training, Africa Monitor in South Africa or One Campaign in Addis Ababa, he impacted hundreds others – part of his legacy will remain in these institutions that continue to flourish after he left them for the true test of great leadership is a peaceful transition and institutional strengthening when its leader leaves!

Like his contemporaries such as Zie Gariyo, Mwalimu Musheshe, Prof JB Kwesiga, Peace Kyamureku, Charles Lwanga Ntale, Judy Kamanyi, Sheila Kawamara, John de Connick and others, Warren was a deep thinker, prolific writer and an inspiration to many who he himself may never have known in his lifetime. For those who had the privilege to work directly with him, we shall remember his oratory skills, his openness and courage. We shall recall his distaste for mediocracy and belief in excellence. He always said hard work shows! And that is very true. We shall remember his passion for justice, his inspirational thoughts and great sense of humour. He once told me – the best times to think about great ideas is in the comfort of your bathroom or the sister room also known as the centre for equality for no matter how powerful you are, it is the same approach in that room. And you know what, Warren was and is very right!

For all the above and so much more that we would require days and days to cover, it will be very difficult to deliver a befitting tribute to a friend, comrade, father and a great man. When we lose someone we love, it seems that time stands still. What moves through us is silence, a quiet sadness, a longing for one more day, one more word, one more touch. You may not understand why Warren left so soon or why he left before you all said goodbye, but little by little you begin to remember not just that he died but that he lived and dreamt. The last time I met Warren on 17th December 2015, in a room and on the bed he would eventually pass on from, he reminded me of so many wonderful memories of our time together in crystal clear words. Perhaps most profound were his words that in life there two important investments one has to make: first is in friends and second in one’s integrity. I am deeply honoured to have been a friend to a great man and learnt so much from him personally and professionally.

Warren leaves a young family and so much unfinished business on earth and it is our duty to carry them on. It is our responsibility to care for his family and support them. When they knock at our doors, do all in your means to be of help. At the National NGO Forum, we shall establish a Memorial Series for past NGO Leaders starting with Warren this year and others still alive and those that have since left us so that we celebrate and recognize our foremost leaders – present and past. This will be yet another legacy in his name and memory for in his death he will continue to inspire us.

If you have loved these remarks, praise Warren and his legacy for he perfected in me and many others the art of writing and speaking to public audiences, but if you haven’t, please understand that it is a near impossibility for me to emulate such an intellectual, deep thinker and speaker that Warren was. Many will continue to live in his shadow!

So, farewell Our Friend, Mentor and Comrade! May God receive you with mercy and compassion!

By His Grace, we shall meet again someday!

Prepared and delivered on behalf of Civil Society Organisations by Arthur LAROK, Country Director of Action Aid Uganda and Vice Chairperson of the Uganda National NGO Forum at the Funeral Service of Warren at All Saints Cathedral, Kampala