DR SAM MAYANJA: BUGANDA KINGDOM HATER WHO WROTE HIMSELF INTO CABINET JOB
By Mulengera Reporters
Renowned for authoring frequent scholarly missives that are critical of Kabaka Mutebi and the Buganda Kingdom he leads, Dr. Sam Mayanja (aged 62) is the new State Minister for Lands and will be serving under Judith Nabakooba. Ironically they both hail from Mityana which is part of Kabaka’s Ssingo County.
Dr. Mayanja’s appointment took many by surprise because, despite personally being close to Gen Museveni as one of his private lawyers, the deeply spiritual lawyer and University law don has never been a conventional politician. Many observer believe, and rightly saw, that the big man from Rwakitura must have considered Dr. Sam Mayanja on the strength of his regular media publications especially on the issue of land over which he will fault Mengo at every opportunity.
In many of his publications and media interviews (many of which Mulengera News has been publishing), Dr. Mayanja has been a very outspoken (and some say very informed and persuasive) critic of the Buganda Kingdom view and approach to the subject of Mailo land. Coincidentally when he addressed the nation in his Heroes Day speech at Kololo Ceremonial Grounds on Wednesday, Gen Museveni equally castigated Mengo and Buganda Kingdom for holding onto what he called rigid and unhelpful views regarding Mailo as a tenure of land ownership. It’s a narrative Dr. Mayanja (leveraging on his decades scholarly research) will be amplifying using his new platform as a technocratic Minister in Gen Museveni’s government.
His latest posting, which partly must have been instigated by his controversial outspokenness on especially land matters and the related historical injustices, is no doubt value addition into a Cabinet where Gen Museveni rarely deploys people of his (Dr. Mayanja’s) intellectual depth and sophistication. In the following story, Mulengera News presents the profile of Dr. Sam Mayanja who is also a founding member and partner at Kampala Associated Advocates, a leading internationally acclaimed Ugandan law firm headquartered in the Kampala leafy neighborhood of Nakasero.
HIS LIFE STORY
The Finance & Banking Law practitioner was born 62 years ago in Kiyinda Mityana in a prominent family. His paternal uncle Oweek Antonio Gitta was the Attorney General for Sir Edward Mutesa and was in the hot seat during the 1955 Kabaka crisis before negotiating Mutesa return from the first exile by colonial Governor Andrew Cohen. Dr. Mayanja’s own father Erinesti Birebwe Mayanja was the first native Ugandan to serve as Chief agricultural officer for greater Mubende district. Sam’s parents had migrated from Koome islands in Lake Victoria Kyaggwe Mukono district to settle in Mityana.
Dr. Mayanja, a resident of Ntinda, is also a devout Pentecostal Christian who is actually a visiting evangelist at a number of Balokole Churches within and around Kampala. At 13 years, Mayanja became a street preacher in the Bwaise ghettoes reflecting the strong Christian values under which he was bred as a child. The background to all this was that his parents ( Nandawula and Erinesti Birebwe) were among the pioneer members of the Pentecostal Church in Mityana where his father donated land on which Full Gospel Church was established serving the whole of Mubende.
Much earlier on, Apollo Kivebulaya (who is Sam’s great grandparent/patriarch) had excelled at evangelizing communities mostly through street preaching. Kivebulaya, a veteran of the 1880s religious wars in Buganda, had converted from Islam to Christianity protesting the brutality Muslim leaders compelled young fighters like him to commit on those they considered infidels.
As a Christian, Kivebulaya evangelized in many areas of western Uganda and Zaire DRC where the establishment of a vibrant Anglican Church movement (the way we know is today) is credited on his efforts. Sam’s father was among the pioneer native businessmen in Mityana his contemporaries being the likes of ex-Obote Minister Samwiri Mugwisa (RIP), Kagea Ntatwa and others with whom they operated Ottoman Bank in the 1960s. Sam studied at Lubiri SS for O’level and Kings College Budo for A’level before joining Makerere Law School in 1973.
Earlier on he started out at Mityana Primary School whose motto, greatly despising cowardice, has always inspired him in life. In 1976, Dr. Mayanja graduated with LLB and joined LDC for Diploma in Bar Course training where the outgoing Vice President Edward Sekandi was among his lecturers. Immediately after LDC, Dr. Mayanja enrolled for LLM (Master’s degree in law) which he completed and graduated in 1980. He was actually the pioneer LLM student at Makerere and was enabled by Prof Abraham Kiapi who lobbied management to introduce LLM to cover Sam after his Canadian Mcguil University scholarship was cancelled at the last minute.
While at Makerere pursuing undergraduate studies, Dr. Mayanja distinguished himself as a Christian preacher under Makerere Full Gospel Church some of whose elders were jailed for being found worshipping after the enactment of the Idi Amin decree prohibiting Christian practice. Mayanja daringly went to State House and pleaded with Amin who released the church elders but Full Gospel remained closed. Since that time, Mayanja (who co-authored a book narrating the Amin ordeal after the 1979 war) has been a guest preacher at a number of Pentecostal Churches in the country. His own story testifies to the persecution Christians endured in the 1970s.
As a lawyer he initially practiced under his own law firm before much later on being recruited into KAA by former Chief Justice Bart Katurebe who founded it in early 2000s after leaving elective politics. Mayanja has also served in the Bible Society of Uganda and on return from exile in the 1980s, he worked as Bank Secretary for Uganda Development Bank. He also served as Personal Legal Assistant for then Deputy Finance Minister Steven Kavuma and inputted a lot into the management of departed Asians properties before the establishment of the Custodian Board.
Dr. Mayanja also edited High Court bulletin under Benjamin Odoki’s close supervision. As banking lawyer, he actively influenced the enactment of the Finance Institutions Act (FIA) which BoU uses to regulate commercial banks. He also was retained as consultant for NPART which handled recovery of securities for the defunct UCB which was subsequently dissolved into Stanbic Bank. He advised BoU on a World Bank project regarding agricultural financing. He also served WB on the Northern Transport Corridor projects covering many countries. He also advised the UN Economic Commission for Africa on the Trans-African Highway project.
He has also lectured law at Nkumba, UCU and LDC. The award-winning Mayanja is also a member of Uganda Institute of Corporate Governance in whose Sustainable Wealth magazine he regularly publishes scholarly articles. Mayanja is also a member of the Commonwealth Association for Corporate Governance and ex-ULS President Peter Kinobe says he is a very resourceful member of Uganda Law Society. As a lawyer, Sam has represented many big corporate organizations and Gen Museveni’s NRM party in all major court battles since the early 2000s.(For comments on this story, call, text or whatsapp us on 0705579994, 0779411734, 0200900416 or email us at email@example.com).