Former motor rally champion and businessman Charles Muhangi, who will be buried today, had health issues and was stressed for some time as he spent long days at his recently repossessed buildings in Kampala, often returning home very late.
Muhangi, popularly known by his rally pet name Ekitagururo, died at his home in Buziga, Kampala, on Thursday morning.
During a funeral service for him at All Saints Church in Nakasero on Friday, Muhangi’s widow, Patience Muhangi Mbabazi, and children opened up on Muhangi’s final moments.
The widow explained that for much of Muhangi’s last month in life, he pitched camp at Qualicel Bus Terminal in Kampala, the property over which he was in conflict with fellow businessmen Drake Lubega and others.
After a protracted fight that sucked in the President, other top officials and finally ended in the Supreme Court, Muhangi had won the ownership of the contested properties.
“The day Charles died he came home at 2am, like any other man he came home with a kaveera. Our son Jake woke up to meet him.
Whenever he would come home, he would brief me on whatever had happened during the day and we would have Holy Communion. But this time round we did not.
At 5am, I heard him in the shower,” Ms Muhangi explained, adding: Ms Muhangi explained, adding: “Occasionally humming the song, ‘My hope is built on nothing less’ and repeating the refrain ‘On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand; All other ground is sinking sand, All other ground is sinking sand.’”
She said on the fateful morning she left home at 6:30am to pick her daughter from Gayaza High School after which she was supposed to head to Mbarara where her sister had an introduction.
As I organised myself to go to school, I saw he was not well; he was looking for his gadgets [because he had diabetes and he also had pressure.
When he checked I saw it was 44, I said it was 44, but he said it was 4.4. He went to look for another strip to do another test but they were finished,” Ms Mbabazi said.
She said the argument over the correct reading of the diabetes meter wore on until she left for school to pick up her child.
“At one time he asked, ‘me if it is 44 what do you do?’ I said I do not know. He said, ‘you see you don’t know’. All this time our little children were on the bed, like they always do when he comes back.
They asked him for the phone and he said ‘have the phone’.”
Shortly after she got to Gayaza, Ms Mbabazi said, her son Jake called to say there was something wrong with their father.
I had just entered the school compound, when Jake rang, saying ‘It seems Dad is dead we are shaking him and he is not breathing on the chest and his eyes are open,” Mrs. Muhangi quoted his son Jake as telling her.
She then instructed Jake, his Primary Three son, to call his elder brother Ryan, who also found that his father was not responsive to the shaking.
From Gayaza, Ms Mbabazi said she called neighbours to help but they were not home, until she finally chanced on Dr Kaggwa, another of the neighbours, who went to their home and found Muhangi dead.
“Charles left me on the longest journey I have ever had in my life. The journey from Gayaza to home is the longest I have been on,” She recalled wishing that Muhangi had listened to her.
Ms Mbabazi described her husband as a generous man who loved and spent time with family both on vacation in Uganda and abroad.
She testified that Muhangi gave his life to Christ prior to his death at Watoto church where he had taken children for Sunday school.
Muhangi’s children also paid tribute to their father describing him as a caring and loving Dad. However, it was Jake Muhangi, the Primary Three pupil, who first broke the news of the rally ace’s passing to other family members that was most moving.
“My father has always loved me, when I entered the room I asked him for the phone and he said “use the phone.”
According to Jake , who was the first to realise that his father was dead, he said when he brought back the phone he found him dead.
“I tried to call him, shake him, he was not breathing and his eyes were open,” Jake narrated before he called the mother who had travelled to pick up the sister. Jake then dashed to his brother’s room to break the news.
The funeral service started at 5pm and ended at 7:40pm when almost half of the mourners had left church.
The funeral service was also attended by former premier and presidential candidate Amama Mbabazi, Minister and Bushenyi Woman MP Karooro Okurut, and members of the motor rallying led by Mr Moses Lumala, among others.
The Rev Can Geoffrey Byarugaba, the Vicar of All Saints Cathedral, delivered the sermon at the church service, reminding people to always remember God.
He said: “If God has been mindful of us, we also ought to be mindful of God.”
Muhangi will be laid to rest today at his ancestral Village of Bubwire, Bushenyi District.
Feared for his life
Security concerns. During the fight over the properties, Ms Mbabazi said, her late husband had security concerns and at some point contemplated taking their young children out of the country due to concerns that they could get abducted.
“Charles was fearing for his security, but being Born Again [Christian] I told him that his life is for the Lord,” Ms Mbabazi said.
Seeking help. Security Minister, Gen Elly Tumwine told mourners that Muhangi had indeed asked him for protection two days before his death.
“I had given him security and he was supposed to come and pick the guards from my office on Thursday [the day he died],” Gen Tumwine said.
By Daily Monitor