By Richard Akandwanaho
Kigezi based Rukiga language consultant, an author, editor, a culturist, and a greater interpreter (Omugurusi) Festo Karwemera is dead.
Karwemera is the author of Rukiga language books like Oteebwa Orurimi Rwawe (Don’t forget your mother language) his first book which he authored in 1966.
Among his other significant contributions is his participation in the translation of the English Bible from English to Runyankole- Rukiga and the Runyankole –Rukiga dictionary called Katondozi which he co-authored with President Yoweri Museveni. Because of these contributions, he was in 2013 awarded a medal during the 51st independence celebrations in Rukungiri district.
The old man owns the only existing museum in Kabale district. He named it Akehongo Kabaana Ba Karwemera or Karwemera’s Children’s Hiding Place. The museum is located at his home in Kibikuura cell lower Bugongi Kabale municipality near Kigezi high school. Here, tourists come to see items that were used by the old Bakiga.
Born in 1925 to a cleric, in Karubanda, Buhaara Kabale District, Kawemera went to Muyebe Selected sub-grade school, then to Kigyezi High School and Kinyasaano Junior Primary School.
He pursued a Certificate at Vernacular Teachers Training Centre Nyakasura, after his Primary Six because he could not afford higher education.
He started teaching Primary Four at Nyakasura Primary School and later Kigyezi High School where he got a rare chance to teach Primary Five because of scarcity of teachers.
Later, he upgraded his education and was able to join a secondary school and enrol at Mukono Teachers College, after which he was appointed the head teacher of Katare Primary School in 1955.
In 1959, he was promoted to Assistant Education Supervisor Kigezi District. However, this job was later scrapped after independence.
He worked at Save the Children Fund Uganda in the late 60s as well as the National Trading Cooperation in Kabale in the 70s, before going into private business when the cooperation was disbanded in Idi Amin’s regime.
In the 1980s he served as the head of Kabale District Service Commission and on committees such as the Kabale District Contracts Committee, District Land Committee and was head of the Kabale Town Council when it was transformed into a municipality in the 1980s.
Karwemera has been married to Aida Mary Ziryabura and the couple had eight children however two have since passed away. Her daughter Flavia Kanagizi confirmed his father’s death but said the family would give detailed information about their father’s death and burial arrangements later.