SPECIAL PROJECTS
 
17th November 2005
JOHN KEVIN OGEN ALIRO TRIBUTE

A friend I will never meet

By Anne Mugisha

Just when everything seemed to be going according to plan, the news of Kevin Aliro’s death has taken the wind out of my sails.

Anne Mugisha

Just over one year ago, I sent Kevin an e-mail congratulating him on the launching of The Weekly Observer, which was fast becoming a national leader in objective, investigative journalism.

I also asked him for a regular column in the newspaper. He responded immediately, thanking me for the remarks and offered me a weekly column.

From that first exchange we developed a relationship of mutual trust and respect.

Along the way of this one year professional relationship of a writer and her editor, we crossed the line of indifference and became close friends, sharing more than the factual and grammatical errors of my advocacy writing, to criticising each other’s opinions on current affairs, exchanging tit-bits about politics and the media industry.

I will never meet Kevin and I mourn him deeply. He will be missed by his family, friends, writers, colleagues, the media fraternity and all progressive forces for change in Uganda.

Kevin’s last email to me on Thursday, October 27, found me in Bangkok. It says a lot about the man. We shall miss his commitment to his work and the fact that he had time to share with us his hopes, worries and reflections on life.

Anne,
Thanks for all your good wishes. I hope I will [be] OK soon. At least I can now read and write e-mail. Never mind with a lot of inconsistencies. I [was] comatose for 4 days. When I came to at Kampala International Hospital on October 9, I had lost my speech and sense of issues, date, people and everything. I hadn’t even realised I had been in hospital - let alone for four days already.

I was brought to London’s Royal Free Hospital on Pond Street on October 13. It is now month end. My speech is still slurred and writing may be back to P3 days. But for the first time I was able to take a walk beyond my room today and even sat in a restaurant. My final hospital tests are tomorrow; then the consultant will determine whether I can be allowed to fly home in the meantime and return for further examination/treatment in three months.

Of course, she wanted me to stay in London with weekly visits to hospital until then. But we put our heads together [and] we realised that having been admitted as a private citizen, I could not afford to pay the medical bill for that whole period and maintain myself in London. At least when I return to Kampala, I can raise another air ticket from my salary and one or two friends helping a bit.

But this was really too close to the edge. I am lucky to survive even with poor speech and memory. It looked easier to pass on than to recover in any form at all!
John Kevin Ogen Aliro.
May his soul rest in peace.

Observer Columnist

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