Prof Nsibambi: Through his 78-year-journey

There is glowing tribute to Uganda’s longest-serving Prime Minister, Professor Apollo Robin Nsibambi. Nsibambi who served as Prime Minister from 1999 until 2011 died at his home in Lubaga division on Thursday evening.

President Yoweri Museveni said “I have learnt of the untimely passing of the former Prime Minister, Prof Apollo Nsibambi. He was a true patriot and great academic. The country will miss him.”

Museveni’s message said he had instructed Prime Minister, Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda to lead a team that will ensure that Professor Nsibambi a befitting send-off.

Democratic Party President, Nobert Mao in a twitter message e paid rich tribute to the deceased “I’m saddened to learn of the death of former Prime Minister Prof  Apolo Nsibambi. I convey my condolences to his family and also to all Ugandans. An accomplished academic who transitioned smoothly into the political arena, Nsibambi served with integrity, dignity and class. RIP”

Ramathan Ggoobi, a Policy Analyst, Researcher and lecturer of economics at Makerere University Business School said “You want a true definition of a Professor? Apollo Robin Nsibambi. Rest In Peace Prof. Your soul must already be in heaven; you always kept time” said Ggoobi in a Tweet.

David Mpanga, a Buganda Kingdom minister, also a Kampala Lawyer tweeted sayings “Very sad to learn about the passing of Professor Apollo Nsibambi. He was an erudite and knowledgeable person. He had a great sense of duty and a great sense of humour – always teased me about only having one degree. Rest in Peace Mukulu.” read his tweet


The Late Nsibambi was born on October 25 1940; he attended King’s College Budo for his high school education. He held a Bachelor of Science degree in economics, with honors, from the Makerere University under London University.

He also held a Master of Arts degree in political science from the University of Chicago in the United States. His Doctor of Philosophy degree was obtained from the University of Nairobi.   Professor Nsimbambi has been married to the late Rhoda Nsimbambi who died at 62 in 2001. He later married Esther Nakiboneka Kabuuza with whom he has been living until his demise.


Professor Nsimbambi became the first non-Head of State Chancellor of Makerere University, following the enactment of the Universities and other Tertiary Institutions Act.

He was Chancellor of Makerere from 2003 to 2007. His four year-tenure as Chancellor of Uganda’s largest University was rewarding but he had turbulent times marked by several strikes.

“I feel like greatly previleged to serve Makerere as Chancellor I enjoyed job to satisfaction. When I served Makerere, I came to the top of my career, I enjoyed carrying out research, I enjoyed teaching, publishing articles. So it has been a great opportunity to pay back my academic debt to Makerere University. But there have also been other problems like indiscipline; strikes, encouraging students to loot their neighboring areas…  I was greatly disgusted by this thuggery,” Nsibambi said upon retirement as Makerere University Chancellor in 2007.

“And let me hope that this kind of thuggery will be stumped out of existence. I was more than disgusted by students looting innocent areas during strikes. Makerere has some internal problems like any other University. It has problems of quality, large numbers, and members of staff not getting adequate salary. But Makerere is still a viable institution. It has not died as alleged. And I’m delighted to having been the first non-Head of State to preside over this great institution my the Almighty bless Makerere University,” he said.

Prof-Apolo-Nsibambi-Apolo-Nsibambi-speaking-at-the-Bernard-Onyango-Inaugural-Public-Lecture-at-Makerere-University in 2014

Before joining Cabinet as Minister of Education, Public Service and later Prime Minister. Nsibambi held various positions at Makerere from Lecturer, Dean of Faculty of Social Sciences.

He was also the Director of Makerere Institute for Social Research (MISIR) Nsibambi was gifted orator who diligently steered Parliament as the Leader of Government Business at Parliament. His role was quite evident especially when Uganda decided to return to multiparty politics.

He was loved across the political divide. Despite heated debate on the floor of Parliament he would be seen talking to members of the opposition and the ruling NRM at the parliamentary foyer at times bursting into prolonged laughter.

He was found of asking Parliament to avoid what he termed as ” political lugubriousness” That earned him the moniker “Lugubrious” in the Parliamentary circles.

At the peak of the disagreements on the floor of Parliament, Nsibambi would plead with the then Speaker, Edward Kiwanuka Ssekandi, his Deputy Rebecca Kadaga and the Leader of the Opposition, Professor Ogenga Latigo for a retreat.

The Speaker would briefly adjourn to allow the caucusing for an amicable solution. On his retirement from Parliament, as the leader of government Business, Nsibambi talks to Uganda Radio Network about his reflections about the Parliament under multiparty politics.

Nsibambi’s death comes at the time when there is a heated debate about the need to amend the constitution to strip MPs of powers to determine their emoluments, an issue that he opposed in 2006 as Leader of Government Business in Parliament.

Prof Apolo Nsibambi



Nsibambi loved church faithfully. He was at St. Paul’s Cathedral every morning says Olive Nakatudde, a journalist who had witnessed him and his wife, Esther  as he fondly introduced her to the members of the congregation.

“He would walk in quietly. He was not kind of a leader that could show a lot of power around him. He did not enter with an armed guard in church yet he had one. He was down to earth person and quite approachable” said Nakatudde.

“And he would always grant interviews to journalists. He would jokingly say you journalists why don’t you let me rest since I’m in retirement? He would hold your hand through the corridors of church then allow to be interviewed,” Nakatudde added.

Apollo and Esther Nsibambi’s absence from Church would always be noticed and it had been a practice for the clergy to announce why they were not in attendance.

According to Rev Justus Miwanda Njagala, Nsibambi was a committed member of the church who would participate in the church’s activities both at the local church at Bulange and at Namirembe Cathedral.

“We are consoled by the fact that he had accepted our Lord Jesus Christ as his savior because we Christians believe that when we die, we go to be with our Lord,” Rev Njagala said.