kakwenza rukirabashaija biography (1)
Ugandan author, Kakwenza Rukirabashaija. PHOTO/TWITTER

Who is Kakwenza Rukirabashaija? Flash Uganda Media looks at his biography, age, early life, wife, education, family, tribe, books, Twitter and author of The Greedy Barbarian and the Banana Republic.

Kakwenza Rukirabashaija is a Ugandan novelist, an iconoclast; someone who criticizes cherished beliefs, political activist, verbal terrorist and attorney best known for his books The Greedy Barbarian and the Banana Republic: Where Writing is Treasonous. 

Besides writing books, Kakwenza is a farmer. 

He grows tomatoes and also has a demonstration farm for anyone who wants to learn a certain farming skill or certain crop growing. He teaches them.

Kakwenza is much interested in criticizing politicians but not in any political position in Uganda. 

He claims the ruling government is the problem to this country because they have overshadowed the institution. Everything is about their family and running Uganda like their own homes.

Early Life and Education

Kakwenza Rukirabashaija was born in Rukungiri District, South Western Uganda on 1 November 1988. He’s the fourth born to a family of twelve but as of today, only six are living. 

His mother gave birth to twins thrice.

After attending his primary school in several schools in Rukungiri District, Kakwenza joined secondary school. He went to 20 schools for his primary education because his father was a religious leader.

So, whenever he got posted to a new location, he would follow him and this resulted in the change of school.

He attended Kyamakanda SS, Makobore High School and Kigezi College Butobere for O’ Level education. After that, Kakwenza joined Muyenga High School in Kampala for A’ level education and his mother paid his school fees.

This was after he escaped from home after he refused to accept his father’s suggestion to join Teacher’s College in Kabale after S.4.

Then later, Kakwenza Rukirabashaija joined Kyambogo University from where he graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Development Studies, a Master’s Degree in Journalism from the University of Cape Town and a Bachelor’s Degree in Law from Cavendish University, Uganda.

Crime

On 13 April 2020, the author was incarcerated by security operatives from his home in Iganga and detained for seven days at Mbuya Military Barracks in Kampala where he claims he was subjected to torture, inhumane and degrading treatment after publishing his first book The Greedy Barbarian which was believed to be about the Fountain of Honor, President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni.

Copies of his book were confiscated too. 

Kakwenza Rukirabashaija is the first Ugandan to be arrested for publishing a political fiction book and the first author, to write about the ruling president.

On 18 September 2020, Kakwenza was again arrested after publishing another book The Banana Republic: Where writing is Treasonous, telling his ordeal at the hands of his captors.

In February 2021, Kakwenza sued the Government of Uganda for the torture he suffered at the hands of the Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence (CMI) security operatives. 

Then again on 28 December 2021, Ugandan security forces arrested Kakwenza Rukirabashaija after he insulted General Muhoozi Kainerugaba on his Twitter handle calling him obese and ridiculing his military training.

Kakwenza’s arrest was condemned by opposition leader Robert Kyagulanyi aka Bobi Wine who leads the National Unity Platform (NUP) party and PEN International.

On 4 January 2022, a Ugandan court called for Kakwenza’s release. He was released for a brief home visit under tight security.

Kakwenza manifested visible signs of torture from the Uganda Police Force with bloodstains on his clothes. Later, Kiiza Eron, a Ugandan human rights lawyer uploaded photos of his blood-stained clothing kept by his wife on his Twitter handle. 

Following the incident, Kakwenza requested the court to return his passport to enable him to access medical care abroad, but the court denied him access to his passport claiming it was a weak reason.

However, Kakwenza managed to fly out of the country via Rwanda in February 2022 without a passport and arrived in Germany on 24 February 2022. 

According to Kakwenza, he hopes to return to Uganda after receiving the medical treatment he needs.

Kakwenza says Uganda is his homeland where he was born, so he will return and also wait for the dictator’s reaction.

Kakwenza was arrested in 2019, under the same law of Computer Misuse after posting a profane poem about President Museveni.

He as well alleges that he was taken before General Muhoozi while under detention and the General asked him to stop writing. 

However, Gen Muhoozi came out and denied ever seeing or meeting Kakwenza and never heard of him, not until the media began talking about him and he said he has no desire to meet the young writer. 

As a result of his arrest, the verbal terrorist says it has motivated him to write more. He says though he was beaten and tortured so that he stops writing, he says he will not stop writing unless they kill him.

The verbal terrorist points out that he’s going to revenge and kill them, using literature and they will do nothing about it.

kakwenza greedy barbarian banana republic book (1)
In The Greedy Barbarian, a novel of political fiction, the reader learns about African regimes characterized by corruption, nepotism, kleptocracy, and murder. PHOTO/ALJAZEERA

Awards

Kakwenza won the 2021 PEN Pinter Prize International Writer of Courage

Books written

The Greedy Barbarian: a political fiction novel that tells the high level of corruption, kleptocratic, gerontocracy, nepotistic and murderous African regimes. 

Banana Republic: Where Writing is Treasonous. This book gives an account of the torture Kakwenza was subjected to, while in detention.

Currently, Kakwenza claims he’s selling his books personally because Ugandan bookshops were instructed never to sell his books again.

Kakwenza was born a writer, since his secondary school days. He first wrote about his school teacher who was shabby and dirty. This irritated Kakwenza always, so when the teacher gave them the assignment to write about anything, he chose to write about his English teacher’s dirtiness.

The next day the teacher returned to class. He was transformed and very smart in new shoes, shirts and shoes. However, he retained Kakwenza’s paper after giving out the rest to the students.

After class, he asked Kakwenza to follow him and asked him to tell him who he wrote about. Without hesitation, he told the tough teacher that the story was about him. 

He later told him the story was good but advised him to never ridicule or fictionalize people, an advice Kakwenza rejected.

Kakwenza was a very stubborn student. He used to criticize a lot, something that earned him expulsion in some schools. When beaten by a teacher with no clear reason, he would revenge on the teacher.

Kakwenza is believed to be the first Ugandan author, to write a book about the ruling president.

Family

Kakwenza is married to Eva Basiima and together they have children. The two tied the knot in 2017.

Free time

Kakwenza spends two hours each day jogging, two hours learning and one-hour writing. Reading books: he reads 57 to 63 books annually.

He as well spends his time driving particularly in the village admiring Mother Nature.

Favourite Musicians

Sheebah Karungi who was his crush and at one point desired to marry her, Irene Ntale and Bobi Wine.

Religion 

Kakwenza is a non-believer that why he has no religious name. He narrates that he rejected the name his father gave him and instead used his father and grandfather’s name while sitting for his PLE. 

His children as well, don’t carry religious names because he’s a proud African. Kakwenza says the day he will visit Europe or America and meet a white man named Kakwenza, he will start naming his children English names.

He calls churches colonial shrines. The last time he went to church was on his wedding day in 2017.