Ugandans in Dallas Celebrate Mzeei Mutooro Apuuli’s Illustrious Life

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By EADM Correspondent

In Summary: He came to Dallas only once in 2000. But his footprints are still clearly visible in the metroplex. Five of his daughters; Robinah, Rita, Christine, Jane, and Doreen; their children, his grandchildren and great grandchildren live in Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas, United States. He is thus here both in real-time and in spirit. The late Mzeei Sepiriya Mutooro Apuuli, 94, was born on December 24, 1924 in Kinyatale, Mwenge county in the Tooro district. He died of cardiac arrest on his way to Mulago hospital in Kampala on May 8 and was laid to rest on May 12 at his ancestral home in Kinyatale village near Butiiti, Mwenge, Kyenjojo district. He is survived by two widows; two sisters aged 94 & 83, 27 children, 95 grandchildren, and 37 great grandchildren. “What gives us hope is that by the time of his death, he had given his life to Jesus Christ,” the five daughters testified during a Thanksgiving service to celebrate the life of their departed father at the House of Prayer Church in Hurst Texas recently. Mzeei Mutooro realized that he could not be strong on his own and through Jesus Christ, found a sure pathway to eternal life and an insurance policy against hell. “Jesus answered them saying, “I am the way and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the father except through me.” (John14:16). He took the way! RIP, Mzeei Apuuli.

A cross-section of the congregation at the thanksgiving service for the late Mzeei Sepiriya Mutooro Apuuli at the House of Prayer Church in Hurst, Texas, USA.

Hurst, Texas — Ugandans and their friends resident in the Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) area thronged the House of Prayer Church in Hurst for a thanksgiving service to celebrate an illustrious life of Mzeei Sepiriya Mutooro Apuuli who passed away on May 8 and laid to rest at his ancestral home in Kinyatale village, Mwenge, Kyenjojo district on May 12. The late Mzeei Mutooro Apuuli is the father of five sisters resident in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Born on December 24, 1924 in Kinyatale village, Mwenge county of the former Tooro district, the late Mzeei Sepiriya Mutooro Apuuli, 94, died of cardiac arrest on his way to Mulago hospital in Kampala. He is survived by two widows; two sisters aged 94 & 83, 27 children, 95 grandchildren, and 37 great grandchildren.

Some of the five sisters living in the Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) metropolis.

“What gives us hope is that by the time of his death, he had given his life to Jesus Christ,” five of his daughters living in the DFW metropolis testified during a Thanksgiving service to celebrate the life of their departed father. The event took place at the House of Prayer Church in Hurst Texas recently. Although Mzeei Mutooro Apuuli visited Dallas only once in 2000, his footprints are still clearly evident in the metroplex. Five of his daughters; Robinah, Rita, Christine, Jane, and Doreen; their husbands and children; his grand and great grandchildren live here. With such a presence, both his physical and spiritual manifestation loom large here in DFW area.

The worship and praise team at the House of Prayer Church in Hurst, Texas during the thanksgiving service for the late Mzeei Sepiriya Mutooro Apuuli recently.

Delivering a sermon at the thanksgiving ceremony, Pastor Nancy Abesiga Twesige of the House of Prayer Church said that since Mzeei Mutooro realized that he could not be strong on his own, except through Jesus Christ, he found the promise of a sure pathway to eternal life and an insurance policy against hell offered in the scripture: “Jesus answered them saying, “I am the way and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the father except through me.” (John14:16). He took the way!

Pastor Nancy Abesiga Twesigye delivering a sermon during the thanksgiving service for the late Mzeei Sepiriya Mutooro Apuuli at the House of Prayer Church in Hurst, Texas, USA.

Highlighting the theme of the service: “Celebrating a life well lived”, Pastor Nancy Twesigye referenced Psalm 23 when David declared: “The Lord is my Sheppard, I shall not want“. She said that because God is indeed a good Sheppard, King David recognized that he was no longer the leader of his own life and decided to place his trust in God, the good Sheppard. “This was true of Mzee Mutooro who also put his trust in the Lord Jesus Christ as his personal Lord and savior long before the Lord called him,” said the woman of God.

A cross-section of the congregation at the thanksgiving service for the late Mzeei Sepiriya Mutooro Apuuli at the House of Prayer Church in Hurst, Texas, USA.

Additionally, Pastor Twesigye said that when Mzee Mutooro realized that Jesus came into this world to die on the cross to save humanity from their sins, He took up the offer, repented his sins and claim the gift of eternal life after death. “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is Eternal life in Jesus Christ.” (Romans 6:23). “Because Jesus Christ saved his life, we are now standing on firm ground to celebrate his life with the assurance that he is in heaven with Jesus Christ,” the woman of God declared to choruses of Amen from the congregation.

Some of the grandchildren at the thanksgiving service for the late Mzeei Sepiriya Mutooro Apuuli at the House of Prayer Church in Hurst, Texas, USA.

Recognizing the impact of Mzeei Mutooro Apuuli’s exceptional qualities on his family and the community he lived in, Pastor Nancy Abesiga Twesige told the congregation that “we are here to celebrate a life of a man God had filled with wisdom; demonstrated and expressed profound love for his family and strangers, an illustrious long life that was truly a gift from God; an outstanding example we should all emulate.” She said that since Mzeei Mutooro Apuuli lived a full life during which he accepted Jesus Christ as his Lord and savior, “those of us still alive are challenged to immortalize his life by emulating the good qualities he demonstrated and reflected,” she implored, adding, “I encourage all of you to turn your hearts to God who is the giver of all comfort and the restorer of souls.”

The late Mzeei Sepiriya Mutooro Apuuli

Pastor Nancy Abesiga Twesige said that the lessons we should learn from the passing of Mzeei Mutooro are to “Follow the example of our dear Father, friend, and mentor and choose the gift of eternal life and be assured that when we die we know where we are going. “A question each of you should ask yourself is: “When your time comes, when your life is over, are you sure of where you are going?” she asked with a prolonged pause to allow the challenge to sink deep into the hearts and minds of the audience and to ponder over their relationship with the Savior. Undone, she said: “His arms are open and he is saying; ‘come now and find rest’, will you come to him today?” she asked. Pastor Nancy invited members of the congregation to receive Jesus Christ as a personal Lord and savior and prayed with those who hid the invitation.

Ms. Robinah Kagoro, the eldest of the five daughters of the late Mzeei Sepiriya Mutooro Apuuli living in the DFW area during her eulogy for her late father

Earlier, Ms. Robinah Kagoro, one of the five daughters living in the DFW area recalled with fond memories when Mzeei Mutooro made his first and last visit to the United States in 2000 to attend her wedding. “He was full of life, happy, kind, and as loving as we had always known him to be,” she told the congregation during the thanksgiving service.  She said that the late Mzeei Mutooro Apuuli told all his daughters here before he returned home that since it was a long and tiresome flight from Uganda to the USA, we should be the ones to visit him in Uganda instead of him flying to the States. “That is what we have been doing every year since 2001,” Ms. Robinah Kagoro disclosed. On behalf of her sisters, their husbands, children, and grandchildren, Ms. Robinah Kagoro thanked Ugandans living in the DFW and friends from other communities for extending their support to them since news of their father’s death was received. On behalf of the family, Ms. Kagoro also expressed gratitude to all the people in Uganda who turned up in large numbers to condole with the family and give their late father a dignified and memorable burial ceremony.

Mrs Jane Getanda, one of the daughters living in the DFW area seen here with her daughter.

The DFW community conducted memorial services every evening for 4 days until the late Mzeei Apuuli was laid to rest on May 12. The EADM was unable to speak with the other two sisters living in the DFW area; Jane and Doreen with their spouses. They were, however, working behind the scenes to ensure that all the prayer meetings and services went as planned, drinks and food were in place at the right time, and the schedule of events underscored the dignified send off their caring and illustrious father, Mzeei Sepiriya Mutooro Apuuli so much deserved.

Doreen, the youngest of the sisters, resident in the DFW area.

Mrs. Rita Kagasa Bazanye Akiiki, one of the other daughters said that her memory of her father she will always cherish is that of a loving, supportive, and fearless father who cared a lot for his children, especially girls. In that role, he was so fearless in defense of his daughters that even death never scared him from ensuring the safety of his daughters, Rita Bazanye recalls. “For example, he rescued one of his daughters from Idi Amin’s commanding Officer of 2nd Para Battalion Major Gala who had abducted and forcefully married one of his daughters. He travelled to Arua and rescued her from him even when the military man had threatened to kill him,” she recalled. But more importantly, Rita Bazanye disclosed, “when he was raising us, we all prayed together as a family including his children, grandchildren, and the others he adopted; all of us called him Dad regardless of the relationship with him.” She told the EADM days after she returned from the burial that her late father adopted, raised, and educated many children including most of his grandchildren whose parents died. “By the time of his death, some of the children had completed college while others are still in college,” she said. Mrs. Rita Bazanye told the EADM that whenever she went to Uganda, she would first visit her father’s home before going anywhere else. “Although my father had seen all my children in 2011, including my twin daughters, we were planning to visit him again in July this year. But it is not going to be,” she said with a sense of regret in her voice.

Mrs. Rita Kagasa Bazanye Akiiki, another of the five daughters of the late Mzeei Sepiriya Mutooro Apuuli while eulogizing her late father.

Speaking about her father’s exemplary qualities, Ms. Rita Bazenye recalled that her father was a hardworking man with incomparable time-management skills he developed while working with Tooro and Mityana Tea corporation owned by Europeans. ”Additionally, Dad always had a well-groomed appearance; with everything about him neatly and cleanly kept to such an extent that people always said he drove a spotless Peugeot 504 car,” Mrs. Bazanye recalled. Routinely, Mrs. Bazanye said, My Dad took a 30-minute nap after lunch every day; a practice he perhaps developed from the Europeans and a reason that could explain why he lived longer than most people.” As a result of his integrity and work ethic, Mzeei Mutooro easily became an influential elder and opinion leader in the Tooro sub-region, Mrs. Bazanye said.

A cross-section of the congregation at the thanksgiving service for the late Mzeei Sepiriya Mutooro Apuuli at the House of Prayer Church in Hurst, Texas, USA.

Not surprisingly, in his Will, Mzeei Sepiriya Mutooro Apuuli named no heir to his estate but instead handed powers of attorney to 6 appointees; 3 executors (2 sons and a daughter) together with 3 Trustees to oversee and manage his estate; finances, tea estates, cattle, and land to ensure that all his children receive a fair share of his wealth. True to his belief in the preservation of a united family, Mzeei Mutooro stated in his Will “that his estate should never be sold or sub-divided but kept intact because all of it belongs to all his children,” Mrs. Rita Bazanye disclosed. Additionally, to demonstrate his compassion, he stated in his will that “Do not touch or evict squatters on my land but to live with them in peace,” Mrs. Rita Bazanye told the EADM.

A cross-section of the mourners at the funeral for the late Mzeei Sepiriya Mutooro Apuuli in Kinyatale, Mwenge, Kyenjojo district recently.

Mrs. Rita Kagasa Bazanye Akiiki acknowledge that it will be a challenge for the family to keep ourselves together as children to ensure the unity of the family. “In this challenge, love will be essential for us to sustain and keep the legacy of our Dad alive,” she said, adding: “We need to pray to maintain the unity of the family; there should be no separation between his children and division of his estate. We have no choice but to uphold his good name and wishes.” Her husband, Pastor Richard Bazenye, one of the sons-in-laws living in Dallas, Texas, said Mzeei Mutooro Apuuli “was a good friend of mine; we prayed together every time we met. Because my father worked in Fort Portal, Mzeei knew my father and I interacted freely with him.”

A cross-section of the mourners at the funeral for the late Mzeei Sepiriya Mutooro Apuuli in Kinyatale, Mwenge, Kyenjojo district recently.

Beyond echoing sentiments made by her elder sisters, Ms. Christine Mutooro, 4th last of her father’s children and 2nd last of his daughters, viewed the demise of her Dad in a much more spiritual terms: “I thank God for the years and the good time He blessed our family with a God-fearing, faithful, loving, compassionate, and caring Dad who shared his knowledge and life experiences to help us grow and develop spiritually, intellectually, and socially.” She told the EADM that she shared a special bond with her father who expressed a lot of confidence in her and all her children especially girls. “The bond between me and my Dad was so special that it made me feel great and anyone in the family easily saw and understood it,” Ms. Christine Mutooro said, adding, “Behind every great daughter is a great Dad,” she declared. She said that her late father sacrificed a lot to enable all her children have the best of life. Describing his parental role in terms of an outstanding family teacher and mentor, she said that her late father taught and encouraged us to live as faithful Christians by participating in all church activities loving and helping those in need, respecting all people including friends, strangers, and members of communities in which we lived. “It is his exemplary life that laid a firm foundation on which the family will stand now that he is gone,” she said.

Ms. Christine Mutooro, a daughter of the late Mzeei Sepiriya Mutooro Apuuli while eulogizing her late father Mzeei Sepiriya Mutooro Apuuli

Ms. Christine Mutooro said that her late father was not only a devoted-church-going-Christian but also a committed and long-time choir member of St. John’s Cathedral in Fort Portal town before he relocated to the village in 1996 where he continued his music exploits at St. Luke Protestant church he built in Kinyantale village. “It is highly likely that I inherited the singing talent from him and he encourage me to develop it further which I did,” Ms. Christine Mutooro said in tribute, adding, “For the past 6 years, I have been calling and speaking to my Dad every Sunday and together, we would sing on the phone all our favorite hymns and Christian songs we used to sing at home and at church.” It was fitting, therefore, according to Ms. Christine Mutooro to sing her father’s favorite song; “It is well with my Soul” in his honor during the thanksgiving service and at the four daily memorial services held between May 8-11 at the residence of the Bazanye family in the DFW metropolis.

A cross-section of the congregation at the thanksgiving service for the late Mzeei Sepiriya Mutooro Apuuli at the House of Prayer Church in Hurst, Texas, USA.

Having last seen her late father 6 years ago, Ms. Christine Mutooro said that although she was heartbroken that she was not present to say farewell to her Dad, “I am confident that he fought a good fight and ran a good race. He is resting well; I have no doubt about that,” she declared, adding, “Although I didn’t make it to celebrate the end of my Dad’s life, I am confident that one day I will unite with him.” Promising to keep a commitment to her father that she would always be there to support the family in case he went before her, she vowed that with God’s help she would do so. “While I pray that the sad Days will pass into years, I will live to remember the promise I made to my father with both joy and silent tears forever. I am stronger because I know I have the best father of the fatherless who keeps me going and guiding my footsteps and may His name be praised,” she prayed.

Bishop Reuben Kisembo of Rwenzori Diocese leading the service at the funeral of the late Mzeei Sepiriya Mutooro Apuuli in Kinyatale village, Mwenge, Kyenjojo district.

The remains of Mzeei Sepiriya Mutooro Apuuli were laid to rest at his ancestral home in Kinyatale village near Butiiti, Mwenge, and Kyenjojo district on May 12. The funeral service at his burial was presided over by Bishop Reuben Kisembo of Rwenzori Diocese. The Bishop paid tribute to Mzeei Sepiriya Mutooro Apuuli whom he described as a faithful man of God who sacrificed a lot in his selfless service to his family, the church, community, and country. “He was a respected role model to many people who got to know him because of his good moral character, community service, and his faith in God,” Bishop Reuben Kisembo eulogized.

Brig. Ronnie BALYA reading President Yoweri Muzeveni's message at the funeral.

President Yoweri Museveni was represented at the burial by Ambassador Brig. Ron Balya, former director general of the Internal Security Organization (ISO) who read the president’s message. Other dignitaries at the burial included the Member of Parliament for Fort Portal Municipality Alex Ruhanda, MPs, and officials from the districts of Kabarole, Kyenjojo, and dignitaries from across the country. Most of the eulogies described the late Mzeei Sepiriya Mutooro Apuuli as a man who demonstrated kindness through generous giving to those in need; extended love and compassion to those who lacked it; and supported developmental ideas and programs his family, church, community, and country engaged in.

Two widows of the deceased

Mzeei Sepiriya Mutooro Apuuli was born in Kinyatale village, Mwenge County in the former Tooro district on December 24, 1924. After his education, he worked as an auditor with Tooro and Mityana Tea Corporation in Kijura for many years. He retired to become a businessman in Fort Portal town where he operated a shop while he owned a tea estates and a cattle farm in Mwenge, Kyenjojo district. In 1996, he moved to Kinyatale village in Kyenjojo to concentrate on his tea estates and cattle, farm that he managed until his death last May. He left a proven community service record; built St Luke Protestant Church in Kinyantale village, Mwenge, Kyenjojo district. Mzeei Mutooro was a faithful man of God and an influential opinion leader and an active member of the church, community, the Tooro sub region, and the country at large. He succumbed to cardiac arrest on his way to Mulago hospital on May 8. He had previously recovered from a hip replacement and eye surgeries on both of his eyes in February and early April at Mulago hospital in Kampala. Out of his 27 children, 16 are still alive while 11 died.

Some of the grandchildren and great grandchildren at the funeral of the late Mzeei Sepiriya Mutooro Apuuli in Kinyatale village, Mwenge, Kyenjojo district

As a family, the five daughters and grandchildren of Mzeei Sepiriya Mutooro Apuuli living in the Dallas-Fort Worth area in Texas expressed their gratitude to the entire Ugandan Diaspora community in the USA, especially those living in the DFW area, their friends from other communities, and all other people of goodwill who stood by their side when their Dad and grandfather passed away. The family expressed appreciation for the spiritual, financial, and moral support extended to them during the time of their bereavement. The family of Mzeei Mutooro Apuuli saluted the entire friends resident in the DFW area for the words of encouragement, the prayers, the meals, and the company during the 4-day vigil, the several services that were held and the pastors who conducted them on a daily basis. “We are most indebted to you and may God bless all of you,” the family prayed. “We now know that he is in a better place where there is no pain; he is at peace!” declared the sisters. RIP Mzeei Apuuli!

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