Aggrey Siroyi Awori, the Uganda statesman and younger brother of former Vice President Moody Awori, has died. He died on Monday, July 5, at the age of 82.
A close friend of his, Peter Oguttu confirmed Awori passed away at a private hospital in Naalya, Kampala.
“He had been sick for about a month and I have been in touch with him until today when his wife, Thelma, told me that he has died,” Oguttu said while describing his relationship with Awori as one of “brotherhood.”
Asked what could have been the possible cause of death, Oguttu remarked, “you know what’s currently going on in the country, but he’s been having pressure and other diseases as well.”
Awori who was former ICT minister, was once voted the best legislator in the sixth Parliament. He crossed to the ruling (NRM) party from his childhood Uganda People’s Congress (UPC) party later on, and in 2011 took a shot at the Busia Municipality seat which he lost to Kevinah Taaka Wanaha, a Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) leaning candidate.
On retiring from politics, President Museveni appointed Awori Minister for Information and Communications Technology from February 16, 2009 to May 27, 2011.
Born on February 23, 1939, in Budimo Village, Busia District, Awori was the 10th of 17 children. His parents were Canon Jeremiah Musungu Awori, a pioneer African priest of the Anglican Church in East Africa and Mariamu Odongo Awori, a nurse and community teacher.
Aggrey’s siblings include the ninth Kenyan vice-president Arthur Moody Awori and Mary Okelo, the first woman in East Africa to head a Barclays Bank branch and the founder of Kenya’s women only bank – Kenya Women Finance Trust. Mary Okelo is also the founder of Makini Schools, a leading school chain in East Africa.
Aggrey owned an urban home in Busia Municipality and a country home in neighbouring Bugiri District.
He attended Nabumali High School in Mbale District and King’s College Budo, in Wakiso District, both in Uganda. He secured a scholarship to study at Harvard from 1961 to 1965. The first year he took nuclear physics, but then switched over to political economics.
While at Harvard, Aggrey became the first person in heptagonal track history to win three events – the long jump, high hurdles, and 60-yard dash, setting the mark in the dash.
He also ran on the victorious mile relay team that tied the heptagonal record. By the time he graduated from Harvard, Awori held three outdoor and five indoor school records. He represented Uganda in the 110 metres hurdles at the 1960 Summer Olympics and the 1964 Summer Olympics.
Aggrey had a Master of Arts in economics from Syracuse University in the U.S. In 1967, Awori was appointed the first local director of Uganda Television (UTV). In 1971 he was jailed for two months after Idi Amin’s coup, because during Amin’s first coup attempt, he didn’t broadcast a speech Amin gave, lying to him by saying that they were live on air. He went into political exile in Kenya, where he taught political journalism at the University of Nairobi until 1976 and then travelled around Africa visiting Tanzania, Liberia and Senegal and returning to Nairobi in 1979.
Awori returned to Uganda after Idi Amin was overthrown in 1979. He ran for a seat in the National Assembly of Uganda, but lost. He then became Ambassador to the United States, until being transferred by Tito Okello Lutwa in 1985. He served as Uganda’s Ambassador to Belgium from 1985 until 1987, when he was dropped by President Museveni.
After a brief asylum in Nairobi, Awori started to build up a rebel group operating from eastern Uganda named Force Obote Back Again (FOBA). He stated that his reason for doing so was mainly anger at Museveni’s National Resistance Army (NRA), which had confiscated his property. In 1992, he dissolved his rebel group, which consisted mainly of young fighters. In 1993, Awori met with Museveni in New York and then was elected to the Constituent Assembly to make the Constitution and as a member of parliament.
He came third in the 2001 presidential elections. He was married to Thelma Awori, who worked as Director for Africa at the United Nations Development Programme. They had six children.