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Thursday, May 21, 2015


Sport serves as useful analogy for life, more so in how it draws out the character of a man.

"Ivan Kyayonka’s cricketing contemporaries remember him as a solid, stabilising presence for team and country, steady under pressure and unwavering in his concentration on the issue at hand. His only claim to flashiness was that he batted with his right- and bowled with his left hand...

He never captained his beloved Wanderers Cricket Club but he was recognised as having that rare attribute of leading from behind.

The same could be said by his professional colleagues at Shell Uganda and at the end of his career at Vivo Energy, where he worked straight after university until his retirement as CEO and country Chairman at the end of 2013.

Born in December 4, 1958 in Igyeyero in present day Mayuge district, Kyaonka was the last of 11 children born to Ezekiel Kayabya Wambuzi and Faisi Omulokole Wambuzi. He attended Kisoko Primary School in Tororo district before joining King’s College, Budo.

He then studied Mechanical Engineering at Makerere University graduating in 1982. He joined Shell Uganda the same year after a short stint as consulting engineer with M/s Techno Consult Limited.

His three decades of service in Shell Uganda is testament to his steadiness and professionalism. 

During the time Shell Uganda, now Vivo Energy, has grown its market share to stamp its authority on a market that has been increasingly liberalised and where the Shell brand stood for quality and reliability.

In the decade that he led the oil giant’s Uganda unit, Kyayonka was a leading voice in the business community, serving in his later years as chairman of the Uganda Revenue Authority and the National Social Security Fund as well.

While not a reluctant leader, Kyayonka did not go out to seek the limelight, content to be known by his fruits.

Asked once what he attributed his success in management to, Kyayonka replied, “If you sum it all, you could say my strength is being able to work through people.”

His proteges are numerous influenced by the man at school, in cricket and as a manager. At 56 and retired, the boardrooms of corporate Uganda beckoned.

Uganda has lost a valuable business resource.

Three decades of apprenticeship at one of the world’s premier companies, in a highly competitive industry, would have been lent out to many companies in search of board good oversight.

Uganda’s problem do not stem from lack of resources but from a lack of management at every level of society. As a country we are testament to the fact that you can be the best endowed country in the world but still fail to work to the satisfaction of your citizens.

"It is men like Kyayonka, sadly in short supply, who are badly needed to populate, our management suites, our public service and even lead our schools so that we generate more of his kind to unlock the vast potential of our country. Because people are what make things happen and not the other way around....

As a country we will miss this accumulated knowledge and experience that he would have brought to bear on his next assignments, we will miss him as an example of what diligence and consistency to one’s career can result in and we will miss him as an example to our children, of how a hero should live -- with quiet confidence and constancy of purpose.

While he trode softly through life his footprints are bound to endure for generations.

They say those who the God’s love die young. Given the breadth and depth of what Kyayonka still had to offer, he died young but we are grateful for having known him and his contribution to our lives.

Rest in Peace Ivan Kyayonka

1 comment:

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