BISHOP William Ssebaggala, who presided over the funeral service of Prof. Apolo Nsibambi and prayed for the deceased’s daughter as the heir contrary to Buganda cultural norms, has defended both the family and Church on the issue.
Bishop Ssebaggala said in an interview that Nsibambi committed no crime in choosing his daughter as the heir and urged the cultural leaders bashing him to take heart.
“A person is free to choose an heir of his choice and Nsibambi pronounced his in church before he died when officials of Buganda government were present and no one challenged him,” Ssebaggala said.
“It is wrong to challenge him now when he is dead.” The bishop said the biggest reason why a father, like Prof. Nsibambi, who only had daughters, may choose one of them as the heir of his property.
“We have read stories of heirs stealing properties of the orphans and Nsibambi may have wanted to leave his in the hands of his children,” Bishop Ssebaggala said.
He said Nsibambi was both educated and sober to make a mistake on the choice of his heir. Following Prof. Nsibambi’s burial on June 4, a row erupted between the Ffumbe clan leaders in Buganda and the deceased’s family and the Church over the choice of his heir.
The Ffumbe clan head, Yusuf Mbirozankya Walusimbi, protested Prof. Nsibambi’s choice of the heir and also accused the Church of complicity in the matter. He said it was an abomination in Buganda for a woman to become the heir of a man and also threatened sanctions against the family.
However, the spokesperson of Nsibambi’s family, Geoffrey Ziwa, insisted on Thursday that the family will not change Nsibambi’s choice of the heir and asked the clan leaders to swallow a humble pie. “Prof. Nsibambi’s heir is a responsible woman and the family is proud of her,” Ziwa said.
Bishop Ssebaggala also advised the clan leaders to use a soft approach to sweet-talk the family to select a male to fulfill certain traditional norms which cannot be performed by a woman.