I had not met with a good friend of mine, Sande Kizito, for a while. Born in 1948 he was far much older than I, for he had started to work in the early seventies, when I was just beginning school. Sande had been to Budo, where initially all kids where housed on the same hilly campus, close to Nagalabi. The story goes that in 1958 when a decision was made to split the Primary and Secondary school section, with primary moving down at Kabinja, Sande was so excited that he took off fast to the new location, without waiting to be bussed, ever to claim the record as the first Kabinja!

For A’level, he joined Namilyango College, the first Secondary school in Uganda founded by the Mill Hill fathers in 1902, and from there on to Makerere University. There he not only excelled as a wicked batsman, and made it to the National Cricket team, but was also a javelin champion.

Our friendship started at the Nook club which founded in the late 1960s to bring together Old Boy and Girls from historical schools, then located along George Street, where he was a fixture. He normally came driving over in his ageing pick – up. There, we caught up on the happenings around us: I discovered he was quite familiar, if not close to the Kenyan-Muthaiga ruling class, and he would extol me with intimate stories of their ways, and the vast property they had accumulated since independence.

About Uganda Sande, whose ancestry originated from England, he often ruefully shared that the 60s were the golden age, here, but after 70s, things had gone south to such a shame. Now retired, after years of working with Uganda Electricity Board as a Business Development manager, he had a lot to say, and I was an eager listener of his past exploits on the cricket field and elsewhere.

But most of his stories were about Budo, a school which was in his veins and he was a constant feature at every school event, always calling me up to attend. If I happened to miss an event the day after he would call chiding me, “how come we did not see you!” On one memorable day Kabaka Mutebi visited, and he donned on some shorts, just as back when a school boy. He was never so happy and of course came the boisterous call, the following day, pronouncing in his husky voice, “we had such a great time!”

But life can move fast. At a certain stage, I got quite busy elsewhere and we sort of lost touch. Then one day I was attending the funeral of a mutual friend, Professor Richard Kanyerezi when, there he was. But the crowds at the funeral made it only possible for us to catch a glimpse of each other.  I could see Sande was a bit gaunt, having lost some of his flesh. One day he called me. He told me his eyesight was a bit poor. “Lets meet for lunch to catch up!” We agreed.

I was still trying to figure out when, only for one afternoon, while going through mail. I was shocked to notice on one Budo forum that Sande had been admitted for an operation at Rubaga hospital. “But we were supposed to have lunch!” a thought crossed my mind. Feeling guilty, immediately I got in touch with his family to keep me informed of the progress.

The operation seemed to go well, for once he was out, a call came through from a son that he was out. I shared to all concerned with relief. “As soon as he gets back to normal we shall go out for lunch,” I decided. “There would be no wasting this time!”

But in less than 12 hours another call came from his son. Out of the theater his condition had taken on a turn for the worse. He was rushed back to the operation table, and from there everything  went down hill. On 7th March, 2020, Sande, at 72, breathed his last.

Once I got the news, feeling so bad about our missed lunch appointment, I drove to Rubaga hospital. There I found a small crowd of relatives and friends, gathered in the corridor and all grief stricken. It was all difficult to take in and we felt Sande had cheated us. While his health had been frail lately, none of us had seen this coming. Sande had left us all in suspense.

Now over a year I have had time to reflect on that incident. My sense of loss and subsequent guilt was compounded because of a missed opportunity to go out with an old friend for lunch, an appointment which I had kept postponing, somehow convinced all was well and we had all the time. But time was never in our control, actually.

It is then that the truth dawned on me that you suspend doing the right thing at your peril. I picked from that incident that if there is someone who comes to your mind and have taken so long seeing, other than demur, just pick up a phone and call or send a message. At its peak Covid 19 would suddenly snap up a life that was so full, so suddenly, revealing an old truth, the essence of time.

My old man who had a thriving real estate company had a certain wise saying, that went like: “Do it yesterday!” Later, in my  professional work, as a teacher of management, I would find that a certain principle holding true of most of the greatest and productive companies in the world, and even nations, that which separates them from the chaff is the “sense of urgency!” Go out and study any of a great company or first income nation, and you will struggle to find the habit of procrastination as a way of life. Once these decide on a certain matter they move on with deliberate speed.

So, now that the year is about to close, friend, look back at all your plans, and ask yourself if the reason why the dust has settled on some of them, is because of that lack of urgency. And perhaps there is an old friend you think you have all the time to catch up with, or a matter you long decided you must conclude, but keep demurring. All I can say is that it will be such an awful feeling to wake up one day and the opportunity is no more, gone forever, because you procrastinated, as I discovered when that call came through, “Sande has gone!” May he Rest in peace!  ———————————————————————————————————————

@ Turning Point is authored by Dr Martin M. Lwanga with the purpose to inspire by reflecting on life through personal experiences and life observations. The first collection will be out in the last quarter of 2021 under the title of “Who is my Friend!” Those interested can book for an early copy on Whatsup # 0772401774 @ 30,000 UGX ONLY !

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