Aggrey Siryoyi Awori, 83, Is Dead

The late Mr. Aggrey S. Awori

Mr. Aggrey S. Awori, Ugandan-born ex-husband of Liberian-born Mrs. Thelma Traub Awori, died on Monday, July 5, of heart failure in Kampala, Uganda, following a brief illness.  He was 83.

Mr. Awori, a 1965 graduate of Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, served as Director of Television in the government of Ugandan President Milton Obote from the mid-1960s to 1971.

Following the overthrow of President Obote by General Idi Amin in 1971, Aggrey Awori migrated with his family to Nairobi, Kenya, where he became a professor of Journalism at the University of Nairobi and served there for many years.  

It was while he was at Harvard that he met and befriended Liberian-born  Thelma Traub, then a student at Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts, later Harvard University.  They were married shortly thereafter and, nine months later, twin boys, Nabongo and Bai Sama Awori, were born.  Bai is a graduate of the University of Maryland, College Park,  Maryland, USA.  The couple later became parents of three daughters, Samia, who later became Mrs. McDermot, wife of Paul the then Director of the Carter Center in Monrovia, now an American diplomat serving in Abuja, Nigeria; Mrs. Taaka Awori, a 1989 graduate of Harvard University and ex-wife of Freddy Akufu of Ghana, and Ms. Nafula Awori, a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania.

Aggrey Awori, who had been a confidant and advisor to former Ugandan President Milton Obote, ran unsuccessfully for president in 2001.  Aggrey also later became a member of the Ugandan parliament.

He is survived by a host of children, grandchildren and siblings, including Mr. Moody Awori, former Vice President of the Republic of Kenya.

The late Mzee Aggrey Awori was born in Tororo District (Eastern Uganda). He was the 10th of 17 children born to the son of late Canon Jeremiah Musungu Awori & Miriam Odongo Awori.  Honorable Aggrey Awori distinguished himself in his academic achievements, sports excellence, and in his adult life journalism, political, & diplomatic careers.

He went to school at Nabumali High and then later Kings College Buddo, where he was active in student politics.  These must have been the signs of a political career in the making.

After completing his secondary school, Awori went to obtain his University studies at Harvard University where he studied Political Science and Syracuse University, where he obtained a Masters of Arts in Economics.   It was at Harvard that he met his wife, Dr. Thelma Awori who currently serves the Counsul General for Liberia in Uganda.

Awori was an outstanding athlete while at Harvard who represented his country in the 1960 Rome Olympics and 1964 Tokyo Olympics.

Honourable Aggrey Awori had a true passion and love for his country Uganda.  Upon completing his University studies he returned to Uganda to take up a role as the first African Director General of Uganda Television (UTV) in post-independent Uganda.  There was a coup in Uganda leading to him going into exile in neighbouring Kenya. While there, he taught Political Journalism at the University of Nairobi but still remained politically active.

After Idi Amin’s overthrow in 1979, Awori returned to Uganda where he launched his first attempt at elective politics by standing for a seat in Kampala East.  Uganda continued to experience changes in political leadership which eventually led him to being appointed Minister Plenipotentiary at the Uganda Embassy in Washington D.C.  He later on served as the Ambassador to Belgium, Netherlands and Luxembourg from 1985 to 1987.

With the entry of the newly formed NRA government, he returned into exile in Kenya but came back in 1994 to stand as a candidate for the Constituent Assembly.  He won the seat and was part of the Constituent Assembly that promulgated Uganda’s 1995 Constitution.   He then served in the Sixth Parliament from 1996 – 2001, where he was voted the best legislator.

One of the highlights of his political career was his candidature for the Presidency in 2001.  He came a respectful third position.   In 2009, he was appointed by President Museveni as Minister for ICT, a position in which he served until 2011. 

Awori was a political maverick, an intellectual giant, an outstanding orator and a brilliant Parliamentarian.  He was a man who was not afraid to speak up for his convictions.  He was a voice for the voiceless and therefore a man many admired and looked up to.    

Awori was a family man devoted to his children, grandchildren, siblings, nephews, and nieces.

Funeral arrangements will be announced later.