Ambassador Ahmed Ssenyomo, Uganda’s former Ambassador to Saudi Arabia and several other countries passed away yesterday and was burried in Saudi Arabia.
At the time of his death, the late Ssenyomo was the Assistant Secretary General for Economic Development at the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) based in Jeddah Saudi Arabia.
Many people who knew and interacted with the late Ambassador Ssenyomo described him as a kind, professional person.
Prof. Ismail Gyagenda, the Vice Rector of the Islamic University in Uganda (IUIU) wrote a moving eulogy for the late Ssenyomo thus:
“Ambassador Ssenyomo was an extra-ordinary Muslim professional who was dedicated and always looked out for opportunities for other Muslims and others to pursue their dreams. I feel I have to relate my story with him, as we bid him farewell and pray that Allah’s Mercy be upon him.
I first met Ambassador Ssenyomo in Jeddah in 1982, when I was a student at the Arabic Language Institute, Ummul Qura University, Makkat Al Mukarramah. He was then working at the Islamic Federation for Science, Technology, and Development (IFSTAD).
I had completed my Bachelors Degree (Religious Studies and Literature) at Makerere University and wanted to pursue my postgraduate education in Islamic Studies.
However, I had found out that my quest was going to take long; 3 years at the Institute, after which I would have to take a Bachelor’s degree, instead of pursuing a Masters degree.
Amb. Ssenyomo was quick to not only understand my frustration and predicament, but he resolved to take it upon himself to solve it.
He immediately took me to meet his boss, Dr. Kettani (RA), the Director General of IFSTAD. Both of them agreed that given my excellent performance at Makerere, I should immediately seek postgraduate studies elsewhere, even if it meant pursuing a different programme.
On learning that there were other Muslim graduates from Makerere who had performed very well but had no scholarships, Br. Ssenyomo asked me to seek for their papers. I sent messages to Uganda to get my colleagues to send their papers. Br. Hamza Chande and Br. Mahmud Kasumba sent in their papers.
By June 1983, IFSTAD had found us full scholarships to Yarmouk University in Jordan: Hamza and Mahmud to pursue MSc. Statistics, and I to study MEd in Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL).
We went with two others: Br. Burhan Ssebayigga and Br. AbdulQadir Kawooya, who had applied separately from us and were to study MSc in Engineering and MEd Psychology respectively.
I completed my Masters at Yarmouk and in 1987 after returning to Uganda was among the pioneer staff selected with Dr. Sengendo to start IUIU in Mbale under Prof. Nsereko-Gyagenda’s leadership.
Amb. Ssenyomo, who had never met me before that encounter in Jeddah, worked on our case with incredible and generous single-mindedness, driven by the true feeling of Islamic brotherhood.
In fact, as a result of our discussions with him and Dr. Kettani about the plight of Muslim students at Makerere, IFSTAD soon started providing some stipends to Makerere Muslim students enrolled in the the Sciences.
Later, we were to meet when I moved to the USA and I got to reconnect with him and his lovely family in Washington D.C. when he was working at the Ugandan Embassy. We remained friends and recently we re-connected again when we met at OIC Foreign Ministers’ Conferences in Kazakhstan and Cote d’Ivoire.
Amb. Ssenyomo was a quintessential Diplomat, strictly professional, very kind and selfless, always wanting to look for the best in others. I was so happy for him when he was deservingly appointed Ass. Secretary General, Economic Affairs, at OIC last year.
It was a fitting recognition of his life-long dedication to diplomatic national and Islamic service. We last talked recently in July and he was very concerned about the impact of Covid 19 on IUIU, offering his sincere advice and prayers.
I will miss Ahmed. He was a role model to many and showed us how to serve Allah by serving others. May Allah accept and reward his work, forgive him his shortcomings, and strengthen his loving family in this difficult moment. Ameen.