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Killed in US: When death leaves more questions than answers

At the close of last year, on December 27, 19-year-old Arthur Bagenda was discovered dead in Morgantown, a small town in West Virginia, US.
His lifeless body bore signs of a violent death highlighted by a deep cut on the head and bruises on different parts of the body.
To many, it could have passed for a robbery gone bad yet the circumstances under which he was killed, raised more questions than answers.
Strangely, his documents including identity cards, credit cards and insurance cards were missing but were later recovered almost two kilometres away from where he had been killed.
Bagenda died about two months shy of his 20th birthday that would have fallen on February 22.
Paying last respects
At the requiem mass at All Saints Cathedral Nakasero in Kampala last Friday, Bagenda’s father, Gordon Sentiba, the chairman of Uganda Re, narrated the events of Saturday, December 31 when his wife, Harriet Nanyonjo, a World Bank senior education specialist, “called me between sobs to break news of Arthur’s [Bagenda] death”.
“He had only a few days ago told me so much on phone. He told me he had secured a small job because he wanted to have his own money. Actually, before that he had assured me that he was working so hard to fulfill his dream of becoming a lawyer,” the teary Sentiba told mourners.
The silence inside All Saints Cathedral Nakasero was so deep as mourners, some holding back tears, listened to the story of the mysterious death of a promising young man who, from different accounts, seemed to be full of life.
“Police [in US] have told us [family] they will do whatever is possible to investigate circumstances under which Arthur [Bagenda] died. Our only prayer is we get to the bottom of what really happened,” Sentiba said.
Bagenda was born on February 22, 1997. He started elementary education in 2000 at Kissyfur Kindergarten and Day Care, where he met Danny Tineo, a childhood friend who eulogised him as a loving friend and the brother he never had.


Arthur Bagenda
Arthur Bagenda

“Today is a sad day, but we must continue to live on and always remember Arthur [Bagenda] for the great life he lived. I did not lose a friend, I lost a brother,” Tineo, who narrated how they would play football together, told mourners amid sobs and teary breakdowns.
After leaving Kissyfur Kindergarten, Bagenda joined Kampala International School in 2004 before leaving Uganda for the US in 2008 to study at Westland Middle School in Bethesda, US.
In 2015 he joined Bethesda Chevy Chase High School where he graduated with a High School Diploma.
At the time of his death, Bagenda was pursuing a degree course in Psychology with a communication major at the University of West Virginia.
His story is a mirror image of a young man killed in a senseless wave of mystery driven by hate and petty crime that has become a hallmark of the US in recent years.
The killings, records suggest, are mostly racial driven and usually target Blacks and Bagenda’s death, although police (US) are still investigating, has hallmarks that raise questions not only among family members but friends and the authorities in the US.
Bagenda is the second born of Gordon Sentiba, and Harriet Nanyonjo coming between a brother, Andrew Kakooza and Anne Margret Namatta, the young sister.
In his eulogy, Kakooza said he could not process the fact that Bagenda had died in such a manner.
“It has been a difficult time since I heard the news, we are all saddened ... I don’t know why you passed…,” he said.
Perhaps Kakooza’s question could have been silently ringing in the minds of mourners asking why Bagenda had to die at such a tender age.
Government Chief Whip, Ruth Nankabirwa closed the eulogising session highlighting that although “we walk with death all the time, the minds never prepare to take in the pain when we lose a loved one”.
“That is why we always ask questions and cry ourselves crazy. But crying is good because it relieves the pain within us,” she said.
A few minutes past midday the body was rolled into the church’s hallway where mourners, shaken but eager to have the last view of Bagenda, whipped beads of sweat of their faces in the midday heat.
Many could nolonger hold back tears letting them roll freely down their cheeks as if to release the pain within.
Bagenda’s body lay in a sleek coffee brown coffin with handlers from A-Plus Funeral Management taking charge of the events of the day.
The body was later driven to Kikandwa village in Wakiso District in an A-Plus hearse where he was buried on Saturday.
But after all is done, the mystery surrounding the death of Bagenda remains a puzzle that will only be solved by timely investigations [in US], which the family believes will provide answers to their questions.
Background
Bagenda was born on February 22, 1997.
In 2000 he started school at Kissyfur Kindergarten before moving to Kampala International School in 2004.
In 2008 he left Uganda for the US to study at Westland Middle School in Bethesda, US.
He later joined Bethesda High School in 2015 where he graduated with a High School Diploma.
At the time of his death, Bagenda was pursuing a degree course in Psychology with a communication major at the University of West Virginia.
He is the second born of Gordon Sentiba, and Harriet Nanyonjo coming between a brother and a sister.
He was a lover of sports and his friends told of the his love for football both when he was still living in Uganda and the US.
He was laid to rest on Saturday at his ancestral village in Kikandwa village in Wakiso District.

About Wisdom Dickson

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