Development & Alumni Relations Office 

 

Dr Francis Odit, PhD (died 27 August 2019, aged 73)

 

Obituary provided by Francis' son, Patrick

On Tuesday August 27 2019, Dr Francis Joseph Odit, breathed his last. Those that were present in his final hours and minutes say he fought with all his might to stay alive till the very last second. He passed on at 8.35 am on that fateful Tuesday morning. The prognosis was death by heart attack. He was 73 years old. If he had lived to October this year, he would have lived to be 74. For a 73-year old, he had the energy and vibrancy of a 50-year old. Perhaps the reason why despite his age, his sudden death came as surprise to all who knew him.

 

His was a life well lived, with all the highs and lows, rights and wrongs and all the contradictions that many of our not so perfect lives often are. His friends will remember him most for his remarkable mind.

 

Francis was born into a humble family in the present day Amolatar, Uganda on 16 October 1946. His father, Misaki, was an elementary school teacher at the time, and his mother Dulusila, a subsistence farmer. He was the last born in a family of five. He often reminisced how his elder brother, Albeto, religiously rode him and his now late sister, Acheng, on the back of a bike to school every morning.

 

Albeto never had the privilege of attending school. Dr Odit did. Attending school may not sound as big of a deal in this day and age, but in pre-independence colonial Uganda, he was among the privileged few of his generation to do so. His was a story of a boy who leveraged his remarkable mind and sheer will and hard work, despite the odds, to one day earn a post graduate doctoral degree (PhD) from the prestigious Queen’s University Belfast in Northern Ireland.

 

Francis was 23 years old when Uganda gained its independence from its British colonialists in 1962. By then he was pursuing his Advanced level certificate from St Mary’s College, Kisubi in Central Uganda and had gone through the cycle of basic education, first attending a local primary school in his village, then completing his ordinary level certificate from St Peter’s College, Tororo in Eastern Uganda.

 

He later joined Makerere University, Uganda graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in Accounting and Economics in 1971. He was recruited as a graduate management trainee by National and Grindlays Bank Ltd shortly thereafter, where he worked for 6 months until October 1971. He left the bank on receipt of a scholarship from the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) to pursue a Masters of Business Administration (MBA) at the University of Nairobi, Kenya.

 

In 1979, under another scholarship programme, Francis enrolled at Queen's University Belfast to pursue his doctorate degree. His PhD thesis topic was 'Strategies and Action Plans for Financing Exports in Tanzania'. On 8 July 1982, he was awarded a PhD in Financial Management from Queen's. In his words, this was not the end, but the beginning of his contribution to society.

 

Dr Odit's was a life of service, perhaps to a point where he often forgot about himself. He was always cognisant of the fact that his brilliant mind was a god given gift, one that could be shared and leveraged to help advance East Africa’s development agenda, both at the macro and micro scale. This he did first as a lecturer at Makerere University’s (Uganda) Department of Commerce, and later on as a Senior Consultant in Financial Management at the Eastern and Southern African Management Institute (Tanzania) between 1971 and 1982.

 

In 1983, he founded Trans African Management and Development Consultants (TRAMDEC) where he worked till his last breath. Dr Odit’s vision, under TRAMADEC, was for advancing Africa’s, and more specifically East Africa’s development agenda through facilitating private sector driven investment. To a large extent, by the time of his death, he had accomplished his vision and had made his small contribution to society as best as he humanly could.

 

Dr Odit’s story is one as long and as complex as the 73 years he lived. Therein is weaved the themes that are common to us all. Family, friends, work. Interwoven within those fundamental themes is that of civil conflict. Like many of his generational compatriots, he lived and fled the civil strife that was characteristic of Uganda before 1986. The common thread of his life though is that of a man who believed in the transformative power of education and pursued to the end. A man who believed, who felt obligated to leverage that education to transform the lives of others, through teaching and through playing an advisory role across various sectors, countries, and individuals.

 

Dr Odit was laid to rest on 31 August 2019 in Amolatar, Uganda.

 

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