I first met Dr. James Patrick Manyenye Ntozi back in 1989, when he defied the conventions of his department to recruit me as a lecturer in Makerere University’s Institute of Statistics and Applied Economics. I was the only woman and the only non-African on that faculty and he did his best to make this brash American feel at home in a department and university pulling itself back together from decades of war.
In 1990, the department and university had few wall switches, lights, library books, paper — even chalk was carefully horded by my co-lecturers — but James worked persistently to get the resources he needed to restore the Institute to its former glory as a centerpiece in African demography. In the process, he gave many aspiring young Ugandan demographers the opportunity to learn their trade and contribute to policy and planning in the fast-recovering country. And he gave many foreigners like me a start in AIDS research and policy development.
James finally retired to his farm in Mbarara to the west of Kampala, where he succumbed to cancer at the ripe old age of 75 on May 19, 2021. I’m glad he had some time with his beautiful Ankole cattle, a world-renown breed with remarkable, car-stopping horns. We met our first of these bovine-of-stature blocking a Kampala roundabout after arriving at Entebbe on January 1, 1990 after seeing our first crested crane. Imagine!
Ankole cattle are so stunning they’re even featured at Disneyland. Or, if you’re a real fan, you can buy a small facsimile from Happy Hen Toys. They were hunted as big game for their horns but are now protected and bred to preserve their genes. Their horns are enormous to dispel excess heat from their bodies.
I’m afraid I never said a proper ‘thank you’ to James or to his wife Ida, an accomplished physician, both of whom did their utmost to welcome me to Uganda and the University. I remember fondly how they included me in an Easter Day visit to the zoo in Entebbe with his children and even made a very special cake.
James was a huge fan of this impressive breed. I’m sure he’s guiding a large herd of his favorite animals through the great beyond. Thanks, James, for your courage, vision and dedication, and the start you gave me on a long career in HIV/AIDS research and policymaking.