Israel Kibirige Ssebunya

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Israel Kibirige Ssebunnya
Born (1946-01-01)1 January 1946
Mukono District, Uganda
Died 7 October 2008(2008-10-07) (aged 62)
Residence Kampala, Uganda
Nationality Ugandan
Citizenship Uganda
Education Bachelor of Science in Agriculture (BSc)
Makerere University, Kampala, Uganda
Master of Science in Agriculture (MSc)
University of Saskatchewan, SASKATOON, Saskatchewan, Saskatchewan, Canada
Doctor of Philosophy in Cytogenetics (PhD)
University of Saskatchewan, Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada
Occupation Research scientist, politician
Years active 1970 – present
Known for Politics, Agricultural Research
Home town Maganjo Kagoma, Wakiso District

Dr. Israel Kibirige Sebunnya (1 May 1946 – 8 October 2008) was a Ugandan cytogeneticist, agricultural researcher, academic and politician.[1] He served as the State Minister for Agriculture, Animal Industry & Fisheries, from 1999 to 2008.[2] Prior to that, he served as Director of Research at Kawanda Agricultural Research Institute (KARI). He was also the elected Member of Parliament (MP), representing "Kyadondo County North", Wakiso District. He served in that capacity continuously from 1996 until his death in 2008.


Israel Kibirige Ssebunya was born in Mukono District, on 1 May 1946, the fifth (5th) born to the late Besweri Kibirige and the late Mrs. Kibirige. His paternal grandfather was the late Ssewaali Kisajjaki of the Ngeye Clan, of Katente, Kyaggwe County, in modern-day Mukono District.


He attended primary school in Matugga, Wakiso District. He went on to attend Ndejje Secondary School for his "O" Level Junior (S1 -S4). He then transferred to Makerere College School for his "A" Level education (S5 -S6). From 1967 until 1971, Kibirige attended Makerere University, Uganda's oldest university, graduating with the degree of Bachelor of Science in Agriculture (BSc). He majored in plant breeding.

He proceeded to North America to pursue further studies. He obtained his Master of Science in Agriculture (MSc) degree from the University of Saskatchewan, in Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada. He specialised in cytogenetics and plant breeding. He continued with further studies in those two specialised areas of agriculture by obtaining the degree of Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree from the same university.

Over the years, Kibirige Ssebunya acquired other postgraduate qualifications including:

  1. Certificate in Farming Systems – From the University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida, US.
  2. Certificate in Agricultural Research Extension Technologies – From Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio, US.
  3. Certificate in Senior Management Programmes in Administration – Regent College, Regent, United Kingdom
  4. Certificate in Agriculture Extension Management – From an institution in India

Scientific work[edit]

From 1970 until 1974, and again from 1980 until 1984, Kibirige Ssebunya worked as a Botanist, specialising in plant breeding at the Coffee Research Unit at Kawanda Agricultural Research Station, in North Kyaddondo County, in modern-day Wakiso District. Between 1980 and 1986, he served as an Adjunct Lecturer in plant genetics and plant breeding, in the Department of Crop Science, Faculty of Agriculture, Makerere University, Kampala, Uganda.

While pursuing his graduate studies in Canada from 1974 until 1980, he carried out intensive cytogenetics studies, including breeding and transfer of alien germplasm among the bread wheats and their wild relatives as well as disease studies among multi-lines of wheat species.

From 1984 until 1989, he served as the Principal Research Scientist, Coffee Research Program, Kawanda Agricultural Research Institute. From 1989 until 1992, he served as the Acting Director of Research at Namulonge Agricultural Research Institute. During the same time-frame he also served as the Acting Director of Research at Kawanda Agricultural Research Institute, a position he was confirmed to as Director of Research in 1992.[3]

Political career[edit]

Having served as State Minister for Agriculture since 1999, Israel Kibirige Ssebunya was nominated by President Yoweri Museveni to Parliament, in May 2006, to be vetted for re-appointment to cabinet.[4] He was re-appointed State Minister for Agriculture on 1 June 2006.[5] As events would unfold, that was the last appointment in his life as a public servant.


On the morning of Tuesday 8 October 2008, at about 7 am local time, Dr. Israel Kibirige Ssebunya succumbed to cancer of the throat, at Mulago National Referral Hospital, in Kampala, the capital city of Uganda.[6] After lying "In State" in the lobby of the Parliament Building,[7] his body was buried at his ancestral home in Katente Village, Mukono District. The mourners included President Yoweri Museveni, Janet Museveni, Uganda Cabinet Ministers and other national leaders.[8]

Kibirige was survived by his wife, Professor Theresa Namatovu Ssebunya, a Lecturer in Biological Sciences at the University of Botswana in Gaborone, Botswana,[9] and five (5) children, three (3) girls and two (2) boys. One of his sons, Robert Sebunya Kasule, was elected to replace his father as MP for "Kyadondo County North". He was re-elected in 2011, but was defeated by Wakayima Musoke Nsereko in 2016.

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