Sam. F. Owori: A jolly good fellow

Sam Frobisher Owori, a man of great humility and integrity, died on July 13th, aged 76. He achieved more moral capital, most people just

Sam Frobisher Owori, a man of great humility and integrity, died on July 13th, aged 76. He achieved more moral capital, most people just dream of.

No one quite believed the late evening news that Sam was gone! Where, we all asked. It just wasn’t adding up: death as a result of surgery on the left leg in a US hospital! I too, refuted. It cannot be true. He had just said good bye. He had done so several times that it became normal. He always returned as promised. That was Samuel Frobisher Owori – very calm, yet firm and decisive.

It didn’t matter your station in life. If you are a human being, you mattered to Sam. A great listener. Sam taught us more about leadership and good governance through listening. “You rarely learn anything new while talking”, he once said to me. He always looked to a day when the Institute of Corporate Governance Act, Laws of Uganda was assented to by the President. To him, good governance to an enterprise or MDA, is like blood to a human body. He wanted every person appointed as board member to have been certified by ICGU after undergoing a thorough governance training. That is a challenge for all of us to address: lobby for the enactment of the ICGU Act.

It is very painful to lose a friend. It is worse to lose a mentor. A workmate. A great mind. A man of integrity and unmatched modesty. A great father. A man with a giving heart. Sam was epitome of it all. A board member at top organizations – both local and international. A Harvard Business School alumna. A Rotarian with a strong giving hand serving above-self. A highly traveled and exposed man. Sam was one of the few Ugandans with so many air miles. There are no more than five countries he had yet not visited.  He knew governance from A t0 Z. Like a typical Japanese top honcho, Sam believed in merit and hated shortcuts often advising us– there is no lift to the top. Always using the staircase, his career is a clear testimony of hard work pays. At Uganda Commercial Bank, he rose from the bottom to the topmost position of Managing Director. In Rotary, he started at the bottom as one of founding members of Rotary Club of Kampala, Uganda and rose through the ranks to the second topmost position of President elect, Rotary International. Only death cut him short of reaching his dream as President. It was ‘this close!’  Just 11 months and seventeen days.


Sam Frobisher Owori, a man of great humility and integrity, died on July 13th, aged 76. He achieved more moral capital, most people just dream of.


We meet so many people in our lives but few really transform us. Sam believed in succession planning. Just after joining the Institute of Corporate Governance around 2011, Sam encouraged me to take up leadership position as well as accompany him to his several board induction trainings. With time, he started challenging us to deliver the training. During one such board training in Entebbe, Sam joined the audience and sat behind and let me lead from the podium. I did not realize that he was actually in control of it all. I was surprised during the lunch break when he called me aside for debrief. He had taken notes of all my good and bad points, took me through item by item. It was an MBA of sorts. Where else do you find such a great mentor?

Recently, as his Rotary responsibilities became busier, Sam had empowered the Secretariat team to run along. He gave us the confidence to walk into any Board meeting and deliver engaging discussions on corporate governance. He brought us close to exceptionally great men including Mr. Leo Kibirango, former governor Bank of Uganda; Fulgence Mungereza; Joseph Baliddawa, the list is endless.

His corner office at ICGU lies vacant. That calming, broad smiling face is no longer there. We have lost a great man. And to us the executive team and staff, we have lost a mentor and a clear headed leader. Sam was a man of three: Family. Rotary and ICGU. Through these he transformed many lives and impacted us all. Sam saw the world in black and white with his wife, Norah. Together they served Rotary. Together they supported ICGU. He will be dearly missed by us all at ICGU, and the country at large. My prayers to his family for strengths through this very difficult time.

May his soul rest in eternal peace.

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