Ada Nyabongo (1926-2020)

  • Accomplished musician: piano teacher Ada Nyabongo will be buried today (Photograph by Jessie Moniz Hardy)

    Accomplished musician: piano teacher Ada Nyabongo will be buried today (Photograph by Jessie Moniz Hardy)


A Bermudian piano teacher who married Ugandan royalty has died.

Ada Nyabongo was just three days short of her 94th birthday when she died on March 26.

Born in Bermuda to Harold and Naomi Paynter, but brought up in Brooklyn, New York, Dr Nyabongo earned a doctorate in musicology at New York University.

Dr Nyabongo met her future husband, Akiiki Nyabongo, a Ugandan prince, when he gave a speech in Brooklyn when she was 29 and the couple married in 1955. Her late husband, a university professor, was the brother of the King of Toro, one of Uganda’s five traditional kingdoms.

The East African country was still under British colonial rule, and the couple, based in New York, lived apart for years while her husband helped in his nation’s struggle for independence. They had one son, Amoti, also a prince, who has been profiled on American network TV.

Dr Nyabongo’s father founded the Greater St Paul African Methodist Episcopal Church on Essex Street in Brooklyn.

She learnt piano as a child and was giving lessons by the time she attended high school.

She told The Royal Gazette in 2018: “When I practised, parents would come to the door, because they wanted me to teach their children how to play.”

Uganda became an independent nation in 1965, but Idi Amin seized in 1971 and installed himself as dictator.

Dr Nyabongo and her son first visited Uganda in 1972. Her husband died three years later.

Dr Nyabongo moved back to Bermuda in 1990 and settled in Hamilton Parish next door to her son and his family.

Her son said yesterday: “She lived life to the fullest — a traveller, accomplished musician and educator, and a great mother.

“At the end of the day, there are no regrets. I did my best to honour her.”

Dr Nyabongo will be buried today at Ebenezer Methodist Cemetery in St George’s.

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Published Apr 3, 2020 at 8:00 am (Updated Apr 3, 2020 at 9:32 am)

Ada Nyabongo (1926-2020)

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