Sunday January 26 2014

Killed for concealing Museveni, Lutamaguzi’s family now regrets

A picture of the heir of the Lutamaguzi family - Jimmy Ssemanda - and inset is Lutamaguzi

A picture of the heir of the Lutamaguzi family - Jimmy Ssemanda - and inset is Lutamaguzi 

By Richard Wanambwa

I was already married and living in Mugogo, in Nakaseke District when at around 4am, I heard people making noise and I thought they were the usual fights because fighting between government forces and rebels was rampant.

However, at around 2pm, I heard the news about the killings in Kikandwa, but little did I know my father was part of the fights until a well-wisher told me that among the dead included my father. I cried and prepared to go there but all people in Kikandwa had fled due to fear.

As I contemplated what to do, two people came and told me that the bodies had been collected in one place and that there was nobody there. But I insisted with another lady whose husband had been killed too to walk to Kikandwa. Unfortunately, we reached there when all the nine bodies had been buried.

We also heard that those responsible for their death had just been killed but we didn’t know who killed them. We then ran back into the forest and hid but at night we went back to our homes. What pains me is that despite this suffering, I never saw daddy being buried.

It is said that because the burial was done hurriedly due to fear, the grave was shallow. I had found the body of one of my uncles lying in a pool of blood abandoned when we tried to walk to Kikandwa. It was scary and a double tragedy for me to lose a father and an uncle on the same day.

On our way back, we heard that houses had been burnt in the neighbouring village and the person killed there was a Gombolola chief, so there was heavy deployment of police and army around the village. With such incidents, people deserted the villages and opted for urban centres as villages became a death trap. But it was hard to tell who the rebels were and who the government forces were because all of them wore similar uniforms. It was hard to say anything against either the government or the rebels because you couldn’t tell who was in your vicinity.

We kept on moving from place to place and it is because of these movements that my first child died.
I still wonder why there was no deployment in our village yet there used to be security personnel in other areas. Our grandparents later told us that daddy was in the house and he knew of the plan to invade the house the previous day. He was warned of the impending attack because soldiers had been sighted around home during the day doing vigilance he refused to run away.

Daddy had a young child called Muwanga, whom he loved so dearly. So running away meant disuniting him from this child. So that night, he sat in the living room listening and paying attention to what was going on outside, but as he listened, his father (our grandfather) sent a young boy called Sserujongi at about 1am to alert him to runaway since vehicles had parked on the main road with soldiers as indication that they were coming for him.

However, before the boy could reach the compound, the rebels bundled him on to a pick-up truck. When they reached our home, it is said daddy and the little Muwanga hid under the bed, but they were found. I was around 24 years during the insurgency.

Life after his death hasn’t been easy, especially for my young siblings. The official wife whom daddy left behind passed on and growing up was really terrible, everyone had to provide for him or herself.

22 children
Daddy fathered 22 children but each child struggled on his or her own. For example, I grew up alone and even settling here is because of my mother who gave me this piece of land. For the Lutamaguzi’s as family, nobody knows how one spends a night or how they live since there is no help and guardian to bring us together.

That aside, there is no common factor that can bring us together. However, during the installation of the heir to our father about 15 years ago, President Museveni said he had become a son in the family. As children of the Lutamaguzi, that was relief because we thought that as a family, finally, a helper, a rescuer had been gotten but he (helper) has never set foot here to see the children he leads. We have also failed to reach him because each of us has problems, you can see the kind of house I live in and the suffering I have undergone and I continue to undergo daily.

We have reached out to some people but they have told us that the only thing he (President) gives out and which we should benefit from is State House scholarships. But really, old people like us cannot go back to school. For us, we thought, as he said he was one of us in the family, he would send to us assistance or someone to ascertain what we desire and know what we can do because, as mature people, we can do either business or agriculture because we still have some land.

But what is saddening is that even those uncles who contributed in the war haven’t been given any assistance. Whenever we reach out to those leaders in the district, they always remind us that we were supposed to study but squandered the chance.

Apart from the house they built for the heir, there is nothing much and secondly, how will that house help or accommodate 22 children well knowing that each child has a different mother? It is only the heir who got the house and maybe handshakes and a little handout.

Failed attempts
Every person we have reached out to has lied to us. We reached out to Syda Bbumba plus a number of other politicians who come here during elections, promising to take us to Museveni but none has fulfilled it. The President has forgotten the Lutamaguzis. He has never asked any of us to meet him as children of Lutamaguzi. The day we converged as children of Lutamaguzi is the day the President came to Kikandwa Primary School in July last year to meet veterans but just imagine, from Kikandwa Primary School to our home is hardly 500 metres away, but he just passed by and waved. Really, why forget us when daddy stood with you.

Why did daddy die?
We had two sisters who were young enough to go back to school. But for us who are old, at least give us startup capital to start farming so that I can build myself a habitable house rather than survive on handouts from well-wishers and friends. And it is such suffering that makes us remember that perhaps if daddy hadn’t died, we would be somehow well.
If I am to collect all Lutamaguzi’s children, you will see how they look like wild cats.

I know President Museveni listens to the radio, televisions and reads papers and we want Mzee Museveni to meet us or send a representative to see the situation we are going through, we have no assistance or pride to talk about that our father died for. Just walk around this village, we are the poorest.
We stay in very poor buildings. I am a small scale farmer but that can only sustain feeding the family.

Lawrence ssebyala , an elder and veteran

I am a farmer who hails from this village and a veteran of the 1981-1986 war though I am a peasant today. When they killed Lutamaguzi, we were all here and it is by God’s grace that I survived that gruesome incident.

That day, everybody thought Museveni was hiding in the house but later on when Museveni returned here to pay homage to the late, he revealed that he had fled. However, Museveni had been in that house earlier.
This family should be a model among families that fought but as I said earlier, the President is good but the people around him have made him hated.

These same people have failed most of the government programmes that were intended for uplifting the standards of the poor. However, I also appeal to him to remember veterans and his fighters. Yes, I know he has been injecting some money into civilians but the fighters have been forgotten. He should be reaching out to us and giving us support.