Thought and Ideas
Pax Musevenica or Rule Musevenia; 27 years is long
Posted Sunday, October 13 2013 at 01:00
Rukungiri: Thursday, October 10, 2013. From my hotel room, I had a compulsive feeling to cast a wary look at the venue of the 51st independence anniversary.
I was at the same venue on June 6, 1985 as one of the Kasese District Youth Delegation attending International Youth Day. The president then was Dr A.M. Obote and the Master of Ceremonies was Olanya Olenge (deputy minister for culture and community development).
Incidentally, this was the last major national gathering to be addressed by president Obote; for about seven weeks later on July 27 1985, his government was toppled by the army.
With the shifty urgency of youth, our UPC background could not hold fast. We were soon looking for inspiration in the rebel National Resistance Army.
My first contact with the National Resistance Army was in Kyalhumba where someone described as an NRA senior officer addressed a rally.
The NRA senior officer called Kahinda Otafiire stood on one of the stones in Kyalhumba Market Square addressing an overly detached audience. He seemed to have failed to coax the people.
You could excuse the people. Kyalhumba was after all the home town of Amos Tibaijuka Mubunga Kambere, the UPC Member of Parliament for Kasese South between 1981 and July 1985. (Kambere is now anonymously settled in Canada with his family).
When Otafiire offered to field questions, no one from the audience was interested. Now, as he seemed unsure of what to do with a dumb audience, an epileptic young man had a seizure and fell down in a heap causing a stampede. The people scampered away and that marked the end of the rally.
What impressed me was Otafiire’s response to the mêlée; he was very unmoved, stoic and firm. His escorts also never seemed to be bothered by the stampede caused by the epileptic fellow.
At that time, the NRA was not interested in policing the areas under their control. And sensing a power vacuum, the veterans of the Rwenzururu Kingdom army took up arms and started policing the mountain areas of Kasese. Their commander was Richard Kinyamusitu, former chief of staff of the Rwenzururu army.
The NRA constantly engaged Kinyamusitu; an irritating undertaking because his interests were at variance with those of the NRA. Yet it was not strategically wise to ignore him and his armed band in the NRA’s rear guard.
Add to that the fact that Kinyamusitu’s operations straddled the Zaire-Uganda border. Kinyamusitu had to be talked to and befriended!
The next rally I attended was addressed by Museveni at Kilembe Golf Club. With childhood friend Clement Sunday, we rode on a bicycle for 50km from Kiburara to Kasese Town to attend this rally.
NRM’s poor organisation is legendary. Mr Ssenyonga was contracted by the NRA to take photos at the ceremony. He was paid cash but he didn’t have films; so he supplied air (there were no photos). He later fled to Kampala. He must be living somewhere in Kamwokya.
What I remember about this rally is that after delivering his speech, Museveni actually just dropped in his seat like a log; must have been fatigue.
We spent a night on Kijongo Road in Kasese; we were exhausted to ride back to Kiburara. In the evening, a dark skinned rebel officer I had seen at the rally entered Ms Bitwire’s home three blocks from where we were spending a night.
The name of the dark skinned rebel officer was later to be revealed as Col Dr Kizza Besigye. And it is in Ms Bitwire’s home in Kasese that he met Judith, the late mother his first son Adam Ampa.
We have come a long way but there are a few constants: I saw both Kizza Besigye and Museveni in Kasese in 1985 and I saw both of them at Rukungiri on October 9, 2013. Viva Pax Musevenica; sorry I meant Rule Musevenia.
Asuman Bisiika is the Executive Editor of East Africa Flagpost.