What to remember on Uganda's liberation day
Posted Tuesday, January 26 2016 at 12:14
As Uganda today commemorates 30 years of National Resistance Movement (NRM) stay in power, below is a compilation of what to remember on this day.
• The president of USA was Ronald Reagan. There have been four presidents after him; George Bush, William J. Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama.
• President Barack Obama was 25 years old and was a community organiser in Chicago.
• President Paul Kagame was acting chief of military intelligence of NRA. He was aged 29.
• Nelson Mandela was 61 years old and was in Pollsmoor Prison, having been transferred from Robben Island Prison. This was his 24th year in prison.
• Kizza Besigye was State Minister of Internal Affairs and Amama Mbabazi was the director of External Security Organisation.
• Uganda had had two presidential elections by then, in 1962 and 1980.
• The Chief Justice was Wako Wambuzi.
• President Yoweri Museveni was speaker of the National Resistance Council.
• The Uganda National Liberation Army (UNLA) which was one of the remaining vestiges of Obote’s instruments of state had been fundamentally weakened following the death of chief of staff, Maj Gen David Oyite-Ojok who died in a tragic air crash. The numbers are unclear but the National Resistance Army, then a ragtag outfit that took over power on January 26, 1986 incorporated parts of UNLA to NRA to form the Uganda People’s Defence Forces later.
• The Cold War was still going on. The period (1985–1991) was sparked by the rise of Mikhail Gorbachev, leader of the Soviet Union and a revolutionary leader for the USSR. He was the first to, “promote liberalisation of the political landscape (Glasnost) and capitalist elements into the economy (Perestroika)”. USSR, online sources assert, “began to crumble as liberal reforms proved difficult to handle and capitalist changes to the centralised economy were badly transitioned and caused major problems. After a series of revolutions in Soviet Bloc states, and a failed coup by conservative elements opposed to the ongoing reforms, the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991.”
• The Berlin Wall that divided the city of Berlin was still up. The Berlin Wall divided Berlin from 1961 to 1989 and was constructed by the German Democratic Republic, starting on August 13, 1961, largely cutting off West Berlin from East Germany till it was opened in November 1989.
• Queen Elizabeth II was 60 years old and had been to Uganda once, in 1954 to open Owen Falls Dam.
• The head of Police was Luke Ofungi (1986-1989). Ofungi first served as IGP from 1973 -1974. He was IGP again from May 1980-December 1980; May 1985-1986 and 1986 to 1989.
• General Elly Tumwine was the Commander of the National Resistance Army at the time. He was Commander from 1984 to 1987.
• Mr. L. M. Ibanda was the prisons chief. He was chief from 1986 to 1988.
• The IGP, Kale Kayihura was an Aide de Camp to the Commander of the Mobile Brigade, from 1982 to 1986 and later a Staff Officer in the Office of the Assistant Minister of Defence, from 1986 to 1988.
• Uganda did not have a beauty queen that year. However, a year before that, in 1985, Helen Acheng was Miss Uganda while Nazma Jamal Mohamed was the crown holder in 1988. Then, in 1989, Doreen Lamon Opira held the title.
• In the 1980s, the French cut hairstyle (the hair on both sides of the head was trimmed very low while the middle part was left untouched) was the most popular especially among the men. Women on the other hand stuck to maintaining their natural hair either short or long.
• The 1980s were dominated with black and white television sets. These were bulky in size and operated manually. Uganda Television (UTV), a state-owned television station now called Uganda Broadcasting Corporation (UBC) was the only broadcasting channel at the time which showed programmes at particular hours still in black and white color. Colour bars were sometimes used when no programme was showing. Radio Uganda was the only radio station which broadcast on both Medium Wave (MW) and Short Wave (SW)
• The Nissan Sunny was one of the common cars in Uganda in the early 1980s. It was first launched in 1966 as the Datsun 100 and its production ended in Japan in 2004. The others were the Ford Capri Coupe produced by Ford of Europe from 1969 to 1986, the Peugeot models such as the 504 and 505, the Corolla E70 commonly known as DX sold by Toyota under the Corolla nameplate, the Land Rover Santana that was used by the Ugandan military and the Volkswagen Beetle that was officially called the Volkswagen Type 1. There was the Lada type that was commonly used as taxis and police cars.
• In the 1980s, the common fashion trend among the men was the bell bottom trousers (the type that become wider from the knees downwards, therefore forming a bell-like shape). Besides the bell bottom trousers, the other common fashion accessories among the men were the double braced coats and round hats. The outstanding fashion trend though among the women in the 1980s was the large shoulder pads that were embroidered onto blouses, among other outfits. The feminine suits (which were most times oversize) were also starting to come up.
• Electricity Generation was 60MW in 1986. It is now 850MW.
• The dollar rate was Shs1,450 to $1. There was devaluation of the currency in 1987. Today, it is about Shs3,470 to $1.
• Music was commonly stored on cassette. It was also stored on LPs (Long Play).
• The Uganda Times newspaper had its name changed to New Vision when the NRM took over power in this year. Other newspapers in existence by then were Munno and Ngabo.
• Bebe Cool (Moses Ssali) was nine years. “We were staying in Kanyanya. I used to hear gunshots but I didn’t know what war was about,” he recounts. Bobi Wine was four years old and in nursery school at St Maria Goretti in Acholi quarters in Kamwokya. “My father was a Fedemu rebel and my uncle Andrew Lutakome Kayiira was a rebel too. My grandfather, Joseph Walakira was a Democratic Party (DP) chairman for Mpigi. When things got bad as rebels advanced into the city, we had to relocate to Tanzania for a while and then back to Kyotera, in Masaka, were I spent part of my childhood,” he recollects.
• Afrigo Band was one of the most popular local acts as well as Jimmy Katumba & The Ebonies and the Five Star Band which played at Grand Imperial.
• The Top 100 songs on the Billboard Year-End Chart were: That's What Friends Are For, by Dionne Warwick, Elton John, and Gladys Knight; Say You, Say Me, by Lionel Richie; I Miss You, by Klymaxx; On My Own, by Patti Labelle and Michael McDonald; and Broken Wings, by Mr. Mister.
• In 1986 there were only four National Parks. This has since expanded to 10 National Parks spread in different parts of the country. The country’s tourism success revolves around these parks to a great deal. These include Murchison Falls, Kibale Forest, Semliki Valley, Rwenzori Mountain, Queen Elizabeth, Mgahinga, Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, Lake Mburo and Kidepo Valley National Park.
• Uganda’s population was estimated to be 15 million people. Six years earlier, in 1980, about the time President Museveni took to the bush to wage the guerilla war that ushered him (NRA) to power in 1986, Uganda’s population was 12.6 million people. 30 years on, National Population and Housing Census 2014 projects the country’s population at 35.8 million people.
• Mr Leo Kibirango was the governor of Bank of Uganda. He took over office as governor on November 23, 1986 and served until November 10, 1990 when Dr Suleiman Kiggundu took over.
• There were eight commercial banks. There were two development banks which included Uganda Development Bank fully owned by the government of Uganda and the East African Development Bank owned by the governments of Tanzania, Kenya And Uganda. Currently there are 24 commercial banks in the country, with the development banks still in existence.
• There was one university (Makerere University, in the country and it had 5,400 graduates this year. It is the oldest university and was founded first as a technical school in 1922. Today, there are 23 universities in the country producing about 150,000 graduates in various disciplines annually. Uganda now has four government universities; Makerere, Mbarara, Busitema and Gulu. The remaining 19 are privately owned, either by individuals or religious institutions.
• Pupils and students in Primary school and secondary were paying fees of approximately Shs4,400 in 1986. There has been introduction of Universal Primary Education (UPE) and Universal Secondary Education (USE) where pupils study almost freely. Students pay Shs42,000 in government owned secondary schools.
• Uganda had only English as its official language, much as about 33 indigenous languages were being used in the country. During Idi Amin’s regime in the 1970s, Swahili was declared the national official language. Both are currently official languages in the country.
Luganda remains the most widely spoken language.
• In 1986 the total national road network was 7,900km. Of the 1,900km that had been tarmacked, only 114km (6 per cent) was in fair condition. The remaining 1,786, was in poor motorable state. The 6,000km of gravel roads were in dire need of repair as were the 22,000km of district feeder roads and 15,000km of urban roads. About 30,000km of community roads had become foot paths. Uganda now has 20,000kms of national roads, 13,000km of district roads, 2,800km of urban roads and 30,000km of community roads. Uganda National Roads Authority is responsible for the management of approximately 20,000km of national roads of which approximately 3,500 are paved and 16,500km are gravel or earth roads.