Here are NRA’s top 100 fighters
Posted Thursday, February 6 2014 at 02:00
On February 6, 1981, the NRA fired the first shot that marked the start of the five-year Bush War that climaxed with President Museveni ascension to power. Today marks 33 years since the war was launched. In a two-part series, Charles Mwanguhya Mpagi and Risdel Kasasira profile NRA’s top 100 fighters (RO/0001-RO/0100).
RO/0001 Gen (Rtd) Yoweri Kaguta Museveni (Commander-in-Chief)
He is President of Uganda and Commander-in-Chief, a position he has held since the guerrilla movement he founded, took power on January 26, 1986. Gen Museveni retired from active military service in 2003, famously announcing he was ditching the uniform (military fatigue) for the business suit to become a civilian President.
Museveni started efforts to build an army in the early 1970s, getting basic training in the jungles of Mozambique under Frelimo while still a student at the University of Dar es Salam. He recruited most of the people who made the initial ranks of the Fronasa force which was later to transform into the National Resistance Army and its political wing, the National Resistance Movement.
RO/0002 (Honorary) Brig Eriya Tukahirwa Kategeya (Deceased)
Kategaya first met President Museveni at Kyamate Primary School in Ntungamo. Kategaya, a close confidant of Museveni, is probably one of the most frequently mentioned individuals in war preparations of the 1970s as well as the 1980s.
On February 6, 1988 during the second Tarehe Sita celebrations, he was given the honorary rank of Brigadier. Between 1981 and 1986, Kategeya worked closely with the external wing. He was a member of the first cabinet in 1986 and remained in Cabinet until 2003 when he disagreed with Museveni on removing presidential term limits. He became one of the founders of the opposition Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) party but later reconciled with Museveni and returned to cabinet. He was 1st deputy Prime Minister and Minister for East African at the time of his death early last year. He died of natural causes.
RO/0003 Capt. William ‘Black’ Mwesigwa (Deceased)
Black Mwesigwa met Museveni at Mbarara High School where they started a discussion group that was years later to mutate into the revolutionary struggle that eventually formed the core of today’s government and army.
He, however died early in the struggle. On page 16 of Sowing the Mustard Seed, Museveni lists the other members of the “core” as Martin Mwesiga, Valeriano Rwaheru and Eriya Kategaya. On Page 50 Museveni says Black Mwesigwa was one of the people he met days after Amin took over power. Museveni had fled to Tanzania a day after the Idi Amin coup but returned days later to set up an underground Movement.
He describes Mwesigwa as an economist. “We had met at Mbarara High School. Mwesigwa was nicknamed “Black” because he was very dark-skinned, but his real name was William. He was quiet and mild-mannered, he was also from a cattle keeping background and his parents were born-again Christians. He was killed during the failed first attack on Mbarara Barracks around 1973.
RO/0004 Capt. Valeriano Rwaheru (Deceased)
Also a high school colleague of Museveni, Rwaheru is described as “short and stocky from a farming background and a Roman Catholic” who was “quiet but noticeably courageous”. Rwaheru died in the early years of the struggle after a clandestine meeting at Kyambogo in the house of Levi Karuhanga. Rwaheru and James Karuhanga had remained in the house after the meeting when Amin soldiers stormed it. While Karuhanga remained talking to them, Rwaheru is said to have hidden in a bedroom from where he was able to lob two grenades, killing 11 soldiers, but was killed by the third which exploded before he could throw it. Karuhanga was arrested and taken alive and executed later in Mbarara.
RO/0005 Capt. Martin Mwesiga (Deceased)
Martin Mwesiga was a childhood friend of Museveni whom he met at the age of nine. He was killed in Mbale after they were cornered by government soldiers in the house of Maumbe Mukhwana; House No 49 Maluku Housing Estate.
According to the President’s account, disguised as students, they had travelled to Mbale to try and establish a camp on Mount Elgon but also to warn their team there, especially Mukhwana. While Museveni fled by jumping over a hedge, Mwesiga and Mpima did not and were killed.
RO/0006 Lt. Mpima Wukwu “Kazimoto” (Deceased)
He was killed together with Mwesiga after they were cornered at Maumbe Mukhwana’s house in Mbale. He had helped establish a military camp in Bunya forest, Busoga, to fight Amin. The camp - Kazimoto - was named after him. The trainees in the camp were scattered in the early 1970s as they tried to relocate to Mbale.
RO/0007 Lt. Malibo Abwooli (Deceased)
He also belongs to the revolutionary group of the early 1970s. He was a victim of the public executions in March 1973 when government soldiers arrested suspected dissidents and publicly executed them in their home towns. Malibo was arrested in a café in Kampala and executed in Fort Portal. A monument in his honour stands at the New Taxi Park in downtown Fort Portal off a road also named after him.
RO/0008 Lt. James Karuhanga (Deceased)
Karuhanga was a worker at Kyambogo when he was arrested and later publicly executed in March 1973. An account in Sowing the Mustard Seed says it was at Karuhanga’s house that Museveni held a meeting with Kategaya and Valeriano Rwaheru shortly after returning from Mbale where his other two colleagues (Martin Mwesiga and Wukwu Kazimoto) had been killed. One of their recruits, a man named Kangire who had been betrayed by a one Latigo leading to his arrest in Gulu, directed government soldiers to Karuhanga’s house. “A few days after Kangire’s arrest, at around 11am, while Rwaheru was at Kyambogo with Karuhanga, a platoon of Amin soldiers surrounded the house, Karuhanga who was in the sitting room was arrested…in March 1973, Karuhanga was publicly executed in front of his parents in Mbarara.”
RO/0009 Capt. James Birihanze (Deceased)
He was part of the Fronasa group. He was killed in 1972 with Rwaheru.
RO/00010 Capt. Laiti Omongin (Deceased)
Laiti Omongin was one of the young cadres of President Obote by the time of the Amin coup in 1979. He also fled to Tanzania where he met with Museveni. Available information indicates that Omongin, however, developed misunderstandings with Obote on the approach to fighting Amin and therefore grew closer to Museveni. He did not live long enough to see the overthrow of Amin as he died struggling in the early 1970s. Some accounts say he was shot accidentally in a training camp around the time of the botched first attempt of attacking Amin from Tanzania in 1972.
RO/00011 Maj. Ahmed Seguya (Deceased)
He was the first commander of the National Resistance Army and died of stomach ailment at the start of the 1981-86 war. His body was preserved by collaborating doctors at Mulago until 1992, nearly10 years after he died, when he was buried with full honours.
RO/00012 Maj. Fred Nkuranga Rubereza (Deceased)
Maj Rubereza died in 1981, the first year of the bush struggle that led to the overthrow of the Obote government. He apparently died after a grenade explosion in the Kabalega unit of the fighting forces.
RO/00013 Capt Wilson Mwangisi (Deceased)
Little is known about him