Special Reports

NRA handcuffed, held my father in underground cells for 13 months

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Hussein Kashillingi during the interview.

Hussein Kashillingi during the interview. PHOTO BY RACHEL MABALA 

By Risdel Kasasira

Posted  Monday, January 20  2014 at  02:00

In Summary

On January 26, 2013, the National Resistance Movement (NRM/A) government will mark 28 years in power. In a countdown to this day, The Daily Monitor is running a series dubbed CHILDREN OF REVOLUTIONARIES, where we interview children of those who fought or facilitated the 1981-86 Bush War. In the eighth part of the series, Risdel Kasasira interviewed Hussein Kashillingi, the son of Col Ahmed Kashillingi RO040, one OF the 15 most senior officers after NRA captured power.

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I was told I was born in Bugolobi flats, Block 23 D4 on April 1 1976, but some time last year, I discovered I was born in Luzira Prisons. Just before you enter the Prisons on the left side, there is a staff clinic and that is where I was born. My mother was heading the women Prisons section and my father was in Marine section at Port Bell.

We stayed in Bugolobi until 1979 when the war broke out. But before the war, the Amin government had suspected my father of collaborating with Museveni’s agents who were in Tanzania preparing to attack Uganda. He was arrested and taken to Luzira. We fled to Fort Portal with my mother and continued to Kilembe Mines, Kasese, where my maternal grandparents lived.

My father escaped from prison and we are told that he used a table knife to dig a hole and escaped but I have never confirmed that. After escaping he joined the UNLA.
We stayed there shortly and moved to Rukungiri around 1982. By that time, Museveni and his group had launched the war and my father had joined them. We did not have enough land in Rukungiri so we would walk long distance with my mother to get land for digging and after the harvest, we would share with the owner of the land.

But because my mother had fled and did not formally leave the Prisons, she was constantly harassed and arrested by UPC Rukungiri District administrators. She would be taken and imprisoned for months at Kebisoni Sub-county.

When the harassment became too much towards the end of 1984, my mother disappeared. We thought she was again in that prison. But we later learnt she wasn’t there. I think she had joined my father in the bush.

Meeting with dad
One day, I had just come from a garden, seated near the road and I saw a convoy of about 12 cars driving at a terrific speed towards our home. I ran to the nearby bush. The convoy drove past where I was seated and parked by an old woman’s place.

Soldiers got off the trucks and took firing positions in the bushes. One of the cars opened and I saw a man with long a beard with bullets tied around his body. He looked smart but dirty. He had tacked in his uniform properly but was not in good state. When he got out, I saw that old woman coming towards him. He called out her name. I thought these were government soldiers coming to ransack our home again.

He hugged the old woman. But I kept in my strategic position looking at them. I saw other people who had also run away, emerging from the bushes. As I came near the convoy and when I looked inside the Mercedes Benz he was driving in, I saw my mother. I could recognise her. She had been away for more than a year. She came out of the car and hugged me. I asked her who that man was. She told me: He was my father. This was towards the end of 1985. It was my first time to see him since I was three. I was now nine. People in the village converged and it was like a mini-rally of sorts. As he was greeting people, he kept on extending where I was and he grabbed me, held me close by his left arm as he continued greeting people.

He took me to the back seat of the car and we drove home after greeting people. He invited them to our home. It was a big party. What was exciting was his signaler who would throw a wire in the tree to get radio communication signals because the technology at that time was rudimentary.

People donated cows and I saw soldiers slaughtering them with bayonets. But I later I understood that NRA had not actually captured power. I heard there was a disagreement and he decided to go home. I don’t know what it was. He was commanding the 5th Battalion. He stayed for four days. But the signaler was always on the radio communicating and briefing my father. But I didn’t know what was going on.

Dad leaves home
After the four days, they drove away while we slept. We just woke up and there was nobody. But my mother remained. After a few weeks, he came back and took all of us to Kampala. We were staying at Acacia Avenue, near Officers Mess. Gen David Sejusa was our neighbour on the right and on the left was Col Julius Chihandae. I think those people had problems they came with from the bush. And even after capturing power, they continued having those problems. They were always caucusing. There was a group which was allied to Gen Salim Saleh and those were like commander and there were those I think who were allied to Gen Elly Tumwine and they were very few. He was unpopular. I don’t know why!

Gen Saleh and other officers like Col Amanya Mushega, Gen Ivan Koreta, Col Chihandae, Gen Matayo Kyaligonza and others would visit us. But on weekends, there were always some kind of shootout in Kololo, with these soldiers fighting among themselves.

The group of Gen Tumwine would come to attack those allied to Gen Saleh. I have never understood it. People would not die but you would hear bullets at night. Power would go off and you hear people exchanging gunshots.

Probably, the President would prevail over these officers in the bush but now he was the President and politics kept him busy. I have a feeling that those contradictions were not taken care of and they continued to grow.

Attacks among NRA
And as a result, in 1989, the President decided to deploy most of these people to civil service and my father was also supposed to do interviews and join civil service. But, I remember one particular incident, some two soldiers came to our home in the wee hours of the moning. They shot our guard in the stomach and one of the soldiers entered. After entering, he pretended to be drunk. We woke up and we were peeping through the window. This soldier was disarmed by my father’s guards. Col Chihandae’s guards also came and reinforced our guards. I think that gentleman had come to kill my father. My father came out of the house and they interrogated him.

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