When Godrefy Binaisa was made president in 1979, he got me from retirement to head the Uganda Land Commission, a position I held until Milton Obote was elected as president. With the insurgency after the election, only three members of the commission were able to work. I asked the then minister of Lands to reconstitute a commission.
The minister agreed and a new commission was constituted. However, I turned down the offer to be a member. This was the beginning of my troubles with the Obote II government. The establishment interpreted my decision to turn down the appointment as being anti-government. They started trailing me.
One early morning as I was preparing to leave home for the garden, a friend in Mityana rang me, saying soldiers were on their way to my home. When I peeped through the window I saw a column walking down the hill to my place. I immediately left the house and hid in the farm.
They pitched camp at my house for two months, destroying everything they could lay their hands on and ate all the animals in the farm. Before they left, they blew off the roof of my house. I spent three days walking from Mityana to Kampala. Well-wishers in the villages I walked through helped me with accommodation all this period. Walking on the main road was risky.
In Kampala, I hid in different places with friends. I first stayed at Mugongo near Kyengera for a few days; from there I moved to Kyanja, near the Bahai temple, to stay with a relative who hid me and prepared my exit to Nairobi. It was while there that I got news of what was happening to my house.
My friends wanted me to go by air, but I told them the moment I reached Entebbe, I would be picked like a grasshopper. My only way out was by taxi to Busia. A friend managed to secure me a letter authorising me to travel out of the country. I crossed the border at Busia at lunch time but I had to wait for the Nairobi bus until 6pm. I got to Nairobi the next morning.
When I got to Nairobi, I had no clue where to go, what mattered most was that I was out of Uganda. Later that day I was able to contact a friend through the Kenyan post office who directed me to a small hotel on the outskirts of Nairobi. He told me to just introduce myself when I got there and someone there would know what to do, as he could only come to see me after two days.
When he finally came, he helped me look for a relative of mine who was staying in Buruburu. I had left Uganda with nothing apart from the clothes I was wearing; I was in exile yet without a job and money.
I moved in with my relative in Buruburu and started job hunting. During one of the job-hunting ventures, I bumped into a Ugandan who had also run away. He directed me to Action Aid Kenya. At Action Aid, I found a Muzungu whom had met when he worked at Mityana Diocese. He remembered me. I explained the circumstances under which I left Uganda, and I told him I needed a job. He told me there was no opening, I pleaded with him to find one for me. Eventually in 1982, I was given a job as a book keeper. Four years later, I was sitting on the management board of Action Aid Kenya.
Joining exile politics
My great appreciation goes to the late Dr Samson Kiseka. We accidentally met in a Nairobi supermarket in 1982, and he asked me what I was doing in Nairobi. When I told him how I ended up there, he asked me whether I was ready to go back home but I told him I was not. Kiseka introduced me to the NRM resistance group based in Kenya and I joined as a member of the external committee. Later, I was appointed chairman of the public relations welfare, responsible for providing for new arrivals from Uganda.
Linking with Buganda
In late 1984 and early 1985 the Prince Ronald Mutebi, now the Kabaka, came to Nairobi. By that time, the National Resistance Army (NRA) had taken control of a huge area. It was decided that he visits the areas under our control. I was to be part of the original group that travelled with him but I delayed and he came with John Nagenda through Rwanda, into Kabale. I joined them in Masaka.
The reason for showing the Kabaka around the captured territory was to show him the people fighting against the regime in Kampala. After taking power in 1986, the late Mutyaba and I drove the Kabaka from Nairobi to Busia border where an NRA officer - Lutaya (Andrew) -was waiting to drive him to Kampala. From Busia, Prince Mutebi was driven to Komanboga off Gayaza Road to Kiwanuka’s place where he stayed until he went back to London. I stayed with him for two days.
In March 1986, I returned home on the same flight with Dr Kiseka who was coming to take on his new post of prime minister. When I returned, there was nothing to start from. I got a loan from the bank and started rebuilding my farm. My house had been demolished and I had to refurbish it.
My first appointment in government was to monitor government-funded schools. There were cases of schools getting money from government when they actually didn’t exist. I was later appointed to chair an ad hoc commission of inquiry into corruption. It is this ad hoc commission that gave birth to the Inspector General of Government’s office.
From the commission, I was made chairman of the Lint Marketing Board until the Ministry of Agriculture took over it. In 1989, I joined the expanded National Resistance Council (NRC) from where I went on to join cabinet as a deputy minister for lands. I later joined the constitution commission of Benjamin Odoki as a member. From the Odoki Commission I was made a sabalangira of Buganda by the Kabaka when he was still a Sabataka.
During the Constituency Assembly, I collided with the Baganda over the federal issue. I had to resign from Mengo government where I was the first deputy Katikkiro and minister for lands and agriculture; I also left the title of Sabalangila.
In 1995, I was appointed the chairman Uganda Land Commission for one term but in 2000 I resigned, only to be appointed presidential advisor on land matters, a post I have held to-date.