President Yoweri Museveni on Sunday celebrated his 70th birthday, exalting family life and urging young people, his children and grandchildren not to squander their health.
"My young people, my children and grandchildren, what you need is to look after your health. Don't squander it by taking alcohol, smoking and umalaya (prostitution). If your health is good, you can do a lot of things. I don't know what I would be if I did all that," said President Museveni.
According to a statement issued by state house on Sunday, the jovial looking President paid tribute to his wife Janet Museveni for raising great children and for building their family.
"When we got married, they were turbulent times, I didn't look after the children, it was Janet. She was very strict. She did all the work and am very grateful to her. The Banyankole say that when a man becomes of age he has to kwombeka (building a home). She built our home. Okwombeka now means getting an education, after get a wife, then children and after that wealth. Janet has helped me do all this," he said.
At a low key ceremony organised by the children and attended mainly by close family, the President Museveni and his family first attended a thanksgiving service led by Rev. Emmanuel Katamunanwire from Nshwere C.O.U and later hosted his guests to a family lunch were he shared warm thoughts with his children about family.
"Make sure you have families. Life without family is meaningless. I hear some people like it that way but this undermines the purpose of life. I get a lot of happiness and purpose from my family. It is eternity, you pass on the torch. It is a part of eternity to have children," he said, adding that they must also work for wealth. This however, he said cannot happen if you don't love and fear God.
The President urged his children to always help each other and not to allow another person to suffer if it is within their means to help them.
"Don't be selfish. Help each other and don't let people divide you. When you do that, God does your work for you. I have not done my work for my family, I have been working for Uganda and for Africa and most of my work has been done by God. I hope many of you will reach this age and surpass it," he said.
While paying tribute to his late parents Amos Kaguta and Esteri Kokundeka for raising and educating him, Mr Museveni said that he was glad for the life that God has given him.
"I’m grateful to my parents for raising and educating me. It gave me a very rare opportunity for me to do what I have done," he said.
President Museveni said that he was born approximately on September 15, 1944. According to him, there were no hospital records of his birth but from accounts from his mother Esteri who said he was born three months after a massive cattle vaccination which he put in September and an old woman who said he was born when the old woman was harvesting Omugobe (cow peas leaves) that are usually harvested in September, he decided to be diplomatic and put his actual date on September 15, 1944.
"I may not tell you the exact date, that am not sure, but certainly am not in danger of not knowing the season," he said.
The First Lady, Ms Janet Museveni said there was need to praise and thank God for the life of Museveni, saying like the biblical Gideon, he has taken him through challenging times and sought him out to do a multitude of things for the country.
"God’s goodness has lifted this man and used him to do a multitude of things. We don't take anything for granted. You have blessed us with wonderful children and grandchildren. We thank God," she said.
Brigadier Muhoozi Kainerugaba who spoke on behalf of the children thanked God for the 70 years he has given his father and the 28 years they have lived as a family saying for many years they all lived apart.
"We thank Mzee for what he has done for us as a father and holding the family together despite busy schedule as a statesman. We ask God to protect you. For many years, we thought we might not live to see this day due to a lot of problems and trials," he said.
The president’s son in law, Mr Edwin Karugire told a story of one of his meetings with President Museveni when he sought his daughter’s hand in marriage in a nervous encounter.
"I had sent an emissary to him to talk about the "project" but he told the emissary "let him talk to me himself". I had wanted to come with some uncles but he insisted I should talk to him myself. On the day I found him watching discovery channel it was a World War two documentary about Field Marshall Montgomery and General Rommel and others. For me I was more worried about General Museveni whose daughter I had come to ask for. He watched the documentary from beginning to end as i sweated in silence," he said.
Karugire said President Museveni then talked to him about the merits of sobriety and even challenged him to a fight to see who is stronger but he declined.
At the end the President cut a cake with his granddaughter Nzima whose birthday is two days before his.
what they said
Janet Museveni, First Lady . “God’s goodness has lifted this man and used him to do a multitude of things. We don’t take anything for granted. You have blessed us with wonderful children and grandchildren and we thank God.”
Brig Muhoozi Kainerugaba . “We thank Mzee for what he has done for us as a father and holding the family together despite his busy schedule as a statesman. For many years, we thought we might not live to see this day due to a lot of problems and trials.”