What you need to know:
- In a press statement released on Friday, President Museveni says Queen Elizabeth used her power of persuasion to bring warring factions together and forge new beginning. Below is the President’s full statement.
Today, September 9, at 1000 hours, Maama Janet and myself were supposed to depart by air to the UK to take part in the 50 years commemoration of the expulsion of our Indians by Idi Amin in 1972. However, at 2030 hours, it was announced (East African time) from London that Her Majesty the Queen had died.
My immediate reaction was to cancel the trip. I did not think it appropriate to continue with the trip given this loss to the UK and the Commonwealth. Fortunately, when I consulted more people, including our Asian organisers in the UK, everybody agreed with my instinctive initial reaction.
The function was postponed to a future date to be agreed on. Instead, the celebratory meeting on Sunday by our Indians in their Temple in London, will be a prayer meeting where the Ugandan High Commissioner to UK, will represent me.
Although Her Majesty was 96 years of age, her death was a shock to Maama Janet, the other Ugandans and myself. After all, only a few days ago, we had seen her receiving the new UK Prime Minister, Liz Truss, and had defeated corona some months ago.
In her long reign of 70 years on the throne, she has witnessed the huge metamorphosis of the political landscape in the world such as the death of Joseph Stalin in 1953, the independence of the former colonies of Britain, starting with Sudan in 1955 and Ghana in 1957, the independence of the other colonies formerly controlled by France, Portugal, etc. the rise of Fidel Castro in Cuba, etc.
With the former British colonies; they metamorphosed into the Commonwealth of States, with the exception of a few of them such as Sudan, Burma, etc. I first interacted with her personally in 1987, a good 35 years ago, when she received me at Buckingham Palace, on my way to the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Vancouver, Canada.
Iconic Commonwealth leaders
That meeting was attended by some of the iconic Commonwealth leaders such as Lee Kuan Yew (Singapore), Mahathir Mohamad (Malaysia), Daniel arap Moi (Kenya), Brian Mulroney (Canada), Margaret Thatcher (the UK), Robert Mugabe (Zimbabwe), Rajiv Gandhi (India), etc.
She, of course, opened our conference and in her use of the soft power she possessed, forced the late Mzee arap Moi and myself to sit on the same dinner table with her presiding in spite of the tension that existed between Kenya and us at that time.
Only last night, I saw her on TV driving in a ceremonial car with Nelson Mandela, long time victim of colonialism in South Africa.
I also saw her pictures visiting Northern Ireland and shaking hands with the former IRA leaders and yet that organisation had planted bombs that had killed her uncle, Field Marshal Lord Mountbatten. That was part of her contribution to the mutating world, efforts for reconciliation.
When she received me at Buckingham Palace, first time in 1987, I told her that the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (Chogm) was the only international meeting where we do not have the inconvenience of using interpreters.
This is a fact that those who see far could use for the benefit of all Commonwealth members in the areas of trade, investment, tourism and anti-terrorism. Ever since 1952, I have been following her leadership journey through the media initially and, later on, through direct interaction in Chogm meetings.
My grandmother, Rusi Bakyira, an aunt to my mother, was the first to show me her picture in 1952, saying Omugabekazi omusya, n’akaishikyi kato (the new Queen is a young girl).
In spite of difference of colour and race, you can always tell people’s different ages. During the 2007 Chogm in Uganda, we were happy to host the top leaders of the British royal family.
These were Her Majesty the Queen, her husband Prince Phillip and Prince Charles. Prince Charles visited Jinja and was cheered all the way and Prince Phillip visited the Queen Elizabeth National Park.
Her Majesty was welcomed rapturously between Entebbe and Kampala although it was late in the evening. I salute her contribution to the Commonwealth. The Ugandans, Maama Janet and myself send our most heart-felt condolence to His Majesty King Charles the III, our good friend in the conservation of nature, the royal family, the British people and the citizens of the Commonwealth. May her soul, rest in eternal peace. The peace granted by the Almighty God of all of us.
View ... Chan-ging lands-cape...
In her long reign of 70 years on the throne, she has witnessed the huge metamorphosis of the political landscape in the world such as the death of Joseph Stalin in 1953, the independence of the former colonies of Britain, starting with Sudan in 1955 and Ghana in 1957, the independence of the other colonies formerly controlled by France, Portugal, etc. the rise of Fidel Castro in Cuba, etc.’