Nagenda in context of our troubled history: Part two

Author: Nicholas Sengoba. PHOTO/NMG

What you need to know:

  • Nagenda went with NRM in a big way. He facilitated the heir to the Buganda throne, then Ssabataka Ronald Mutebi, to tour the NRA liberated areas in Buganda. 

Fighting Obote became complicated because of his increasing autocratic behaviour. 

Many of his opponents like Nagenda left KY and became strange bedfellows with what were hitherto their nemeses in DP. This would clearly put their aspirations in as far as Buganda was concerned, in jeopardy. Would the new allies warm up with commitment to the cause?

It got worse as Obote steadily fell out with Idi Amin leading the coup of January 1971. Many people in Buganda were ecstatic that Obote had fallen and thanked Amin for his effort. But Amin and Obote were two sides of the same coin. It’s Amin who went to kill the Kabaka at Lubiri in  1966. Populist Amin then released many Baganda and other Ugandans who had been in detention under Obote like Paul Ssemogerere, Ben Kiwanuka, the famous five Ministers and Nalinya Mpologoma, a sister to the late Kabaka Muteesa II.

In his rapprochement with Buganda, Amin returned the remains of Muteesa for a decent burial at Kasubi tombs from London. Muteesa had been buried at Kensal Green Cemetery on December 3, 1969. How would the Nagendas convince Baganda that Amin was like Obote and they were all not good for Buganda?

As Amin increasingly showed his iron hand opportunities were created for the likes of Obote to the detriment of those in Buganda who vilified him.

Obote mobilized from exile in Tanzania and together with a young Yoweri Museve-ni made a futile attack on Simba Battalion Barracks in Mbarara in 1972. It recreated Obote and lent him a new coating of relevance in Uganda’s politics, Amin was now the enemy. Obote could now hold out as Uganda’s leading opposi-tion leader capable of taking a fight feared Amin. It opened a door for him to return as a liberator. The specific sins he had committed against Buganda for which  the Nagendas wanted him to receive his comeuppance were now at risk of being crowded out as part of more amorphous issues like fascism, dictatorship, lack of democracy and abuse of human rights.

Ironically Obote had once been the poster boy in Uganda’s history, of all these ills. The focus was now shifted to Idi Amin.

Ostensibly if one intended to fight Obote, they were perceived as inadvertently supporting Amin. The risk of Obote escaping from the grip of his enemies in Buganda was becoming a reality.

The more varied the enemies Amin made as he responded violently to those opposed to him, the more the grievances Baganda, like Nagenda, had against Obote, kept being pushed down the ladder.

For instance people from Lango (and Acholi) who were targeted by Amin for being from Obote’s home area would not be mobilised to fight Obote for his sins against Buganda. Everyone was pulling in their own direction and at times clashing in the process.

That is why it had to take the intervention of the late Tanzanian President Julius Kambarage Nyerere to bring Ugandan exiles opposed to Amin, together in 1978.

After Amin’s army attacked the Kagera salient, the Tanzanian army (TPDF), together with Ugandan exiles against Amin, assembled at the Moshi conference and eventually overthrew Amin in April 1979. Nyerere had punished his arch enemy Amin and also created a safe passage back to power for his friend Obote.

Obote did so after the turbulent administrations of Yusuf Kironde Lule, Godfrey Binaisa and the Military Council ended in the controversial 1980 elections.

For many Baganda the Democratic Party (DP) under Paul Kawanga Ssemogerere had won the election. Obote was accused of stealing the election with the help of Paulo Muwanga of the Military Commission who eventually became Obote’s feared Vice President. A popular  view in Buganda was that Obote had to be fought. But one part of the DP led by Ssemogerere whose election had allegedly been stolen decided to peacefully oppose it in Parliament. 

The militants saw this as an endorsement of Obote and what he stood for. Thus the story of  the weakening and destruction of Uganda’s oldest political party began.

Andrew Lutakoome Kayiira leading Uganda Freedom Movement (UFM) also at-tacked the Lubiri which was now a military barracks and went to the bush. So did Uganda Freedom Fighters (UFF) of Yusuf Lule. Their agenda was the issue of set-tling the score from 1966.

They had good fighters but failed because they did not have a critical mass of in-telligentsia to craft (even for the sake of posturing) ideas around which to rally the foot soldiers.

In Uganda’s history all successful military campaigns have been led by groups with a solid catchment of the intelligentsia. The 1979 war against Amin, the 1981 - 1986 NRA war against Obote/Lutwa etc. The rest just end up in fiascoes like the Kony war. 

The Popular Resistance Movement  which eventually morphed into NRA/M of Museveni also stood up to Obote.

NRM led by Museveni emerged supreme among these groups. They had a critical mass of the intelligentsia both at home and abroad to organize fighters, formulate good messaging and propaganda plus infiltrate and weaken (liquidate) other groups. It was strategically based in a fertile area of Buganda very near the capital city, the place that had grievances against Obote.

The jury is still out as to whether there was an agreement with some Baganda militant groups to return the monarchy if they supported NRM.

But as victims of the war between NRA and the national army UNLF, Baganda joined and fed the NRA to save themselves and punish Obote.

After what appeared like a hiatus many Baganda like the Nagendas who had spent years in exile highlighting Uganda’s human rights abuses and bad leadership in the international media, smelt blood and re-emerged to actively oppose Obote.

Nagenda went with NRM in a big way. He facilitated the heir to the Buganda throne, then Ssabataka Ronald Mutebi, to tour the NRA liberated areas in Buganda. This shored up support for the cause and sealed Nagenda’s place in NRM’s history.

NRM and Museveni then became a part of what would define Nagenda’s life right up to his death.

Twitter: @nsengoba


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