Op-ed I By Ishaa Otto Amiza
Oyam—29, August 2020: Greetings to Ugandans both at home and in the Diaspora.
It’s now 34 years since the Rwandan dominated NRA rag-tag boys commanded by Yoweri Kaguta Museveni entered Kampala from Luweero bushes of Buganda and captured state power from the confused military regime of the Acholi led UNLA Generals (Tito and Bazilio) Okello, following a five-year ruthless guerrilla rebellion against the Lango led UPC government of Dr. Apollo Milton Obote.
This happened on 26th January 1986, when I was just 8 years old and in primary three (3) at Alidi primary school, Loro sub-county Oyam district (then Apac district).
As soon as these bandits captured power, in 1986, the life of many people in northern Uganda changed and since then my life has never been the same.
In 1987, while in primary four, my education was interrupted, the whole year went to waste, because of the emergence of anti- NRA rebellions from Lango and Acholi sub-regions determined to fight the in-coming NRA regime of Museveni for fear of a likely revenge against their people from the Museveni’s NRA soldiers.
In my home district of Oyam, the ex-UNLA soldiers (Olum-olum) under different commands and formations emerged and waged wars against the NRA new government, causing mayhem to the local community/wannanchi of the area.
As the war intensified, our family was forced to abandon the traditional home laying along Kamdini – Lira highway for a deep village location, some 2kms away from the highway.
Education was shattered, the highway was abandoned, life changed, and the future became unpredictable; nobody knew when and how that situation would come to an end.
This was the time I came close to the events that later shaped my life and future.
Since then life has never been the same, many things have happened to my life and the community that brought me up in Oyam.
Nonetheless, that was the time NRA soldiers discovered that Loro, my birthplace, was a dangerous spot, being the home area of Maj. Gen. Oyite Ojok, Col. Odwee Opito and the most feared Col. John Ogole. This prompted the NRA government to establish the 2nd Division Barracks at Adyeda Group Farm, Loro, which has since remained in the hands of the NRA/UPDF to date.
Besides the Oyite/Ogole factor, many of the fighters of the Olum-olum rebellion were also coming from Loro, Iceme and our neighbouring sub-counties, notably; Okello Mwaka, Edinga, etc.
Even so, that was the time we started getting used to the Rwandan-Ugandan names like Kagame, Rwegyima, etc, who were top soldiers in NRA that came very close to the people of Loro while working as NRA commanders.
Whereas I couldn’t know Paul Kagame at that time because of age, many people would talk about his name as one of the top NRA commanders who lived in the 2nd Division Barracks in Loro, my home. Therefore, the NRA soldiers and government were a mixture of Rwandese and Ugandans who joined their brother Yoweri Museveni to fight against the Northern- based Obote’s UPC government.
Therefore, growing up in a UNC/UPC family tracing from my grandfathers, Sgt. Oyena (World War II) who was arrested and later released by the NRA soldiers and his brother Nickanori Owiny (who was a founder member of UPC) and relating the killing of my uncle Bob Odongo N’aenda in the early years of 1980 in Kawanda, I have since childhood keenly followed the actors of the NRA-Rwandan dominated rebellion of 1980-1986 up to the 34 years of the NRA/M regime of Mr. Museveni.
In my quest to understand these group of people, I am more concerned about the trend of nearly all the top NRA bush war soldiers pretending to be in disagreement with Museveni, struggling to become presidents alongside Museveni who is stuck to being the life commander of NRA turned UPDF, Chairman of NRM and President of Uganda and unwilling completely to retire or relinquish power to anyone, except promoting his family members in politics and army as could be seen by the rapid promotions of his son Gen. Muhoozi Kainerugaba and his wife, Minister Janet Kataha, leave alone the close brother Gen. Salim Saleh.
The greedy character and behaviour of the Luwero bush war commanders can be traced to the Presidential mind-set and ambitions of Gen. Museveni, Gen. Fred Rwegyima, Gen. Paul Kagame (Rwanda), Col (Rtd) Dr Kizza Besigye, Maj. Gen. Mugisha Muntu, Gen. David Tinyefunza (the beast), ‘Gen.’ Amama Mbabazi, Gen. Kale Kaiyihura, Muhoozi Kainerugaba and now Maj. Gen. Henry Tumukunde who has, in one way or the other, either shown interest to become President or is struggling to marshal political support through political formations to get to Presidency.
Interestingly, besides all these guys emanating from the Museveni’s Luwero bush war squad, they all seem to come from the Greater Ankole-Rwandan group; the Bakiga, Bahima, Bahororo and Banyarwanda. If I am wrong, someone should correct me.
What keeps on lingering into my mind though, is why do all these Luweero bush war guerrilla men of the same origin and orientation, want to become Presidents of Uganda?
Somebody should answer me and clear my wild imagination of a likely conspiracy by these Rwandan-Ugandans.
I am Ishaa Otto Amiza, ex-MP, Oyam County South, UPC Secretary General.