As the country celebrates Terehe Sita, it is importantto remember the sons and daughters of Busoga who actively participated the National Resistance Army (NRA) guerrilla war that ushered the NRM government into power 38 years ago.
Less than a fortunate ago, Busoga hosted the Liberation Day celebrations and is now hostingthe Terehe Sita celebrations, marking 43 years since a group of 41 militants with 27 guns raided Kabamba army barracks and robbed guns that kickstarted the five-year guerilla war against the regime of Apollo Milton Obote.
Led by president Yoweri Museveni, the people’s protracted war attracted several people in its ranks, with several sons and daughters from Busoga joining the fighters to liberate the country from the political abyss where it had been thrown by previous regimes.
Notable among them was Dr Frank Nabwiso, who led the externalwing and in an exclusive interview with Busoga Today, the former Kagoma county legislator shared his experiences during the war and how the region, like other regions, sent its children to the war theatre to fight and remove oppressive regimes.
“I was based in the Kenya capital,Nairobi in 1982 when I convened a breakfast meeting with some Busoga children, including Ali Kirunda Kivejinja, Mathias Ngobi, Prof. Paul Wangoola and Prof. Yoweri Kyesimira, to strategize for how Busoga could contribute to the struggle,” Dr Nabwiso said.
Nabwiso served as the secretary of the diaspora wing in Kenya while Kivejinja was in charge of recruiting fighters. On the same note, Mathias Ngobi performed the diplomatic role since he had served as a diplomat in Amin’s government while Kyesimira collaborated with the late Wanume Kibedi who was a finance minister to lay economic strategies to sell the war to the foreign countries.
“Kivejinja was the first Musoga to join that war and was initially in charge of the NRM newsletter that published information about the bush war,” Nabwiso said. He said he was tasked with registering all refugees to were entering Kenya from Uganda and securing employment opportunities for the literates while the uneducated persons were sent to school by Prof. Wangoola to get knowledge.
Turn of events: The group in 1983 left Kenya when President Moi and Tanzania’s Julius Nyerere abolished hosting fighters in their countries. Dr Nabwiso, however, remained and collaborated with other Ugandans such as Denis Tumusiime who was in charge of the press and Wallen Namala who was responsible for medical issues of the combatants in Uganda.
“I was determined and joined the struggle because I wanted to come back to Uganda and live with parents who sacrificed for my education and as well serve my mother country Uganda instead of serving foreign countries,” Dr Nabwiso noted.
He said few Basoga were involved in the war as linkages and connections to the leaders of the NRA were not clear. “The head of recruitment in Busoga (Kivejinja) had flown to Australia and it became difficult to access him,” Dr Nabwiso said. Nabwiso also said Busoga had few educated children and couldn’t risk to enroll all of them in the bush war, adding that they were instead taken for further education.
He said; “Ngoma Ngime joined in 1983 to ensure Busoga have NRA unit. Paper work was not much considered as people were concentrating on the gun.” The Professor further alleged that the leaders of the war were cautious to recruit from other tribes as they feared that secretes would be revealed to the then state operatives.
Nabwiso, however, decries the current NRM government for failing to implement the 10- points programme as designed during the war, saying he regrets working with the people whom he accuses of hoodwinking him and others that they were fighting against sectarianism, dictatorship, and building an independent and self-sustaining economy following an economic strategy of the mixed economy.
“I didn’t know that were working with people who couldn’t implement the designed tenprogramme. I realized it late later after the was that we had been short-changed,” Nabwiso said.
Reason to celebrate: Iganga district NRM chairperson Hajji Abubaker Walubi, however, said Busoga region has reason to celebrate thanks to the milestone’s the region has registered in the 38 years of NRM. “The region’s sons and daughters did not fight in vain. We are witnessing a lot of infrastructure development and future continues to be bright for the region,” Walubi said. Relatedly, Moses Talenga, an aspiring MP for Jinja West constituency and NRM diehard says the peace and tranquility ushered in by the NRA fighters has helped to spar development in the region.
But Emmanuel Mbalasa, the National Unity Platform (NUP) coordinator for Luuka district said Busoga as a region has not benefitted from the NRA war and that the victims of the war died in vain. “One man has been in power for eternity and rumours are rife that he wants his son Gen. Muhoozi Keinerugaba to succeed him,” he said, adding that Busoga also doesn’t benefit from affirmative action like other regions