By BISAWO BYA SENTE
In 1981, highly courageous men and women made a bold decision to jump out of their comfort zones to head to the Bush to challenge and ultimately bring an end to the disastrous Obote 2 government in what was the foundation of the peaceful, rapidly transforming country we now enjoy.
Beginning with just 27 men, the five-year protracted bush struggle finally came to a victorious conclusion on 26, January 1986, forming the basis of an indelible history of the country that we have since celebrated every year. When on Feb. 3, 1981, a group of rebels held a meeting at Mathew Rukikaire’s house in Makindye to plan the first attack, they essentially launched the war that brought President Yoweri Museveni to power in 1986, and hence the beginning of the road the modern pearl we celebrate today.
The attack on Kabamba Military School was to enable the rebels to get more guns. Although the rebels were 41, they only had 27 guns and a rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) that mysteriously disappeared before the attack. Of the 27 guns, sources say Julius Chihanda, who had been a junior officer in the Uganda National Liberation Army (UNLA) brought sixteen guns.
The rebels who did not have guns carried the force’s loot after the attack. In his book, Sowing the Mustard Seed, President Yoweri Museveni says they used to call the unarmed carrier rebels ‘commandos’ to make them feel as important as the fighters. This is why although there were 41 at the start of the war; the most renowned in the history of the National Resistance Army (NRA) are the historical 27 as they came to be known.
Of the 27, only eight are still alive. These include; Gen. Yoweri Museveni, Julius Kihande, Fred Mwesigye, Andrew Lutaaya, Jack Mucunguzi, Paul Kagame, George Mwesigwa, and Col. Charles Tusiime Rutarago.
Jinja’s NRM Liberation Day comes at a time when Uganda continues to score high in the different aspects of its long nation-building journey.
Speaking to the media early this week, Hon. Milly Babirye Babalanda enumerated an endless list of achievements scored by the ruling party which should in part, if not whole, be attributed to the sacrifices of those gallant men and women who swapped their safety for a life-threatening adventure in the jungles of Luwero to liberate us.
Today, the economy has grown from US Dollars 3.9 bn in 1986 to US Dollars 49.4bn in 2023, Electricity Generation expanded from 150 Mega Watts in 1986 to above 1,300 Mega Watts in 202, and Tarmac roads expanded from 1,000 kilometres in 1986 to over 7,000 kilometres in 2023, Airports grew from 1 to 2 and airstrips from 5 to now 13, The water coverage in rural areas stands at 68% while in urban areas it is at 72%,.Life expectancy extended from 43 years in 1986 to 63 years in 2023, The national referral hospitals are now 5 from 2; while the regional referrals are now 17 and more than 163 district hospitals.
The literacy rates reached 75%. The Universities expanded from 1 in 1986 to now 11. the technical colleges are 77; the secondary schools are 983 and the primary schools are 12,433 in number, among many more.
It is therefore imperative that a lasting reward should be considered for these men and women in the spirit of “entasiima ebula agiwa” loosely translated as that he who doesn’t appreciate eventually runs short of generous givers.
Monuments should be erected in honour and memory of these gallant sons and daughters of this land, most preferably at the City Square or Kololo Independence Ground. This should not only be limited to the 27 who held guns in the February 8, 1981, Kabamba attack but also their unarmed colleagues who bring the number to 41. The Monuments wouldn’t not only keep the legacy of the heroes but also inspire others serving the country in different aspects to emulate and pick lessons.
There is also a very pertinent need to preserve the history of this country, especially this unique liberation part in a country whose reading culture is very low. With the history-bending events between 1981-86 happening before the advent of the more sophisticated media where video messages are more preferred, safeguarding our heroes in the aforementioned form would go a long way in ensuring this very crucial information will not be buried in the rubble of time.
Egypt, the leader of World civilization thought ahead of time, in years immemorial and elected to preserve their most treasured heroes’ bodies who are worshiped thousands of years later, and by generations that can’t keep track of when they lived. Asking for statues, therefore, is not asking much at all, especially when we talk of people upon whose blood and sweat this country rests.
Long live NRM, Long live Jaaja Mwaami, Ssabalwanyi, father of the region, Chairman NAM and G77+ China
“OLWEYO OLUKADDE LWELUMANYI OBUSONDA”
The Writer; BISAWO BYA SENTE aka IMMUNIZED MUZUKULU, is the Regional Coordinator YKM 2026 Cyberforce in Buganda
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