Yoweri Museveni alias Kayibanda est-il né à Butare?! D'un Mutwa?
Museveni's origins are mysterious. Many versions of where he was born and his true nationality are claimed. Those who know him view the vague picture surrounding his origins as deliberately created. He one time said that he was born in Mbarara hospital and does not know his exact date of birth. That was in Mbarara in 1992, April. But later he changed and said it was Ntungamo! This ignorance of his exact birth date is not typical of a man who otherwise boasts of having an incredible memory and ability to recall events that many people have forgotten.You see, this unclear picture of Museveni's origin comes from the stigma that Rwandese and Ugandans of Rwandese origin have been subjected to.
Yoweri Kayibanda, a.k.a, Rutabasirwa was born around 1943 in Butare, Rwanda. Let him stop lying us that he was born in Uganda! The most informed sources who have
known Museveni since his early child hood insist that he and his mother, the late Esteri Kokundeka, came to Uganda from Butare town where he was born around April 1943. One of these sources
Gertrude Byanyima the wife of Boniface Byanyima, the national chairman of the Democratic Party says Museveni came to Uganda as a child from Rwanda. He spent part of his early teenage life in the
Byanyima family home in Mbarara town in western Uganda. Byanyima used to pay Museveni's school fees or at least part of it. Let him deny it!
One time when she was speaking to party supporters at her home in Mbarara on 2 March, 1996, Mrs. Byanyima said: "Museveni is just like us here. He came here at 16 and it's us who brought him up. He was never a good academic performer. The cupboard you see there was Museveni's library. When you check in it you'll find his books, a lot on imperialism, with his former names Yoseri Tubuhaburwa."
When Byanyima claimed that Museveni "came here at 16", it was not so clear whether she meant that Museveni came to Uganda at the age of sixteen or that he first visited the Byanyima home at that age.
After she made that claim, some of Gertrude Byanyima's children Martha, Winnie, Abraham, and Anthony wrote a joint letter where by they apologised to Museveni for any embarassment caused to him by their mother's claim. But mark you, they did not specifically refute or question the substance of what she said!
Gertrude Byanyima referred to Museveni as "Yoseri" rather than "Yoweri" and said those were his original names.
It should be noted that during his university days, Museveni used the initial "T" from a name Tibuhaburwa he had given himself. In full, it comes from the Runyankore expression "Obwengye Tibuhaburwa", meaning intelligence is natural born, not learned. In a thesis which he wrote in 1971 titled Fanon's theory on violence: its verification in liberated Mozambique, the author gave his byline as "By Yoweri T. Museveni." Many people from western Uganda hold this same view of Museveni's Rwandese roots and among them are the Banyarwanda of western Uganda or the Rwandese refugees who lived for forty years in Uganda before returning to Rwanda in 1990.
Most of these people give his origins as in Rwanda. Some of these people who know Museveni point out the fact that his mother never spoke any Ugandan language fluently in all her life, but only Kinyarwanda, the national language of Rwanda.
Many times Museveni has been challenged to prove his Ugandan roots by showing the public any graves and burial sites of any of his grandparents in Uganda but he has always avoided commenting on that. Those challenging him to do so bring up the issue because they know that there is nothing to show and want to put him in an embarassing position.
The rumours around Museveni's origins grew intense in 1992, leading him to appear in army combat uniform before a live national television audience where he listed a number of Runyankore names that he claimed were his. In Feb. 1994 while on a visit to Gulu, Museveni addressed a public rally. Some teenagers from St. Katherine Girls' Secondary School began to shout at him complaining that his NRM government was filled with Banyarwanda. "Look at him," they remarked, "He is a Munyarwanda proper!" Museveni heard the comments and commented: "These girls are saying I am a proper Munyarwanda. Maybe they bore me and they are in a better position to explain to us."
The embarassed headmistress of the school, Beatrice H.A Lagada suspended six of the girls. Museveni, though, did not confirm or refute the girls' claim.
In 1966, Museveni suddenly back slid from many of the fundamentalist Christian views he had once held. This, he says, after British missionaries in Uganda whom he knew advocated non-aggression in their response to the unilateral declaration of independence by Southern Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) in 1965. Museveni and some of his friends favoured an armed struggle to overthrow the Rhodesian government of Prime Minister Ian Smith. Something is not right here.
Museveni had been a fanatical believer in the message of the Bible. That all changed suddenly in 1966 and he then swung around to embrace a totally opposite out look to life which had armed struggle at its core. In his later years and after assuming the Ugandan presidency, he would give his rejection of the gospel as coming from his disagreement with white missionaries over how to respond to the political crisis in Rhodesia. That would have been a good reason to
present, but this change in Museveni ran much deeper. Where he had once been sober and strict in his lifestyle, he started becoming sexually promiscuous, a development in his character that would have nothing to do with the declaration of a white supremacist regime in Rhodesia.. We want to know the reason be for this drastic change.
During her years in Ankole in the mid 1960s, Museveni's mother had become a convert to the born again Christian faith. She sometimes visited Bweranyangye Girls' Secondary School and took part in mission outreach programmes in Ankole.
Many people who observed her became convinced that her eldest son had taken his personality from her. She was eccentric and was fond of wearing woollen clothing. In some way Esteri Kokundeka was ahead of her time. The main fashion of the day among the ordinary women in Ankole at the time was the traditional robes.
Kokundeka on the other hand took a liking for European fashions and so stood out as odd whenever she went about in public, wearing woollen clothes and western-style dresses, some of them above the knees in length.
At first some people wondered who this strange woman was, who was so different from the rest of her contemporaries in a society that was still very traditional.
She did not have an education and had not traveled widely out of her home area but looked to be very modern. Moreover she was a modest woman and a devout Christian. In between periods of depression and silence, she experienced high energy.
During her excited phases that was when the common village fellas started to feel that she might be mentally disturbed. What was beyond doubt at the time was that Museveni's mother was suffering from some kind of mental disorder. She certainly showed all the signs of what they call bipolar disorder. (Madness, to call a spade a spade.) Bweranyangye Girls' Secondary School in Ankole, where her daughter Violet was studying, is a place where Kokundeka used to visit a lot to preach. She was dreaded and shunned by many of the girls. They saw her as a tyrant, a complicated and extremely difficult woman to get along with. On some occasions when she visited the school, girls would avoid meeting her and hide in the dormitories. She did not display the normal affection and motherly traits that would be expected in a parent, even toward her own children. She was not affectionate and was too unreasonable and hard to understand. Many became convinced at Bweranyangye that Kokundeka had a mental problem.
In 1967, she did have a mental breakdown. The details of that are not so clear. But she was admitted at the Butabika Mental Hospital on the outskirts of Kampala that year. Her mental disorder combined with the series of traumatic experiences in Rwanda that affected her so drastically as to lead her to reject her son, are the rock on which the crisis in Museveni's life originated. That crisis in Museveni's life lies at the root of the personality that we shall examine in forthcoming pages.
People who knew him during the mid 1960s say the change was brought about by rejection from his mother, Esteri Kokundeka. It was not Rhodesia, for God's sake!
How she rejected him, why she rejected him, and when she rejected him is something we don't know. I will not lie that I know. But it seems to have been very painful to him to rock the foundation of his whole entire life. Maybe he had tried to probe her to tell him who his real father was and she dismissed his questions. Maybe he persisted with his questions and in impatience, his mother finally disclosed to him the circumstances of his birth.
What brought her from Rwanda to Uganda reportedly either still pregnant with Museveni or when he was still an infant? Those who knew Museveni's mother all through her life in Uganda remarked at how bitterly she hated and resented Rwanda.
In 1982 during Museveni's guerrilla war, one of Museveni's most trusted commanders, Kahinda Otafiire, was charged with smuggling her out of Uganda through Rwanda and then on to Nairobi, Kenya where she would see her son. Museveni's mother protested vehemently saying she hated Rwanda and did not want to go there ever again in her life.
After repeated begging, Otafiire managed to get her into Rwanda from where the two went on to Kenya.
This gives us an interesting look into Museveni's origins.
Sincerely why should his mother resent and hate Rwanda so much unless she had once lived there or had heard too much about it or maybe had experienced enough about Rwanda that even to talk about Rwanda made her feel so bad?
It is one thing to hate Rwanda. It is quite another for your son's commander and aide Otafiire to want to take you safely out of Uganda to Kenya at a time of high risk and yet you would rather remain in harm's way in Uganda than set foot in Rwanda. What was it about Rwanda that Museveni's mother hated so much? We can guess the following things.
She knew Rwanda much better than the average illiterate village woman. She definitely hated the country. She seems to have either lived there for some time or even originated from Rwanda. She seems to have had such a terrible experience
in Rwanda that her outlook toward that country was clouded by all sorts of resentment.
What terrible memory was this?
Was she raped as a girl or young woman or sexually molested by someone in Rwanda?
Or even more traumatic, had she become pregnant while in Rwanda by a relative, so that she had to live with the stigma of having an incest sexual relationship hanging over her and bringing her distress? Did she become pregnant by a brother, a father, and uncle and unable to stand the shame of the affair, decided to flee Rwanda for Uganda, bringing with her the illegitimate son? Maybe this could explain her hatred of anything to do with Rwanda. If this is true, we have the correct understanding why she rejected the young Museveni.
An ordinary terrible event in Rwanda like clan or tribal fighting or a dispute between two families would have made her resent the Rwanda society at large but bring her closer to her son. But she resented both Rwanda and rejected her son. Our conclusion is that she might have concieved her son with a close relative, or a servant in the homstead in Rwanda and there is a chance that this might even have been a forced sexual encounter.
She would then see her son and in him a reminder of the shaming incident in Rwanda that led her to abandon her home and flee the country for Uganda. So it seems that she must have directly or indirectly told Museveni of the circumstances of his birth and parentage and once he knew this, a deeply traumatising personal crisis shook him.
Sincerely it is not easy dealing with such a shaming news, more so from your own mother.
Museveni's biological father was an itinerant Rwandan peasant called Kayibanda. Current sources indicate that Kayibanda lives in Tanzania while others say he lives in Butare town in Rwanda. Other reports have it that Kayibanda died in Tanzania in the 1990s. We are not sure and where we are not sure, we shall not pretend to know.
According to some reports, Kayibanda and his wife Esteri Kokundeka came to Uganda when Museveni was a toddler. There is a story common in Ankole but difficult to prove for its accuracy, about how Museveni's parents ended up in Uganda. This version has it that Museveni's mother was of royal Kinyarwanda Tutsi stock. Apparently during one of her many idle moments at the royal court in Rwanda, she was seduced by or seduced one of the court workers, a Mutwa named Kayibanda.
Museveni was the result of this laison, making him paternally a Twa and maternally a Tutsi.
Her proud Tutsi royal family had to quickly chase her for a shaming them. So she fled to Uganda for ever. Because of the disgrace she had brought upon herself by this liason with a despised commoner, she, the commoner, and their son Museveni were banished and fled across the border into Uganda. Being desperate to find means of supporting the woman and their child, Kayibanda the journeyman was given employment as a herdsman by a young cattle owner named Amos Kaguta.
Kaguta was also of Rwandese stock and his brothers are reported to have remained in Rwanda when he migrated to Uganda. It was not long before Kayibanda eyed on Kaguta's wife. Kaguta angrily banished Kayibanda from his home and Kayibanda fled to Tanzania with Kaguta's adulterous wife.
But Kaguta retained Kokundeka and her child Museveni as his wife and child. Kayibanda and Kokundeka had a second born child, a girl who later got married to a Rwandese Ugandan named Nathan Ruyondo. Ruyondo would became a Ugandan civil servant in the town of Masaka. Museveni, therefore, had one direct sibling, this girl who got married to Ruyondo.
The day before he started his guerrilla war in 1981, Museveni travelled to Masaka and spent the night in his true sister's home, on 5 Feb., 1981. He used Ruyondo's Peugeot 304 to drive to the Kabamba army barracks for the attack the next day, 6 Feb., 1981. When he narrates his attack on Kabamba in Sowing The Mustard Seed, Museveni describes Ruyondo as "one of my
acquainatnces." Acquaintance indeed!
How with a sensitive life-and-death attack coming could he borrow the car of an ordinary "acquaintance" without being worried that this acquaintance could betray him to the authorities, if the car's ownership was traced back to Ruyondo?
These are all his lies. This Peugeot 304 belonged to Museveni's brother-in-law, something he never admitted because in Masaka town, it was commonly known that Ruyondo's wife was pure Rwandese. And so for Museveni to even hint at a close relationship with Ruyondo or to admit that Ruyondo's wife was his direct paternal and maternal sister, would have confirmed to many that Museveni is really Rwandese.
Kaguta, having retained Esteri and Museveni later had a child in 1949 with Esteri. She was named Violet Kajubiri because she was born in the "year of the jubilee", the fiftieth anniversary of the founding of the Protestant church in Uganda. Meanwhile, in the late 1950s there was heavy activity of Arab hides and skins traders, especially in the cattle corridor of western Uganda.
These Arab traders had traveled back and forth along the route between the East African coast of Kenya and Tanzania and the western interior of Uganda for several generations. Their ware was hauled over this long distance by among others Yemeni drivers who came from families that had settled in Mombasa along Kenya's Indian Ocean coast. In his 1997 book Sowing The Mustard Seed, Museveni confirms this trade link between the East African coast and Ankole when he explains his early years:
"In the days of my early childhood...cattle were literally central to our whole lives....For clothing I wore the skin of a premature calf...although at the time it was no longer the common way of dressing. Even before the Europeans came, people were wearing textiles brought by long-distance travellers from the Swahili coast." (page 4)
One of these Mombasa Yemeni lorry drivers met Museveni's mother who was known to be a little loose and a child was born to them in 1960 named Salim Saleh. That is why Saleh who is also known as Caleb Akandwanaho has never used the name Kaguta as his middle name even after he became a senior government official.
That by itself is more proof to the idea that Kaguta is not Saleh's father. When Museveni came to power in 1986, rumours that he was Rwandese filed Kampala. You think Salim Saleh would not have used Kaguta's name in order to be respected if Kaguta was really his father?
In a Boston Globe article published on 1 May, 2005, a former U.S ambassador to Uganda Johnnie Carson referred to Caleb Akandwanaho (Salim Saleh) as Museveni's "half-brother" This fact which was widely known in Uganda is one of the signs that Museveni's blood father was different from Saleh's. The name of Salim Saleh's biological father is not known. Maybe he can tell us himself.
During the 1979s exile, the Museveni family lived in the Upanga Estate next to Sebender Bridge in the Shimo la Udongo area of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.
The teenager Saleh was very close to the Arab and Somali community although the rest of the Museveni family was polite but distant from their Arab and Somali neighbours. These Somali and Arabs regarded Salim Saleh as one of their own. Many people assumed that he was a Somali or coastal Tanzanian.
Saleh in his younger years was slim and light-skinned in complexion and you ould easily see the phycical features of one with Arab and possibly Somali blood. You look at Saleh's flat hips and curly hair properly next time when you see him.
You will see! It was only in the 1990s as he grew too bulky and his HIV condition began to darken his skin, that he started to blend in more with the general Ugandan population.
Museveni became close to Colonel Gadhaffi of Libya because he used Saleh's Arab blood to convince Gadafi that he was really pro-Arab causes. We shall see later why Gadhafi also became close to the Toro kingdom through another of Museveni's manipulations.
Meanwhile when Museveni came to power in 1986, his biological father Kayibanda came to Uganda from Tanzania to visit his son and share in the new-found recognition and fame as President. Museveni gave his father a blasting that he never forgot! He gave him money and angrily told him never to come back again. Museveni's mother came to Uganda pregnant with the boy "Rutabasirwa". That is Museveni's real name. Forget the Museveni nickname. His middle name was adopted from his stepfather Kaguta and he only began to use the middle name Kaguta after he became president. According to Museveni's inner family members, Kaguta's brothers live in Rwanda.
This proves that even Museveni's half-sister Kajubiri is Rwandese and not Ugandan as we assumed all along. It was strange for many years that Amos Kaguta did not seem to have immediate relatives in Uganda and yet there were never any reports of any of them having died and been buried in Uganda.
In addition, during the 1930s and 1940s and even right up to the 1950s, there was tremendous prejudice among the Banyankole tribe of the Ankole kingdom Uganda against Rwandese, particularly the Tutsi. The prejudice ran much deeper among the peasants.
You think with Esteri Kokundeka being a Rwandan Tutsi, it would have been possible at the time for her to get married to a Munyankole man, more so if she already had a child from another man? Not possible! Only when you know that Kaguta is a Rwandese Tutsi then you see why Kokundeka got married to him.
One of Museveni's closest childhood friends was Eriya Kategaya whose mother was Rwandan Tutsi and father a Munyankole. The bias that the Banyankole felt toward the Banyarwanda at the time would have made it difficult for Museveni and Kategaya to be so close, unless at least one of Museveni's parents was Rwandese.
In the 1990s, Museveni made a habit of publicly promoting the Runyankore language, praising the Ankole cultural heritage and saying he was compiling a Runyankore-English dictionary. (By the way, where is the dictionary? We have never seen it.) Those who know him and watched him commented that this was a bid to make himself look a true Ugandan and deflect any remaining rumors that he might be Rwandese.
The very first sentence on the very first page of Sowing the Mustard Seed is revealing. Museveni writes: "I was born among the Banyankore Bahima nomads of south-western Uganda in about the year 1944." In this first line, Museveni would once and for all have dispeled the rumours about his origins by stating categorically "I am a Munyankore Muhima." He was careful not be specific about that. Instead he vaguely says he was born among the Bahima.
Museveni's school days and first job
Museveni attended Kyamate primary school, Mbarara High School, and Ntare School, all of then Anglican Protestant schools. During his time in secondary school, his schoolmates found him strange and many thought he might be mentally unstable. His radical views and eccentric behaviour while at Ntare School made him stand out. He was an ardent member of the school's debating club and Scripture Union, the study group of the Anglican church in Uganda. Members
of the Scripture Union found him to be domineering and even in a religious setting, he was always trying to force his views on the association. Instead of a conciliatory Christian stance when others expressed views contrary to his, Museveni during unguarded moments displayed a militant attitude. Museveni's behaviour at Ntare School in Mbarara was similar to that of his mother's. Even when his friends and classmates made an allowance for his behaviour being part of the normal turbulent teenage years, some of it was not. One time in 1965, Museveni called a strike which became so violent that a prefect in the school was beaten to death. Museveni was arrested and taken to the Mbarara Police Station. He was taken to the Mbarara district commissioner at the time, Edward Athiyo. When Athiyo saw this young boy who was so thin and had no buttocks almost, he could not believe that Museveni could cause such chaos.
So Athiyo ordered Museveni to be given 12 strokes of the cane and released. That is how people went on underestimating Museveni for many years. They always think he is weaker than he looks, politically and physically. It was troubling because Museveni did not do things on the spur of the moment. He thought things out appeared to know what he was doing. But what he did was not the acts of a normal person.
One of the persistent statements that Museveni had started making was that he was determined to be the president of Uganda one day in the future. He was laughed off as a clown by his schoolmates who saw this as one more of his characteristic outbursts.
He kept mentioning this time and time again. He was ignored and dismissed by onlookers as out of his mind, as usual. Something that has never been analysed is his obsession with being Uganda's head of state that began to rule Museveni from his late teens. The young man was too ditermined to be president that one has to ask sincerely why be so consumed with being leader of a ramshackled African country without any other career ambition?
He never explained what he planned to do when he achieved this dream. There is not definite evidence in this regard, but it can be assumed that Museveni went through a terrible experience as a teenager either being mocked for not having no ethnic and family roots or watching with deep envy his friends and other schoolmates with families and a sense of social belonging and he with none. What was also known by people at the time is that "Museveni's mother was widely rumored to be a part-time prostitute".
That is part of the reason she came to have four children from three different men. Museveni was teased and mocked over the fact that his half-brother Saleh was an Arab and these insults cut deeper into Museveni. The rumour that she was or had been a prostitute persisted everywhere she went, to the point that it seemed to have at least a grain of truth to it. A humiliated Museveni must have developed a great need to compensate for his too shameful background. There could only have been one way to do this and that would be to become the powerful head of state, thus rising even above the traditional kings of Ankole, Toro, and Bunyoro of western Uganda whose subjects he lived and studied among.
To be president required simple Ugandan citizenship which he could claim to have. One did not beyond that need to be from a particular ethnic group because the presidency was not hereditary. He had to dominate and domineer those who had insulted and mocked him. After sitting his advanced level exams in 1966, he passed to go to Makerere University in Kampala in 1967 to read Law. In his A'Level exams, he scored three principals: DDD in History, Economics, and Literature. What he got in the compulsory supplementary subject, General Paper we do not know.
One day a journalist should ask him at a press conference to tell us how much he got in General Paper. But even if Museveni got only DDD in his principal subjects, he knew many things because he used to read widely. So there is a big chance that he scored highly in General Paper. Someone can even assume that he got a Credit 3 or maybe Distinction 2.
But you can see why he feared to tell us how much he got in A-Level when he wrote the Mustard Seed because if Ugandans knew he got DDD they would wonder about the only man with a vision to rule Uganda! DDD even in the 1960s was not a result to make you celebrate with delicious chicken. Makerere at that time was one of Africa's most prestigious institutions of higher learning. But Museveni was unable to complete his first year there. Museveni has claimed the reason he did not attend Makerere University, saying that he originally put his first choice as Dar es Salaam and Makerere only as a second choice.
According to a source then working in the Office of the President at that time, Museveni got a mental breakdown at Makerere. In a panic, Uganda's Prime Minister Milton Obote quickly had a letter written and arranged for Museveni to be flown to Sofia, Bulgaria in eastern Europe where he was admitted in a psychiatry hospital. Because of this, he was unable to continue at Makerere. Explain why did Obote get involved in the personal matters of an obscure student from western Uganda? The reason is that Museveni had been a youth winger and member of the ruling Uganda People's Congress party. Obote was well known for his loyalty to even the young people affiliated with his party. President Obote rang up his Tanzanian counterpart President Julius Nyerere and said he wanted Nyerere to recommend "this illustrious young man" Museveni to the University of Dar es Salaam.
A letter was later written to President Nyerere formally requesting him to help gain admission for Museveni at Dar es Salaam. It is not clear what triggered off Museveni's mental breakdown. Maybe it had something to do with his mother's breakdown that same year and therefore was part of a cycle of mental breakdown by mother and son or was an incident isolated.
It is not known.
Much later in life as President, Museveni was hostile to Makerere University in a funny way. Some now trace that hostile feeling back to the haunting memories it gives him of his mental illness in 1967.
At Dar es Salaam University between 1967 and 1970 he studied law for his first year but owing to his insignificant performance, he was transferred to the Political Science department for the remaining two years at the university. On the first day of the law class, the lecturer asked each of the students to stand up and introduce themselves.
They did so in turns. Museveni was seated right at the back of the class. When it came to his turn, he stood up and said, "I am Yoweri Museveni of Rwanda." Some Ugandan students in the class were surprised, as most of them had always assumed that he was a Ugandan from Ankole. Knowing his stubborn ways, they dismissed this statement as one of his pranks and attempt at humour. He soon became involved in radical nationalist and leftist politics. During his second year at Dar es Salaam University in Sept. 1968, Museveni visited the military camps of the Mozambican independence group, Frente de Liberatacao de Mocambique (FRELIMO), and acquainted himself with their goals. There are some people who doubt his claim to have seen combat action in Mozambique, but anyway let us give him the benefit of the doubt.
At Dar es Salaam University, Museveni was one of the leaders of a radical student association, the University African Students' Front (UASF), a discussion group that advocated pan-African unity and advanced the struggle for Africa's independence. The university published a Marxist magazine called Che Che, whose main theme was revolutionary causes and African liberation. In one of its issues, Museveni wrote an article in which he compared President Nyerere to the 19th century German leader Otto von Bismarck.
An aide to Nyerere read and was impressed by the article and sought out this Museveni who had understood Nyerere in such visionary terms. A mentor-protégé friendship between Nyerere and Museveni soon grew. In 1969, Museveni visited Makerere University from Dar es Salaam University where he was a student. He went to speak at a seminar on African liberation.
He had recently returned from Mozambique where he watched the FRELIMO guerrillas train and was impressed by their level of organization and in particular, their interpretation of the role of a soldier in Africa's independence struggles. In a speech to the students at Makerere, Museveni passionately argued that war the highest form of political struggle could only be conducted by political fighters not by politically neutral soldiers.
This speech at Makerere spelt out Museveni's beliefs and because he emphasised them so forcefully, we can surmise that he had now come to the conviction that war was to be, henceforth, his principal vehicle for the pursuit of his ambitions and the application of his political ideas.
One day late in 1970 while at Dar es Salaam University, Museveni suffered another mental breakdown. Like the breakdown in 1967, it was not a breakdown caused by fatigue, stress, or any result of a work overload. It was a breakdown that was definitely triggered off by mental illness. This time he was flown to a psychiatric hospital in Oman in the Middle East. After undergoing treatment, Museveni returned to Dar es Salaam. After completing university in Tanzania in March 1970, Museveni applied for and got a job in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. President Obote met Museveni again in Aug. 1970 and was impressed enough by the young man that he had him transferred to the Office of the President at the parliamentary buildings in Kampala.
There, Museveni joined a branch of the Ugandan intelligence service, the General Service Unit. Prior to its founding in April 1964, the General Service Unit was an off shoot of the Protocol Department in the Office of the President. This branch was called the State Research Bureau and was headed at that time by Picho Ali. His brother, Albert Picho Owiny, was also a youth activist with the ruling UPC party. Museveni also worked with the head of the research department in the President's Office, Wilson Okwenje (who later became the minister of public service and cabinet affairs in Obote II regime in 1980.) Museveni's official title was Assistant Secretary for Research. Among the other young men in the research department of the President's Office were Jaberi Bidandi Ssali, Zubairi Bakari, Kintu Musoke, Yuda Katundu, Michael Micombero-Mpambara, Kasendwa-Ddumba, Erifazi Laki, Edward Rugumayo, Moses Musonge, John Ateker Ejalu, Abbasi Kibazo and many others. The overall director of the country's intelligence services was Obote's own cousin, Naphtali Akena Adoko.
Museveni's colleagues in the General Service Unit found him to be too impatient and quarrelsome in dealing with people. He was always secretive in the office and appeared to find it difficult to trust people. He never opened up to his colleagues and they felt sure he was holding back much of himself from them. It was Picho Ali who knew best how to deal with Museveni.
Ali was an extremely intelligent young man with good command of English. He would dismiss Museveni's petty bickering with one single word which would leave Museveni boiling like a volcano and the rest of the office cheering. Like it or not, Museveni was not popular. Explaning in the Daily Monitor newspaper of Kampala on 16 Oct., 2005, Wilson Okwenje said:
"It was in my capacity as head of research in the President's Office that I met Yoweri Museveni for the first time in 1970. He had come to us after graduating from Dar es Salaam University. We worked together up till the military coup of 25 Jan., 1971. At that time, as an assistant secretary, he was just another face in the crowd, as a matter of speech, although I came to know that he harboured political ambitions and I suspected that he was using his work at the President's Office as a stepping stone."
The question is, how was Museveni "using his work" as a stepping stone to his real ambitions? It goes without saying that someone in that position would have enjoyed a certain amount of access to secret government files and information. He had security clearance and made sure that his position benefitted him in a far-reaching way than just gaining an office desk for administrative experience.
In 1970 unknown to most people, Museveni had began to collect weapons for reasons known to himself. How he got the arms in the first place without being questioned or arrested, is equally unknown but he used his security clearance to get them in without causing suspicion. Museveni kept the rifles and pistols hidden in a location in Salaama near Kibuye along the road to Entebbe. He also tried to recruit some of his friends into what was a future armed struggle. Many of them did not take him seriously that a junior intelligence officer actually meant what he said when he claimed to privately own guns and was planning an armed struggle.
Murder of Brigadier Pierino Okoya
On 25 Jan., 1970, the commander of the army's Second Infantry brigade, Brigadier Pierino Yere Okoyo and his wife Anna Akello Okoya were shot dead outside their home at Layibi, just outside Gulu town by unknown assailants. Brigadier Okoya was buried together with a sheep.
Okoya had been one of the most vocal in criticising the army commander Idi Amin for fleeing the scene of an 19 Oct., 1969 assassination attempt on President Obote at Lugogo in Kampala.
As soon as news of the attempt on Obote's life became known, Brigadier Okoya drove from Jinja, 80 km from Kampala and gave orders for the army to remain in the barracks and restrain themselves. Okoya accused Amin of being a coward and wanted disciplinary action taken against the army commander. He went on to suggest that Amin might have had something to do with the assassination plot. At the time Okoya was shot dead, Amin had been flown to his hometown of Arua toward the border with Sudan by an Acholi pilot. Obote ordered an inquiry into Okoya's murder.
The first suspects in the Okoya murder were four men Captain Frederick ("Smutts") Guweddeko, an airforce officer; Patrick Mukwaya, a businessman; Siperito Kapalaga, also a businessman; Fred Kyamufumba, a flight technician; and two other men, Kalule L. Lutalo and Sebastiano Lukanga. These men were allegedly paid of murder Okoya. Two young women Milly Nantege and Mary Kajjansi who were girlfriends of two of the accused, were also arrested and tortured to obtain confessions since it was assumed that they would know something about the plot.
President Amin appeared before the panel investigating the murder of Okoya on 15 May, 1971, less than four months since coming to power. Speaking before Justice Richard Dickson, Amin said he did not ask Captain Guweddeko to recruit civilians to assassinate Okoya. On 16 June, 1971, an 86-page report by Dickson was published in which it was stated that the killers of Okoya remained unknown to that day. According to Guweddeko speaking in 1972, he had been arrested at a barber's shop in Wandegeya, a trading centre just outside the city. He said a police C.I.D officer tortured him continually in order to force Guweddeko to admit that 'it was General Amin who gave them the money to hire people to kill Brigadier Okoya,' The People newspaper said. Investigations following the crime revealed that the kind of bullets that had been used to kill the Okoya couple were to be found in only two sections of the security forces, the army barracks in Mbarara and the General Service Unit intelligence agency.
This brings two scenarios. The first thinks that the person who ordered Okoya's murder was either connected in some way with both the army in Mbarara and the General Service Unit or one of them. The other scenario thinks that the master planner behind the murders used people in the army based in Mbarara or agents in the General Service Unit. It is
the combination of Mbarara and the General Service Unit that makes the picture more interesting. To add pepper to salt, The People newspaper, owned by the UPC party, quoted a government statement issued on 13 April, 1972 in which the government explained reports of missing people allegedly murdered by the military regime:
"Most of the people reported missing, the statement says, are from Ankole and Kigezi districts, which districts were areas of concentration for recruitment to the defunct General Service Unit." (The People, 14 April, 1972). This is the
UPC paper speaking, mind you. We get from it we get credible and independent proof that the General Service Unit intelligence agency was not dominated by officers and agents from Obote's northern Nilotic Acholi and Langi tribes as most people think but by agents mainly "from Ankole and Kigezi districts."
We had some well known characters in GSU from the west in the shape of Michael Micombero-Mpambara from Kigezi and the Yoweri Museveni from Ankole. Let us focus on Museveni the thin man without buttoks who caused the Ntare strike in 1965. Okoya was murdered in Jan. 1970, at a time that Museveni would have still been a student in Tanzania. So how could he feature in the killing of Okoya unless we are telling nice fiary tales?
You see you must always know how a triky man thinks. Museveni was not like you and me. It seems he grew old before his time especially in matters to do with state security and the workings of the government system. While most of his classmates were leading ordinary lives and harbouring ordinary career ambitions, Museveni was different. Too different!
By 1966 he was already aflame with the passion of African revolution. He followed news events in Uganda keenly and behaved much older than his age. On 30 July, 2005, in Mbarara, Museveni told a bridal giveaway party ("Okuhingira") that he had first planned to wage war against the Obote government in 1967.
"I was to start the war against dictatorship when I was still a student at Ntare School in 1967 when Obote abrogated the constitution, but mzee Kahigiriza advised me not to because it would cause more problems," Museveni said. The date he referred to there was actually Feb. 1966 not 1967 if your have seen his explanation in Sowing The Mustard Seed. By this age, Museveni had developed an understanding and appetite for armed struggle and political violence. It is common knowledge that Museveni as a student at Dar es Salaam not regular in the time he spent at campus. We said before that he had visited the guerrilla-held areas of Mozambique in 1969 where his encounter with the FRELIMO guerrillas made a deep mark on him. Even more important but which Museveni does not refer to it publicly, he had joined the intelligence service earlier than he openly admits. This had happened while he was still a student at Ntare School. In the chaos atmosphere following the attempt on Obote's life in 1969 the young Museveni who is so cunning calculated that killing Okoya would inevitably bring the blame on Amin. In a book published in 1976 to explain the Israeli side to the 1976 hostage crisis at Entebbe, the deputy editor of the Israeli airforce magazine, Y. Ofer, revealed details that appear to spare Amin of Okoya's murder.
The book titled Operation Thunder: The Entebbe Raid: The Israeli's Own Story, mentioned this detail on page 60. Read it yourself and see:
"One day when a Ugandan brigadier-general named Okea , a member of the Acholi tribe, had been murdered, President Obote planned to exploit the assassination to oust Amin, and he started the rumour that the Chief of Staff had been involved in it. Idi Amin was then in Cairo...[The Uganda minister of defence, Felix Onama...investigated the matter and learned that Obote was planning to detain Amin on his return to Uganda on the trumped-up charge of having assassinated the brigadier-general."
We should bear in mind that Museveni had secretly been acquiring arms in 1970 and hiding them at Salaama. We canot rule out the chance that he might have at least hired out guns in Jan. 1970 for the assassination of Okoya. A big evidence linking Museveni's possible role in Okoya's murder came in Aug. 1985 shortly after Obote was overthrown for the second time.The elderly father of the late Okoya told a tribal meeting in Gulu that his son had not been murdered by Amin.
Even more surprising speaking also in Gulu nine years later in 1994, the former Ugandan head of state General Tito Lutwa Okello told a public gathering that Amin did not murder Okoya. Tito Okello had escorted President Museveni on 1
Feb., 1994 for the opening of the Koch Goma health centre in Gulu. Okello was a Lieutenant-Colonel in the 1960s army under Obote and knew enough about the army and Uganda's politics to know what he was talking about. Speaking in
Luo language in Gulu that day to his own tribesmen the Acholi, Okello added something intriguing.
He said: "There are some people who up to now know who killed Okoya but they are quiet. Okoya was killed in the same way that Colonel Omoya was killed... right now you have started to gang up again under the system and the people who killed your sons." Who was Okello referring to when he said the people who murdered Okello were in Uganda at the time he spoke, in 1994?
This was a political murder. Okello did not mention people by name. He could only have remained silent about their identity if they were influential within the Acholi community and he did not want them to be shunned by their tribesmen, or the killers were in the government at the time and he did not want to invite
their wrath. It was one of the most puzzling statements made by a political leader during the 1990s.
Okello criticised the Acholi for ganging up "under the system and the people who killed your sons." Was he referring to the Acholi rebel
leaders like Alice Lakwena and Joseph Kony? If that is the case their rag-tag armies and rebel groups were a joke and you could not say they were a "system."
By early 1994, both of these Acholi rebel leaders had come to be regarded as too weak to seriously threaten the Museveni government and so it was pointless for Tito Okello to bother about cautioning the Acholi over these rebel leaders.
Okello said also that the Acholi had "started" to gang up under the system that had brought suffering to them and killed their sons. By stating that he could only have been referring to the National Resistance Movement government under President Yoweri Museveni. An Acholi-led military coup and government headed by Okello himself had ruled Uganda six months before Museveni came to power and the Acholi supported that. For 30 years, the Acholi had given their support to the UPC and DP governments of Milton Obote and Benedicto Kiwanuka. So they could not have "started" giving their support to a system and got Tito Okello's criticism, unless he saw them as supporting a new system that they had historically not supported or known. Tito Okello's intriguing statement in Gulu in Feb. 1994, clearing of Amin's role in Okoya's murder by the Israeli airforce magazine boss in 1976 tells us that it was not Amin.
Because the bullets which shot Okoya and his wife came from the GSU or from Mbarara barracks makes one to believe that it was Yoweri Museveni who killed both
Brigadier Okoya and Colonel Omoya in 1970. You see when the Acholi hate Museveni for 20 years we can wonder if there can be smoke without fire! Acholi have shunned Museveni with more rebel groups
than all other tribes and this can make one to wonder if maybe they possibly know that Museveni killed their Acholi military sons.
On 7 Oct., 1970, President Obote, President Jomo Kenyatta of Kenya, and President Julius Nyerere of Tanzania went to Makerere College in Kampala to attend a ceremony in which it was to be officially made a university; the University of East Africa. The heads of state were applauded. But when Amin was introduced, he received a standing ovation and cheers from the students assembled for the occasion.
On 11 Jan., 1971, President Obote summoned Amin to his office and told him that the army had overshot its budget by 2,691,343 Pound Sterling. He also told Amin
about the report into the killing of Okoya. Five days later on 16 Jan., 1971,
Amin called a news conference and said that Obote planned to have him arrested using intelligence agents. Sincerely why should Amin do this, addressing a press conference charging that the commander-in-chief was planning to have him
arrested, an action in breach of army discipline? Amin was definitely aware that the climate in Uganda had turned too political than usual. By addressing a press conference, he tried to appeal for support directly from the public where, he
must have known he enjoyed sympathy to make such a direct charge against the President worth the risk.
FRONASA takes on Amin (1971 - 1979)
On 25 Jan., 1971, Major-General Idi Amin came to power in a coup staged by officers and men of the Army. Most of the coup makers were Muslims from the West Nile or of Sudanese Nubian origin.
On the same day as the coup, Museveni and a group of friends opposed to Amin fled to Tanzania. Those ones were Zubairi Bakari, Abbasi Kibazo, Erifazi Laki and Yuda Katundu. These were GSU spies like Museveni. They later decided to launch an armed insurrection against the new military regime. The Amin coup was one of the most popular events since Uganda won independence from Britain in Oct. 1962. You could think as if Uganda had won the World Cup.
Mamoth crowds greeted Amin everywhere he went in Kampala, as he drove himself in an open jeep accompanied by troops. The coup was most welcomed and popular in Buganda. Some people have wondered why Museveni and his fellas speeded to exile the next day after the coup. How did Museveni instantly see that Amin was a dictator when the champagne was still flowing and people were drinking like fish and dancing like night dancers on the streets? Unless he tells us that he has a sixth sense like a magician. Museveni has always tried to appear a hero by claiming that he was one of the few who decided that they could not serve under Amin's dictatorship.
In Sowing The Mustard Seed, Museveni says on the afternoon of the coup he sat down with his friends and calmly saw the legacy of Idi Amin (before it was even a day old!) and they concluded that they could not work under the Amin "system", a system that was yet to even get full control of Kampala, let alone the rest of the country. One cannot judge the character of a regime on its first day unless you are God and Museveni is not God. The answer to the puzzle is that Museveni had been part of a small team of intelligence officers pressing Obote to arrest army commander Idi Amin. Museveni's colleagues Laki, Kibazo, Bakari, and Katundu were intelligence officers like him. The army's former quartermaster boss a Langi army officer by the names Lieutenant-Colonel David Oyite Ojok, had also been one of those urging Obote to arrest or at least put Amin under control. Tensions were building in the army and some in the UPC government felt Amin was becoming a threat to Obote.
Obote, as usual, had been indecisive over this issue. But at the urging of Museveni and others, Obote ordered the arrest of Amin while the president was attending a Commonwealth summit in Singapore. Museveni, like Oyite Ojok, fled Uganda shortly after the coup because he knew Amin would have arrested him had he stayed around Uganda and keep him in jail like a rat.
Museveni also knew he had a case to answer over the murder of Okoya because he had been trying to pin the blame on Amin and now Amin was in power. If Museveni killed Okoya and it was Okoya who had accused Amin of deserting Obote on the day of Obote's escape from an assassination, then with Amin now in power there would have been nothing for Museveni to fear. If anything, Amin might have offered Museveni a prominent position in the new government and Museveni, with his well-known love for power would only too willingly have taken up such a position. Museveni who killed Amin's chief critic Okoya could only have won himself Amin's support. But you see a guilty man runs before they raise the alarm so Museveni fled immediately into exile. Let him explain the Okoya murder and you will see how his heart beats with fear and guilt.
Amin's huge popularity
As we saw even before he took state power, Amin was too popular even from the reception he got at Makerere University on 7 Oct., 1970 when he accompanied the three East African presidents to the inaguration of the university. Amin's taking of power on 25 Jan., 1971 had been greatly welcomed in the most heavily populated and most politically and economically populated part of Uganda, Buganda. Many hundreds of thousands of Baganda welcomed Amin's coup to the extent that he could even be made a prince if he had wanted to.
Removing the man who the Baganda never forgave for humiliating their late king, Edward Mutesa II and abolishing the kingdom they were so loyal to made the Baganda madly in love with Amin. Speaking during his first press conference to local and international journalists on 26 Jan., 1971, Amin warned the public against removing portraits from government offices and other public buildings previous leaders including that of Obote the leader he had just deposed. If it was him, Museveni would have called them swine and removed all the photos for sure! If these portraits were removed Amin said, "Then you will not be able to write the history of the country."Amin even said that Obote was a good man "but he was wrongly advised by his selected and trusted people."
Everyone wondered when he said this! Amin appointed Ben Kanyanjeyo, from Ankole, as his Press Secretary. A student association founded during the Obote regime and regarded as a recruiting pool for youthful supporters of Obote, the National Union of Students of Uganda (NUSU), continued to exist even after Amin took power.
At the time of the coup, the national president of NUSU was Omwony Ojwok. Even the UPC paper The People continued publication even after the coup up to 1973. Amin made Baganda mad with happiness on 31 March, 1971 by returning the body of Mutesa from London to Uganda where he was accorded a state funeral with full military honours.
Amin came from the small Kakwa tribe in the West Nile near the border with Sudan. He was also from the minority Muslim faith. But overnight, by the Jan. coup and the return of the Kabaka's body for re-burial, Amin had won the hearts of the tribe and people whose loyalty mattered the most in Uganda. He spoke Luganda, the language of the Baganda fluently. They even said his physique resembled a Muganda. In Aug. 1972, Amin announced that Ugandan Asians holding British passports would be given a month and a half to pack up and leave Uganda. They had refused to give up their British citizenship when the government ordered them to chose allegiance between Uganda or Britain.
The Asians from the Indian sub-continent controlled the economy of Uganda in the areas of retail and wholesale trade and their dominance was resented by indigenous Black Ugandans all over the country. With the announcement that these Asians were to be expelled, Amin's popularity, already at its greatest in Buganda, now spread to the rest of the country, until Uganda was like a nightclub with dancing everywhere. Booze flowed like the River Nile and Lake Victoria.
The expulsion of the Asians could even have been greater for Ugandans than the 1971 coup itself. This is because a Ugandan leader had shown the balls to deal with
the resentment that Ugandans felt at having won independence but still dominated by the Indians whom they regarded as foreigners. A lecturer at Makerere University, Phares Mutibwa, in his 1992
book Uganda Since Independence, commented: "Praise of Amin was not confined to the Baganda or indeed to the African population; even some important members of the Asian community
added their voices to the general euphoria at Amin's emergence." (Uganda Since Independence: A Story of Unfulfilled Hopes, Phares Mutibwa, C. Hurst & Co. Publishers, 1992,
p. 84). Everything Amin did as president between 1971 and late 1972 was like a midas touch for the majority of Ugandans. He had been brought to power with British and Israeli support and was too
popular in the West throughout 1971 and the first half of 1972. To make matters worse for the anti-Amin exile groups, in Sept. 1972 at the Munich Olympic Games, John Akii-Bua shocked everbody
except himself by winning Uganda's first Olympic gold medal in history. Akii-Bua's victory was like the end of the world for sports lovers! It sparked off national celebrations like those at the
time of the 1971 coup and independence celebrations in 1962.
Amin, a former East African heavyweight champion and keen sports lover embraced the Akii-Bua victory. Akii-Bua was given a new car a Peugeot 604 brand new and a house by the government, while a road in Nakasero was named in his honour. Many sports fans in the country gave credit to the president for this sports glory of Akii Bua because he loved sports. Amin was too popular in 1972 that he could even move without bodyguards like any other civilian. With such genuine support for Amin in Buganda and Uganda like wildfire, the anti-Amin groups based in Tanzania faced a serious challenge. Removing Amin was now going to be much more difficult than Uganda sending a man to the moon. Or Uganda manufaturing a car.
In March 1971, Museveni formed the Front for National Salvation (FRONASA), a Marxist guerrilla group along with the four friends who had fled Uganda shortly after the coup. But before FRONASA, Museveni and six of his collagues operated a rebel group called "Commitee Seven" because it was made of seven people not because of Museveni's name. Museveni was asked to be the liaison offier for Committee Seven in Tanzania because he knew Tanzania like the palm of his hand. But after some time Committee broke up and a new group called FRONASA was founded. FRONASA in its original form became redundant and then dead between March 1973 and Sept. 1976.
Museveni got a part-time job in Aug. 1974 in Moshi in Tanzania. When FRELIMO came to power in Mozambique in 1975, Museveni says he sent 28 young men to the newly independent country for military training in the hope of inflitrating them back into Uganda. He taught development studies and economics at the Moshi Co-operative College and later moved to the capital Dar es Salaam in Sept. 1976. In Dar es Salaam, Museveni lived in a flat located a row or two overlooking another flat where Uganda's future head of state Colonel Tito Okello lived. Museveni was given 50,000 U.S dollars by President Nyerere, who had developed interest in Museveni after Museveni claimed Nyerere was Bismark. Nyerere detested Amin and was determined to support any group or person who launched a campaign to oust Amin.
By 1972, FRONASA had 200 young recruits. The Africa Contemporary Record edited by scholar Colin Legum wrote about FRONASA: "It was formed in March 1971 by a group of Obote's student supporters who felt that his policies of preparing for an orthodox army invasion of Uganda would not work...Obote did not disown them or their methods; nor did they disown Obote." (Africa Contemporary Record, Annual Survey and Documents, 1972-73).
Source: uganda blog spirit