What you need to know:
- This week, 48 Generals of the Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) retired. The notable retirees included Gen David Sejusa, the former director general of military intelligence, who had been trying to leave the army since 1996. Derrick Wandera transcribed the speech Gen Sejusa made at State House.
This is a special day the Lord has chosen and we thank God for it. Mr President Sir and comrades, it wouldn’t be me standing here representing the dispatch of officers, it would be our departed comrade Gen Elly Tumwine because by the hierarchy of the High Command, he came before me and Gen Salim Saleh.
But as I wrote earlier in my “Kinkizi Memory” when I quoted prophet Isaiah who wrote, “My plans aren’t your plans, nor are your ways my ways.” (Isaiah 55)
But Gen Elly Tumwine lives on through his revolutionary work and achievements at a personal level, in our country and beyond in the region, we salute him, may the Almighty God receive him and keep his family safe.
Your Excellency, I stand here in the name of these Generals who are retiring and I wish to pay tribute to you personally. Today I intend to speak as an army officer in the name of the High Command and a member of the family of UPDF, not as a politician.
Your Excellency, I stand here to pay tribute to you as a commander-in-chief, our war leader and a commander of UPDF in which we have all served in various capacities for several decades. We thank you, we thank the army leadership and we thank the people of Uganda.
Many may wonder, Gen Sejusa who has had run-ins with the system, why does he now represent these gallant officers? The answer is simple; it is because he belongs to the family and the family never breaks no matter the disagreements.
There are four types of family which I may summarise; the human family (the one of Adam and Eve and us), the African family, Uganda family and then the biological family.
The UPDF/NRA family falls under the Uganda family. The essence of family as a union is for the survival of the species, and for that family to survive it must be in position to withstand and manage the disagreements and contradictions within, no matter how fundamental they may be or may appear to be.
That is why when Adam and Eve sinned, however, fundamental it was, they still remained members of God’s human family. He did not banish them to create another Adam or another Eve, nor did He change them into goats or snakes or buffalos.
Therefore, the capacity of the family to manage these contradiction points; which family has the resilience to survive, grow, develop or perish. My presence here, therefore, shows that NRA/UPDF leadership has the ideological depth and patriotism to manage these contradictions in this country and then lay foundation for the management of the African affairs, and I thank you Mr President.
Just like the biological family which is founded on blood brotherhood, the revolutionary brotherhood which defines the NRA/UPDF family is stacked deep in the shading of blood of man that we offered ourselves to die for our country, bind us together forever and that is the reason I’m here and representing the gallant officers.
Freedom fighting is not a simple, smooth exercise where the lion may lie with a lamb as the Bible says. It is a terrain that can be bumpy, funny, deadly, meandering and dangerous. That is why leaders that take on the role of fighting for freedom of the African people need ideological grounding to navigate this difficult terrain.
Mr President, I thank you for the years we have been in these wars and in nation building to see the current strides. The African survival will depend on the leadership that acquire capacity to manage the different bottlenecks and contradictions facing our continent.
Mr President, I am proud to belong to NRA and the UPDF which has made incredible strides.
At this juncture, I want to talk about our people. I want to take this opportunity on behalf of all of us to thank the people of Uganda, people of Luweero, Bulemeezi, Nakasongola, Singo, Tooro, Bunyoro, Kasese and all others for the sacrifices, the blood shed, property lost, homeless families that endured in the service of the army.
Each region has had a fair share for contributing on what Uganda is today, we thank you. Uganda has passed through so much, so much blood has been spilled, and may the Lord heal and reward all of you.
We all know there was a phase in our struggle when the civilian population were our eyes, ears, protectors and this phase took a bigger part of the guerrilla war. These civilians settled us, they gathered intelligence and if we did not have the population on our side, then there would be no NRA/UPDF, and certainly no NRM.
Let me, therefore, thank our people who paid the ultimate price like Luttamaguzi and those who sheltered us and become our guides through the Luweero jungles.
Mr President, allow me mention some of our civilian contacts who helped us. In Ssingo we had Mzee Karuna, Kisitu, Bomboka, Kyamuhangire, Kagyezi, and Lugonvu. In Bulemeezi we had Kalooli, Wamala, Sempa, Ssenkaayi, and Kaddu, among others. May God bless them and sustain their families.
I also take the opportunity to thank the leadership of NRA. Your Excellency, leaders provided purpose for the struggle in terms of direction and motivation of the troops.
NRA was a unique war, Mr President, the only one of its kind on the African continent and perhaps even elsewhere. This is not known to many people, this was a war where we had no borders with any foreign country where we could get assistance, arms and supplies. Our headquarters were just 26kms from Kampala, at Migadde.
But through leadership, all was achieved. Even the support of the population cannot be taken for granted. If the leadership is not equal to the task to harness and handle it correctly, they will disintegrate and the war will fail.
I really want to thank the leadership who have since held this country together. It is not easy for African countries to remain peaceful for 40 years. As time changes and political differences crop up, we get many revisions. History must not ever be altered or rewritten, the NRA leadership, President Yoweri Museveni who led that war and the commanders who served under him achieved the unimaginable, and it was not easy.
We mastered what is usually taught in many military academies that; an army must totally ally with the population and the forces built with discipline and commitment to face and endure great pain. No enemy, however strong, can defeat it and that is why we couldn’t be defeated.
Therefore, on behalf of these Generals assembled here, I take this opportunity to thank the President, living and fallen combatants, politicians and the people of Uganda for all the sacrifices and the services to our nation.
A soldier’s family
When I was at Kimathi Senior Commander and Staff College, I wrote a short paper titled “How a soldier’s family impacts a soldiers combat reminisce”. Simply put, good soldiering starts at home.
Our families, spouses and children, just know you are our anchor. You are the foundation of our success and our failures, you provide social, psychological and emotional support as well as physical support. w
A healthy and happy family promotes a ready and focused soldier on the mission and many times you do all that when you are not well provided for in areas of welfare. Just know our dear wives and children, we have achieved all of this together. Thank you so much for loving us.
Those still serving the UPDF, the mission to liberate Africa has never been greater and more urgent, so much has been achieved and a lot is yet to be achieved. We have new challenges; some are existential. I pray that the leadership God gives it wisdom to navigate these hard tricks, therefore, continue training and make use of the opportunities being provided, make sure that you deepen your ideological horizons, but above all love your nation and honour the people of Uganda always. They are special people and there no great honour than serving the people.
I thank God for this day and for enabling us travel this road together, for the victories and achievement we have registered and for the moments we have shared in happiness and in grief.
We have shared a lot, but we have served Uganda and I’m sure Uganda will prosper.