COMMENT | Samson Tinka | August 2021 will be a month not to be forgotten for a while by the UPDF family. It was both a joyful and sorrowful month.
A big number of the original 27 guys who started the Bush War in 1981 retired and among them was Gen Pecos Kutesa. Celebrations were all over the country. These generals joined forces over 40 years ago.
Most of them were either teenagers or in their early 20s when they joined, and they gave the NRA\NRM liberation all their effort. They did these without proper feeding, no medicine, no fire arms, no internet or phones, no clothes. It was you and your God.
These chaps hanged on in the bushes as most of their comrades never reached the finishing line of 1986. Those who made it to Kampala road, celebrated. While these new crop of military men were hungry, tired, exhausted, they were also energetic, decisive, focused and cheerful. They had liberated Uganda.
In 1986, there were no ranks, no cars, no offices no army structures but there was discipline, hunger for success, some order, respect for one another. I remember, in 1989, one of my uncle’s who was a Lieutenant, came home with a truck-Ifa with 24 soldiers on it. It was all celebrations, we saw respect, order, friendliness,
We shared their posho and beans. These guys smoked cigarettes a lot, drunk local waragi that made their eyes red but still maintained closer and friendly ties with us in the village. I was happy to touch a gun, eat from their metallic plates- mistini .
I bring this background to show this country the foundation that these once rag tag army laid, built and sustained this country. We owe these generals both the living and the dead a lot. Most of them still live with bullets in their bodies, the scars are still fresh and visible. Others lost their lives, friends and relatives but never retreated but moved forward with hopes that Uganda will never be the same again.
The young Generals and junior officers, you owe these departed colleague continuity.
For Pecos Kutesa, Rwabantu and Paul Lokech, to continue living in peace the likes of Gen Kyanda, Sabiiti, Odonga, Abel Kandiiho, Peter Elweru and others must not drop the ball. These guys gave it all. It will be in vain if their sweat, blood and lives are not protected.
These fallen Generals were not motivated by riches. In fact most of them never owned arcades, ranches, or large farms and companies. They just owned small houses and normal farms. They were not hungry for riches, they never chased civilians from their lands to enrich themselves. They lived humble life of mutual respect and inner satisfaction.
To you younger generals now stepping into their shoes, the journey and the hill to climb for you is huge. You can only choose to toe their lines or hung your boots. You can’t dismantle what they put together. You can control your appetite for riches if you have, be focused, continue building Uganda.
If it’s true that the dead are not dead but living in heaven, then mess up on your risk. Their ghosts will descend on you. I have reflected on the efforts these Generals committed without any promise of money, land or any other riches. I wonder what kind of commitment these lads had, they simply wanted a good Uganda for all. This debt can’t be serviced. It’s a huge challenge to the officers and men of UPDF.
If you can not love Uganda on your own at least love it for Rwabantu, Pecos and Lakech. If you can’t commit efforts for the pearl of Africa, please do for Gen Gisa, Kazini, Kazimito, Sserwangar Lwanga and others.
Dear UPDF officers and men, fold your selves and don’t drop the ball. It will be a shame that what those young men and women did without cars, money, structures, better military hardware than you have today, you fail to deliver to wanaichi expectations.
Dear Lakech and your team, for all the good deeds on earth, I am certainly sure that you are with your long time friend Gen Kazini. You must have hugged and rejoiced. You must be catching up on the Ituri, Kasese, Gulu, Masindi and other battles.
Here we both mourn and celebrate your life. We mourn because you still had a lot to accomplish. Your little time in police has been felt and felt positively. We had huge hopes in you. We celebrate because your efforts to pacify Uganda and Somalia was not in vain.
I end with gratitude to the Commander In Chief for ensuring military continuity. Good leadership is demonstrated through succession planning and business continuity. This is evident in the mighty UPDF fraternity.
Command has changed from section, platoon, company, battalion, brigade up to army commanders level without a slight pinch at all. It’s a strong sign of continuity and stability.
The three generals that died this month, Rest in Peace. We miss you, we shall miss you. The call is on you young Generals to emulate your seniors. The examples are still there if you mess up this force the ghosts of these officers will strangle you.
Lakech, Rwabantu and Pecos Rest in Peace and we can assure you that the struggle to keep Uganda, East Africa and Africa peaceful, continues.
Samson Tinka is a safety and security consultant | Director Matts Secure Solutions Ltd | tindsam@yahoo