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Rwigema’s legacy lives on

By Freddie Kwiringira

Quarter a century later, the euphoria is lost, but the legacies of those who made a mark should be preserved

Twenty five years ago, the indomitable, great Rwandan commander Maj. Gen. Gisa Rwigema led his kinsmen across the border of Kagitumba to his mother land after 30 years of humiliating exile life in Uganda and other ends of the earth. Some incidences bring back sad, sobering moments.

As we mourn  the passing on of one of our heroes Gen. Aronda Nyakairima who passed on in September, let us reflect on the courageous young men and women that sacrificed to liberate many parts of Africa from dictatorships. Born in 1957 in Gitarama Rwanda, Rwigema like Paul Kagame the current president of Rwanda arrived in Uganda as refugees in their infancy.  Their quest to one day trace their roots and go back to the country they called home was never diminished.

Rwigema was a military genius, a man gifted with prowess at the battle field, a nationalist, a strategist in spite of his limitations in education. He shares the attributes with Gen. Cal Akandwanaho aka Salim Saleh of the Uganda army. It was never a hindrance to his mighty exploits in the bush war in Luweero triangle, western axis that led to the triumph of the National Resistance Movement (NRM); the rebel group led by Gen. Yoweri Kaguta Museveni who is current president of Uganda.

It is now a quarter century since the demise of Rwigema, the giant of RPA/RPF revolution, and NRA/UPDF. The euphoria is lost, hence the significance of pondering on our history, celebrate the achievements, challenges, and short falls of the revolution to shape a future we will bequeath future generation as well as avoid mayhem destructive to humanity.


Gen. Rwigema, and other liberation fighters like Sam Magara, Seguya, Ruhinda, Rubereza and other revolutionaries that paid the ultimate price are turning in their graves, some which, unfortunately, are unmarked.   The tendencies of greed, abuse, love for power that characterise the living who want to cling to power in name of being indispensable, stability, and ‘unique vision’. It is a betrayal of the ideals that the revolution espoused and the immense sacrifices paid.

It is upon us not to lose sight or ignore the lessons of history at altar of evil, selfish, aggrandisers who purport to be the vanguards of development, leadership as if a monopoly of few individual(s). They should be shunned and challenged. The cost, consequences of maintaining these ‘visionaries’ at the expense of decency, democracy , good governance is far reaching.

We cannot afford to keep blaming colonialists after over five decades of independence as we divide the population on clumsy issues of ethnicity, tribes, religion, and region as perpetuate corruption, graft!

In the last 25 years we lost 10 million people in the Great Lakes region in ruthless wars. Women have been raped, many displaced, opportunities lost, society divided, and many traumatised. A generation is lost. The sacrifices of our gallant sons like Rwigema, Aronda should never be in vain.

We must resolve to live in peace, harness nature, create enabling environment for transformation, and find our place on the globe. The vices of empty politicking, destruction of environment, wars, failure to defend our sovereignty and sanctity of man should be in the past.

Africa is well endowed with flora, fauna, and amazing tourism potential. We cannot fail to rise to the occasion.

The legacies of Rwigema, and other men who made a mark on the political, social, economic landscape of our continent should be preserved, perpetuated. The memories of our sons and daughters who have answered the call of nature will be meaningful as we ensure Africa is secure, all time leadership ideals promoted.

The orphans will find comfort and glory in the many tangible benefits which culminate from the blood, sweat, pain of loss of their parents. Africa must rise, this is our century.

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Freddie Kwiringira is the CEO of Global Divine Ventures (GDV)

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