Museveni and Saleh had for long tried to control Rwanda by exploiting the death of Rwigema. But for long their lies and manipulations had been ignored. Until recently during the wedding of Rwigema’s daughter, Teta, when President Kagame decided that Rwanda had taken enough provocations from Kampala and it was time to set the record straight.
It is obvious that they have failed to succeed in dividing Rwandan’s using Rwigema’s death. But even when they tried to exploit relationships for their agenda to destabilize Rwanda, they remained confused about whether to recognize the departed hero or to belittle him.
They ccouldn’t give him his due recognition because Museveni is known to minimize the contributions of others while exaggerating his own, taking credit for all heroic triumps while heaping blame on everyone else for the failures. Even in life and death situations, if he is not the hero Museveni will not recollect anything.
Museveni’s memory doesn’t recollect even near death indidents in which his life was in danger and someone rescued him. However, in the times where he was in danger and managed to rescue himself, those moments remain indelibly sketched in his memory.
Consider the story about his own heroics in Mbale. In his autobiography “sowing the mustard seed,” Museveni dedicates an entire five pages (page 78-82) on a detailed account of how he was able to outwit Amin’s soldiers in Mbale in a fight where only he managed to survive. The fact that only Museveni survives in his own heroics is totally fine because “the revolution must have sacrifices,” he writes on page 80.
Now consider a story that Museveni has totally forgotten. Janet, his wife, only partially remembers. It’s another near death situation, only that the hero is not Museveni. So he forgets it. Somewhat like her husband, Janet recollects the story but her memory tells her the hero is Saleh.
In 1980 Museveni, his wife Janet, and their six year old son Muhoozi Kinerugaba (the current Land Forces Commander in the UPDF) were stopped at a roadblock in Kireka by Obote’s soldiers and detained for 5 hours “they kicked us and made us squat on the ground and I think they meant to kill us,” Museveni recalls page 123 of his autobiography “Sowing the Mustard Seed.” Museveni doesn’t recall who saved him from death and only casually recalls, “on that occasion, some of my comrades used force and rescued us.” He dedicates one sentence to the unknown “comrades” who saved his life and that of his wife and only child at the time.
Janet’s memory is a bit better than her husband’s. However, it is also selective. She recalls that on that fateful day her brother in law Salim Saleh arrived on the scene dressed in Amin’s army uniform they had picked up to disguise himself, “Saleh, Rwigyema, and the others jumped out the car with their weapons cocked ready to fire. They outnumbered the soldiers manning the roadblock that they did not even attempt to get caught in a shoot-out. Yoweri, Muhoozi, and I quickly jumped in their car and sped off away from the road block and from mortal danger,” she writes on page 106 of her autobiography “My Life’s Journey, “Little did I know that these young men were risking their lives to save us.”
In Janet’s recollection is a waiter at Nile Mansions Hotel who had overheard General Bazilio Okello bragging that they had arrested Museveni “and if no one went to rescue us, we would be arrested and most likely be killed.” The waiter, she recalls, called her brother in law Caleb Akandwanaho who was at their Kololo home, “Caleb, also known as Salim Saleh, wasted no time in gathering a few of my husband’s young soldiers like Fred Rwigyema, etc, and they jumped into a car and sped off in the direction towards the roadblock.”
Conveniently, as Janet recalls, it was Saleh who led the rescue by “gathering” Rwigyema and the rest. But that is now how the six year old they were with recollects the near death experience.
On March 26, 2017 Chimp Reports posted on its website a detailed interview conducted by veteran journalist Tony Owana of Uganda Broadcasting Corporation (UBC) in which the then 42 year old Gen. Muhoozi Kainerugaba, Museveni’s first son, tackled a range of topics, including his recollection of this near-death situation at Kireka roadblock. It was aired on UBC on Saturday night at 9pm.
Here are some excerpts
Owana: In 1980, you and your parents were held at a roadblock in Kireka. We heard you were going to be murdered. What do you remember about this and has it mattered in your course?
Muhoozi: I remember I was six years old. I actually joined my parents; they were leaving the house and I said I wanted to come along with them. So they put me in the back and we drove. We were going to pick a car somewhere in Kireka. He was driving, Mama Janet was in the passenger seat, and I was behind with two soldiers. One was called Kasasira and the other was called Lawrence, both I think are deceased.
We drove, and that time from the Wampeewo roundabout and that place just before joining Jinja Road, up to Kireka there was not much; It was not like now with many buildings. I remember after Lugogo, it was just a bush, there was nothing. So, we got to Kireka and there were two roadblocks. The first one was manned by Tanzanian soldiers and they let us through as soon as Mzee identified himself. The second roadblock was manned by UNLA. Those ones, when he identified himself, they started checking the car, and I remember I had a toy pistol. They said, Ah-ah, you see, even the child has a gun. So they arrested us there and then and put us on the side of the road. We were there for about 5 or 6 hours in the bush. The way we were saved was by the late Fred Rwigyema.
Owana: How did he come to know?
Muhoozi: “He was an alert soldier. Once a few hours passed and we had not returned, he started getting concerned. So he moved to all of Mzee’s friends, that he thought we must have passed by. When he didn’t find us, he went to the now Serena Conference Centre. At that time Mzee was the vice chairman of the Military Commission, so he used to have offices together with other Military Commission People there.
Still he [Rwigyema] didn’t find us, but by the grace of God, as he was leaving, a waiter came and told him that he [the waiter] had been serving some UNLA officers and they were celebrating that they had arrested Museveni at a roadblock in Kireka.
That’s when he [Rwigyema] went and picked up Afande Saleh and two other soldiers and they came. I remember they came in a small car. At that time, no one was moving at night and it was already 11 pm in the night. So the car came; it was first stopped at the first roadblock of the Tanzanians and then it proceeded and stopped where we were. In the darkness we heard Saleh’s voice asking they solders, who they were holding in the bush? (Because they had heard that we had already been killed and thrown in a ditch). They told him, this is Museveni we have arrested him.
Then he said, Okay, and they drove away; they went about 100 or 200 meters and then they turned the car very fast and came back full speed, and all jumped out of the car…and that is how the soldiers released us.”
True to form, Museveni doesn’t remember any of this. Note that he spent five pages
of his autobiography talking about his own heroics. He couldn’t recollect stories like his rescue at Kireka.
Janet recalls only bits. Yet, she creates her own version that places Saleh at the
Serena Conference Centre when in fact it was Rwigyema who was there and whom the waiter tipped on the arrest and impending murder of Museveni, herself, and their young son.
But Muhoozi remembers everything as if it was yesterday because it is difficult to forget a life or death experience and those who played a role in it.
And so, Muhoozi is the innocent kid who tells the caller that “Mom said to tell you she is not home.”
Those who know Museveni say that he invariably tried to minimize the contributions of others while exaggerating his own, that he is never at east giving credit to someone else. It’s a condition that health practitioners refer to as narcissism.
The narcissism goes into overdrive when credit must be given to a Rwandan. When heroic acts involve Rwandans, Museveni’s memory totally disappears; he develops acute amnesia.
He only sees value in Rwandans when they have to work for him, after which he wilfully forgets their role as one would do with spent cartridge. Otherwise, how does a 6 year old remember vividly the account of an incident that a 36 year old doesn’t, especially when there is the potential for the loss of lives?
Moreover, Museveni likes to talk about how ungrateful others are. But how ungrateful is he? Far above being ungrateful, Museveni has the courage to describe Rwigyema (on page 211) as someone who was “weak,” according to William Pike’s in his recent book, “Combatants: A Memoir of the Bush War and the Press in Uganda.” In the entire book, Museveni and Saleh meet peasants who sing and dance for them; however, the only section that is reserved for Rwigema (chapter 11: war in the north), he is made responsible for the killings in northern Uganda that ended the Lakwena insurgency. The army commander is nowhere to be seen in the chapter; nor is the commander in chief, Museveni or his brother.
Ironically, Museveni manages to surround himself by extra loyal people who contrast his narcissism: Mwesiga Black, Noble Mayombo, James Kazini, Eriya Kategaya, Andrew Kaweesi, Aronda Nyakairima, Kale Kayihura.
Their stories end in tragedy. But those, like Kahinda Otafire, Jim Muhwezi, Elly Tumwine, Abel Kandiho and the like who develop Museveni’s traits of unfettered greed and deceit survive and thrive.