Founders of the Uganda Freedom Fighters (UFF) immediately after the Nairobi Meeting which founded the organisation.
First left is the late Dr. Andrew Lutaakome Kayiira; Second left is the late Mr. Bernard Gerard Kibuuka Musoke; Third left is the late Professor Yusuf Kironde Lule; Fourth left is the late Mr. Baraki Kirya and; First right is Mr. JM Kavuma Kaggwa.
Later on, the UFF split. One Group of the UFF merged with the Popular Resistance Army of Mr. Yoweri Museveni and formed the National Resistance Movement (NRM)/ National Resistance Army (NRA), under the leadership of Prof. Lule as Chair and Mr. Museveni as Vice Chair and NRA Commander. Another UFF Group became the Uganda Freedom Movement (UFM) and Uganda Freedom Army (UFA), under the leadership of Mr. Baraki Kirya as Chair and Dr. Kayiira as UFA Commander.
The Late Robert Sseumaga
The Late Robert Sseumaga was a Heroic Ugandan Patriot. He was born in Kabwoko-Masaka, brother to the late Professor Mulema (former DP MP and Minister in NRM Government), Minister in Lule’s Government and was a professional and famous artist. As shown in the picture, he participated in the Ugandan Liberation War which ousted President Idi Amin. He also participated in the Armed Struggle against Obote II Regime. He was poisoned and died in Kenya in early 1980s. allegedly by Ugandan State Agents.
Dr. Kayiira: The Ugandan Democrat and Federalist
At the 1993 Cincinnati UNAA Convention, the late Vice President of Uganda, Dr. Samson Babi Mululu Kisekka was asked a question about the death of the late Dr. Lutaakome Andrew Kayiira. The Vice President answered: “Don’t ask me. Kayiira was nobody”; http://www.africa2000.com/UGANDA/udc0717.html.
However those who honestly knew who Kayiira was and those who would objectively wish to know what and who Kayiira was may in the long run discover a perception about Dr. Kayiira which is different from Dr. Kisekka’s answer. Like any one of us the late Dr. Lutaakome Andrew Kayiira was a human being. He had pluses and minuses. In thoughts, words and actions Dr. Kayiira was a Ugandan Patriot, a man of the people, whose political ideals were geared to governance by the people, for the people and with the people. Dr. Kayiira is in that sense a democrat and a federalist.
As a true Ugandan Dr. Kayiira was born in Nkokonjeru of the Province of the Kingdom of Buganda in Uganda Protectorate, on January 30, 1945, by which this writing is being dedicated as a birth day token of cordial recognition for his patriotic dedication. Like his predecessor the late Ben Kiwanuka, Dr. Kayiira did his pre-High School schooling at Nsambya, a suburb of Kampala. At the age of fifteen years old he was admitted to Namilyango Secondary School. With an exceptional talent for mathematics he obtained the High School Certificate with flying colors. He was admitted to the Department of Mathematics at Makerere University College. He, however chose to be recruited for the Uganda Government civil service as a cadet officer trainee. After his training in 1966 he was appointed an assistant superintendent of Uganda Prisons. In appreciation of his work, the Uganda Government, in 1968 awarded Kayiira a scholarship for further studies in Great Britain. He completed his studies in U.K. with a diploma in Criminal Justice. Soon after he returned to Uganda his intellectual abilities were noticed by representatives of the United States Government which awarded him a scholarship to attend the University of Southern Illinois, where in 1971 he achieved his Bachelor of Science Degree in Criminal Justice. His goal was to be a professional to the highest level possible. In Albany the capital of the State of New York, at the State University Lutaakome Andrew Kayiira worked and respectively obtained an M.A. and a Ph.D. in Criminal Justice. His doctoral dissertation titled “Kondoism in Uganda” has internationally contributed an addition of “kondoism” as a new terminology in criminology, a fact that Ugandans should be proud of. In spite of attractive offers Dr. Kayiira’s patriotic heart was back home. So after completion of his studies he returned to Uganda.
Pressed by the vicissitude of the Idi Amin conditions, Dr. Kayiira found himself being forced into exile in the U.S.A. In (?) he gained an Assistant Professorship of Criminal Justice at the University of New Haven in Connecticut, USA. With this base Dr. Kayiira reached out to Ugandans in the USA. It was his practice that whenever he arrived in a city or town he was not familiar with one of the first things he did was to pick up a telephone directory, look up Ugandan names and try to link up with them. He very often surprised people that way and ended by establishing relationships that lasted and many of which became supportive when the cause for the liberation of the homeland arose.
A democrat may be described as a person who believes in democracy, that is believing in political and social justice, peoples and human rights. Dr. Kayiira did not only believe in being a democrat but he was determined and he worked to achieve that end for Uganda given the condition the country had been subjected to by Aminism. To achieve democracy in Uganda he thought about “thinking globally and acting locally.” Action had to be organized. So he founded the UFU, that is Uganda Freedom Union, which he enunciated by means of a Newsletter called “SASA UFU”. An Executive Committee was established in 1978 the chair of which was Attorney Godfrey Binaayiisa. It was then sensed by the Boston group which included Henry Bwambale (RIP), Kalu Kalumiya, Olara Otunnu, Justine Sabiti, Mubiru Musoke, Aloysius Lugira that UFU needed a new leadership. It was Dr. Kayiira nominated to stand side by side with Attorney Binaayiisa. At the general meeting which was held in New York, Dr. Kayiira was unanimously elected chairman of UFU.
Dr. Lutaakome Andrew Kayiira has at this point been elected to replace Attorney Godfrey Lukongwa Binaayiisa as the President of the Uganda Freedom Union – UFU. This Ugandan democrat and federalist did not accept the Presidency and Chairmanship of the UFU without precondition. All those who attended the General Meeting in New York at which elections were held will remember that Dr. Kayiira surprised many of the attendants at this meeting when he stood up and articulately clarified the position that “I will accept to be president of UFU on condition that membership of the executive committee has to reflect and represent the four regions of Uganda. Thus his executive committee included Olara Otunnu, Justine Sabiti, Okoth Nyoromoi, just to mention a few of the then Ugandan liberational activists obtaining in USA.
From this juncture onwards, one may reflect, first on Dr. Kayiira’s strategic vision towards the effort of the struggle for the restoration of political sanity in Uganda. Second one may look at the Kayiira factor relative to the Moshi Conference of 1979. Third is a consideration of Kayiira’s participation in the armed struggle for the restoration of political sanity in Uganda. Being abroad, in the USA, as he was, and having been involved closely in democratic procedures, for, for a good while Dr. Kayiira was an instructor of officers in the Department of Correction of the State of New York in Albany, Dr. Kayiira’s strategic vision for the restoration of political sanity in Uganda was democratic. He believed honestly in peoples’ power. For that reason contacting, talking and communicating with people was the primary way of finding solutions for problems at home.
Following in the line of the great former Speaker of the USA Congress the late Hon. Thomas P. O’Neill, Kayiira became convinced that “All politics”, worth the name, “is local”. Dr. Kayiira made sure that he talked to Ugandans and all Ugandans here in the USA. I knew many who would have correctly been categorized as being some of his bitterest detractors, mainly because of prejudice and ignorance, after Kayiira had talked so frankly with them they came to the knowledge of realizing that Kayiira was innately a man of the people. He knew that to be democratically effective one had to organise the people. His organizational capabilities were very effectively demonstrated in 1978 when he brought together Ugandan leaders from a variety of corners of the world Diaspora. Those who will set history right the Ugandan Convention which Dr. Kayiira organized will have substantial consideration. The convention was held at the Elma Lewis School in Roxbury of Greater Boston, USA. It would have been difficult to effect the liberation of 1979 the way things happened, without this convention. Present at this Convention were personalities like, Attorney Godfrey Lukongwa Binaayiisa, the late Bishop Festo Kivengere, Brigadier Toko, Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda, the late Hon. Grace Ibingira, former Ambassador Perezi Kamunanwire, and many other concerned Ugandans for the wellness of our homeland.
Much of the foot work in effecting this convention under the leadership of Dr. Kayiira was done under the care of the Boston activists. These included Henry Bwambale, Peter Kwizera, Kallu Karumiya, Justine Sabiti, Okoth Nyoromoi, Rocky Wasswa Biriggwa, Mubiru Musoke and many others. The mainly concrete resolution out of this convention was to embark on a lobbying process which resulted in President Carter signing an embargo against Ugandan coffee which was the financial backbone of Aminism. With dollars withdrawn Amin’s days became numbered. Meanwhile winds started blowing about an impending gathering in Dar es Salaam. As things unfolded it was found out that former President Obote together with his host the Mwalimu were planning to entice Attorney Godfrey Binaayiisa to accept to become President of Uganda while Dr. Obote would be the Prime Minister. In New York the late Nnamakajjo was appointed to do the preparatory work so that when news was transmitted to the former Attorney General he would easily accept what he himself has described as “Entebe Ewooma”. Soon the telephone call arrived from Dar es Salaam. The offer was made. But as memories of a previous case of a President and a Prime Minister crisscrossed the former Attorney General’s mind, down he slummed the telephone until the guilefulness of the Consultative Council had Museveni pick him up in a Land Rover for an anointment.
The Kayiira factor relative [to] the Moshi Conference.
It was during the African Studies Association Annual Convention of 1978, held in Baltimore, Maryland, U.S.A. that Dr. Kayiira took the writer aside to intimate to him about the strange maneuver which had just transpired at a UFU executive meeting which had taken place in New York. At that meeting an item on the agenda was concerned with a gathering of Ugandans which was rumored as due to take place in Dar es Salaam.
Behind the said gathering were UPC stalwarts like Dr. Obote, the late Mr. Paul Muwanga, Bishop Okoth, Mr. Yoweri Museveni. The UFU executive in the New York said meeting surreptitiously devised the selection of possible representatives of UFU at the Dar es Salaam gathering. Delegates had to be chosen by secret ballot, the end result of which selected delegates to the exclusion of Dr. Kayiira the chairman of UFU.
Kayiira left the meeting in a mood one can easily imagine. Was he resigned to anything? He took the insult with equanimity. He knew he was the leader of UFU. He embarked on a serious consultation. Regardless of party politics, ethnic groupings and religion Dr. Kayiira became upbeat in continuing contacting Ugandans he thought could make a difference towards the restoration of political sanity in Uganda. After the necessary consultation he decided immediately to travel to East Africa. The spectrum of personalities he contacted before leaving included in USA, Bishop Festo Kivengere, in UK Professor George Kanyeihamba. He flew to Nairobi, where he liased with personalities like Robert Sserumaga, Manuel Pinto, Sam Mugwisa and many others who attended a crucial meeting at the house of Professor Tarsis Kabwegyere. Burning with the zeal of working and deliberating for the liberation of Uganda, many unexpected attendants descended on Dar es Salaam. The late President Nyerere in face of the crowd decided on shifting the gathering from Dar es Salaam to Moshi.
The meeting of Ugandans in Moshi represented an assortment of Ugandan leaders who included Professor Yusuf K. Lule in addition to those whose names have already been mentioned above. Vocal at this meeting were Dr. Lutaakome Andrew Kayiira and Mr. Yoweri Museveni who at this time had not yet started using the name Kaguta. All assembled in Moshi agreed on two things: one, to unite in the effort of throwing Aminism out of Uganda, two, to avoid the blunder Obote and Museveni committed in 1972 when they clumsily invaded Uganda through Mutukula. The bones of contention at the Moshi meeting were based on ideology and leadership. While Kayiira led the pack in arguing for mixed economy, Museveni led the group which advocated for socialism. As for leadership Museveni argued for the appointment of the late Mr. Paul Muwanga to be the leader of the campaign for the repatriation with the assistance of the Tanzanian Saba Saba contingent. Kayiira argued for the election of Professor Yusuf K. Lule. Lule was elected.
Buganda factor was given appropriate consideration not only in as far as the routing is concerned, but also in as far as the medium of communication is concern[ed]. It should be remembered that Radio Majwala, broadcasting in Luganda, the news about the advancement of the “Wakomboozi” (liberators) did a lot to assure the population of the Ugandan terrain through which the UNLF and the Tanzanian troops passed heading for Kampala the Ugandan Capital.
After the ouster of Amin, Lule was sworn in as President of Uganda in 1979. A National Consultative Council stood in for a quasi Legislative. In a month with Professor Lule Kampala exhibited a palpable turning of a new leaf. However given the ideological and leadership divergences, Uganda’s honey moon under Lule did not last long. The personality who had been devised to warm up the chair had not been given up. Lule’s short successful performance seems to have given headaches to some of those who had helped to install him in the presidency almost in the same way as in the case of the late Laurent Desire Kabila. Lule was maneuvered out of Entebbe State House. In a Land Rover Museveni drove Binaayiisa from his waiting place to the session of the Consultative Council in Entebbe where he was declared to be the new President.
Kayiira the democrat could not take this kind of situation lying down. He wanted the people of Uganda to have their democratic say about the adverse machinations around Lule. Kayiira mobilized the people who in great numbers peacefully assembled in the City Square. Their democratic slogan summarized what the assembly was all about. It read: “No Lule, no work.” The cowardly behavior of resisting democratic action which started then and still continues to the present day was the opening of fire at unarmed people. Museveni was in charge of the guns of the state. Among those congregated who were almost fatally injured was the late Honorable Paulo Kavuma, one of the best known Public servants in Uganda. He left this world as a lame person because of Museveni’s orders to shoot with live bullets at peacefully assembled protesters.
From this time on the oligarchically dominating figures residing in hideouts like the Nile Mansions turned themselves into targets to be dealt with, with any means possible. The Kayiira activists did not yet possess guns which at this time were a preserve to Muwanga and Museveni. They reverted to other means, crude as they were, in attempting to flush out the oligarchs out of the hideouts. Firing at the people with live ammunitions as a way of dispersing peacefully assembled people on the part of Museveni, and the attempt to blow up the Nile Mansion on the part of Kayiira drove the initial deadly wedge between Kayiira and Museveni. The people were terrified and terrorized. Binaayiisa was sworn in as President and warmed the chair sufficiently until Obote was welcomed back by Paulo Muwanga to campaign for elections under the pigeon-hole Constitution of 1967. As Muwanga declared the oncoming elections some of us, in vain, persuaded Paulo K. Ssemogerere not to go for elections without an amended Constitution from a dictatorial to a democratic one. Elections were held. Paulo Muwanga high-jacked the results and doctored them in favor of Obote.
It is at this point that one takes note of Kayiira’s participation in armed struggle. It should also be noted that Kayiira was a professional in security affairs. He becomes imbued with the spirit of working to destroy dictatorship in Uganda and help to return democratic ideals back to Uganda. As a democrat he knows he cannot do that work alone. He believes in doing the work in team-work. So for that purpose he convenes a critically crucial and inclusive meeting.
As Onyango Odongo, one of the attendants of that first meeting, has succinctly stated [Monitor June 23, 1999] the pigeon-hole constitution made the president the sole owner of the army, police the civil service which is used to suppress democracy. It is also observed that Obote in 1981 was installed as president because of the backing of a sectarian army. So the motive and objectives of the group Kayiira convened was first to dismantle by force the sectarian army before one could start thinking about the democratisational effort in Uganda.
The first meeting took place on January 7, 1981, on the side of Lake Victoria. This meeting was attended by the late Dr. Lutaakome Andrew Kayiira, Francis Bwengye, Onyango Odongo, Lt. Sam Magara, Lt. Col. Peter Oboma, the late George Nkwanga, and many others. The meeting was chaired by the late Dr. Kayiira. The objective was to form a united front. It was agreed to unanimously. To that effect a declaration was written. When time to sign the declaration came Lt. Sam Magara, Museveni’s representative, refrained from signing because he was not authorized by Museveni to do so. Another meeting was convened and was held at Bunnamwaaya. Museveni attended this meeting in person. He refused to be part of a united front with other groups, “arguing that he did not want the executive committee of such a front, composed of civilians to control his fighters”. When one refers to Kayiira as a democrat, one may be reminded of this episode of the preliminary meetings which purports to be struggling for democracy. At issue it is not only democracy that is the question.
Federalism is also a point of consideration with regard to the characterization of Kayiira as a federalist. Much of what we have seen about Kayiira’s disposition about human communities is reflective of strong federalistic inclinations. Kayiira was a Ugandan who did not shun the association with other peoples of Uganda. He encouraged such communication and doing things together for the good of all. Kayiira did not tolerate other people, he accepted them and respected them. The federalistic marks this writer has observed and experienced in Kayiira’s personality are the ones that understand federalism as a consciously principled political system which is concerned with the combination of self-rule and shared rule. If federalism is understood as involving the linkage of individuals, groups and polities in a lasting union in such a way as to provide for the energetic pursuit of common ends while maintaining the respective integrities of all parties concerned, Kayiira is a federalist in that sense. As Francis A.W. Bwengye has noted, “Museveni accused Kayiira of being arrogant because of coming from a dominant Baganda ‘ethnic group’ and because of his academic excellence. Kayiira has never been shy to talk of being a Muganda and the importance of the Baganda as an “ethnic group” in the country’s politics and economy. He always argued the case of the Baganda as having been exploited politically and economically by other Ugandan “ethnic groups’ for a long time. This non-hypocritical and open stand had earned him great admiration and popularity among his fellow Baganda and in the country as a whole”. [The Price of Freedom p.26] Kayiira was proud of being a Muganda. He was never arrogant because of being a Muganda. That should be the constructive attitude to adopt in order to be in position of being federalistically true to each other.
In an article titled “We didn’t Fight for the Kabakaship – Museveni” [Monitor, June 11, 1998], President Museveni seems to be disappointed by Kayiira’s federalistic disposition when he asserts as in the following quote: “In fact I am surprised that some people were saying we had promised to restore Kabakaship. That is a lie. It’s Kayiira who was trying to bring in that that populist idea,” Museveni added. After all what one observes around, democratically and federalistically wasn’t Dr. Lutaakome Andrew Kayiira a better prognosticator?
By Prof. Aloysius M. Lugira
Dr. Andrew Lutakome Kayiira was killed under mysterious circumstances on March 7 1987. He was once a Minister of Energy and the President of Uganda Freedom Movement UFM. Kayiira was charged with treason in October 1986 and the charges withdrawn in February 1987.