Yesterday the NRM celebrated 36 years since the-then rebel leader Yoweri Museveni made a daring attack on Kabamba barracks on 6th February 1981.
We are bringing it to you dear reader that the practical significance of the Kabamba attack is analogically similar to the attack on Moncada by Fidel Castro and his revolutionary group that freed Cuba from the York of dictatorship.
Actually what transpired in the Moncada attack on 26 July 1953, was that a small group of revolutionaries led by Fidel Castro launched the quest for freedom of Cuba.
This armed attack is widely accepted as the beginning of the Cuban Revolution. The date on which the attack took place, 26 July, was adopted by Castro as the name for his revolutionary movement (Movimiento 26 Julio or M 26-7) which eventually toppled the dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista in 1959.
And here we make out the practical similarities between Moncada and Kabamba
Just like Yoweri Museveni who launched the war with very young fellows most of whom were less than 30 years, Fidel Castro led a group of very young rebels mostly less than 26 years. Of the 137 insurgents whose ages are known, the average age was 26, the same as that of Fidel Castro. Nine rebels were in their teens, 96 were in their twenties, 27 in their thirties, and five over 40.
Just like Museveni who used peasants in the bush war, almost all of Fidel Castro’s followers of the lower middle class. Only four of the Cuban 160 rebels were university graduates and most had only a primary education.
The Afro Cuban composition of the group was limited to 2 blacks and 12 mulattos, partly because most biracial Cubans identified with Batista, who was of mixed blood.
Castro avoided recruiting among intellectuals, who were more apt to challenge his ideas.
On this you see a similarity with Museveni who used semi-literate young men and only incorporated intellectual at a later stage.
The night before the Moncada attack, the men gathered at a farm in where they learned what the objective was-just like Museveni who planed his war at Dr Ssebuliba’s farm. The plan was to secure the barracks and gain possession of the weapons stored within, and to use the building’s army communications equipment to spread false messages for several hours to confuse the military.
In the meantime, the weapons would be removed and hidden throughout the city to use in the continuing struggle, and Santiago’s radio station would be taken to broadcast the speeches of Eduardo Chibás in order to mobilize the public with the ultimate aim of bringing down the Batista government.
The men left the farm at 4:45 am on 26 July 1953, planning to attack at dawn. The date of the attack was specifically chosen because the fiestas in Santiago are held on 25 July.
Blood Relations In The Struggle
Just like Yoweri Museveni who had his young brother, a 20year old Salim Saleh who later assumed command of most of the war, Fidel Castro had his younger brother a 22 year old Raul Castro as one of the leaders of the war effort.
Poor Organization Of Both Attacks
Museveni’s attack on Kabamba was as poorly organized as Fidel Castro’s attack on Moncada. At first Museveni couldn’t link up with the fighters in the lorry because his car had broken down. They had to wait for a very long time before he could join the attack on Kabamba.
He writes in his book that he borrowed the car from one person called Ruyondo- whom he deceived that he was going to attend a wedding.
Although the attack on Kabamba went on as planned the outcome was not far from a disaster since they failed to harvest any weapons from the barracks.
While the Museveni’s Kabamba’s attack was a disaster, Fidel Castro’s attack was a nightmare of its own proportions.
For starters the attack began poorly. The caravan of automobiles became separated by the time it arrived at the barracks, and the car carrying the guerillas’ heavy weapons got lost-just like Museveni whose car has broken down.
Furthermore, many of the rebels who would have taken part in the attack were left behind for a lack of weapons. In Castro’s autobiography, he claims that he drove his car into a group of soldiers at the gate who had realized an attack was in progress. The men in the cars behind him jumped out of their cars, believing they were inside the barracks, and the alarm was sounded before the barracks had been infiltrated. According to Castro, this was the fatal mistake in the operation.
The net result of these events was the rebels being outnumbered more than 10 to 1 resulting into the capture of Fidel Castro himself.
Fifteen soldiers and three policemen were killed and 23 soldiers and five policemen wounded during the attack. Nine rebels were killed in combat and eleven wounded, four of them by friendly fire (According to Fidel Castro five were killed in the fighting, and fifty-six were executed later by the Batista regime.
Eighteen rebels captured in the Civil Hospital were immediately executed in the Moncada small-arms target range within two hours after the attack. Their corpses were strewn throughout the garrison to simulate death in combat.
Thirty-four fleeing rebels captured during the next three days were murdered after admitting their participation. A handful of rebels, including Fidel Castro, escaped into the nearby countryside but were apprehended shortly thereafter.
Castro was later arraigned before court where he exclaimed that ‘history will absolve me’.
On his part, despite of the disorganization, Museveni was not captured but his brother Salim Saleh endured time in jail in Moroto.
Museveni later managed to embark on building his guerrilla outfit that grew into a formidable military force and took power in 1986.
Castro had to serve some years in jail where he managed to defend himself as a qualified lawyer and somehow got released from prison and later rebuilt his rebel outfit and it managed to assume power in 1959.
Therefore the attack on Kabamba has very big similarities with Fidel Castro’s attack on Moncada barracks in more ways than one.
But they also carries a similar level of importance like the storming of the bastille by oppressed Frenchmen who later overthrew the French monarchy and instituted the three principals of fraternity liberty and equality.
The Author Fred Daka Kamwada Is a Researcher and a Blogger Additional information transcribed