General Caleb Akandwanaho aka Salim Saleh, his close family and armies of admirers plus the military fraternity, are currently upset by the people who have been persistently pronouncing him dead and dry. Let’s go on record, first and foremost. Saleh will go down in history as one of the top most charitable liberator amongst his 1986 Luweero bush-war peers.
Despite the fact that majority of the liberators upon securing power, would progressively forget about fellow combatants and lay people who had assisted them during the war, let alone their families, the same cannot be said of Gen Saleh. Gen Saleh’s different homes are not only on a daily basis full of fellow combatants and their offsprings seeking for financial bailouts plus other charity, but also their counterparts from other walks of life out to eat out of the host’s exceedingly generous palms.
Saleh has been faulted by many of his peers, notably his own big brother, President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, for turning himself into some sort-of a welfare officer for the State. The same notwithstanding, Gen Saleh has been shrugging off such kinds of rebuke. And instead, goes on to assist fellow humanity who have continued to approach him in dire straits. The President is right. Wherever Saleh has gone, he has always been followed by a bevy of people wishing to ask him for help. Quick to recall among the recent beneficiaries of Gen Saleh’s generosity, are the tens of hundreds of musicians, creative artists and promoters of the industry.
These ones would during the prevalence of Corona Virus, frequent Gen Saleh’s base in Gulu for alms to use to get along. Such other assistance for which Saleh has always been approached by all sorts of people, include school fees, tuition, mabugo (condolence fees), rent arrears, medical fees, job placements and so on and so forth. Any time Saleh would be present at any of his homes, the amiable military honcho would be pitching camp there in the compound and for long hours and up to late in the night, whilst patiently listening and attending to endless guests out to ask for all sorts of alms from him.
Take this. Saleh is currently pitching camp in the far-flung Namunkekera, Nakaseke, and, for that matter, away from the comfort of his homes and people. He sleeps in Namunkekera looking to fight hard to open up industries. This gesture, so that the locals, and their offsprings, who helped them during the war, can get markets for their farm produce. Plus, also, job placements at the same industries. Before moving to Namunkekera, Saleh is known to have confided in his top confidants how he had grown so fed up of the politics of talking. He had, by the way, left the national parliament in anger previously. This, after accusing majority of fellow lawmakers of being so fond of talking other than action.
Before his departure for Namunkekera, Gen Saleh had told his confidants how he was henceforth going to spend his last days on Earth whilst fighting to try to mitigate the biting poverty among fellow Ugandans. Your humble writer has got a story now to tell to you in further demonstration of Gen Saleh’s popularity on account of his large heart and love for humanity. The year is 1996. The scene of the plot is Luweero triangle. The plot at hand is the general election. President Yoweri Museveni and, as the same would be expected, has made his State House bid known already.
Standing threateningly between the big man and State House, is Dr Paulo Kawanga Ssemogerere, the leader of the country’s oldest Opposition Democratic Party. Not only is Kawanga a popular candidate, but all the other opposition parties have also elected to offer him total support in the hope that the same would finally send Museveni back to Rwakitura. Ssemogerere is counting on Museveni’s own decade-long failure to implement the bush war pledges, to finally defeat him in Luweero, the epicenter of the same war. And, also, to use such victory as a springboard for him to use to further upset the president in the Greater Buganda region.
Aware of Saleh’s charm and popularity, and bearing in mind his own failure to reward Luweero for backing his guerrilla war, the president would now choose Saleh to go to the region and calm down the voters before he himself could dare to venture into there. Saleh takes on the rather daunting task with both hands and charisma. Driving through Luweero, groups of locals would tell him how they were more than ready to deny his big brother the votes this time round. But thanks to Gen Saleh’s unselfishness, coupled with his gift of generosity and humility as well as patience. He would end up turning such ugly prospects into baskets of votes for Museveni on the way to bouncing back to power.
This is crucial too. Gen Saleh is a very, very powerful military person. He is one of the greatest warriors of the bush war which catapulted the current government to power. His own brother happens at the same time to be the President of the same government of Uganda. This, without mentioning the fact that he is one of the very few surviving permanent members of the UPDF’s apex organ referred to as the High Command. Yet, Saleh hasn’t been known to be a trouble causer. Yours sincerely, for instance, isn’t aware of any operation commanded by Gen Saleh, and where, he ended up callously killing people.
His neighbors would attest to the fact that Gen Saleh is a very peaceful and credibly a calm person.
True, he has been caught in scandals. Such as the one which involved the UCB privatization process. But even so, not only did Gen Saleh own up, but also went on to publicly author as well as table an apology over the mistake. All that having been said and done, a question would arise as to why groups of Ugandans would wish death to the otherwise selfless and amiable person such as Gen Salim Saleh Akandwanaho. At the height of the French revolution’s madness, good guys would end up being lynched under such kind of chaos.
The same would be done by people so consumed by the disillusionment that was prevalent then within the French society.
It is such manner of disillusionment which was, to aggravate matters, evenly distributed among the ordinary people, which would absolutely switch off the eyes and brains of the frenzied mobs. And, hence, make the mobs completely unable to differentiate between the good and the bad guys. In other cases, all it would take for someone to be spontaneously lynched, was to be casually suspected by the unreasonable mobs to have enjoyed any slight association with the bourbon rulers. Any kind of association with the bourbon family was regarded to be highly treasonous by the mobs who would, accordingly, waste no time to lynch the person so suspected. Let me give to you a very instructive example before taking leave of this point.
Some years in the past when mob justice was very rampant in Uganda, my good friend, cartoonist Tabu Okello got his pencil to paper and drew a cartoon to convey to the law enforcers and everyone else, the gravity of the matter.
In the cartoon, some man was captured being assaulted for no clear offense. Amidst the confusion, cops would arrive at the scene. One by one, the cops would ask the mob why they were assaulting the man. Each one of them would now confess how, he or she, was assaulting the victim for really no good reason. But merely for the reason that, he or she, had found the victim being assaulted by the rest of the mob.
And, then, simply like that, each one of them would end up joining in the melee! Keep the foregoing example at the back of your mind. For, to the same we shall revert as we go on. After the overthrow of Idi Amin Dada and the return of Dr Apollo Milton Obote to power in 1980, his Kakwa tribesmen paid a very heavy price. Stories abound about how Obote’s soldiers would carry out scorch-earth operations in the West Nile sub-region. For the record, Amin hailed from West Nile. During such operations, tens of hundreds of Kakwas and Lugbaras would end up put out of action in the said orgies of gory revenge.
Small wonder then that hundreds of thousands of Amin’s kin and kith, would end up migrating from West Nile to South Sudan and the neighboring DRC. They were leaving home for the unknown, in order to escape from the ongoing untold wrath that was being meted out by Obote’s troops. Following Obote’s own overthrow in 1985 by the Acholis led by the two legendary Okellos, the Langi would now end up turning into objects of torture and death by the Acholis. The Acholis had previously complained of torture and discrimination at the hands of the Langis during Obote’s reign.
So, the same Acholis would conspire to overthrow Obote. And then, would, consequently, land their own turn and chance, to torture and segregate the Langi. Not so long, the Acholis were too overthrown by rebels led by the current President Yoweri Museveni. The Acholis and their merciless Anyanya enablers would henceforth be turned into objects of torture via the painful three-piece treatment (kandoya) and, also, via being openly burned up with plastics and old Tyres. If such victims, were not hit right on the head with the hoe and buried off.
It is worthy pointing out for posterity that following all those military changes of government as shown above, and just as the same used to happen during the French revolution. And just as cartoonist Tabu Okello’s work of art has ably demonstrated under this very discourse, many innocent people wouldn’t be spared by the frenzied mobs of the successive regimes. And this, merely on account of their association with the fallen government by either tribe religion, or, for having served the same.
Yet, to be also merely suspected by the mobs to have been part of the now fallen regime, was by itself more than enough to earn one a very shabby treatment, if not, death itself. Finally, as to why anybody would want to wish death to the humanist and selfless Gen Salim Saleh, the answers to this critical question are generously set out under this discourse. Alternatively, the same answers to this question, are captured well within the TITLE to this article. Thank you so much for reading.
- Mr. Stephen Kasozi Muwambi is a seasoned crime investigative writer, majoring in judicial-based stories. His two decades’ experience as a senior investigative journalist has made him one of the best to reckon on in Uganda. He can also be reached via [email protected]
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