This article is one of a series that will run on the platform for weeks. We will focus on historical and current dynamics between Uganda and Rwanda. We are going to bring out some uncomfortable facts and exposes that are usually pushed under the rags.
Let’s begin with some soft landing for contextual pieces that will follow.
On October 9, 2021, Ugandans celebrated 59 years of self-rule after the colonial British lowered the empire, Union Jack, allowing three Ugandans to raise the current Black-Yellow-Red flag.
Since the fall of the British rule in Uganda, Ugandans every year on October 9, hold Independence Day celebrations although, post-independence times have been turbulent under successive regimes ranging from those under the elite, military men and crude peasants.
As Ugandans gained their independence in 1962, Rwandan refugees had been living in remote UN camps in the East African country after being ejected from their homeland in 1959, owing to dangerous divisive politics.
The current Ugandan regime ushered in by National Resistance Movement, a former rebel group composed of mostly peasants and the unprivileged, has served the longest period since February 1986.
Rwandan refugees played a pivotal role in the four-year protracted war that deposed President Milton Obote and installed current President, Yoweri Museveni, who has been in powers almost four decades today. President Museveni and his cronies can go to war to dismiss the fact.
Museveni would rather undergo a hunger strike than admit he is in power due to the ultimate sacrifice paid by Rwandan refugees to put him into power.
To remind you, Rwandan refugees would later clandestinely mobilise to launch another war on Rwanda to forcefully return home. This is a subject we will later revisit and expound on separately.
Now, for Ugandans, the month of October is extremely significant in the country’s history. October is equally important for Rwandans today. On October 1, 1990, Ugandan soldiers of Rwandan origin deserted without notice of President Museveni and attacked Kagitumba Border post and entered Rwanda. They had to liberate Rwanda from a genocidal regime under Late President Juvenal Habyarimana who had terrorized the country and oversaw a genocide engulf the whole country. This is also another subject we will dig deep into in the series.
Let’s go on. For President Museveni, who was away in New York for a children’s conference, the desertion of these battle hardened Rwandan soldiers, weakened the Ugandan army both in command and efficiency. It was a big loss that according to those in the corridors of power, Museveni has never forgiven the current Kigali regime.
Those who led the liberation struggle were indeed top commanders in Museveni’s army formation, National Resistance Army (NRA). Many have died, but a good number of them are still alive including current President, Paul Kagame.
Museveni doesn’t like to hear this. It is a taboo. It sends him a bad taste. No one can really explain why he is so disgruntled and hostile. Ever since Rwandans in his NRA left Uganda, he has exhibited hostility and a condescending attitude to the extent of sabotaging their efforts to establish a developed and efficient state Rwanda is today.
Museveni, who in the first years of Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF/A) regime in Kigali repeatedly addressed the Rwanda Patritotic Front/Army (RFF/A) soldiers as his boys, which annoyed the masters in Kigali. They have however insisted that he needs to behave and respect sovereign Rwanda.
The Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF/A) removed President Juvenal Habyarimana from power after fighting and defeating his Forces Armées Rwandaises (FAR), which retreated into the jungles of DRC former Zaire. The FAR with support of France and Interahamwe militia had killed over a million Tutsi in what the UN later recognised as the 1994 Genocide against Tutsi.
Interahamwe and FAR elements of course supported by the French military launched cross border attacks into Rwanda from their jungle bases in Zaire from 1994 all through until 1999. The RPF/A couldn’t look on- they pursued these bandits and broke their back significantly.
Our next piece comes on Wednesday.