Of Museveni’s ‘uneducated soldiers’ – Sgt. Kifulugunyu and Gen. Kazini
Last week social media was awash with discussions over the death of renown musician, Sgt. Kifulugunyu. Most commentators were stunned by the fact that shortly before he met his death he was carried on a wooden wheelbarrow as he was being rushed to the hospital. Another source of controversy was Sgt. Kifulugunyu’s lower rank despite his 43 years military service. They even compared him to Museveni’s son, Gen. Muhoozi who has attained the rank of General within a short time. As usual, regime boot leakers argued that it’s because Sgt. Kifulugunyu has missed out on formal education.
He was born in 1937 and attended primary school up to Grade Four before dropping out of school. In 1964, he joined the Uganda Army, trained as a commando in Libya and fought in the 1979 war against invaders who overthrew Iddi Amin. Like other defeated soldiers, upon surrendering he was detained in Luzira prison from where he escaped. In 1984, he was recruited from Mubende by a Rwandese, Kasinzi into the NRA. In his interview with the New Vision shortly before his death, he disclosed that his role in the so-called Bush War was to “entertain the fighters” with his music.
Upon coming to power in 1986, Sgt. Kifulugunyu continued with his music privately selling music tapes. He rose to prominence for his so called ‘patriotic NRA songs’ whose rap he used to sell to the public. For the city dwellers, he was a common sight, smartly donning army fatigue, dark glasses and carrying a heavy briefcase containing tapes for sale. One would also be right to say that he was a kind of nuisance on the city streets. Other than that, there is nothing else that Kifulugunyu did in as far as military service is concerned until he was retired in 2008.
During the same interview, Sgt. Kifulugunyu decried his appalling welfare situation thus; “can you imagine at 80, a full ex commando has to earn a living by selling sachets of boiled drinking water at 200 each, popcorns and songs on CD and radio in Kampala.” A few months ago, Museveni awarded him the Luwero Triangle medal. The army Deputy Spokesperson issued a statement expressing shock at the death of the 80 years old Sgt. Kifulugunyu. Though he is applauded for the NRA morale boosting songs, it is a fact that most of the NRA bush war songs were copied from the Mozambique FRELIMO guerrilla fighters and fitted into the NRA war by the late Chef Ali.
The defunct NRA choir was patronized by Poteri Kivuna and Sgt. Kifulugunyu was not among the members. Sgt. Kifulugunyu only helped to spread these songs as he made a killng by selling the tapes. As for dying a pauper, it’s very common for soldiers who don’t steal from the army or the population because the pay is very low. Because Sgt. Kifulugunyu held no office and no gun, he had had no avenue to steal from. For the low rank, he had attained the rank of WOI under the Iddi Amin army but the NRA reduced it to Sgt.
He was just unlucky that he never became a General under the NRA because promotions in the NRA/UPDF depend on luck and patronage. The other day the patron of the Jobless Brotherhood, Norman Tumuhimbise was lamenting over his father who had just been retired at the rank of Sgt. after serving for 35 years. Some commentators argued that it’s because he had joined the army in 1979 after dropping out of Form Three of secondary education. Gen. Saleh and Gen. Rwigyema had also dropped out from Form Three but rose to become Generals and government ministers. There are plenty of voiceless Sgt. Kifulugunyus in military attire out there.
If education is the yardstick, just look at this; Gen. James Kazini was born in 1957 and there is no record that he went to school. It is not even clear how he ended up joining the West Nile dominated rebels, UNRF of Moses Ali in the early 1980s. Around 1984 he defected from UNRF and joined the NRA. By the time NRA captured power in 1986, Kazini and Capt. Dan Byakutaaga were guarding Museveni’s mother.
Between 1986 and 2001, Museveni had propelled Kazini through several strategic command positions before becoming the Army Commander and a General. In 2003, he was charged with causing financial loss of an estimated 600bn shillings through the creation of 24,000 ‘ghost soldiers’. In 2008, he was sentenced to three years, imprisonment and released on bail pending appeal before he was allegedly murdered by his girlfriend in 2009.
If education level was the yard stick, then Kazini should have at best been a Corporal and a Mortuary Attendant in a military hospital! He had attended only one military course in Ghana which he miserably failed.
INFORMATION IS POWER AND DEFIANCE IS THE WAY TO GO
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