By Hanning Mbabazi
Kampala: The Office of the President, through the Uganda Media Center, has today morning unleashed the programme for the 2019 Heroes Day celebrations on 9th June, to be held at Kasanje town council, Wakiso District.
A statement issued by Hon. Esther Mbayo, who is the Luuka district Legislator and the Minister for Presidency, this year’s celebration will be premised on the theme “Celebrating the Courageous Heroes that brought the peace and prosperity we are enjoying.” Mbayo called upon all Ugandans to reflect deeply and seriously on the sacrifices and achievements these gallant sons and daughters of Uganda have made. “Let each Ugandan get committed by celebrating the courageous Heroes that brought the peace and prosperity were are enjoying. Besides, let these celebrations also rejuvenate our collective commitment as a country in: consolidating the values laid down by our Heroes and the achievements registered; while at the same time, focusing our resolve to bravely face the new challenges into the future as we work to complete the NRM Government five year term and look ahead to the next term 2021 – 2026.” Reads Mabayo’s statement.
Among others, heroic values to be celebrated include proven integrity, patriotism and sacrifice, acts of bravery, setting a good example, truthfulness, and love for others. “We owe a great debt to the sons and daughters of this country and all the other heroes who fought for Uganda to be free. The tree of our liberty was watered by their blood. It is a debt we can neither repay, nor ever forget,” the statement continues. Mbayo also noted that “Basing on facts related to the arms straggle, Kasanje was a fighting corridor against the fascist regime of UPC in 1980s and was at first dominated by the Uganda Freedom Movement (UFM) led by the late Dr. Andrew Kayiira before they joined hands with another fighting group FEDEMU of the late George Nkwanga. These two later merged with the NRA en-route to liberating Uganda in 1986. Prominent fighters of the UFM/FEDEMU include Maj. Gen. Kasirye Gwanga, late George Nkwanga, Brig Adda Hussein (rtd), Brig. Mark Kodili (rtd) Col. Kalyesubula (rtd), Capt. Kiwanuka, Maj. Rwamiti Nyago, Capt. Kamya Nkima, Capt. Paul Kavuma, Maj. Nsubuga, Lt. Nansera Lubega etc.
What is critical about Kasanje and Mpigi areas is that they suffered brutal arrests and death of the citizens especially after the botched attack on the Lubiri barracks by the UFM forces in early 1982.” There is however controversy surrounding the holiday, regarding who should be honoured. National Heroes Day in Uganda was instituted by the Uganda People’s Congress in 2001. The holiday was to recognise people on both sides who fought in the civil war and the date chosen to remember the assassination of Eddidian Babumba Mukiibi Luttamaguzi, a resistance supporter. In recent years, however, government leaders have used the holiday to recognise those who helped President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni gain power during the Bush War. Critics argue that the day should honour heroes from all parts of the country who died during Civil Wars between 1962 and 1986. One suggestion for Heroes Day was the doctor who detected the deadly Ebola virus before it spread. Originally, Heroes Day was to recognise those who travelled long distances, endured humiliation, lost limbs and ended their life for the nation and now lie in unmarked graves throughout Uganda. Amnesty International estimates that more than 300,000 civilians died during guerilla wars which brought the current government into power. Atrocities were committed on both sides of the war with the Milton Obote regime and the National Resistance Army (NRA) responsible for an equal number of deaths during civil unrest in the country.