Sunday, July 31, 2016

WHEN COLLECTIVE ACTION FAILS, INDIVIDUALS DO THE NEEDFUL - #UGANDA


"......when Milton Obote attacked the Lubiri, some of us were not happy that the Baganda had not reacted. I and five friends decided to respond to Obote the best way he could understand." 

                 Daniel Kamanyi - a Muganda nationalist who plotted to shoot President Obote dead.

Buganda Kingdom and its people, the Baganda have since time in memorial been at the forefront of Uganda's politics.  They invited, welcomed and hosted the European colonialists and decades later the same Baganda took the lead in pushing them out of Uganda.  Successive post independence governments have had to cope with Buganda's role as a game changer.  However,  it now looks like Museveni has succeeded in taming Buganda and the Baganda into submission.

Here below is an astonishing classic example of Buganda's nationalism:

In June 1966, the central government led by Prime Minister Milton Obote sent troops who attacked the palace of the Kabaka (king of Buganda).  The attack led to loss of life, destruction of property, exile of the Kabaka, and abolition of Kingdoms.  The central government managed to contain the pockets of resistance from Baganda nationalists and Uganda became a republic with Milton Obote as President.  Daniel Kamanyi and his brother secretly drove the now fugitive deposed Kabaka out of Kampala into the countryside on his way into exile.  Earlier at the safe house he had reported to the Kabaka that in Kayunga area angry locals had set police stations on fire and killed six policemen.

In March 1967, Dan Kamanyi organised six other of his colleagues for a plot to kill President Obote.  Among them was John Obbo, Henry Kyeyune, Captain Mugarura and Katabarwa who had been officer cadets before they had been dismissed from military service and were very bitter with the government.  After the plotters had bought machine guns from Somalia, ambushing Obote was the easiest option and the only problem was when and where.  They had zeroed on Suguku hill along the Kampala - Entebbe road as the suitable spot for the ambush but abandoned it when they learnt that President Obote was to preside over the pass out of Prison Warders at Luzira Prison in Kampala.

Dan Kamanyi surveyed the Port Bell road to Luzira with view of identifying an ideal site for the ambush.  They zeroed on a bushy spot in Bugolobi opposite the soap factory on the Mutungo junction that is now occupied by a petrol station.  On D-day, they moved in daylight with their machine guns stacked in gunny bags.  They had wanted to kill him on his way to Luzira and all the five machine gunners took their positions.  A getaway car was also positioned on the other side of the Mutungo junction.  Dan Kamanyi whose role was to patrol the road, met a military officer who had come from the celebrations at Luzira Prison and unknowingly provided him with very good intelligence.  President Obote was already at the celebration and because it would climax with a dance, the function is likely to end late in the night.  Dan Kamanyi shared this vital information with his colleagues and they agreed that whatever the case, they were to wait even if it meant staying for the whole night.  It was agreed that Dan should go and get them something to eat and off he went to Nakawa.

On his way from the celebrations, President Obote had passed unnoticed the same way he had done when going.  Instead, shortly after 10p.m his Vice President Babiiha whose convoy had the police siren car switched on entered the ambush and was sprayed with bullets from the machine guns in a mistaken belief that it was President Obote. Immediately after the five machine gunners vacated the ambush site using the getaway car and fled to Namugongo at the farm home of Dan Kamanyi's father.  After depositing their machine guns there, they dispersed.  Dan Kamanyi who at the time of springing the ambush had not yet returned  from buying food in Nakawa, did not return to Bugolobi after hearing the sound of rapid machine gun fire.  He simply went to his home in Lungujja and the following day heard on radio that it was Vice President John Babiha who had been injured and Obote was safe.

Security swung into action by combing the area of the  ambush and  when  they landed on the sticks that the Israel trained, Captain Mugarura had used in making the ambush sketch, they concluded that it had been the work of experts and not mere disgusted Baganda peasants.  Dan Kamanyi was placed under surveillance after his girlfriend, Lillian had secretly given all the information to the security agencies. He was eventually arrested from his home in Lungujja and a search at his chicken pen led to the recovery of bullets and a pistol. Upon learning of his arrest, his mother in Namugongo disposed off the other machine guns that had been left there by the  gang of five.  She threw them into the deep ponds for the cattle drinking water at the far end of the farm.  It took a very big contingent of police trainees from the police college at Kibuli to search the entire vast farm without success.  Following a tip off, the search party zeroed on the ponds by bringing in fire brigade trucks to empty the ponds before they found  the machine guns at the bottom.

After learning of his arrest, three of Dan Kamanyi's colleagues had fled to Nairobi, Kenya.  His girlfriend Lillian who had been giving the security agencies information about the plot, was assigned to go to Nairobi together with a female police detective called Martha to help track down the three fugitives.  In Nairobi, the three fugitives who had learnt about the deployment instead waylaid Martha and Lillian before they killed them and  dumped their dead bodies in Athi river. The backup team comprised of Uganda's security operatives reported to the police in Nairobi and helped in identifying the dead bodies of the two ladies but also to track down the three fugitives.  In one of the Police raids at Stanley Hotel in Nairobi, the three managed to escape from the third floor and dispersed but it did not take long before they were all picked up one by one and killed by hanging in Nairobi.

In Kampala, Dan Kamanyi had  been convicted and sentenced to 8 years for illegal possession of firearms together with his father who was handed six years.  However, when the expert opinion linked the guns recovered from his possession to the blank catridges recovered at the scene of the ambush, Dan Kamanyi was charged with attempted murder and sentenced to life imprisonment.  His appeal to the East African Court of Appeal was quashed and the sentence upheld.  When Obote was overthrown by Iddi Amin in 1971, King Mutesa's remains were brought back for a descent burial.  During the function, Baganda royals pleaded with Iddi Amin to pardon Dan Kamanyi and so he did and he regained his freedom.

Lessons
1.  Where group action fail, individuals can act. In the event of suppression, its the unimaginable individuals who sacrifice to get rid of the problem. 
2.  Why did the machine gunners assume that Obote's motorcade would be identified by a police siren yet they had failed to identify it when he  was going to the venue.
3.  Spouses should desist from sharing any of their clandestine political dealings.
4.   In the 1960s Police would investigate first before arresting unlike now when its the opposite.
5.   If the plotters had had to sit in boardrooms with top officials to lay their plot, it would have leaked even before taking off.
6.  Though the plot did not achieve its intended objective,  at least it was not a massage action but a paralyzing action that delivered the message that was well understood by Mr. Obote.

INFORMATION IS POWER AND DEFIANCE IS THE WAY TO GO

SOURCE: Change of Guards Blog  - linked on my blog under News Sites

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