DAILYNEWS UG |By Okot Johnson|
President Museveni, who is also the commander in chief of the armed forces on Wednesday evening retired eleven generals from active service of the Uganda People’s Defence Forces at a function held at State House, Entebbe.
The eleven generals included Maj. Gen. Joshua Masaba, Maj.Gen. Ali Kiiza, Maj.Gen Kasirye Gwanga and Maj. Gen.Hussein Adda .
Others were Maj.Gen James Ssebaggala, Maj.Gen John Mateeka, Brig.Jacob Musajjawaza, Brig.Yowasi Kiiza, Brig.Stephen Othieno, Brig.Olanya Ojata and Brig.Mark Ayiasi Kodili.
By 4PM, all the retirees had arrived at Entebbe and were smartly clad in their ceremonial uniforms but exceptional among them was the flamboyant Maj.Gen Kasirye Gwanga.
Unlike before, he had a clean shaven head and quietly sat at the front row as the UPDF brass band played mostly bush war songs arguably to reminisce the good old times.
At around 6pm, President Museveni arrived but unusually, he was not dressed in military fatigue as he usually does during army functions.
He was dressed casually in his white long sleeved shirt, the type he normally says is made locally.
The function started with the Joint Chief of Staff, Maj.Gen. Joseph Musanyufu reading citations of the retirees before being handed certificates and plaques in appreciation of their services to the army and the country at large.
According to Musanyufu, the eleven generals had spent between 37 and 55 years serving the country which he said is extraordinary.
He said that since 1992, the UPDF has always retired soldiers but said the current batch was the first set of generals to retire at ago after reaching their retirement age.
“It is a major milestone in the professionalization of the UPDF,”Maj.Gen.Musanyufu said.
At the function the usually humuorus Maj.Gen Kasirye Gwanga looked frail. He was so calm and kept on following proceedings but on mentioning his name so as to step forward to receive his certificate and plaque, everyone realised something was amiss.
The flamboyant soldier appeared weak and the look on the faces of some of the army generals was that of pity and anxiety.
The once strong soldier could not walk freely and had to be assisted by one of his daughters as he proceeded to the front for a handshake from the commander in chief.
In another bizarre occurrence at State House in Entebbe Brig.Jacob Musajjawaza cried as he received his discharge certificate.
It was not clear whether these were tears of sadness or joy.
The UPDF top brass at Entebbe on Wednesday.
Museveni noticed it and while paying tribute to the retired generals and said Musajjawaza was emotional due to his deep attachment to liberation struggle.
“By the time the struggle began, he had a factory in Masaka and he did not only participate but also funded the war,”Museveni said of Brig Musajjawaza whom he described as a patriot.
In his speech, Museveni demonstrated that he personally knew each of the retired generals and the day he first met them as he reminisced the times of the bush war.
The president spoke about Maj.Gen. Joshua Masaba whom he said was one of the first presidential pilots describing him as a brave man.
He said Masaba together with Maj.Gen.Sam Turyagenda (commander air force) were the nucleus of the new air force for Uganda.
“Masaba is one of those who broke Kony’s back (in Northern Uganda),”Museveni said.
He applauded the retirees for accepting to join the NRA and for their contribution towards the liberation of the country.
Speaking to DailyNewsUG shortly after the function, Maj.Gen John Mateeka said he would greatly miss his comrades.