By Albert Tibweba
KAMPALA. The Senior Presidential Advisor for Special Operations, Lieutenant General Muhoozi Kainerugaba has last evening celebrated his 45th birthday in public, something he last did in 1986 after ‘the fall of Kampala’.
The colorful function held at the Commonwealth Resort in Munyonyo was attended by his friends in the military, business community, civil service and Members of Parliament.
Addressing the gathering, Gen Kainerugaba thanked the organisers of the function and pledged to engage in more social functions of the same kind, explaining that he is not as busy as he has been in the last 33 years.
“I want to thank all of you for attending this event. Thank you for honoring the invitation of the organizing committee. We appreciate all of you,” Lt Gen Kainerugaba heartily said adding: “This is my first public birthday celebration in 33 years. The last time was in 1986, very soon after Kampala fell.”
The General expressed gratitude to Mr David Kabanda who ‘quietly’ convinced him to have the function before Kabanda mobilized other members of the organizing committee to make the function happen.
“I want to thank them very much. I thought it was going to be the typical Ugandan functions where somebody invites you and then gives you the budget for the party they invited you to! I have to report that this organizing committee asked nothing apart from my attendance,” Gen Kainerugaba said attracting cheers from the guests.
Some of the guests included the Chief of Staff Land Forces Maj Gen Leopold Kyanda, the Deputy IGP Maj Gen Sabiiti Muzeyi, the Chief of Staff Airforce Maj Gen James Birungi, Lt Col Edith Nakalema and the commander of the Special Forces Command Maj Gen Don Nabasa among other senior UPDF officers.
Others were; Mr Patrick Bitature, Ms Evelyn Anite, Mr Frank Tumwebaze, Mr Peter Ogwang, Mr Rajiv Ruparelia, Mr Edwin Karugire, Mr Kiryowa Kiwanuka, Mr Robert Kabushenga, and Mr Ofwono Opondo, Mr Moses Byaruhanga, Mr Willis Bashaasha among others.
Mr Tumwebaze commended Gen Kainerugaba for inspiring young people especially the graduates to join the UPDF. He said that in the past, parents would prohibit their children from joining the army, noting that he was happy that the UPDF has been embraced by 'the young cohort'.
Major Gen Kyanda congratulated Gen Kainerugaba on his well-deserved promotion in the UPDF recently, describing him as an officer of “extreme gallantry”.
The UPDF Land forces Chief cited a number of battles successfully commanded by Gen Kainerugaba, some of which he commanded from the battlefront. Some of the battles cited by Gen Kyanda were; the ADF battle in Bundibugyo, the war against Joseph Kony in Northern Uganda, the war against the Al Shabab in Somalia, among others.
Several speakers praised Gen Kainerugaba for his humility and high level of discipline despite his privileged position as a son of a President.
Ms Lillian Aber, the Chairperson National Youth Council commended the ‘birthday boy’ for inspiring the young people of Uganda, noting that there are many examples of individuals in privileged positions in Uganda and beyond who have abused their status to harass their populations.
Maj Gen Muzeyi who said he has known Gen Kainerugaba for close to 25 years said his life espouses the life of Uganda.
The D.IGP explained that Gen Kainerugaba lived his earlier life in exile having been born in the Tanzania Capital Dar-es-Salaam before living in a peaceful Uganda and then as a contributor to Uganda’s peace and stability.
“This is a wonderful life. Wonderful, because you can’t learn this in class, you must live it,” Maj Gen Muzeyi noted.
He further described Gen Kainerugaba as a mentor with great attention to detail and a team player who offers constructive criticism to his colleagues.
Mr Dan Kidega the former Speaker of the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) said that Gen Kainerugaba had reached a golden age, where he had to make critical decisions. He noted that this generation looks to him for leadership. He also alluded to the General’s humility.
“Humility will open all the doors ahead of you and for our generation, we look at you as our leader,” said Mr Kidega attracting applause from the audience.
Meanwhile, Gen Kainerugaba said that since his last public birthday celebration 33 years ago, Uganda has undergone phenomenal transformation and growth.
“At that time (1986), this place where we are seating was a bush. I remember the only buildings around here were at a place called Cape Town Villas. That is where Idi Amin used to go to relax sometimes.
“All of us therefore have an obligation to protect the achievements of our country but also to educate the young people who think Uganda was always this good; that Uganda was always tolerant, peaceful, democratic and progressive,” Gen Kainerugaba said.
He explained that it is a danger for a country not to know its history, adding that such a country risks repeating the tragedies of the past.
“It is like a man with no memory. You can see the massive lack of information in the young people; some even think that the past was better than the present. Only someone who is ignorant of what our country went through can think that,” said Gen Kainerugaba.
Gen Kainerugaba highlighted an example of the programs under the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development, saying the target groups should be educated about them in order to benefit in a meaningful way.
Earlier, the permanent secretary in the ministry of gender, labour and social development, Pius Bigirimana had highlighted performance enhancement measures that government has put in place for youth to access funding from the Youth Livelihood Programme, utilize the money and pay it back.
Mr Bigirimana, revealed that to deal with the delays of disbursement of funds from Districts to groups, government has approved the direct transfer of money from the Ministry of Gender to beneficiary group accounts. The accounts, according to the PS have three dignitaries including the chairperson, secretary and the treasurer of a particular group.
He also noted that by sending money directly to the beneficiaries, corruption whereby some officials at the district level were asking for a percentage of the funds before they are accessed by the youth, is done away with.
Gen Kainerugaba asked the guests some of whom are youth leaders to spread the message.
“Since we have a lot of young leaders here tonight, I would like to request that we work together to address this dangerous lack of information amongst the youth. For example, I don’t see why we cannot have a memorial museum, or expand the existing museum to include the many wars, rebellions, and political upheavals our country went through. Can our leaders in government and parliament work on this? Gen Kainerugaba asked.
Further, Gen Kainerugaba appealed to distinguished guests to help engage urban youth in sports especially soccer and boxing, arguing that sport is a productive way of spending time, adding it is a possible career path. The General also noted that engaging in sports keeps the youth away from bad tendencies such as crime.
He therefore proposed that a fund is set up for projects directed at urban youth especially in the areas of sports, adding that when the modalities worked out, the President would contribute Shs50 million as seed money for the fund.
At the end of the function, several guests gifted the General with cows, a portrait with Mr Peter Ogwang gifting Gen Kainerugaba with 100 goats which he said he would deliver from his farm in Katakwi to wherever the General wished.
The fun-filled function ended with guests taking photos with the General before he departed at around midnight.