OWEYEGHA-AFUNADUULA: How Obote Smuggled Museveni Into Dar-es-Salaam University After Makerere Rejected Him


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By Professor Oweyegha-Afunaduula

If dead men could be back to confirm their stories! Here is one by a man who was once a representative of Uganda to the Middle East, Member and Acting Chairman of the Central Scholarship Committee in the Ministry of Education, Member of the once powerful National Association for the Advancement of Muslims (NAAM) in the 1960s; Deputy Chief Kadhi of Uganda to Sheikh Obeid Kamulegeya in the early 1980s; and Member of the Presidential Policy Commission of UPC in the early Millennium. This man is called the late Annas Kinyiri.

One day he received a note from President Apollo Milton Obote when he was acting as Chairman of the Central Scholarship Committee. The one with the note was a student eager to join Makerere University. Those days one had to submit 10 copies of one’s Graduated tax tickets to be considered for admission to Makerere.

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In the note the President was asking the Committee to create an avenue for Yoweri Museveni to join Makerere without producing Graduated tax tickets because he could not produce them adding, “I want him to join Makerere because he is one of my UPC youth wingers who qualifies but he cannot meet the requirement of 10 graduated tax tickets”. Graduated tax tickets were used to prove one’s citizenship and belonging or locality.

As expected Annas Kinyiri summoned members of his committee to consider the President’s request. When the committee met it overwhelmingly rejected the request saying regulations must be strictly observed.

And that was what Annas Kinyiri put in the sealed letter, which Yoweri Museveni took to the President. When the Preident read it he wrote another one making another plea to Kinyiri, which Yoweri Museveni again dcelivered to him. After reading the note Annas Kinyiri again convened the committee to resolve the matter.

The committee softened and decided that the student produces 5 Graduated tax tickets. That was what Kinyiri communicated to the President in a sealed letter. The Pesident realised he could not get what he wanted because of the strict regulation of producing Gradated Tax tickets. He had to think of plan B quickly. And there it was.

According to Annas Kinyiri the President wrote a letter to his counterpart in Tanzania, Julius Kambarage Nyerere, who was Chancellor of the University of Dar-es-Salaam, asking him to influence the university authorities to admit 5 of his young men for various degree courses. One of the young men was Museveni. Another was Muntuyera. The five were admitted, thanks to Nyerere’s intervention.

In 1987, Annas Kinyiri was summoned, together with other Basoga elders that included a former Katikiiro of Busoga, WW Mwangu, to a meeting at Belleview Hotel. It was arranged by Kirunda Kivejinja. It was to introduce the new President, Yoweri Museveni, to influential Basoga elders.

According to Annas Kinyiri, the President arrived with a gun on his shoulders. Kinyiri openly expressed his disgust that a son of a Mukopi was President and added, “When a country is ruled by bakopi then that country has no future”. According to Kinyiri, even Mwangu expressed the same sentiments.

When President Museveni told Kinyiri that he was appointing him to be Uganda’s representative again in the Middle East, he declined. When the meeting was dissolved, the President, who is also the Commander-in-Chief of our armed forces, ordered the immediate arrest of Kinyiri and Mwangu. They were whisked off to Gaddafi Army Barracks. Later they were moved to Luzira, where Kagata Namiti and Paulo Muwanga were also incarcerated.

According to Kinyiri he was in Luzira until 1989 without trial. When he was released, he leant that it was because of the intervention of the International Committee of the Red Cross. It had been contacted by the Uganda Christian Prisoners Aid Foundation led by a one Macharios Ayub. the Red Cross sent a delegation to Uganda.

Government allowed it to access Kinyiri. It later asked Government to release Kinyiri. He was, but then he was immediately arrested and whisked off to Kirinya Prison in Jinja on accusation of being a member of Force Obote Back (FOBA). He was to be in Kirinya Prison until 1999 when the President sanctioned his release.

When he came out of Prison he was bitter because he never knew of the existence of FOBA and believed it was the creation of Government to incarcerate him.

Curiously, in his own words, Kinyiri was more bitter with Obote than with Museveni because he believed it was because he declined to respond to the note Obote sent to him to endorse Museveni’s admission to Makerere without his father’s Graduated tax tickets that he had been incarcerated.

When Obote heard that Kinyiri was out of Prison, he sent the former Chairman of UPC, who later converted to NRM, the late Badru Wegulo, to Jinja to bring the Sheikh to Kampala so that they could talk to one another on phone. Obote was in exile in Lusaka, Zambia.

When he was sure he was talking to Obote, Kinyiri told him that he was the cause of his suffering because he had sent Museveni to him when he knew he (Kinyiri) could never bend the regulations. Obote apologized and in 2000 appointed Kinyiri to membership of the Presidential Policy Commission of the UPC.

Kinyiri passed on about 5 or 6 years ago with his principles, ethics and morality and with forgiveness, but not before telling me this story.

The elderly are depositories of knowledge and information. I learnt that early in my life. I would never let old people hoard knowledge that would enhance my own in case they passed it on to me. So Kinyiri was one of the valuable resources that I would never let go without benefiting from. in terms of knowledge.

He knew a lot about the Middle East. He had been involved in seeing that our children get educated. He was a politician. He had been a religious leader. He had been a teacher too. And he was a successful family man. Besides, he was an honest man who loved the truth. May his Soul Rest in Peace.

I have also become of age. I am sure those who have associated with me, and have been curious and inquisitive enough, have gained a lot of knowledge from me.

I appeal to all the elderly of Uganda to pass on knowledge that can help us know ourselves and country better. Knowledge is power. Where there is no knowledge people will suffer from ignorance, and ignorance is the worst disease of humanity. It knows no bounds.

For God and My Country.

The Writer Is a Ugandan Scientist And Environmentalist

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