Kampala — PRESIDENT Yoweri Museveni, his wife Janet and former Kenyan President Daniel arap Moi were among the over 190 persons honoured with national medals yesterday for their contribution to the liberation of Uganda.
Most of them were honoured for the struggle against the Idi Amin dictatorship between 1971 and 1979. The recipients included combatants and civilians who belonged to the three liberation groups in the 1970s, namely, the Front for National Salvation that was under President Museveni's command, Kikosi Maalum that was linked to Apollo Milton Obote and Save Uganda Movement.
For the first time, liberation war combatants who never belonged to either FRONASA or the National Resistance Army received medals during the NRM's 24th anniversary celebrations held in Mbale yesterday.
The celebrations, presided over by Museveni, attracted a big gathering, with a big number of people wearing the NRM yellow T-shirts.
Moi received the Nalubaale Medal for his contribution to the political struggle against dictatorship in Uganda. The medal is for civilian activists who have contributed to the political development of Uganda either through armed struggle or civil disobedience. Museveni referred to Moi as a freedom fighter.
Moi was accompanied by the Kenyan High Commissioner to Uganda, Japhet Ratemo Gitugi and former nominated MP Mark Too.
"I thank Museveni for decorating me with this medal in recognition of the services I contributed to East Africa. Mbale is not new to me. From 1959 to the 1980s, we used to meet in Mbale and Moshi town in Tanzania during the independence struggles," Moi remarked as he received his medal.
"We looked to ourselves as African nationalists. We were not motivated by tribe or religion. I am glad to be back in Mbale after 50 years."
Museveni was decorated with the Kagera Medal, which is given to people for their military contribution to the liberation of Uganda.
Museveni first decorated Moi and he was in turn decorated by the Chief of Defence Forces, Gen. Aronda Nyakairima.
The chairperson of the presidential awards committee, which manages the awards, Prof. Mondo Kagonyera, looked on. A number of NRM historicals were also decorated with the Kagera Medal.
Gen. Elly Tumwine, a member of the awards committee, said the beneficiaries participated in fighting dictatorship, especially in FRONASA, Kikosi Maalum and Save Uganda Movement.
Individuals from Kikosi Maalum who were given medals included the late former President General Tito Okello Lutwa, Gen. Bazilio Olara Okello, Major General David Oyite Ojok, Brig. Smith Opon Acak, Col. Tony Otoa and Maj. Gen. Zed Maruru.
Among those in the Save Uganda Movement honoured included former minister in the Obote II regime, Col. William Omaria.
For the FRONASA, those honoured included Eriya Kategaya, Amama Mbabazi, Ruhakana Rugunda, Kahinda Otafiire, Mrs. Janet Museveni, Joan Kategaya, Jackline Mbabazi, Ivan Koreta, Gen Salim Saleh and Gen Elly Tumwine. They were decorated with the Kagera Medal. Others were Maumbe Mukhwana, Magode Ikuya, Zubair Bakari and Haruna Kibuye.
Chefe Ali and Fred Rwigyema, among others, were honoured posthumously.
The ceremony held at the Malukhu grounds near Mbale town were attended by thousands of people who braved the scorching sun.
Several dignitaries including diplomats and government officials attended.
The Police and army bands played for the parade mounted by the armed forces and flanked by several civilian organisations.
FRONASA was formed in 1971 is Dar- es-Salaam by Museveni and several others in exile in Tanzania who were opposed to Idi Amin but not ready to work with Obote.
Kikosi Maalum (meaning Special Force in Swahili) was a militia of Ugandan exiles formed in Tanzania to fight against Amin and was led by Milton Obote. Besides FRONASA and Kikosi Maalum, there were other smaller groups that included Save Uganda Movement.
All the groups merged to form the Uganda National Liberation Front (UNLF) and its military wing, the Uganda National Liberation Army (UNLA), in 1979 to fight alongside Tanzanian forces, which osuted Idi Amin.
The Kikosi Maalum forces were commanded by David Oyite-Ojok and Tito Okello.
Full list of medalists
Fr. C. Okoth
Caleb Akandwanaho (Salim Saleh)
Maj. Bosco Omure
Tito Okello Lutwa
Bazilio Olara Okello
David Oyite Ojok
Smith Opon Acak
Maj. Tony Otoa
Maj. Bosco Omure
Maj. Dr. J. Okullo
Maj. Gen Zed Malulu
SAVE UGANDA MOVEMENT
Maj. Gen Okello
Col William Omaria
H.E. Daniel arap Moi
Lt. Col. Namundanyi
James Magode Ikuya
John W.Kazzora (late)
Gwenny Kazzora (late)
Charles Katungi (late)
David Kangire (late)
James Birahanze (late)
Valeriano Rwaheru (late)
Martin Mwesigwa (late)
Mwesigwa Black (late)
Woku Mpiima (late)
Eng. Kasadha (late)
Sgt. Lino Okiria
Compiled by Joyce Namutebi and Hellen Mukiibi