By Nabendeh S.P. Wamoto
Former Minister for Rehabilitation-the Late Patrick Masette Kuuya was the most powerful, influential, assertive sometimes confrontational yet benevolent to say the least a “Real Minister” in the sense that he could act and inform the Principal (President Obote) later. He could be said to have been the most practical minister ever in Bugisu sub region.
He was only compared to other powerful politicians such as Chris Rwakasisi (Security), Luwuriza-Kirunda (Internal Affairs) and Edward Rurangaranga.
Kuuya single handedly endorsed my scholarship to the hotel and tourism college (Kenya Utalii College) in Nairobi. This gave me opportunity to host Mrs. Janet kataha Museveni and her then children and later I was entrusted with the task of ring-fencing the regional army generals’ food from the then marauding Alqueda terrorists. To me the late Kuuya launched me into the foregoing contribution to the state of Uganda and the rest of the East African Community region’s security and stability.
President Milton Obote would only address the late Kuuya as “My son” to emphasize their great relationship
For starters, Bamasaaba did a very big task to the independence of Uganda. Uganda would not have been due for internal self-rule in 1962, had it not been Bugisu’s Arabica coffee foreign account (Foreign account). It is needless to say, however, that the rest of Uganda except Buganda’s contribution rode on Bugisu’s Arabica coffee fortune to secure political freedom. Bamasaaba shall always demand to be respected for that.
The Bamasaaba were also credited for producing exemplary, committed servant-leaders and scholars of international reputation. For example, former Chief Justice George Masika, Prof. Timothy Wangusa, Prof. Dani Wadada Nabudeere, the late Natoolo Masaaba who single handedly waged a demonstration from the present day Mooni against Bukedi district who wanted to lay claim on the land that hosts the present day Mbale City, the late Joshua Wakholi former minister of Public Service and Cabinet Affairs in Obote I government, the just deceased Patrick Masette Kuuya the former minister of Rehabilitation in Obote II government, the late James Wambogo Wapakhabulo, the late Perezi Musamali, the late Jack Maumbe Mukhwana and many others. History has it that in the late 60s, 70s and early 80s the Uganda Judiciary was half-way occupied by prominent, legal men and women from Bugisu. It is also said that because of the then strenuous post-Imbalu (circumcision) counselling that induct Bugisu men into hard work, bravery, dignity, confidence and of corrupt-free tendencies.
The Bamasaaba in the mid-70s denied the brutal and damaging regime of Idi Amin the all-important foreign exchange by smuggling Arabica coffee across the border to Kenya (Chebukube market) and this quickened Amin’s government to its knees and eventually collapsed.
The current president of the republic of Uganda, Gen. Yoweri K. Tibuhaburwa Museveni was inducted and received his initial ideological classroom training in 1965 at Lumumba Research Bureau in Namakwekwe Mbale City under the tutelage of comrade, son of the soil Masaba Natoolo but either by default or deliberate, H.E. the president didn’t document this in his Mustard Seed record on the two occasions.
The popular skirmish that happened on 22nd January 1973 at Maumbe Mukwana’s house No.49 was the climax of the first rebellion against Idi Amin’s government in Bugisu. Young men such as Mpima Wahu Kazimoto, Martin Mwesiga led by Yoweri Museveni were already plotting incursions, but when they had gone to the said Malukhu Estate, soldiers from the military police barracks conducted a cordon and search operation and when they approached house No.49 the then rebels attempted to flee, the two were gunned down but their colleague now president Museveni managed to jump out of the house, ran through the trench into then Nashibisho Forest Reserve, used the thick grass leaving behind their vehicle the Volkswagen Beetle 1600 packed at Maumbe’s compound.
In Maumbe’s house there was a young student boy called Sebastian Namirundu who the soldiers identified later as an accomplice of the Museveni rebels. He was therefore with Tom Masaaba charged in Court Martial convicted to a frightening firing squad at King George VI stadium – the only stadium then in Mbale. Namirundu was shot six times in the chest but it took the intervention of the then Uganda Army physicians to confirm his death after again 6 whole minutes of waiting for his head to bow down in vain (the myth still continues to this day that God did not want the young innocent boy to die).
Nabendeh S.P. Wamoto (+256 776 658433)