By Taddeo Bwambale and John B. Thawite
The Government is to award at least 3,500 Ugandans with the 50th Uganda Independence Medal, in recognition of their outstanding service and loyalty to the country since independence.
The medal was launched on Wednesday, with President Yoweri Museveni receiving the first award during celebrations to mark the 27th anniversary of the liberation at Nyakasanga Grounds in Kasese district.
The medal also recognises former presidents, including Sir Edward Mutesa, Dr. Apollo Milton Obote, Yusuf Lule, Godfrey Lukongwa Binaisa and Gen. Tito Okello Lutwa.
The former presidents were represented by members of their families at the event.
However, former president Idi Amin did not make it to the list of approved people by the awards committee.
The chairperson of the awards committee, Gen. Elly Tumwine, said the medals would be given out at various national functions throughout the year.
“This is a short list because we are launching the medal. More names will be announced,” he said.
Names of recipients of the Independence Medal will be gazetted, in accordance with the National Honours and Awards Act 2001.
The Independence Medal also recognises former parliamentarians, speakers, civil servants, judicial officers, Bank of Uganda governors, artistes, sports figures, religious leaders and military officers.
Among the 43 personalities awarded the Independence Medal yesterday were the late James Mulwana, as a prominent farmer and Ali Mohamed Karmali (Mukwano) in the industrialists category, Emmanuel Cardinal Wamala among religious leaders, playwright Alex Mukulu for artistes, Olympic Gold medallist Stephen Kiprotich, former boxer Godfrey Nyakana under sports and Omusinga Charles Mumbere under cultural leaders.
Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga the Prime Minister, Amama Mbabazi, and the former Local Government minister, Jaberi Bidandi Ssali, were also awarded.
During the function, President Musevni awarded the Nalubaale Medal to various civilian activists from the Rwenzori region, in recognition of their contribution towards the political development of Uganda, either through armed struggle or civil disobedience, from the colonial times to date.
In his address, Museveni paraded and paid tribute to the Kateebwa fighters from the Rwenzori region, in recognition of their role during the bush war.
He said the group offered support to the army, helping it to launch attacks on the enemy.
“These people sacrificed a lot for Uganda during the war, but you don’t hear them telling people lies on radio. They are busy with their farms or businesses,” he stated.