The celebrations were under the theme “standing tall as we celebrate the achievements of 56 years of independence.”
Hundreds of Ugandans working in Somalia turned up in big numbers at the Ugandan embassy there to celebrate Uganda’s 56th independence anniversary.
The Ugandans, who are working in the private sector and other organisations, joined the Uganda People’s Defense Forces (UPDF) deployed in Somalia to celebrate the independence that was organised under the theme “standing tall as we celebrate the achievements of 56 years of independence.”
Uganda’s deputy Ambassador to Somalia Maj. Gen. Nathan Mugisha, who presided over the celebrations, thanked President Yoweri Museveni for taking a bold decision of deploying UPDF in Somalia to pacify the country at a time when other countries were reluctant.
Mugisha noted that without Museveni’s bold decision, AMISOM (the African Union Mission in Somalia) would not have been realised.
Mugisha informed guests that despite the mission being a hard and tough task with limited resources in the beginning, AMISOM has done a tremendous job. “AMISOM has done a good job. We have done it with a Pan-African spirit. No enemy is holding the ground despite our few numbers,” said Mugisha.
The general said that when they captured Mogadishu, the contingent would fight five times a day leaving one to wonder what would happen in case they ran out of ammunition or their defense was broken.
He thanked the gallant UPDF commanders and soldiers for their bravery and called upon all Ugandans in the private sector and other areas in Somalia to be good ambassadors for Uganda and portray a high level of discipline and respect at their respective places of work.
Simon Mulongo, the Deputy Special Representative of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission (D-SRCC), said Uganda has demonstrated the ability and capacity to contribute towards the provision of African solutions to African problems, starting with Somalia.
Mulongo observed that Uganda made a difference when they went and sowed seeds of peace in Somalia, enabling it to have a functional government.
He advised Ugandans to take advantage of the UPDF’s missions abroad to create peace so that they can benefit through starting up businesses wherever the army goes.
Brig. Paul Lokech, the Ugandan contingent commander said many doubted when the UPDF deployed in Somalia for the first time, thinking they would die. “But it is more than 10 years and we are still strong.”
Lokech commended Museveni’s wise leadership, saying it was because of the Pan-Africanism spirit that UPDF soldiers committed themselves to help Somalia.
“The UPDF have shed blood, lost soldiers. There is nothing more than blood that you can give a brother. It is because of the sacrifices of our soldiers that we are enjoying peace today,” he noted.
Lokech attributed UPDF’s success to the good relation they have with Somalis, and he urged both sides to maintain that relationship for peace to prosper.
The cultural performance staged by UPDF soldiers and music played by Uganda and Nigerian Police groups entertained the guests, as well as a performance from Lance Cpl. Jackson Begumisa.
Also in attendance was Brig. Lucky Kidega, Uganda’s defense attached to Somalia among several other AMISOM officers.