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In the footsteps of the NRA

By Admin

Added 25th January 2019 01:41 PM

Through the stories of hope and despair, of victory and tragedy, of joy and fear one begun --- only begun, to get a sense of the crazy times that those were.

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Paul Busharizi

Through the stories of hope and despair, of victory and tragedy, of joy and fear one begun --- only begun, to get a sense of the crazy times that those were.

By Paul Busharizi

In the run up to the NRM day, which falls tomorrow, January 26, the New Vision has run a series of articles about the battles the NRA fought on their way to Kampala.

Through the stories of hope and despair, of victory and tragedy, of joy and fear one begun --- only begun, to get a sense of the crazy times that those were.

It also gives you an inkling about how a shared higher goal can unite people and make them achieve the impossible.

In his Book The Mustard Seed, President Museveni narrates how after their failed February 6, 1981 attack on Kabamba, failed in as far as they did not get to the armoury as planned, their haul from the attack brought their cache of arms up to 43 guns.

Museveni then formed the first sections, four of them of the NRA, led by Sam Magara, Elly Tumwiine, Hannington Mugabi and Jack Muchunguzi. He noted this development on a piece of exercise book paper, which later fell in enemy hands.

Apparently when the government officials mostly holed up in the then Nile Mansions, now the Serena Hotel, read the list, there was much cracking of ribs and derision at Museveni at his bedraggled gang.

How could they even contemplate taking on the national army with such meagre numbers, they wondered.

If you go back in your mind’s eye to the time, the odds were not in the NRA’s favour and most “reasonable” people would have sided with the government, dismissing the NRA grown men living out some Robin Hood Fantasy. 

The NRA had the last laugh but after much blood, sweat and tears.

It is an incredible story of which the half has not been told.

The challenges of the bigger enterprise Uganda today are not far different from that of the rag tag NRM pestering the army in the jungles of the Luwero triangle three decades ago.

Where the NRA were trying to establish some self-sufficiency in men, arms and food, Uganda today is grappling with monumental deficits in infrastructure, human resource and finances. Where the NRA was under threat of annihilation every waking day, Uganda is faced with less obvious existential threats but just as pressing challenges that if not addressed would mean the difference between developing on our own terms or continuing to wallow in abject poverty and vulnerable to outside interference.

In both cases, there were/are a lot of pessimists inside and outside the respective entities. In both cases there are fifth columnists. And in both cases too there were/are sycophants and optimists walking around with rose tinted glasses that believe that success is preordained.

And like with the NRA, the challenges facing Uganda while not insurmountable cannot be laughed off and will require everyone’s best effort in pursuit of a singular goal.

Just as the NRA didn’t adopt historical military strategy wholesale, Uganda too should not swallow all dogma be it economic or political, if it is to live up to its developmental aspirations.

While it is true that history is written by the victors, the lessons from the bush war can serve as the inspiration for the attitude of hope, sacrifice and courage in out-of-the-box thinking we will need to adopt to take this country to the next level.

Happy NRM day to you all.

pbusharizi@newvision.co.ug

Twitter @pbusharizi

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