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In memory of Uganda’s heroes

By Vision Reporter

Added 9th June 2007 03:00 AM

UGANDANS today join in celebrations to mark Heroes’ day that has become an integral part of the country’s history. Celebrations will be held at Kibibi, Butambala, in Mpigi district, where the National Resistance Army undertook one of the last battles before capturing power in 1986.’

UGANDANS today join in celebrations to mark Heroes’ day that has become an integral part of the country’s history. Celebrations will be held at Kibibi, Butambala, in Mpigi district, where the National Resistance Army undertook one of the last battles before capturing power in 1986.’

By Stephen Ssenkaaba

UGANDANS today join in celebrations to mark Heroes’ day that has become an integral part of the country’s history. Celebrations will be held at Kibibi, Butambala, in Mpigi district, where the National Resistance Army undertook one of the last battles before capturing power in 1986.’

According to General Elly Tumwine, a senior officer in the Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF), Heroes’ Day has been politicised and in the process misunderstood.

“It is important for people to understand who a hero is. Then they will be able to fully appreciate the meaning and importance of this day,” he says.

Tumwine says: “A hero is a person who has the strength; courage and ability to make achievements that cause society to admire them. Such a person exhibits noble qualities that make him or her a good model in society.”

He adds that these qualities include patriotism, valour (extreme courage that involves personal sacrifice for the good of society), vision, commitment to vision and resilience.

Heroes’ Day traces its origins to the heroic acts of a few men who sacrificed their lives so that the rest of Uganda could have peace. This was in Luweero Triangle during the protracted peoples’ war against Obote’s oppressive regime.

On June 9, 1981 Lutamaguzi, Ssempebwa, Ssentamu, Gitta and others were murdered in cold blood for refusing to reveal to Obote’s soldiers where the NRA guerrilla camp was.

“These people took a conscious decision not to give away camp, an act that led to the victory of the peoples’ war that has resulted in the present achievements. Their involvement, participation and commitment were very important to the formation of this day,” says Tuwmine.

In recognition of this act, parliament in 2001 declared June 9, as a national day to remember all people that have done exceptional acts for the good of society.

Among other reasons, this day was set aside to encourage the spirit of heroism among Ugandans. It would be used to recognise many people who carry out various acts of heroism.

Who are heroes?
In 2001 Parliament instituted a method to recognise people who have distinguished themselves in society. It passed the National Honours and Awards Act 2001 to pay tribute and reward such people for their outstanding services. This act establishes various award categories including civilian and military decorations and medals.

Before this, a few people had already been recognised as national heroes. These include Prof. Yusuf Kironde Lule (former president of Uganda), Ignatius Kangavve Musaazi (co-founder and leader of Uganda National Congress (UNC) party) and Professor Sebastian Kyalwazi.

Lt. Gen. Tuwmine explains that the constitution empowers the president of Uganda to honour and recognise different people as they may deserve.

“The president is the fountain of honour. All awards and honours come from him. He can award or revoke an honour,” he says.

He adds that plans are also under way to establish a process for recognising people. “An honour and awards committee has been put in place. This committee ill be receiving name of people who deserve to be recognised for their contribution to society. This committee will also advise the president on who should behonoured.

Tumwine emphasises that heroism is the spirit to carry out outstanding acts that will transform society for which people can be remembered. It is not limited to religion, parties, wealth. Even peasants can be recognized.

“Let people not use their sectarian approaches to look at this issue. It is above that,”

In memory of Uganda’s heroes

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