From a promising dawn during the heady days of independence, Uganda has been to hell and back – witnessing the 1966 crisis as Dr. Milton Obote and Kabaka Mutesa’s political marriage fell apart, Idi Amin’s eight year reign of terror, the 1979 liberation war that ousted Amin and the Luwero guerilla w
By Moses Walubiri
From a promising dawn during the heady days of independence, Uganda has been to hell and back – witnessing the 1966 crisis as Dr. Milton Obote and Kabaka Mutesa’s political marriage fell apart, Idi Amin’s eight year reign of terror, the 1979 liberation war that ousted Amin and the Luwero guerilla war that brought NRM to power.
However, in all the turns during the country’s serpentine post-independency journey; there have been men and women who have had the guts to stick their heads above the parapet – some dying in the process.
For those that have survived to tell the tale of their struggles to secure the liberties and freedoms of Ugandans, their price has not been any less. Many had to sacrifice lucrative careers or abandon grandeur dreams while some had their marriages and family lives strained or broken
In recognition of the selfless service to the country, government, in 2001 enacted a law providing for awards in terms of medals to heroes. Dubbed the National Honours and Awards Act, the law streamlines the process of selecting people who merit recognition and the different types of awards and their beneficiaries.
The Act, for example, provides for the creation of the Presidential Awards Committee (PAC), recognition and conferment of titles of honour decoration, medals, awards, and orders. It also provides for a Chancery as the Permanent Custodian of Honours, Awards, and Medals.
The Chancery is headed by a Chancellor who is the Secretary to the Chancery, and whose terms and conditions are equal to that of a Permanent Secretary. The Mandate of PAC is to advise the President in respect of the persons upon whom titles of honour may be conferred, and generally in respect of the President’s performance of his functions in Section 5 of the National Honours and Awards Act, 2001.
There are six national/public functions at which award of medals are performed by the President. These are: 25th January, Victory Day, 6th February, Tarehe Sita (Army Day), 8th March, Women’s Day, 1st May, Labour Day, 9th June, Heroes Day, and 9th October, Independence Day.
Medals and awards in Uganda are divided into military and civilian decoration and medals. In the latter category, the Most Excellent Order of the Pearl of Africa [The Grand Master] is the highest award in this class and it’s strictly bestowed upon heads of state and heads of government. It is closely followed by the Most Excellent Order of the Pearl of Africa [The Grand Commander] bestowed upon heads of states’ spouses, vice presidents and crown princes and crown princesses.
The Distinguished Order of The Nile [classes 1-v] is reserved to individuals who have distinguished themselves in productive research, economic, social and cultural enterprise. The Act provides that the Distinguished Order of the Crested Crane [Classes 1-V] is reserved for shinning lights in leadership - both in the private and public realms. For those who played a key role in the struggle for Uganda’s independence and those who have continued to protect it, the Act reserves them the National Independence Medal.
As for civilians who have contributed to the political development of Uganda either through armed struggle or civil disobedience, they are awarded the Nalubaale Medal. In the military category, The Order of Katonga heads the pack – a rare medal awarded to exceptional and extraordinary instances of heroism in the national army. In instances when the President is the beneficiary, only the Chief Justice shall have the honour of presenting The Order of Katonga.
The Kabalega Star [Classes 1-111) is second in rank to the Order of Katonga – awarded for conspicuous gallantly which does not merit the Order of Katonga. Third in this category is the Rwenzori Star [Class 1-111] for exemplary and distinguished service in the military which often entails great responsibility. There are four other categories that are used to reward Uganda’s heroes.
Gen. Salim Saleh is a hero
By Gilbert Kidimu
trueThere is a first time for everything but when Salim Saleh, a Ugandan minister quit his office voluntarily, that was a mother of firsts. How about a Ugandan minister confessing to an unauthorised commission, surrendering the money and then resigning gracefully? Not in a million years.
Talk about being reshuffled or censored and we’ve found familiar territory. Yet Caleb Akandwanaho a.k.a. Salim Saleh did the seemingly unthinkable. The former state minister for micro-finance is the only minister in recent years, to publicly declare he had quit his portfolio, citing frustration with the bureaucracy in the system, which delayed his efforts to lift the poor out of poverty.
The decorated general is now senior presidential advisor on defence. He has also devoted his life to empowering rural farmers through different agricultural projects. Saleh is one of the toasts of the revolution, one of the famous bush war veterans leading fighters into many successful battles of the guerrilla war. He was appointed commander of the Mobile Force. In February 1984, Saleh led a significant assault on Masindi barracks where he grabbed over 700 assorted weapons and months later, during an attack on Kabamba, his unit seized an assortment of over 600 weapons.
Saleh was also in charge when NRA battled UNLA soldiers in Masaka, brazenly driving into the town ahead of his fighters who were following him on foot. Normally, the commander comes in last, but that was not for Saleh.
When the war ended, Saleh later served as army commander in 1988 and retired in 1989, although he often has periodic recalls in the army. In the 1990s, he initiated the failed peace talks with the LRA and was part of the team that revived dialogue with the rebels in mid-2000.
Today, he engages in maize farming and processing in Kapeeka, Nakaseke district. “I am happy I remained so that I can contribute to social-economic transformation of the Luweero triangle,” he says.
In memory of Uganda’s departed giants
Eriya Tukahirwa Kategaya who passed on last year was a Ugandan lawyer and politician. At the time, he was serving as Uganda’s First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for East African Community Affairs
How are Heroes Day medals given out ?