Article by Eng. Godfrey Mbagira and Mr. Katabarwa Albert, the founders of GOAM Youth Voice Uganda. Tarehe Sita, a Swahilli word meaning the sixth day, which in this context is the day of 06th February 1981 which sparked the war of resistance against tyranny, oppression and exploitation with an attack on Kabamba military barracks to topple the government born out of the disputed 1980 elections. Today’s 42nd Tarehe Sita anniversary celebrations at Kakyeka playground in Mbarara City western Uganda were held under the theme: “Recognizing the Sacrifice of the founders of the Peoples Revolution for social economic transformation.”
It was on January 26th 1986, the National Resistance Army under the command of the idea bearer and the father architecture of National Resistance Army-NRA, Gen. Yoweri Kaguta Museveni and his fellow gorilla war combats overthrew the short-lived military junta of Brigadier Bazillio Okello and General Tito Okello Ugandans for the first time in history were able to see the most outstanding disciplined, professional and pro-people bush army and I believe we must vehemently give absolute respect to President Museveni.
Immediately after capturing the state power, NRA quickly opened up its ranks to those who joined a broad-based government. The comprehensive plan of training and ideological orientation towards the Pan African agenda enabled NRA absorb the Uganda National Rescue Front-UNRF of Moses Ali, Juma Oris’s of the West Nile Bank Front totally defeated by the NRA as indeed was Alice Lakwena’s short lived rebellion and Joseph Kony whose rebel Lord’s Resistance Army-LRA was also defeated in 2006. Uganda for the first time in 500 years is at peace.
Following a constitutional review process that started in 1992 by the appointment of a judicial commission headed by Justice Benjamin Odoki and culminating in the promulgation of a new Constitution in 1995, the NRA was renamed Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF).
Guided by a principle of Pan African ideology, and increasingly becoming a modern army with Land, Air and Marine capabilities, UPDF has engaged in missions to bring peace to firstly; Liberia in 1992, Somalia since 2007 and South Sudan. UPDF also helped the Democratic Republic of Congo-DRC to get rid of Mobutu Sese Seko Kuku Ngbendu Wa Za Banga’s dictatorship. UPDF Special Forces are active in Central African Republic. More prominent though, is the Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF) whose ideology was shaped in the jungles of Luweero by the NRA.
In commemoration of the 42nd Tarehe Sita, it is important to appreciate the journey that Uganda has gone through; for it is that journey that birthed the professional army which all Ugandans are proud of. In a world where intolerance, Islamic and Christian fanaticism, and rejuvenation of tribalism – is becoming the norm, Tarehe Sita reminds us to reject ideological idiocracy. Tarehe Sita reminds us to reject vainglory by certain members of today’s political class. It is a call to the ideals of liberty.
On this day, Ugandans should join the armed forces to remember the efforts and sacrifices of the NRA during their 5 years of fighting a people’s protracted war in the liberation struggle. It is since then that Tarehe Sita became a permanent fixture on Uganda’s Calendar.
Tarehe Sita is a culmination of week-long activities which are conducted country wide by the uniformed personnel wherever they may be based inside or outside the country together with the civilian population. The country is always reminded that the work to struggle for the good of the country must continue when they get involved in various community activities such as in healthy, cleanliness and a number of voluntary activities like construction, provision of clean water etc. The UPDF and Ugandans in general, are justified to celebrate Tarehe Sita. The outcome of the war is worth celebrating in as far as we now have an army that most Ugandans are proud of.
In fact, of all the achievements of President Museveni and the NRM over the past years, army discipline is everywhere undisputable except in few cases. In cases where soldiers have misbehaved, especially towards civilians, the resolve to punish them has been consistent.
It must also be said that UPDF has registered tremendous success in and outside the country. For example, as part of AMISOM in Somalia, it has made Uganda proud. The Army played a pivotal role in handling related terrorist attacks in Kampala in 2010, and no doubt they did a good job. Mogadishu was a no-go area when they moved in there in March 2007, but now the city is largely secure and the country has democratically elected presidents.
The UPDF must also be credited for driving out rebellions from northern Uganda, even if it took a little longer. However, as Ugandans celebrate Tarehe Sita, year in – year out, we must appreciate the truly national character of our army, whose core duty is to protect the state, people and their property. Tarehe Sita is the umbilical cord joining the army values and the aspiration of the people of Uganda.
A happy Tarehe Sita to all men & women in uniform, and in a special way to President Museveni – the master architecture for enormous global impact and the most respected president in the whole world. Article by Eng. Godfrey Mbagira and Mr. Katabarwa Albert, the founders of GOAM Youth Voice Uganda. firstname.lastname@example.org