Opposition figure Col Dr Kizza Besigye was yesterday feted at the Voice Achievers Awards 2019, for his decades of struggle for a better democratic space in Uganda.
Dr Besigye, flanked by his wife Mrs Winnie Byanyima and son Anselm Besigye, was handed the “African Hero Award” at the event at Sarova Panafric Hotel in the Kenyan capital Nairobi.
The Awards are organized by the Netherlands based Voice Magazine which was founded by Rev. Ambassador Elvis Iruh.
Rev Iruh says the Awards is meant to honour individuals who have made various contributions towards the advancement of the continent of Africa.
In his speech, Dr Besigye said it was God that enabled him to achieve what he has been able to in the struggle for a better Uganda.
“It is only God that can make one go through the tough things that we go through,” he said.
The four time presidential candidate spent the better part of his speech heaping praises to his wife, Mrs Winnie Byanyima, who earlier this week was named the Executive Director UNAIDS .
He said it was through the sacrifice of his wife, which included giving up her parliamentary seat, that enabled him to carry on with his work.
“She was an MP and a member of the Constituent Assembly that gave rise to Uganda’s constitution. When we started protesting the things that have been going on, I had to leave the country after the 2001 elections rather urgently; and when that happened, our son Anselm was 2 years,” Besigye recounted.
“In a spell of one year, Winnie was in prison 7 times. Anselm without a doubt was traumatized. At the age of three years, he too was arrested!”
Born in September 1999, Anselm first tested the wrath of Ugandan politics in 2003 after his father lost in the 2001 presidential elections and run to exile.
Government security operatives — reportedly the Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence (CMI) led by the late Brig. Nobel Mayombo (then Colonel) — raided their house in Kampala “to check on the little boy.”
At the time, Winnie, was away on a trip in Manila in the Philippines.
The boy was consequently picked by his grandmother from Kampala and rushed to their country home in Mbarara before being flown out of the country to South Africa in September.
Owing to this risk, Besigye said, his wife had to “painfully give up her seat, to take care of Anselm.”
“She took an international job at the African Union and she has been out of the country since then.”
Through the speech, Dr Besigye seemed emotional going on and on about his wife’s sacrifices, that at one point she approached him on the podium and whispered “Talk about yourself.”
Dr Besigye expressed optimism nonetheless, that his decades of struggle to liberate what he called the “marginalized” and “voiceless” people of Uganda will not be in vain.
“We hope that by the grace of God we will get there,” he said.