Gen David Muhoozi, the Chief of Defense Forces (CDF) this afternoon joined scores of mourners and family members for the final send off of Maj Gen Samuel Kasirye Ggwanga, a famous National Resistance Army historical, who passed away early this week.
Gen Gwangwa died on Tuesday 9th June at Nakasero Hospital in Kampala where he had been admitted. He was aged 68.
Speaking to a limited number of mourners who were allowed to attend the burial at his home in Nkene village in Manyi Sub County, Mityana District, CDF Gen Muhoozi praised the deceased as a bold man especially in the things he believed in.
Muhoozi said while at times Gen Ggwanga seemed to act irrationally and often gave hard time to the military establishment, it was always for a good cause.
“He came off as bearknuckled and unconventional in his approach to life,” Muhoozi said.
“But mostly, it was in pursuit of good causes such as conserving the environment, mobilizing the citizens for agriculture or fighting land grabbers.”
“For him bureaucracies and processes were supposed to serve the ends of social justice, not the other way round,” he added.
Muhoozi went on to recount the incident in Lubowa when the deceased famously touched a tractor of a suspected land grabber.
“We asked him to go to police to record a statement but he said he didn’t want to go to the police to be embarrassed by those young boys,” Muhoozi narrated.
“So, I sent some people here led by Gen Sabiiti (Muzeeyi) who was commanding Military Police at the time, to take him to record a statement.”
“When they got here, he told them ‘I’m not going.’ They said, OK let’s go to Military Police and he agreed. When they got there, he told them that he had indeed burnt the tractor. He told them, ‘I got a distress call about a trespasser who was trying to grab land that wasn’t his, so I got gasoline and lit a match box and set the tractor on fire. Do you want anything else from me?”
According to Gen Muhoozi, this was an example of the lengths that Kasirye Ggwanga was will to go in pursuit for social justice.
He also recalled the deceased as a person of charm and style.
“It was like he was from his Wild West; his cowboy hats, his overall, the boots and his signature cigarette.”
The army commander concluded by urging Ggwanga’s children to write about their father’s life “for posterity to share.”
“We should celebrate his worthy life. He earned it.”
Meanwhile, in his message delivered by the Buganda kingdom Local Government Deputy Minister Joseph Kawuuki, Kabaka Ronald Muwenda Mutebi said he was saddened by the passing of Gen Ggwanga, whom he termed as a freedom fighter.
“It is sad that he died at a time that the most of us couldn’t attend. We join the nation to mourn a person who fought for a long time for the environment and for freedom. He was determined, hardworking and he loved his country,” the Kabaka eulogized.
He knew his time had come
Some of the family members speaking at the funeral, revealed that Gen Ggwanga was aware of his approaching demise.
His nephew Kenneth Ssemafumu, who was by his bedside at Nakasero Hospital said the deceased behaved differently in his last days.
“I was by his side when he first fell sick in 2005, but then he fought. This time he looked resigned. Weeks earlier, he called me urgently here and cooked for me and when I was about to leave in the evening, he said goodbye which he had never said to me,” Ssemafumu recounted.
“Then two weeks before being hospitalized, he sat under a tree and told Yasin to bring him his dog and a drink. At 6pm, he told him, ‘film me as the sun sets.’ After the sun set, he told him to stop filming and bade farewell to him.”
On his part, Works and Transport Minister and former CDF, Gen Edward Katumba Wamala praised the deceased as a distinguished officer who “worked for the military and never let us down.”
“He loved the army; it was in his blood; he didn’t join to waste time. He has been a real solider in all aspects,” Katumba said.
“He never used his position for personal gain; he was the Director of Barracks for 8 years and he could have obtained properties belonging to the arm or he would have built a big mansion here. He had the opportunity to accumulate a lot of wealth but he didn’t. He will be remembered for the lives he has touched because they were many.”