Friday, 22 February 2013

1944 - 1971

Yoweri Kaguta Museveni was born in 1944 to Mzee Amos Kaguta and Maama Esteri Kokundeka in the Ntungamo district of southwestern Uganda. At the time Uganda was still a part of the British Empire, and Museveni's father Amos had recently returned as a veteran of World War II, fighting under the British flag. Museveni’s name was, in fact, derived from Abaseveni, a regiment of Ugandan soldiers who had been drafted into the Seventh Regiment of the Kings African Rifles, in which his father served. Although most of the children in the rural area didn’t have any formal schooling, Amos, a cattle rancher by trade, insisted on all of his children receiving a thorough education. Museveni attended Kyamate Primary School, Mbarara High School and the college-prep Ntare School. In 1962 Uganda gained its independence from Britain, and even though the 18-year-old Museveni now had his first taste of being a free citizen of the kingdom of Uganda, it would be many years before he would see his country enjoy any lasting stretch of peace and prosperity.
It was during Museveni’s time at Ntare School that he began to take an interest in the politics of his country, and he didn’t wait very long before engaging in the political struggle. In 1966 he fought to convince the Ankole peasants in his home region to fence off their lands and to defend their right to not be evicted by colonial adventurers.
Museveni later enrolled at the Dar es Salaam University College of Education in Tanzania and obtained his Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics and Political Science in 1970. His political interest also extended beyond the classroom: as an active Marxist and pan-Africanist, he formed the University Students' African Revolutionary Front (USARF) activist group with an international mix of students, many of which would later become influential politicians in various countries. Museveni also led a student delegation to Mozambique, which was still under Portuguese rule at the time, to work with the Liberation Front of Mozambique (FRELIMO) and to receive training in guerrilla warfare.
In 1970, the 26-year-old Museveni returned to Uganda, which had since become a republic headed by President Apollo Milton Obote, and joined the national intelligence service. Museveni only held this position for a year before a military coup led by Idi Amin saw Obote toppled and Amin taking control of the country. Along with thousands of other Ugandans, Museveni was forced to seek refuge in neighbouring Tanzania.