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Kasirye Ggwanga’s candle burns out

Tuesday June 9, 2020

The Late Maj Gen Kasirye-Ggwanga 

Fierce retired Millitant, Maj Gen Kasirye Ggwanga has died in Nakasero Hospital, Kampala. The details of his passing are unavailable.

There has been speculation on the Major General’s health in the days leading up to his death.

“I have known him for 40 years and I can tell you that we have lost a very good leader, a fearless man and a great commander”, Lt Col Juma Seiko said to our reporter at Nakasero hospital.

Maj Gen Kasirye Ggwanga was born in 1952 in Mubende District to a father who was a hunter and farmer. Kasirye Ggwanga attended Katakala Primary School, then he studied at Kibuli Secondary School for his O-Level education. After finishing Senior 4, he joined the Uganda Army in 1972.

Following boot camp and initial training, he was posted to Arua, as a map reader, serving in that capacity until 1977. In 1978, he was promoted to the position of artillery officer and the following year, he was promoted to the rank of Staff Sergeant.

In 1978, the Tanzania People’s Defense Forces invaded Uganda. In April they captured Kampala and deposed Idi Amin. Kasirye Ggwanga surrendered and was taken prisoner to Tanzania.

In June 1980, President Godfrey Binaisa negotiated the return of the political prisoners to Uganda. They were first housed at Maluku Prison in Mbale. Later, they were moved to Kirinya Prison in Jinja. On 7 October 1981, Kasirye Ggwanga was in the first batch to be released.

Three months after Kasirye Ggwanga's release, the Uganda Freedom Army (UFA) rebels led by Andrew Kayiira attacked the army barracks at Mengo Lubiri in Kampala. The government in power at the time, led by Milton Obote of the Uganda People’s Congress (UPC) mistakenly thought that the recently released prisoners (former Idi Amin soldiers) were involved in the attack. Kasirye Ggwanga was placed on the "wanted list". He went underground.

His elder brother, Lieutenant James Kasirye, a military pilot then based at Nakasongola Military Airbase was arrested and tortured, then killed when he refused to identify where his brother Kasirye Gwanga was hiding.

To avenge the killing of his brother, Kasirye Ggwanga joined the UFA rebels, then about 650 in number. This group operated in the Mawokota and Mubende areas in Buganda. In 1985, he left UFA and joined the NRA, which captured power in January 1986. During the drive to capture Kampala, Kasirye Ggwanga commanded a 120mm artillery unit.

Between 1986 and 2005, he served in several roles including as the LC5 chairman for Mubende District and as the director of stores in the UPDF. On 31 January 2005, he was retired from the UPDF at the rank of brigadier.

However, after three months on the outside he came back to the military and asked to be re-instated. The UPDF commander-in-chief allowed him to rejoin on a renewable contract of five years.

In March 2018, Kasirye Ggwanga was promoted from the rank of Brigadier to that of Major General, in a promotions exercise involving 1,384 men and women of the UPDF. He was also officially retired from the Uganda military.