President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni who is also the Commander-In-Chief (C-I-C) of the Uganda People’s Defense Forces (UPDF) has hailed the fallen Gen. Elly Tumwine as a patriotic and resilient man who continued with the struggle of liberating Uganda even after sustaining facial injuries during the war that led to losing an eye.
Gen. Elly Tumwine Tuhirirwe, one of the 42 people armed with 27 guns who attacked Kabamba barracks on February 6, 1981, to launch the protracted war of the National Resistance Army (NRA) that five years later in 1986 would usher the current government to power, succumbed to cancer-related complications in Aga Khan Hospital in Nairobi, Kenya, at the age of 68.
“Tumwine was a resilient man. Because he was injured badly at Bukomero but healed and came back and continued with the liberation struggle,” H.E Gen. Museveni said, adding that young people should emulate him.
“So, that spirit of Patriotism and sacrifice, you the young people you should learn from it”.
The President was speaking at a funeral service organised at Kololo Independence Grounds to celebrate the life of a man who is credited for having fired the first bullet that launched the five-year NRA liberation struggle.
Gen. Museveni who recounted the times he taught Tumwine and others in 1967 shortly after he had finished A- Level, gave a detailed account of how the fallen soldier shot the first bullet at Kabamba to capture 650 guns.
H.E the President said Tumwine was always active and involved in other attacks in Masindi that led to the capture of 760 guns and another attack in Hoima.
“This was God who did this actually. God used Tumwine to fire the first bullet,” Museveni said, describing Tumwine as having achieved a lot despite dying at 68.
“So, I am here to give this little testimony on Gen. Tumwine, dying at 68. He was still young but had achieved a lot and I am very happy to hear that he died a satisfied man,” H.E Museveni added.
The President also hailed Gen. Tumwine for having joined the socio-economic transformation of his rural area in Kazo district and had no kind words for those insulting the deceased.
“People insulting Tumwine are wasting their time because he’s somebody who has accomplished so much,” Gen. Museveni said.
He said Gen. Tumwine has not died because he has left behind a family and has done so much on earth that people will live to remember.
“Tumwine has not died. He is abundant here. Giving birth (oluzaaro) is part of eternity. So, what we do on earth really matters,” Gen Museveni said.
On her part, the First Lady and Minister of Education and Sports, Mrs Janet Museveni, eulogised Gen. Tumwine as someone who lived a fruitful life and achieved his mission.
“We know that we will miss Tumwine, all of us seated here but we believe that he is gone to a better place and we are grateful that he has achieved his mission,” Mrs Museveni said.
The family of the deceased General described their family head as a unique and very rare human being who loved God, his country Uganda, the army but above, all his family.
The widow, Jolly Tumwine, said her husband had a big, generous heart and looked after and supported so many children who have since graduated in various professions, describing the action as a blessing and a great legacy which will never be erased.
“In the 35 years God gave us, I saw him grow in his walk with Christ. He was very bold in testifying about what God had done in his life and committed to preaching God’s words,” Jolly said.
The family thanked President Museveni for the support he has rendered to them over the years up to now when they are seeing off their dear father.
On behalf of the UPDF, the Chief of Defense Forces (CDF), Gen. Wilson Mbasu Mbadi, said they have lost an accomplished leader and mentor who has been a long-time member of the UPDF High Command.
Gen. Mbadi said Gen. Tumwine has been a dedicated and hardworking cadre who grasped the NRM/NRA ideology, passed it on to others and practised it and was very instrumental to the restoration of peace and stability in Uganda.
“UPDF is, therefore, saddened by the loss of such a senior professional cadre, whose input has contributed to the environment that we are enjoying now,” Gen. Mbadi said.
The funeral service at Kololo was led by Bishop Emeritus Edward Muhima of North Kigezi Diocese who preached passionately about the meaning of life and death from the first book of Thessalonians. He described Gen. Tumwine as a Christian soldier, tough but also generous.
“General Elly Tumwine was a tough-minded soldier but tenderhearted born-again Christian who would challenge evil but at the same time had love and a heart for those who would disagree with him and would accommodate them in his heart,” Bishop Muhima said, adding that the fallen General was a serious man and yet very modest in his life.
Mr Enos Tumusiime, on behalf of friends, described Gen. Tumwine as one who lived a full life and died a satisfied man who believed that he had fulfilled his mission on earth.
“He loved the army. Your Excellency, you had a disciple for the army in the name of Tumwine,” Mr Tumusiime said.
The State Minister for Defense and Veteran Affairs, Hon. Jacob Oboth Oboth, also addressed the mourners.
The ceremony was attended by among others, the Speaker of Parliament, Rt. Hon. Anita Among, Chief Justice Alfonse OwinyDollo, 2nd Deputy Prime Minister, Lt. Gen. Moses Ali, Cabinet Ministers and Ministers of State, Members of Parliament (MPs), diplomats, senior security officers, and friends of General Tumwine.
After the service, Gen. Tumwine’s body was airlifted by chopper to Rwemikoma in Kazo district where he will be buried tomorrow, Tuesday, August 30, 2022.