Kampala-President Yoweri Museveni has eulogized the late Gen. Elly Tumwine as a resilient man despite being injured badly during the revolutionary war. Museveni was speaking at the State funeral Service for the late Gen. Tumwine held on Monday at Kololo Independence grounds.
Tumwine, who was part of the 41 men that waged war against the Obote government in February 1981, died at Agha Khan Hospital in Nairobi, Kenya on Thursday last week where he was undergoing treatment for lung cancer. He was 68 years of age. The war Tumwine and others waged would climax in January 1986 when the rebel army under the leadership of Museveni captured political power in Kampala.
The group has held onto that power to date. The late Tumwine went to serve in various capacities in the government. He served as the Army Commander, Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) representative in Parliament, Director General of the External Security Organisation (ESO), Chairman of the UPDF General Court Martial, Security Minister, and presidential advisor, among others. Tumwine lost an eye in the war, in which he is remembered to have fired the first shot.
According to Museveni, Tumwine’s injury didn’t stop his participation in the war. Museveni appealed to Uganda’s young generation to emulate the spirit of patriotism and sacrifice that Gen. Tumwine exhibited.
Narrating bits of the war that led to the NRA victory in Kampala in January 1986, Museveni said that the first gunshot fired by Tumwine at Kabamba in a bid to capture guns from the armory was a mistake, but everything worked out for good in the end.
Museveni appealed to Tumwine’s family not to mind about statements made by a section of Ugandans about the late, saying that the talk amounts to nothing.
Earlier, First Lady, Janet Museveni said that the government and the UPDF were proud of the outstanding service of Gen. Tumwine to the country.
In his sermon during the funeral Service, the retired Bishop of North Kigezi Diocese, Rt. Rev. Dr. Edward Muhima asked Ugandans not to agree with whatever is being written or said about Gen. Elly Tumwine without getting to know him.
“Those who appreciate Gen. Elly Tumwine, I ask us to forgive those who have rejoiced at his death for they didn’t know him if they knew him, they would never write the kind of stuff they are writing and saying about him,” said Bishop Muhima. He described some of the reports written about the late as rubbish and cautioned against reckless statements about Gen. Tumwine.
Bishop Muhima said that the late Tumwine remained faithful to God and as a result, fought for the good of God’s people in the country. “The Gen. Elly Tumwine I knew as a Christian soldier, was a tough-minded soldier but tender-hearted as a born-again Christian who would challenge evil uncompromisingly. But at the same time, he had love and a heart for those who would disagree with him and would accommodate them in his heart…that was Gen. Elly Tumwine,” Bishop Muhima added. He also described the late as a serious man who withstood the temptation of arrogance, egoism, and blowing his own trumpet.
Gen. Wilson Mbadi, the Chief of Defence Forces (CDF) described the late Tumwine as a dedicated and hardworking cadre who grasped the ideology of the NRA, and UPDF and was able to pass it on to others. “As UPDF, we have lost an accomplished General, he was our mentor, our model and we will live to remember him for what he has done. For UPDF, he has been a very long-time member of the High Command. He fired the first shot at Kabamba on the 6th February 1981 and this was the beginning of that stage of struggle that finally led to the liberation of this country,” said Gen. Mbadi.
Mbadi said that Tumwine has been one of the revolutionary pillars of UPDF and the government, adding that he was instrumental in the restoration of peace, security, and stability of the country, which he said are the pre-requisites of social-economic transformation
The late’s wife, Jolly Tumwine said that they are proud of the great legacy left behind by Gen. Tumwine, saying that he loved God, the country, UPDF, and his family. “He undertook the tasks in different offices he held with passion, diligence, consistency, and integrity. He was a man of all seasons, he embraced each assignment without complaint…whether in office or out of it…he remained loyal and true to his values and the values of the revolution,” said Jolly Tumwine.
Speaking on behalf of the late Tumwine’s friends, lawyer Enos Tumusiime said that the late believed that he had fulfilled his mission on earth and that he lived a full life. “He was a satisfied man. Three weeks ago, when we were trying to convince him to move from Mulago Hospital to Nairobi Hospital, he told me…I want to die here. I engaged him in that discussion to try and convince him to move, but he refused and I called a number of people to try and convince him. Finally, when the pain got the worse for him, he agreed and we moved him to Nairobi hospital,” said Tumusiime.
Tumusiime said that Tumwine was one year ahead of him in school and they both attended Bulunga Primary School in 1967 and were taught by President Yoweri Museveni.
He explained that they went to separate secondary schools and could later reunite in the same A-level school where they shared the same decker-bed. Tumusiime also said that the late had a great love for art, the Ankole-long horned cattle, and the army.
The daughters of the late led by Cynthia Tumwine, described their father as an extraordinary and God-fearing man who had a deep love for God, country, and his family. They said that as a family, they had forgiven all those speaking negatively about their late father.
Daudi Tumwine, the son of the late said his father took his best responsibility for the family, a great artist and music lover. He said that their challenge is to fill the late Gen. Tumwine’s gap in their own way and add to his foundation and ideals.
Dr. Abrahams Omoding, an Oncologist at the Uganda Cancer Institute said that Gen. Tumwine’s ailment was first discovered in December 2020 when he presented with complaints of cough, pain, and loss of 10-kilo grams.
“One of the key tests that were done was a pepscan…this had been done in Nairobi just before we had met him. On our review of this, we noted that he had a mass in his left lung and it had also spread to involve lymph nodes in the middle of his chest, as well as his ninth rib, which had also been involved and extended up to his backbone,” said Dr. Omoding said. He explains that they classified this as stage 4 cancer.
He narrated that in June 2021, Gen. Tumwine underwent a lung and bone marrow biopsy at the Uganda Cancer Institute, which confirmed lung cancer. A year after receiving treatment that showed progress, Dr. Omoding said that Gen. Tumwine’s health started deteriorating in June 2022, and in late July, the medical team ascertained that cancer had spread to the liver and other body organs.
Dr. Omoding said that they agreed to move Gen. Tumwine to Nairobi for further management and that it was then that he developed an infection, drop in blood pressure, difficulty in breathing, kidney failure, and eventually a cardiac arrest on August 25th, 2022.
The late Gen. Tumwine was managed by a team of doctors from Uganda Cancer Institute, Mulago National Referral Hospital, Mulago Specialized Women and Neonatal Hospital, Uganda Heart Institute, and Nairobi Hospital.
Tumwine’s body has been airlifted to his ancestral home in Mukuru, Rwemikoma Sub County, Kazo district. On Tuesday, a funeral Service is to be held at the deceased country home in Mukuru before the burial takes place thereafter.