What follows is an opinion piece by Kisaka Robinson on the role of Gaddafi in Uganda. Perspectivesonafrica creates a forum for the expression of different viewpoints to stimulate debate on African issues; views expressed are therefore those of particular authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of perspectivesonafrica as a whole.
How will the fall of Colonel Gaddafi affect Uganda?
For over 40 years Brother Gaddafi (as many Ugandan’s referred to him) had been one of the great friends of Uganda. His fall will not only affect his supporters in Libya but also in Uganda due to his direct contribution to political struggles for change, cultural empowerment and economic support.
His first involvement into Uganda’s affair happened in early 1970s, when he supported and financed Idi Amin’s government after his personal disagreement with the Israel. The support continued up to 1979 when he sent troops to help Amin to stay in power. But his effort was in vain as his soldier’s failed to communicate with the Ugandan army (due to language barriers) and their failure to adopt tropical war bush fighting tactics leading to significant losses at the hands of the Tanzanian army.
In 1981 Gaddafi made a U-turn on Uganda and supported the liberation struggle by supplying ammunition to the rebels who were led by Gen. Museveni [currently the president of Uganda] of the NRA [National Resistance Army]. Partly as a result of Gadhafi’s intervention in 1986 President Museveni became the new leader.
On the cultural aspect Col. Gaddafi took power in 1969 and he has been very vocal on the protection of Africa culture and values. In Uganda he helped the country’s kingdoms financially and by giving resources. He helped in the building of Toro Kingdom headquarters and kingdom officials used to visit him frequently. During his 39th celebration as the president of Libya he called all cultural leaders from all over Africa and many attended in person; even those who did not attend, like the kabaka (king) of Buganda sent delegates. It was during that time that he also gave assurances to protect the kingdoms’ interests as long as they signed a memorandum calling him Africa’s ‘King of Kings.’
Economically Libya invested in Uganda’s economy including big investment through the Tropical bank, Uganda telecom, and housing finance; these are multi-billion dollar businesses which boosted Uganda’s economy.
Gaddafi also built a mosque for Muslims at old Kampala which is one of the biggest mosques in East Africa and also was named after him [Gaddafi mosque] and has been helping the Ugandan Moslem supreme council to take Ugandan students to Libya to study Islam and other programs for free.
Uganda will miss Col. Gaddafi for his endless voice of unification for one Africa and his support for the African Union summit. Because of that contribution it is still a challenge to most African states to denounce Gaddafiand support the new NTC Government.
Kisaka Samuel Robinson.
Kisaka Samuel Robinson graduated from Makerere University with a BA in Tourism in 2010. Currently based in Kampala (Uganda) he works as a research assistant and with Buganda Kingdom. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
An interesting piece to read alongside this article would be Matthew Tostevin’s recent article for Reuters Africa Journal, ‘Has the African Union Got Libya Wrong?’