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John Karekyezi

It is 1932 and in present day Kisoro district a son, John Karekyezi is born of a Parish chief and is a grandson of an elder, Yakobo Rwanyonga. The young John Karekyezi attended Mutolere Primary School before proceeding to Kitabi Seminary and St. Marys’ College, Kisubi for secondary education. In 1952 he joined Makerere University to Study Veterinary Medicine where he became the Vice Chairman of the Student’s Guild Council. He actively got involved in students’ politics whereby at one time he attended an International Union of Students Leaders course in Vienna, Austria. While there he extended his stay abroad addressing the international community on the need for Uganda’s self governance. Coupled by his earlier links with the militant wing of the Uganda National Congress (UNC), the colonial authorities were annoyed and expelled him from Makerere and confiscating his passport to stifle his movement.
He took up an active role with the UNC at its offices in Katwe, Kampala with the likes of Paulo Muwanga, Ignatius Musaazi, Samson Sekabanja and others. He joined hands with UNC’s militants under their umbrella organisation, Katwe People’s Council to oppose the visit of Queen Elizabeth in 1954. Since he had attended a Cadet Corps paramilitary training while at Kisubi, he led some militants and they stole thirty rifles and six hundred ammunitions from the armory at Kisubi. They intended to use these arms against the colonial government but all the arms were recovered before the Queen’s visit.

John Karekyezi who at this stage had adopted Kale as his name in order to erase the Rwandese linage was deported to Belgian Rwanda-Burundi after he was branded a Marxist and excommunicated from the Catholic Church.

From Belgian Rwanda, he attempted to enter Belgian Congo to link up with Patrice Lumumba but was captured and imprisoned in Goma. He somehow managed to sneak back into Uganda and under disguise he travelled to Sudan from where he connected to Cairo, Egypt in 1957. In Cairo, he represented UNC at the First Afro-Asia Conference. Since the 1952 revolution that brought Abdul Jamal Nasser to power, Egypt had become the centre of the anti-colonial and greatly supported pro-independence movements under the Cairo Africa Society comprised of 38 countries. Muslim youths who had been alienated by the missionary based colonial educational system in Uganda would secretly foot to Juba in Sudan, take a ferry across the Nile to Khartoum from where they would fly to Cairo. The likes of Ibrahim Mukiibi, Yunus Kinene, Umaru Ddumba and several others went to Cairo under such an arrangement. John Kale must have disguised as a Muslim in order for him to easily sail through the risky route to Cairo.
In Cairo, John Kale opportunistically appointed himself the UNC Secretary for Foreign Affairs. He got close to Egypt’s Jamal Abdul Nasser who posted him to his office under the Africa Policy scheme – aimed at freeing Africa from the colonial yoke. He allowed him to use the state radio to broadcast anti-colonial propaganda. His colleagues back in Uganda at Katwe UNC office used to tune in and listen to his live broadcasts from Cairo. His closeness to Abdul Nasser linked him to direct contact with the likes of Kwame Nkrumah, Julius Nyerere, Kenneth Kaunda, Joshua Nkomo, Tom Mboya and other nationalistic African leaders who would frequently visit Cairo to seek material and moral support.

In 1958 he initiated a militant organisation inside Uganda. During the same year, he dispatched propaganda literature to Uganda through Abu Mayanja but was arrested at Entebbe airport for importing into the country and being in possession of prohibited literature. Mayanja was tried, convicted and sentenced to a caution by the Magistrate’s Court.

Kale’s publications though banned because being ‘harmful propaganda’ still found their way into the country. He attempted to present a petition to the UN over Uganda’s independence but was blocked. He instead stealthily joined the Cameroonian delegation that was presenting its petition to the UN for independence. Kale who felt he had gained enough muscle was planning to contest the 1961 elections as the UNC flag bearer.

In April 1960, a US spy plane was brought down from the USSR airspace prompting a serious diplomatic standoff between the two superpowers. It is said John Kale either oh his own or Abdu Nasser’s initiative opportunistically volunteered to mediate between the two giants. He died in a plane crash in Kiev on his way to Moscow in September 1960. His remains were buried in Kisoro but the Catholic church refused to hold a funeral mass because he had been excommunicated from the Catholic Church for being a communist.
His Cairo office had caused a split within UNC when I.K. Musaazi saw it as an agency of spread of communism and Egypt’s imperialism for the control of the Nile. The younger intellectuals led by the likes of Abu Mayanja, Jolly Joe Kiwanuka, Dr. Kununka and a few others vehemently defended the Cairo office. They argued that the Cairo office acted as a link between the anti-colonial movement in Uganda and the democratic forces in the anti-imperialist world. This disagreement prompted Musaazi to expel from the UNC the likes of J.W. Kiwanuka, Dr. Kununka, Otema Alimadi, Abu Mayanja, John Kale, and Paulo Sengendo. Consequently, during the January 1959 Annual Delegates Conference, I.K. Musaazi was expelled from the UNC and Milton Obote was elected the leader of the UNC.

Consequently, the mainly Baganda in UNC led by Musaazi and Muliira formed an all-Baganda protest movement, the Uganda National Movement (UNM) which gained ground in Buganda on account of its trade boycott agenda. Earlier in 1958 the mainly non-Baganda break away faction of UNC led by Hon. Rwetsiba had formed the Uganda People’s Union (UPC). In March 1960, the Obote led UNC amalgamated with UPU to form the Uganda People’s Congress (UPC). John Kale’s had planned to contest in the 1961 as the ANC flagbearer. His abrupt demise in a plane crush spared the young country of the wrath of a self seeking and dangerously ambitious immigrant Rwandese Tutsi. Congo is grappling with the likes of Ntaganda and Laurent Nkunda. It was at least a postponement; for in 1955 he had bore a son, Gen. Kalekyezi who is now Museveni’s treacherous Police Chief.

Gen. Kalekyezi is married to a Kenyan Tutsi of Rwandese origin and grand daughter of the last King of pre-independence Rwanda, Rudahigwa who died of a poison injection while on an official visit to Burundi in 1959. That is why Gen. Kayihura attended the recent burial of the last king of independent Rwanda in Kigali. Is he aiming at making his father’s dreams come true; to accomplish his father’s unfinished business??? In terms of opportunistic political scheming and maneuvering coupled by the love for militancy, its just LIKE FATHER, LIKE SON.

Museveni has sanctioned the construction of a multi-billion John Kale Memorial Institute of Science and Technology in Kisoro. Who will advocate for the recognition of the role played by other non-Tutsi Ugandans who played a leading role in the struggle for independence?