In acknowledgement of 55 years of modern day Uganda, Makamba Online brings you a selection of 55 events that have defined Uganda’s social, economic and political life since winning independence from Britain in 1962.
1962: The Uganda flag is hoisted as the Union Jack is lowered. Uganda attains self-rule with Dr Apollo Milton Obote as prime minister and Sir Edward Mutesa II as president.
1963: The Uganda Independence Act 1963 transforms the Uganda Protectorate into an independent country named Uganda with Queen Elizabeth II as head of state and Milton Obote as prime minister until October 4, 1963 when Sir Edward Muteesa is formally elected ceremonial head of state following a deal between Uganda People’s Congress and Kabaka Yekka parties.
1964: Uganda Army soldiers, led by Col Idi Amin, mutiny demanding “fruits of independence.” Obote yields to their demands, which marks the beginning of the rise of Amin.
1965: Brig Shaban Opolot, commander of the Uganda Army is placed under house arrest in October by Obote on suspicion of a potential coup d’état.
1966: Obote suspends the 1962 Constitution, dismisses the President and Vice President and assumes executive powers. His troops surround parliament as he introduces the 1966 “pigeonhole” Constitution curtailing federal government powers. On his orders, the army led by Amin attacks Kabaka Muteesa’s palace on May 24, forcing him into exile.
1967: The 1967 Constitution is enacted by Parliament. It formally abolishes kingdoms and confers extensive powers on the central government led by Dr Obote.
1968: A UPC conference is held, the first since the controversial 1964 party meeting in Gulu. Presidents Kenneth Kaunda of Zambia and Julius Nyerere of Tanzania are invited. Obote is voted party president for the next seven years.
1969: President Obote survives an assassination attempt on December 19 at Lugogo. A countrywide state of emergency is declared, opposition parties are banned.
1970: A second attempt is made on Obote’s life when his motorcade is ambushed later that year, but the vice-president’s car is mistakenly riddled with bullets. Obote begins to recruit more tribes-mates into army.
1971: Idi Amin topples Obote while he is attending a Commonwealth conference in Singapore.
1972: Idi Amin declares “economic war”, giving Asians a 90-day ultimatum to leave Uganda, leading to the exodus of about 50,000. John Akii Bua wins Uganda’s first gold medal at the Olympic Games in Munich and Chief Justice and former Prime Minister Ben Kiwanuka, and Makerere University Vice Chancellor Frank Kalimuzo, are abducted by Amin’s security agents never to be seen again.
1973: US Ambassador describes Amin’s regime as racist, erratic and unpredictable, brutal, inept, bellicose, irrational, ridiculous, and militaristic. US closes its embassy.
1974: Amin declares war on Israel with support from Libya and Russia.
1975: Uganda hosts the Organisation of African Unity summit in Kampala. Amin is elected OAU chairman for the following year. Ahead of the conference, Nile Hotel (the now privatised Serena Hotel) is built and Uganda Television (now Uganda Broadcasting Corporation) starts broadcasting in colour.
1976: Israel commandos attack Entebbe airport on July 4 to rescue more than 100 Israeli and Jewish hostages taken captive in the hijack of an Air France plane by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.
1977: Archbishop Janan Luwum is murdered together with two ministers Erinayo Oryema and Oboth Ofumbi. The prelate had just written a hard-hitting critique on Amin.
1978: Uganda reaches the African Cup of Nations final in 1978 in Accra, Ghana, eventually losing 0:2 to the host nation. After 38 years, Uganda returned to the tournament in 2017.
1979: Amin is ousted by Tanzanian People’s Defence Force and Ugandan exiles’ rebel groups. He is replaced by Prof. Yusuf Lule at the Moshi Conference. Lule is also ousted after 68 days in power and replaced by Godfrey Binaisa.
1980: Milton Obote returns to Uganda. He is re-elected President in the disputed 1980 elections.
1981: Museveni starts a guerrilla war against the Obote government.
1982: On January 7, former presidents Binaisa and Lule establish the Uganda Popular Front to fight the government.
1983: UNLA chief of staff Brig Oyite Ojok, a Langi like Obote, dies in helicopter crash at a time Acholi soldiers were complaining about getting too much front-line action and too few rewards.
1984: Government troops kill 90 individuals in Namugongo on May 25.
1985: Acholi officers, Brig. Bazilio Olara Okello and Gen Tito Okello depose Obote and sign a peace pact with Museveni’s National Resistance Army in Nairobi, December 1985.
1986: Museveni captures power barely one month after signing the peace accord. Alice Auma a.k.a Lakwena starts the rebel Holy Spirit Movement against Museveni’s government.
1987: NRM government announces a currency reform to curb inflation, knocking two zeros off the shilling and withholding 30% of the exchange amounts. Joseph Kony wages rebel war through the Lord’s Resistance Army.
1988: About 40 people, mainly Ugandans, die in an October 17 Uganda Airlines Boeing 707 plane crash in Rome. Survivors include Ankole Crown Prince John Barigye who has since passed on.
1989: Sweden-based Ugandan musician Philly Bongoley Lutaaya shocks the nation when he publicly declares that he is HIV positive, initiating a public awareness campaign against the then largely mysterious epidemic.
1990: NRA soldiers of Rwandese origin desert and attack Rwanda to topple President Juvenal Habyarimana’s government. The conflict would result in the 1994 genocide that claims an estimated 800,000 lives.
1991: Large-scale privatisation of state parastatals kicks off.
1992: Political parties are banned, giving rise to a no-party or “Movement” system.
1993: Kingdoms restored after a 26-year ban.
1994: Dr Speciosa Wandira Kazibwe is appointed Vice President, becoming the first woman VP in Africa.
1995: The Constituent Assembly promulgates a new Constitution institutionalizing the ban on political party activities and imposing a two-term limit on the presidency.
1996: First general elections under NRM are held. President Museveni defeats Paul Kawanga Ssemogerere and Muhammed Mayanja Kibirige.
1997: Universal Primary Education starts, dramatically increasing enrolment of pupils in schools. It remains bedeviled by poor quality.
1998: About 80 students of Kichwamba Technical Institute in Kabarole district are killed by the Allied Democratic Forces rebels in June.
1999: Col Dr Kizza Besigye issues a document highly critical of the Movement government, setting the scene for his departure from the NRM.
2000: Some 1,000 people are burnt to death on March 17 in Kanungu by Joseph Kibwetere, leader of a religious cult called Movement for the Restoration of the Ten Commandments of God.
2001: Besigye beats security surveillance to escape into exile just months after the fiercely fought 2001 elections in which he sought to dislodge his former commander-in-chief President Museveni.
2002: LRA rebels kill 60 in Agoro hills, southern Sudan on April 26. LRA rebels kill 52 in the village of Lapono on October 13.
2003: Idi Amin dies aged 78 in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, from kidney failure.
2004: LRA rebels massacre about 200 inhabitants of Barlonyo camp for internally displaced people in Lira District on February 21.
2005: Parliament amends the Constitution to remove presidential term limits, just ten years after its enactment. Dr Obote dies of kidney failure aged 80 in a hospital in Johannesburg, South Africa. Besigye returns to Uganda after four years in exile.
2006: Uganda holds general elections and Gen Museveni wins with 59 per cent of the vote. Besigye, who comes second, goes to court. Supreme Court judges agree that there were electoral malpractices but not enough to warrant a re-election. LRA signs cessation of hostilities agreement with government.
2007: Uganda hosts Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting with 36 heads of state or government, including Queen Elizabeth II, in attendance.
2008: Some 300 Ugandan government troops, along with soldiers from the DRC and South Sudan, launch a military offensive (“Operation Lighting Thunder”) against LRA rebel bases in Garamba, eastern Democratic Republic of Congo on December 14.
2009: Thirty killed in riots that break out in Buganda on September 11, after government blocks Kabaka of Buganda Ronald Muwenda Mutebi from visiting Kayunga, an area under his kingdom.
2010: At least 74 people are killed and several injured in bomb blasts while watching a World Cup final broadcast at an Ethiopian restaurant and Kyadondo Rugby Club in Kampala.
2011: Walk-to-Work demonstrations start after disputed 2011 general election.
2012: As Uganda celebrates 50 years of independence, Stephen Kiprotich wins the country’s second gold in the men’s marathon on the final day of the London Olympics.
2013: Ugandan parliament approves law making homosexual acts punishable by life imprisonment on December 20, 2013.
2014: President Museveni signs the anti-homosexuality law on February 24, prompting condemnation and economic sanctions by Western powers. Ugandan Constitutional court annuls the anti-homosexuality law on August 1.
2015: A meeting of NRM caucus at Kyankwanzi declares Museveni sole candidate, Amama Mbabazi is sacked as Prime minister and later removed from the office of NRM secretary general after he refuses to drop ambitions to succeed his boss.
2016: President Museveni wins another disputed election, scoring 65 per cent of the vote to Besigye’s 35 per cent. Mbabazi, who comes a distant third, challenges the result in court but loses.
Happy Independence Day Uganda!
Author: Gesture Chidhanguro