The President of Uganda Gen. Yoweri Kaguta Museveni early in the morning announced the death of his bush war comrade Gen. Elly Tumwine. Museveni described Tumwine, 68 years old, as a dedicated and hard-working cadre.
According to Museveni, the cause of Tumwiine’s death is lung cancer. The veteran soldier died at 5:46am at Agha Khan Hospital in Nairobi, the capital city of Kenya. Museveni’s relationship with the now deceased soldier dates back to when he taught him at Burunga Primary School in 1967.
Tumwine would later join Makerere University where he graduated with the degree of Bachelor of Arts in Fine Art in 1977. He briefly worked as a teacher but his career as a teacher was cut short when he alongside 900 other people joined Front for National Salvation (FRONASA), then a rebel group led by Museveni, in 1979.
He graduated at Monduli Military School in Tanzania as a cadet officer to kick off what has been an illustrious military career. As a soldier, he is most remembered for firing the first shot on the 6th February, 1981, at Kabamba, at the beginning of the 1981-1986 war that brought the current regime into power.
After the war in 1986, Tumwine was named the overall Army Commander, the first of the National Resistance Army era. He was replaced by Museveni’s brother Salim Saleh a year later. He would later serve in different capacities in the military including being Director-General Intelligence. His last government posting was as Security Minister. He was later name presidential advisor on security matters.
As a trained fine artist, Tumwine was good with his hands as a painter and craftsman. His works at Nommo Gallery are iconic. But unlike is mastery as a fine artist, you cannot say the same with his music career. His military themed music was to many music lovers laughable. His career as a recording singer is forgettable.
Tumwine, as a high ranking government official, courted controversy and some of his utterance angered Ugandans to date to the extent that many are celebrating his death. During the 2021 elections period, a time when Bobi Wine was sensational, Tumwine at a press conference said police had a right to shoot and kill protestors.
Then security minister, Tumwine’s words came at a time when almost 100 people had been killed in a police and military crackdown targeting Bobi Wine supports who were protesting the singers arrest in Luuka district, eastern Uganda. This has tainted his legacy.
While his death has attracted ridicule among Ugandans in the opposition, those in the government are in sorrowful mood and mourning. Gen. Henery Tumukunde said he was ‘saddened to hear of the passing of our senior general and former minister’ and described the loss as a ‘difficult and trying time.’
Gen Edward Katumba Wamala condoled with ‘President Museveni, the family of Gen. Tumwine, the UPDF/NRA fraternity and all those whose lives he touched.’
Agriculture minister Frank K Tumwebaze prayed that ‘the almighty God gives his wife & children comfort in this most trying time of grief.’