In his efforts to gain the presidency of Uganda, Museveni launched a guerrilla war against the UPC government in 1981 with bases a few miles from the capital Kampala. Among the first victims of his ambitious war were teenage female students of Masulita Secondary School. The headmaster of the school Jacob Asiimwe (now a senior NRA officer) was a staunch NRA contact person in the area. Without concern for the safety of the students, Jacob Asiimwe turned the school into a base for the NRA clandestine activities. NRA fighters enjoyed same facilities of the school with the students. It was not long before the government got wind of the activities of Jacob Asiimwe and he fled to the NRA camp taking with him a number of students. The government helped to evacuate the remaining students before the school was closed down.
Once in the bush the teenage male students were conscripted for military training while the female teenages were turned into sex slaves by some of the senior commanders. Mrs Getrude Njuba one of the first four male adults to join the bush in an interview stated thus "... then sometime in 1982 Jacob Asiimwe brought several students in the bush with a number of girls." She went on to say "...but soon we realised that once you have women and men together, some people are bound to develop intimate relationships. The bush was no exception. Relationships developed." Imagine, female teenage students had been elevated to being "women" now!
Major Rubaramira Ruranga in an interview with the Monitor put it more boldly thus "Another depressing moment was seeing how some officers were abusing girls. I have been reading about what this lady in exile (China Kaitesi) has been writing and it is true. The few available females in the kraal of predominantly males were abused." Immediately following that interview, Major Rubaramira Ruranga was quizzed by the army over the same and in a follow-up interview he clarified thus "I was very sorry for the girls. Each time I saw young girls mistreated, I felt concerned. I was looking at the animal in man." There is no doubt these teenage girls were both used and abused. They were robbed of their future as they never continued with their education and many died of AIDS after the NRA took over government. Unfortunately, the sexual abuse even involved the top most leadership of the NRA at the time. Gen. Jim Muhweezi even bore a baby with one of such girls in the bush and the now adult daughter lives in London. For the sake of privacy for both the few living and dead victims, we shall not make shocking revelations here of who did what to who. Because of the then government's weak propaganda machinery, the development was not effectively publicised and since the NRA was victorious, nobody has been made to account for the sexual abuse of these teenager girls. However, a precedent had been set for future abuse of teenage students by fighting groups.
JOSEPH KONY'S ABOKE GIRLS
When Museveni took over power in 1986, the people of northern Uganda straight away rejected his rule. They resorted to armed rebellion that eventually saw the emergence of Joseph Kony's LRA that has brutally fought his government for the last two decades +. In 1989 the LRA raided St. Mary's College Aboke and abducted 10 school girls. The government army established its permanent presence at the college in order to provide security. Later on the army withdrew from the college leaving it to be guarded by the local LDU militia. In 1996, the LDU withdrew from the college to the nearby town of Ikeme leaving the students vulnerable. As the intent by the LRA to attack the college once again became public knowledge, the school management approached the army for security. The army instead demanded for a pickup truck to be provided by the college to facilitate the transportation of soldiers to the college every evening for night patrols.
One ening in October 1996 when the army had not shown up at the college for routine patrols, the LRA struck and abducted 130 female teenage students. The Deputy Headmistress of the college Sister Rachael Tassera (Italian) courageously followed the girls and negotiated with the LRA for their release. Fortunately 109 of the 130 girls were released by the LRA to Sister Rachael. The LRA retained the remaining 30 whom it is reported were distributed to senior commanders as sex slaves. The incident attracted a lot of international attention. The parents of the 30 students formed an association (CPA) that raised awareness locally, regionally and internationally. Unlike the UPC government he had fought in the early 80s, Museveni used the opportunity to intensify propaganda against the LRA. The propaganda out of this incident made immense contribution to the LRA being internationally condemned and declared a terrorist organisation. About 25 out of the 30 students have over the years returned from the LRA captivity while the remaining five are reported to have died.
Therefore, as we condemn the LRA and Joseph Kony, lets also condemn the NRA and Museveni for having set the precedent.
INFORMATION IS POWER