ON July 25, this year the nation commemorated the 40th anniversary of the Kagera War in honour of the fallen heroes.
Men and women, who dedicated their lives to the defence of the nation from colonialists and aggressors including the then dictator, Idi Amin of Uganda. Several young men, including Conrad Kato, an advocate born in 1987, have been asking questions in a bid to have some background about the war.
One of the questions was “Why did Tanzania government send its troops to Uganda and why were several Ugandan soldiers buried at Kaboya TPDF Camp in Muleba District?
Before the 1978/79 Kagera War with the then dictator Idi Amin of Uganda. People in the Kagera Salient lived peacefully.
They were cultivating various cash and food crops including bananas, coffee, maize, cassava and millet on their farms.
Many people were killed by Idi Amin’s forces in the Kagera Salient, resulting in a big loss of property.
The Uganda–Tanzania War, known in Tanzania as the Kagera War and in Uganda as the 1979 Liberation War.
Fought between Uganda and Tanzania from October 1978 until June 1979, and led to the overthrow of Idi Amin’s regime.
Amin’s forces included thousands of troops sent by Libya.
In 1971 Colonel Idi Amin launched a military coup that overthrew the President of Uganda, Milton Obote, precipitating a deterioration of relations with neighbouring Tanzania.
President Obote was away in Singapore to attend an international meeting.
Amin installed himself as President of Uganda and ruled the country under a repressive dictatorship.
Soon after coming to power, soldiers loyal to Idi Amin kidnapped the then Kagera Regional Police Commander (RPC), Hans Poppe who was on a patrol mission in Missenyi Division.
The soldiers took him to Kampala, where Idi Amin wrongly identified him as a Chinese and accused him of training rebels in Tanzania.
He later tortured and killed him.
The killing of Hans Poppe triggered a brief exchange of military confrontation between Tanzania and Idi Amin’s forces.
The matter was solved through a diplomatic dialogue termed as the “Mogadishu Pact” of 1972.
Uganda also disputed its border with Tanzania, claiming that the Kagera Salient—a 720 square mile stretch of land between the official border and the Kagera River 18 miles to the south, should be placed under its jurisdiction, maintaining that the river made for a more logical border.
However, again in October 1978, Idi Amin forces invaded Tanzania and annexed the Kagera Salient extending from Mutukula to Kyaka (over 60 kms).
The late Father of the Nation Mwalimu Julius Kambarage Nyerere, who was also Commander in-Chief of Tanzania Armed Forces could not tolerate such nonsense. He declared war to the invaders with orders to repel the enemy from Tanzanian soil.
During the National CCM Conference held in Arusha City Mwl. Nyerere said inter-alia… .”Sababu ya kumpiga tunayo, Nia ya kumpiga tunayo na uwezo wa kumpiga tunao,”
literally meaning that Tanzania had every reason to repel the enemy. The ensuing war was bitter and expensive. Tanzanian commanders including Major Generals; Abdallah Twalipo, Silas Mayunga, Mwita Marwa, Tumainieli Kiwelu and Brigadiers; Imran Kombe and John Walden, just to mention a few, did a commendable job at the battle front leading gallant Tanzanian forces.
The task was successfully accomplished in October 1979 with fugitive dictator Idi Amin fleeing to the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
The Tanzanian forces received a heroes welcome at Bunazi, in Missenyi District led by Mwalimu Nyerere from where he addressed the nation and awarded medals to the commanders.
The event was also witnessed by former Ugandan ruler, Godfrey Binaisa.
During his national address, Nyerere emphasized the importance of patriotism. He commended all men and women who took part in liberating Uganda from Amin’s dictatorship.
About 619 fallen heroes including Tanzanians and several Ugandans who died during the war were buried at Kaboya TPDF Camp, in Muleba District, in Kagera Region.
A white monument was erected in the cemetery and adorned with the names of the dead.
Kagera Regional Commissioner (RC), Brig. Gen Marco Gaguti led hundreds of Tanzanians to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the Kagera War in honour of fallen heroes.
Men and women, who dedicated their lives to defend the nation from colonialists and aggressors including the then dictator Idi Amin of Uganda.
The event was held at Kaboya Camp. Gaguti stressed unity among Tanzanians urging people to be vigilant and report suspected aliens to relevant authorities for necessary action. Terrorism knows no bounds.
People must be vigilant taking into consideration that Kagera Region shares borders with four neighbouring countries-Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda and Kenya across Lake Victoria.
A one-minute silence was observed to remember the fallen heroes.
He also stressed the importance on unity among East African Community (EAC), member countries, saying that such unity would make the countries stronger economically and speed up peoples’ development.
Expounding, he noted that the EAC countries--Rwanda, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Burundi and South Sudan, with a combined population of 165 million, had a better chance to hasten peoples’ development. With unity we can perform wonders.
He welcomed investors, both local and foreigners after upgrading of the Kimisi Game reserve to National Reserve.
Investors are welcome to construct five star hotels and tour operators thus creating employment.
The region had also set aside a big area for establishing medium and large industries.
This would invite investors to contribute in industrialisation through construction of industries, five star hotels and other key sectors including agriculture, health, education and minerals, a key priority for the Fifth Phase Government under President John Magufuli.
Industries that produce goods for mass consumption such as clothes, textiles and edibles are highly encouraged.
President Magufuli’s administration has embraced industrialisation as part of the panacea for unemployment among the youths because industrialisation drive was expected to be one of the significant remedies by creating thousands of job opportunities across the country.
Industries have great potential of creating jobs and attracting capital, skills and knowledge.
Cultural tourism is among potential areas earmarked to attract more tourists in Kagera region, a renowned conservationist, Ms Mary Kalikawe, said.
The region had abundant untapped tourism opportunities urging leaders to take concerted efforts to publicise the tourism potentials including Lake Victoria, the world leading fresh water lake in the world.
Kalikawe, a former Zoology lecturer at the University of Dar es Salaam, commended President Magufuli for his timely decision to elevate three game reserves to National Reserves namely; Burigi-Chato, Ibanda- Kyerwa and Rumanyika- Karagwe.
President Magufuli recently launched Burigi-Chato National Park calling upon the Ministry for Natural Resources and Tourism to make more efforts to publicise the abundant tourism opportunities to attract more tourist.
The park, close to Lake Victoria, on the border with Rwanda, is surrounded by Kagera River and Lake Burigi.
The government established the national park as a game reserve in the 1970s and it was in May 2018, with four other reserves, promoted to national parks.
The five game reserves with a total of 5,526 square kilometers, which were upgraded to national parks, with respective kilometers in brackets are: Biharamulo (1,300); Burigi (2,200); Kimisi (1,026); Rumanyika (800) and Ibanda (200). Various types of wildlife are found in these game reserves.
They include elephants; lions, giraffes, buffaloes, leopards, hippopotamus and antelopes, to mention but a few.
There are also certain species of birds and butterflies found in these game reserves which cannot be found elsewhere in the world.
Tourist attractions found in the region include traditional houses of chiefs Rumanyika of Karagwe at Bweranyange, Chief Kasusura of Biharamulo and Chief Balamba of Ngara.
The region enjoys a favourable weather pattern with average temperature at 26.02 degree Centigrade and annual rainfall ranging between 880-1,100 mm during months of September to January and March to May.
The agricultural sector plays a crucial role in the rehabilitation process of the country’s economy.
Exploration of fertile areas and conducting research on what types of crops can be produced in such areas for optimum production is the only way of achieving self-sufficiency in food and earning substantial foreign exchange.