By Faruk Kirunda
When I was young, I used to hear the name Moses Kigongo mentioned a lot and it had become synonymous with big occasions like Independence Day, Liberation Day and Tarehe Sita. Every time NRM was mentioned, next would be President Museveni and then Moses Kigongo. But I took long to know and see the man Kigongo and eventually when I did, I was not surprised why his name sounded a lot more than he carried himself around. He was a down-to-earth man who, despite his contribution to the NRM struggle and high profile position, did not throw his weight around.
No wonder, he is among the few senior leaders who have remained steadfast in NRM, others falling by the way side, others losing their sense of direction while others have perished due to over ambition.
There is something extraordinary about bush war historicals that other ordinary mortals lack and that is clarity of mission and willingness to go the extra mile to achieve patriotic goals.
As far as NRM is concerned, after Museveni, in my view, none meets the above billing like Al Hajji Moses Kigongo, the first Vice Chairman of NRM. In the past, he served as Vice Chairman NRM/NRM-the Parliament of that time, which post was equivalent to a Deputy Speaker. Those who were old enough to follow national issues say he was prolific in his duties and, consequently, he has remained in the top echelons of NRM without raising unnecessary dust or losing sight of the original mission.
It’s safe to say that without Kigongo, NRM would not be the same. What makes leaders like Kigongo indispensable assets in our politics today?
There is no doubt that Uganda is undergoing a generational transformation after NRM establishing a condusive environment for children to be born safe from the six killer diseases, attaining all round education, enjoying unprecedented freedoms, enjoying safety from war and bloodshed, and participating in local and national leadership as early as they wish. Young turks are getting ready to play their part but before they fully take charge, senior figures like Kigongo are invaluable and must be maintained in positions of influence to groom, mentor and give direction to the junior generation. Any country that will achieve its aspirations must optimise its human resources by bringing the experience and wisdom of the old generation and energy and ideas of the junior generation together.
A section of the young people of today lack root connection with the Luweero Triangle bushwar struggle, which struggle is the single most inspiring revolutionary phenomenon in the history of Uganda. Anybody who is not inspired by the courage and clarity of vision of the NRA/NRM liberators has a monumental task understanding how nations develop.
For NRM, the historical factor matters greatly. Many historical have decamped, leaving a few like Kigongo to bridge the gap. Technically, this is called continuity and institutional memory. NRM’s dominance is significantly hinged on this factor which new parties lack.
Kigongo is a brick in the foundation of NRM, safeguarding and promoting its fundamental values.
Kigongo is the highest ranking Muslim in NRM, a voice of Muslims who, alongside others, completes the picture of NRM as a nonsectarian party, wherein he has set a good example of a true Muslim. He is never engaged in high tension politics but is ever a stabilising factor in the NRM.
On his own accord and on the instruction of his boss, President Museveni, Kigongo has done a lot to diffuse internal wrangles and the formation of cliques and camps. Even at the height of political activity and intrigue, he is seldom seen escalating tensions or abusing his position for personal gain.
Kigongo is a loyal, dependable and reliable asset to NRM; he has sacrificed the chance to serve in other positions in Government, preferring to give NRM all his time and energy.
He is a true leader with no divided loyalties yet not extremist, a strong pillar!
NRM is at a critical point in its lifecycle, leading the pack while generally moderating the political field to mitigate tremors brought about by enemies of Uganda. Now is not the time to tamper with this set up where the senior generation sweeps all the corners clean for the benefit of young turks. The engine of the bus is sacred; the body may be remolded but touching the engine would be fatal.
All parties that have lost their seniors are in crisis; those without parental figures are worse off. D.P as survived completely disintegrating because they still have elders like Dr. Paul Ssemogerere to call everyone to order when things go overboard; UPC is only alive because of the continuity factor of elders from the Obote era. Without them, UPC would be a mere memory.
The young should watch and listen attentively! Pushing out elders brings a curse. It is like a child denying a father or mother because of advanced age. Today’s young people should know that tomorrow they will wear the grey crown and how they treated those who came before them will come to them.
While masked in the enthusiasm of electioneering, we should engage in healthy competition based on time tested values and preservation of “old” wisdom is one of them. As NRM admits millions of new members, suitable founders should be retained with a say on the future of the party. How did they beat the odds during their formative years and during the bush war until they achieved victory and fulfilled their patriotic duty to their country?
Who wouldn’t need that kind of insight and mentorship?
The author is a cadre of the NRM.