I stood for Guild Elections in 1980 but stood down for Werikhe—-UAH’s George Okello


Uganda Peoples Congress’ Milton Obote is sworn in as president after the disputed 1980 general election

About Makerere politics and the so-called interference by the UPC government. I was heavily involved in it between 1979-1981. I was elected, not appointed, as Chairman of Livingstone Hall. The person who stood against me was one Mwene Kahima, a Munyankole who up to today is my very close friend. I got elected on the basis of the Baganda vote because they were the majority of the students in the hall. I had the total support of the students from the north and east, and Kahima had support from the students from the west, so the Baganda were going to determine the outcome of the election and they decided to vote for me.

Of all of the Chairmen who were elected that night, 5 were from my law class, and apart from Werikhe Watuwa in Mitchell Hall, Christine Lakidi, none of the other chairmen were supporters of the UPC. We were the only three that were elected. DP got elected in one hall(can’t remember its name), the NRA got elected in Nkrumah Hall and the others were not supporters of the UPC. So how come you say UPC interfered in student politics?

In the Guild elections of that year (1980) for the Presidency, there were three candidates from the UPC, ie Werikhe Watuwa, Yoga Adhola and myself, and then Herbert Wamala standing for the DP. The NRA never put up up a candidate. After much discussion in the UPC, Yoga Adhola withdrew and I also withdrew because if we had three candidates standing for the UPC, Herbert Wamala would win. The UPC put so much pressure on me to stand down because President Obote was campaigning to be President of Uganda and they said it would not look good for two Lango people to campaign for symbolically powerful positions in Uganda.

The same night I withdrew from the race, an NRA delegation came to my room and told me to stand as an independent candidate, and that they would get the western vote for me, but that would have meant splitting the alliance I had created in Livingstone. Besides, I thought what they were engaged in was spoiling tactics.
I was the one who negotiated the deal for Mugisha Muntu to stand as Vice-President alongside Werikhe Watuwa in the Guild elections, because Wamala had the solid backing of the Baganda students and I had to deliver the northern and eastern students to secure their victory. Talk to all these people before you make your wild statements Abbey.
You better talk to people like Mugisha Muntu and Henry Tumukunde about this.

The politics at Makerere University Guild presidential elections was fought on purely party basis. I was myself a candidate, standing for the UPC. Herbert Wamala was standing for the DP. The elections in Livingstone Hall were not held on a party political basis, it think it was more personal because we were living together and the students could see who interacted better with fellow students and who would best stand for their interests. This was not the case in the Guild presidential elections. Herbert Wamala is my friend up to today, we were together at King’s College Budo, and I stood against him in the elections for head prefect of the school but I lost. In fact I owe him some money, one day in Kampala, I had no money at all on me and I bumped into him and he lent me maybe 200 shillings which I have never repaid. That is how close we were as friends. I like the Baganda, but particularly the Baganda peasants. They are going to be engine for social change in Uganda.

In my time at Makerere as a leader for three years, there was no political interference and the elections were democratic, free and fair. There was no student killed or murdered in my hall, where they still remember me to this day as their best chairman for all time.We were the people so active in student politics at the time, with Ateenyi Ndamuranyi at Northcote and remember all of my brothers and sisters happened to hold positions, with Augustine Omara a minister in Nkrumah Hall, Helen a minister in Mary Stuart and Christopher a minister in Lumumba Hall.
When I moved to the Philippines I was the same, unfortunately I learnt a very hard lesson when my wife was abducted and then disappeared. I think we took left-wing politics as a joke at the time, but I have changed now completely.Infantile proclivities will never work. It will only lead to the murder of innocent people and will never serve the long term interests of the people we are committed to serve and to liberate.

George Okello-Pacu-Otto via UAH forum

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