TODAY Tuesday, Buganda Kingdom received sad news about the demise of Dan Kamanyi, a civilian who bravely set up and commanded an ambush near Silver Springs Hotel in Bugolobi to kill then Ugandan President Dr. Apollo Milton Obote making him pay for attacking Mengo Palace.
In this raid code named ‘1966 Buganda Crisis’ which was led by then army commander Idi Amin Dada, Buganda King His Majesty Sir Edward Fredrick William David Walugembe Muteesa II was exiled and later in November 21st 1969 died in the United Kingdom (UK).
Un happy Baganda led by fearless Dan Kamanyi who was in his early 20s plotted to kill Obote as a price for his heartless actions against the Buganda Kingdom.
“Together with other Kabaka’s subjects like Captain Mugalula, John Obo, Katabarwa, Dan Kiwanuka and Henry Kyeyune, we hatched a plot to kill Obote who had raided Mengo Palace, bombed it and exiled our King. We got powerful guns and set up an ambush at Silver Springs Hotel Bugoloobi to finish his life.” Narrated, now late Dan Kamanyi during an interview with NTV’s journalist Frank Walusimbi.
“Unfortunately,” Kamanyi said, “Obote was not in the Presidential convoy, it was his Vice President John Babiiha who received the bullets, thank God he escaped with wounds.”
The convoy was driving from Luzira where according to Kamanyi’s intelligence, the head of State officiated at a function where he passed out prison warders and it ended very late at night in 1967, just a year after the Palace attack.
“After shooting at the ‘Presidential’ motorcade, we thought our mission was successful. We quickly packed our guns in the waiting car, jumped into the car and headed to Namugongo at my father’s farm where guns were dropped before dispersing. Only to receive bad news later that it was Babiiha who was shot but he did not die.” Unapologetic Kamanyi, son to Ephraim Kamanyi former Buganda Kingdom minister, told NTV last year.
KAMANYI: WHY I WANTED TO REVENGE THE DAY OBOTE SOLDIERS ATTACKED MENGO PALACE
It’s now 54 years since then President Milton Obote on May 24th 1966 ordered the attack of Kabaka Muteesa’s Mengo Palace to bomb it down and kill the King.
God is great, Muteesa’s life was saved and he escaped from the jaws of blood thirsty Obote men.
Giving an account of what happened and how the youthful Kamanyi wanted to revenge against Obote’s men, he was at his Parents’ home in Lungujja, just a few meters from Mengo.
“I was working in a coffee company owned by a Whiteman. By the time Uganda got Independence in 1962 I was in United Kingdom where I had gone on official duties. I returned a few years later.” Kamanyi said in an interview.
On the fateful day Mengo Palace was attacked, Kamanyi was at his parents’ home sleeping.
His father was away in the United States of America.
“It was my mother who woke me up to hear gun shots at Mengo. She told me, Kabaka Muteesa’s Palace was under attack. Because of the inherent love I had for my Kabaka, I decided to go and revenge to save my King.” Narrated Kamanyi.
He picked one of his father’s guns they used for hunting, put it in his small car and drove passed Lubiri SS to Lubaga Cathedral where he got a place to hide his car. He picked his gun, slopped down via Kabaka’s lake in Ndeeba to take on notorious Idi Amin men who were armed to the teeth.
Kamanyi recalled an old man, a family friend who saw him carrying a gun and stopped him to inquire where he was going.
He told him, “My son, you can’t manage a forest of soldiers who have sorrounded the Palace. Look at your age, see the gun you are carrying! You alone can’t manage. Please give me that gun.”
Kamanyi complied and handed over the gun.
Now he was unarmed but still felt like he should do something to save Kabaka Muteesa. At that moment, Kampala was hit by a heavy downpour.
“I went where I had parked my car, entered it and started patrolling around Mengo and Lubaga. This is when I was stopped by men I knew very well and they asked me whether I can get another car. I said yes. These men knew the whereabouts of Muteesa. Infact it was Cardinal Nsubuga who was hiding him. I quickly got another car.” Kamanyi recalled.
Early the next day on May 25th 1966, he was sent with some of Muteesa’s body guards to get him some medicine since he was feeling backache.
For starters, Muteesa, who was a trained soldier, had to jump over his tall Palace fence to escape. So he sustained some injuries.
“There was a pharmacy near City House in Kampala, where we got medicine for Muteesa. We also bought new clothes.” Kamanyi said in an interview given last year.
Some of the body guards were given transport facilitation to go to their villages.
“Muteesa entered into my car and I drove him to Butambaala from where he was received by his men. That is where I left him and drove back to Kampala to plot how to carry out a full blast revenge against Obote.” Said Kamanyi.
By then protests were everywhere in Buganda like in Kayunga where the police station was attacked.
Kamanyi liased with some Kabaka loyalists who included Capt. Mugalula and others.
Kamanyi, Mugalula and their colleagues started monitoring President Obote movements to ascertain when it would be easier for them to execute their mission.
“This is how we got to know about a function in Luzira to be graced by the President. We identified Silver Springs Hotel Bugoloobi, as the best spot to end Obote’s life. We were all armed, ready for the mission. When we heard that our target would leave the function at night, we saw it as an opportunity to kill him without any one easily identifying us.” Kamanyi said.
Obote was not in the car, they instead shot at his vice president.
HOW OBOTE SURVIVED
As if his gods were with him, Obote’s Principal Secretary directed the police lead car to switch off its warning lights so that the President’s convoy did not attract attention.
Obote left the venue almost an hour before the vice president John Babiiha. When president reached Entebbe, he was told that the vice president had been attacked around Silver Springs Hotel on his way from Luzira. If Obote’s lead car had not switched off its warning lights, he wouldn’t have survived. .
His father’s Lungujja home was raided by security operatives and on searching, guns were found at their home.
Both Kamanyi and his father were arrested.
“A Whiteman Gremlin who was a Police ballistics expert said, one of the guns I had was once at Luzira. I was imprisoned for six years for being found in possession of firearms.” Said Kamanyi. However, police had not discovered that the same gun was used to shoot at the presidential motorcade.
Investigations continued until they arrested Capt. Mugalula.
When Kamanyi was arrested, the rest fled the country.
“Since I was not ready to reveal anyone involved, the operatives arrested my former girlfriend Lillian to tell them which people I dealt with. When they learnt that they had fled to Nairobi, she was taken to Nairobi to help identify them. She was taken by a female police woman, Martha.” Said Kamanyi.
When they left Kampala, word reached guys in Nairobi that Lillian was under arrest and on her way to identify them.
The boys in Nairobi waylaid Lillian and Martha, kidnapped, and were eliminated. Their bodies were put in gunny bags and dropped in Arthi River. A Masai herdsman who had taken his cattle to drink water saw the bags and alerted police.
The other team which followed had reported its missing partners to the Kenyan police. When two female bodies were recovered they were called to identify them.
This opened another lid in the hunt as the Kenyan government had not been alerted about Uganda’s police being in their territory.
The Kenyan authorities started looking for five guys, but only three – Obo, Kiwanuka and Kyeyune – were the killers. They were pinned down at Stanley Hotel. At the hotel the boys also had paid off the people at the front desk to tip them off in case police came to the hotel. They were tipped off as police made its way to third floor where they were staying and jumped through the windows and ran away.
The group separated. That’s when police started picking them one after the other, and all the three who participated in the kidnap were hanged in Kenya.
Kamanyi said, “The events in Nairobi were relayed to me by Senkoma while in Luzira. He had been one of Mutesa’s body guards who had run to Nairobi and was in contact with them before their death. He was arrested suspected to be part of the group but later released and got arrested when he came back.”
Back to Luzira, Kamanyi and Mugalula found there inmates like Katabalwa, Ibingira, Opolot and others.
Mugalula and Kamanyi’s father were released. However Kamaanyi was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment.
AMIN 1971 COUP
Kamanyi and other inmates at Upper Prison celebrated on hearing that Obote’s government had fallen in a coup by his army commander Idi Amin Dada.
One evenning, while he was inside his cell, he heard prison officers knocking and out calling out his name. On getting out, I was given my clothes. Commissioner Kigonya and the Prison Officer In Charge were all around. I kept wondering what was going on, until Kigonya whispered to me that the President had sent for me.” Said Kamanyi.
That is the day, when Muteesa’s remains were returned from the UK.
Kamanyi was driven to Makindye presidential lodge like a VIP where they met high profile people who came to attend Muteesa’s burial.
Amin ordered his men to take Kamanyi to officers’ mess, Kampala Club in Nakasero.
It’s from here that Amin told Kamaanyi how he had been pardoned.
During Duwa prayers at Kibuli on the day Mutesa’s remains were returned, the Banganda royals thanked Amin for the gesture and sheiks who included Kulumba asked him to relese their son Kamanyi.
At Officers’ Mess, Amin ordered Kamanyi to be taken to Bamunaanika Palace where Muteesa’s remains were taken for viewing.
Guarded by armed soldiers, Kamanyi was driven in a very big convoy to Bamunaanika and on reaching at the Palace, his way was cleared to reach where Muteesa remains were.
“My mother who was around thought, I had been brought to view Muteesa remains and be taken back to Luzira. It is commissioner Kigonya who informed her that i had received a presidential pardon. It was joy all over.” Recalled Kamanyi.
OBOTE II RE-ARRESTS KANYI
In 1979 when Amin was toppled by combined forces led by Tanzanian army and Obote reclaimed Presidency, Kamaanyi was re arrested but luckily for him when Lutwa took over, he was released.
KABAKA HOST KAMANYI
Not so long, Kabaka Ronald Muwenda Mutebi II hosted Dan Kamanyi and thanked him for serving the Kingdom deligently and all he did for his father Sir Edward Muteesa II
When cultural institutions were reinstalled and Kabaka Ronald Mutebi II enthroned, Kamanyi was given a Nalubaale medal saluting him for his bravery and fighting to save King Muteesa.
may the heroic virtues of kamanyi and Capt Mugalula be celebrated by all patriots for years to come
What a beautiful story of bravery! May these heros rest in peace. Buganda kingdom is here to stay.