Maj. Gen. (Rtd) Kasirye Ggwanga has today morning breathed his last at Nakasero Hospital where has been undergoing treatment for a yet-to-be-revealed illness. Ggwanga is talked of as a fearless soldier who served the army with utmost dedication.
Ggwanga was born in 1952, in Mubende District, to a father who was a hunter and farmer. He grew up in Mubende town who survived on selling puppies to earn money for his education.
His education journey begun at Katakala Primary School then went to Kibuli Secondary School for his O’ Level education. When he finished Senior four in 1972, Ggwanga joined the Uganda Army.
After finishing his initial training in the Uganda Army, he was posted to Arua in the West Nile sub-region to serve as a map reader up to 1977. He was later promoted to the position of Artillery Officer in 1978 and the following year, he was promoted to the rank of staff Sergeant.
When Tanzania People’s Defence Force (TPDF) invaded Uganda in 1978, in April they captured Kampala and deposed Idi Amin. It is that time that Kasirye Ggwanga surrendered and was taken to Tanga, Tanzania, as a prisoner-of-war.
In June 1980, the President of that time Godfrey Binaisa negotiated with Tanzania and all Uganda’s political prisoners were returned, however upon their arrival, they were first housed at Maluku Prison in Mbale District.
Later, they were moved to Kirinya Prison, Jinja District and fortunately on October 7, 1981, the first batch was released and Kasirye Ggwanga was among them.
However, three months later after his release, Kasirye Ggwanga was put on the wanted list following the attack of army barracks at Mengo, Lubiri by the Uganda Freedom Army (UFA) rebels who were led by Andrew Kayiira. This was because the government in power at the time led by Milton Obote of the Uganda People’s Congress (UPC) mistakenly thought that the recently released prisoners (former Idi Amin soldiers) were involved in the attack.
As a way of attracting his attention, his elder brother, Lieutenant James Kasirye, who was a military pilot based at Nakasongola Military Air Base was arrested and tortured, then killed since he refused to identify where his brother Kasirye Ggwanga was hiding.
While in hiding, Kasirye Ggwanga was working as a maize miller. However when his brother was killed, he vowed to avenge and came out from hiding. He joined the UFA rebels.
In 1985, Ggwanga left UFA and joined National Resistance Army, (NRA) which captured power in January 1986. During the drive to capture Kampala, Kasirye Ggwanga commanded a 120mm artillery unit.
Between 1986 and 2005, he served in several roles including as the LC.5 chairman for Mubende District and as the Director of Stores in the UPDF.
While at the rank of Brigadier, on January 31, 2005, Ggwanga was retired from the UPDF, however, after three months he asked to be reinstated.
The UPDF top leadership allowed him to rejoin on a renewable contract of five years. In March 2018, he was promoted to Major General and it is the same year he was retired. He has been the Presidential Advisor on Buganda Kingdom Affairs.
At the time of his death, Ggwanga has been known as a defender of the environment and conservationist.