Brig Geoffrey ‘Taban’ Kyabihende is one of first 100 fighters that joined Uganda’s three-decade president Yoweri Museveni in the bush to dislodge two-time president Apollo Milton Obote after the controversial 1980 elections.
The war started on on February 6, 1981 with just 27 men but more men joined the struggle that raged on until January 26, 1986 when Museveni took power.
One of the men that came following the very first batch of the first 27 was Geoffrey ‘Taban’ Kyabihende.
Kyabihende passed on Monday at Nakasero Hospital in Kampala.
Here is a quick profile:
Joined the National Resistance Army (NRA) bush war in 1980s
First as foot soldier
Joined armed forces in 1979 (he was 18 years old) to topple Dictator Idi Amin Dada
First trained at Kakoba, Mbarara with the Tanzanian soldiers for three weeks
He was then sent to Fort Portal and Arua under Mondlane unit commanded by Maj Gen Fred Rwigyema
Returned to military training in Nakasongola in 1979
Was redeployed at Lubiri barracks under the 15th battalion (Kampala) under the command of the late Lt Col Bazillio Okello
Served as an escort for Mrs Oyite Ojok, wife to Obote’s feared soldier Oyite Ojok
He and non-Acholi soldiers were disarmed hours before the 1980 election results were announced
He and several anti-Obote soldiers had contacts with Museveni, Gen Elly Tumwine, and Sam Magara
With the help of John Kamurari Rubahimbya, an officer at the general headquarters, Kyabihende and others were supposed to desert Obote’s army to join NRA.
The information leaked and the Museveni group proceeded to attack Kabamba
Kyabihende and other soldiers would later sneak out of Bugolobi with guns to Matayo Kyaligonza’s carpentry workshop in Kisenyi
Kyabihende and Kyaligonza got a pick up van and picked seven more soldiers, a rocket propelled gun and rifles from Bugolobi
Kyabihende and his group formed the fourth NRA section at Kiboga
Kyabihende and fellow deserters wanted to meet Museveni but were instead disarmed
They were intergrated into the rebel ranks the following day after meeting Museveni
Days later Kyabihende was put on Museveni’s guard squad
The seven-man squad also had late Fred Rwigyema, late Capt Marious Katungi alias Suicide, Col Pecos Kutesa, late Kasasira, late Capt Aziz Bey
His first mission was an attack Kakiri barracks on April 4 1981
Guarded Museveni until June 1981 when he (Museveni) left for Nairobi, Kenya
Could have gone with Museveni but he was sick
Returned to the fighting units
Kyabihende’s toughest battle was at Bukalabi in Luweero district in February 1983 where nine rebels were killed and Salim Saleh was shot
Kyabihende was injured in the arm RPG shrapnels dug deep into his head
Kyabihende’s also got involved in the Kampala-Gulu highway ambush on the October 9,1983, face-offs at Kembogo in Singo in 1984, Kakiri, Kabamba, Masindi, Bukalabi, the three months siege of Masaka barracks, and the takeover of Kampala
By time of takeover of power in January 1986, Kyabihende was a company commander under the third battalion, a mobile force under Col Patrick Lumumba.
Held a rank of Major when Museveni took power
Later a division commander
Was chairman of the Court Martial at the Army General Headquarters, Bombo
By the time of his death, he was Uganda’s Defence Attaché in Kinshasa, DRC
Admitted at Nakasero in August
Succumbed to cancer on August 07, 2017