Yoweri Kaguta Museveni was born in 1944 in the then sub-county of Ntungamo in thecounty of Rwampara in western Uganda. His father was Amos Kaguta and his mother was Esteeri Kokundeka. He was named Museveni after the ‘Abaseveni,’ Ugandan servicemen in the 7th Battalion of the king’s African Rifle during the Second World War.
He was born in a peasant-pastoral background where most of the children did not go to school because the peasants were nomads. Additionally, the nomads were oppressed by land policies such as the ranching schemes that displaced them from their traditional lands. Such policies were instituted by the British colonists and supported by local collaborator chiefs as well as neo-colonial independence politicians.
Museveni attended Kyamate Primary School, Mbarara High School andNtare Senior Secondary School in Western Uganda, before proceeding to the University of Dar es Salaam, where he read political science and economics, graduating in 1970 with a Bachelor of Arts degree. He started being politically active while a student at Ntare School where he had teamed up with a group of other young men who together were later to play an important role in the politics of the country.
Because of his background and his early determination to fight against political and social injustice, Museveni, in 1966, led a largely successful struggle to convince the peasants in north Ankole to fence their land and refuse to vacate it if evicted. During the three years he spent at the University of Dar es Salaam, from 1967 to 1970, his political awareness became more focused and he gained more active politically experience, especially through his close association with Southern African freedom fighters such as Samora Machel, to say nothing of Julius Nyerere who became a close political associate until his death in 2000.
In 1967, students from Kenya, Zambia, Malawi, Zimbabwe, Ethiopia,Sudan, and Uganda at the University of Dar es Salaam formed the University Students African Revolutionary Force (USARF) and Museveni was elected chairman for the whole time he was at the University. USARF identified closely with African liberation movements, especially FRELIMO (Frente de Libertaçäo de Moçambique) in Mozambique, and members of USARF later became politically active both in Uganda and elsewhere inAfrica.
In 1971, after Idi Amin’s coup, Museveni was instrumental in the formation of FRONASA (the Front for National Salvation) comprising Ugandan exile groups that, together with the Tanzanian People’s Defence Forces, ousted Idi Amin in 1979. Following Amin’s ignominious exit, Museveni served as Minister of Defence, Minister of Regional Co-operation and Vice Chairman of the Military Council. After the rigged elections of December 1980, Museveni went to the bush and, together with 26 other patriots, organized the National Resistance Army (NRA), the armed wing of the National Resistance Movement (NRM), which waged a five-year protracted people’s struggle against the Obote regime’s tyranny in Uganda. The Movement based itself on organizational discipline, an anti-sectarian ideology and was massively supported by the peasants. The huge support from the peasants stemmed from the fact that the Movement synthesized their hopes and aspirations and offered a ray of hope out of the agony inflicted on the population for more than a decade. A close alliance between the peasants and elements of the intelligentsia was formed during the years of the struggle and has helped to shape the Movement into an authentic mass movement able to address the problems of the people of Uganda.
With its main camps based just 20 miles from the capital, Kampala, the NRA was able to carry out a successful armed struggle without external support, the only guerilla force to accomplish this in Africa, culminating in victory in January 1986. Its ragtag army of motivated courageous young fighters captured the imagination of Ugandans and arrived in Kampala to a thunderous heroes’ welcome.
Since assuming the presidency in January 1986, Yoweri Museveni has provided one of the most clear-headed leaderships in Africa and has been hailed as one of the few beacons of hope for Africa. He rejects this characterization and insists that the lack of focused and clear-headed leadership in Africa has been a result, not of any inherent African trait, but of foreign meddling and ideological disorientation superimposed on an underdeveloped society. He sees leadership as an endless sacrifice, not a privilege as is often thought; and says that “managing an underdeveloped country like Uganda imposes onerous burdens on those whose lot it is to provide honest leadership…; they must work with inexperienced staff whose values, based on a primitive economic base and an omnipresent peasant culture, are not noted for their loftiness; they must work with inadequate funds and equipment; there is the ever-present danger of external interference and manipulation; and there are the unprincipled divisions caused by an incomplete process of social metamorphosis.” He expresses strong optimism that a new order is emerging in Africa comprising African patriots who are assuming leadership and who are working for African interests, not other people’s interests. These new forces, he is convinced, will steadily move Africa towards political and economic integration and eventual social transformation.
Under Yoweri Museveni’s leadership, Uganda has carried out bold economic and political reforms that have launched the country on an irreversible path of modernization. His early and courageous stand on AIDS has won him international recognition as the leading crusader against the scourge and galvanized the anti-AIDS campaign in Uganda resulting in a dramatic fall in the rate of HIV infection in the country.
Over the years, he has become a respected international statesman whose opinion on African and international matters is keenly sought and often relied on. A man of strong convictions, he has played a pivotal role in the search for peace in conflict areas in Africa and most especially in the Great Lakes Region. Under his able and visionary chairmanship, the regional initiative on peace in Burundi was able to help the belligerent forces in Burundi work out an arrangement that is paving the way for lasting peace in that country. He has been indefatigable in looking for a solution to the conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo and stands out as a lone figure in speaking out against the human injustice meted out on the Black people of Southern Sudan by racial bigotry.
Yoweri Kaguta Museveni is a proponent of a fair World trade system, which he sees as the solution to the lopsided global economy. He is involved in a campaign to convince the rich countries of the North to end protectionism and agricultural subsidies to their farmers and wants to see all the farmers of the world producing in a truly competitive world trade environment that he says is the only way to put an end to global poverty and economic enslavement.
Yoweri Kaguta Museveni is married to Janet Kataaha Museveni. They have a son, Muhoozi and three daughters, Natasha, Patience and Diana; as well as grandsons and granddaughters.