Gen Katumba Wamala: Uplifting lives, in the eyes of Islanders

Shortly after November 19th, 1956 at Bweza – Dajje, Bujumba Sub County in the Ssese Islands, a young Edward Katumba Wamala would be assembled in a small box, on to a bicycle and transported to school by parents. 

The nearest was Bwendero and closer was Buswa more than nine kilometers away. 

His father, being a farmer would move such distance to ensure that Katumba would get quality education, braving through thick forests, besides a narrow opening to help a young man get letters of opportunity.

He later studied Agriculture before joining the Uganda National Liberation Front and Army, National Resistance Army and later the Uganda People’s Defense forces. 

Katumba an International Relations and Diplomacy graduate from Nkumba University also serves as Uganda’s Inspector General of Police before commanding Uganda’s Land Forces and troops to secure peace in Somalia. 

With a Master’s in Strategic Leadership in the Military, he rose through the ranks to become a four star General, a preserve of 9 military officers in this country. In 2014, he was appointed the Chief of Defense Forces, by Uganda’s Commander in Chief, Gen Yoweri Kaguta Museveni. He is now the Minister of Works and Transport.

Like it is a tradition of Maneuver, Katumba even with such responsibility never neglected where he comes from. 

In 2013, while in the Rotary Club of Kampala Ssese Islands, Gen Wamala and a host of other leaders including Hon Tim Lwanga, Minister Fred Omach, former MPs, Ruth Kavuma, Fred Badda, Parliament’s deputy Director for Public Affairs Hellen Nanteza Kaweesa and Several Academicians from the Ssese Islands organized outreaches to ensure Islanders in distant shores can access Medicare. 

Upon reaching, Katumba realized many people trek from as far as Mazinga, a sub county that borders Uganda and Tanzania to seek medical attention. 

“It touched my heart. I needed to find a solution for my people,” he says. 

Katumba and other Island leaders in Kyamuswa Constituency

In liaison with colleagues at the Rotary Club, Katumba offered land in Bweza, rallied colleagues and a medical facility was instituted. 

Residents now trek much less to find Medicare. 

“We as Government commend acts by the Rotarians and above all thank the Chief of Defense Forces (then) to facilitate in helping Government attain the goal of having citizens access Medicare,” Vice President Edward Kiwanuka Ssekandi said while launching the health facility. 

A year later, Katumba mobilized club members to construct a school annex the health facility a memoir of what he went through while accessing basic education. 

“He is down to earth. He reaches all the people. Loves services and dedicates time to fulfill what he pledges to do,” Kalangala District Chairperson Willy Lugoloobi says. 

A US Wall of Fame awardee, accomplished soldier he is and a lover of music. A memoir of hiss auxins have come along with supporting the Alffa talents group, a music outfit for young island students led by Isaac Ssali, a teacher at Sserwanga Lwanga Memorial Secondary school. 

Agriculture

His love for Agriculture has left him in quest for Islanders who want to plant Vanilla get free lessons, cuttings and aid. 

“To the disappointment, he has never gotten any. But he keeps on.” Says Frank Ssemakula, a youth leader in Kalangala District.

In 2018, looking at Kalangala’s tourism potential, Katumba invited Amos Wekesa a leading your operator in Uganda to take Islanders through lessons on how to boost the potential. 

The Brovad Sands Lodge meeting saw Katumba, Wekesa offering tips to Ssese Islands Tourism Development Association, some of which remain implemented while others not. 

He also launched the Virgin Islands Trip with Rotarians to widen scope of the islands tourism potential. 

Gen Katumba sets foot at Lwanabatya landing site in Kalangala recently

“The national parks have wildlife which is good but if you need to relax, away from the hustle of Kampala or your town life, come to Kalangala and enjoy fresh air as you reconnect with nature,” Katumba says.

With his quest to survey and map dangerous spots, he believes with the opening of the Kyamuswa marine route, more opportunities will be opened in Kalangala. 

“Each time I need something from Government on behalf of Islanders, he makes a way, shows direction and introduces you to all people,” says Carolyn Birungi Nanyondo the Kyamuswa County MP.

A father and husband, General Wamala told Daily Monitor recently that, Besides official duties, He is motivated by a purposed life. 
“Life is good depending on how you take it. I think sometimes we stress too much, but life is worth living and if you are determined to enjoy it as you work, go ahead. You are a journalist and it counts if you do it out of passion,” he says. “I always ask people who want to join the army, for instance, what their reason is for joining. If it is for the love of service, I encourage them to proceed.”

The General now plans on inviting business partners to ensure Kalangala District is opened with more transport routes through the introduction of new Marine Vessels to circumnavigate Lake Victoria, around the Ssese islands.

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