From left to right is Gen. William of the US Command and General Staff College, President Museveni, Maj. Muhoozi Kainerugaba and First lady, Janet Museveni.
HE had lived in a US military college for almost a year, but no one had any idea he was Uganda’s first son. But come graduation, Major Muhoozi Kainerugaba could not conceal his family background — the son of Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, the President of Uganda.
The secret was only let out a few weeks to graduation day, when families were warned about added security at the ceremony.
Officials at Fort Leavenworth, the US Army Command and General Staff College in Kansas had remained tight-lipped about the identity of one of their graduands. But come Friday, Major Muhoozi Kainerugaba could not conceal his family background — the son of Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, the President of Uganda.
Maj. Muhoozi, UPDF officer RO 8643 was among 800 military students who on Friday graduated at the completion of a 10-month US Army Command and General Staff Officer Intermediate Level Education course which started in July last year.
The 34-year-old first son was one of 50 international officers to graduate among more than 7,000 from the international officers’ programme since 1908. The college, one of the oldest United States Army facilities, is often referred to as the “Intellectual Centre” of the US Army.
Established in 1881 as a school for infantry and cavalry, the 127-year-old college serves as a graduate school for US military and foreign military leaders.
The college’s notable foreign alumni include President Paul Kagame of Rwanda, President Jaafar Numeiry of Sudan, Gen. Dieudonné Kayembe Mbandakulu of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani of Pakistan. It was not Muhoozi’s first experience at a world famous military college.
Eight years ago, in 2000 he graduated from Sandhurst Military Academy in the UK. Muhoozi went to school at Kampala Parents School, King’s College Budo and St. Mary’s College Kisubi and Nottingham University in the UK, where he studied political science before joining the army in 2001.
The American press reported that while many parents brought cameras to savour the moment, Museveni, his wife Janet and their daughter-in-law, Charlotte Muhoozi, were accompanied by a crew with camera and film equipment.
“There was no hiding the suits with earpieces assigned to protect the president,” reported The Kansas City Star in their lead article titled “Graduate of the Command and General Staff College is son of Uganda’s president.” It was the first time that a sitting president attended graduation ceremonies as a parent, officials said. Fort Leavenworth, public affairs office said Museveni was attending the ceremony as a special guest.
The President, according to the US press did not sit on stage with other American dignitaries. Instead, he did his best to keep the focus on the nearly 800 graduates. He and his family sat in a reserved section not far from the other proud parents. The commencement speaker, Sen. Sam Brownback, a Kansas Republican, paused to recognise the family and the work they have done to help stop the spread of AIDS/HIV.
It was reported that Muhoozi kept a low profile for nearly a year as he studied alongside Americans and international officers at the Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth. He went unrecognised when he went out for dinner, to the grocery shop and elsewhere.
“He wanted to just be one of the students and he really was,” said Lt. Col. Teena M. Barber.
After Muhoozi and other graduates received their diplomas, the Musevenis had dinner with the local families, who occasionally hosted Muhoozi at their homes during his stay in the US.
On the eve of the graduation each of the international military students received the Command and General Staff College International Officer Graduate badge according to a tradition that began in 1964. The badges were introduced after a request by international officers who wanted a distinctive emblem to indicate that they were graduates of the CGSC.
Kansas Senator Sam Brownback, who addressed the graduates, said in an interview afterward that Uganda is important for the United States militarily and strategically in the global war on terrorism. “Africa’s the continent in play. The president and Uganda are a key country in this,” Brownback said.
During a press conference afterwards, President Museveni said that the United Nations and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) now had the responsibility of dealing with the Lords Resistance Army (LRA) rebels, who have been pushed into the DRC.
Museveni described the rebels as a “proxy” for Sudan’s government, and pledged that Uganda would help Congo or the United Nations find a peaceful resolution of the conflict but added: “It is the responsibility of the Congo government to deal with them there.”