I am Dr. George Herman Jjuuko KKOLOKOLO. I was born
in 1943 at Villa-Maria in Masaka and I was baptized a Catholic
at Narozari (Masaka), my mother’s home place. My father
had worked as a Medical Assistant before being appointed
chief in Buganda and by the time I was born he was a Ggombolola
chief in Kkooki and he retired as a Deputy Ssaza chief.
I studied at St. John’s Junior School Kisubi, Ggoli
Full Primary School, Savio School, St. Mary’s College
Kisubi, Makerere University where I was awarded a BA (Hons),
and the University of Paris (St. Denis and Sorbonne) where
I received a Master’s and a PhD in French Language/Literature/Education
and I am now an educator/examiner/researcher in the Academy
of Versailles (Paris).
Before going to Makerere, I was detained for 17 months under
the Emergency Regulations Act. So, my entry into university
was in the rear for two academic years !
I was arrested on Sunday, April 30, 1967, with my mother
at home in Mutundwe where I had come for a weekend as I
was teaching in a mission school at Kiziba Parish in Wakiso,
after my HSC.
We were accused of special connections with my younger brother,
the late Lt. Andrew Kyeyune who, on completing Senior IV
at St Leo’s College Kyegobe, had joined the army and
was then living in Nairobi as a refugee. He was a young,
brilliant soldier admired by Brigadier S. Opolot who was
to become his inspiration in many things, including events
leading to the Battle of Mengo Hill in which Kyeyune participated
| Dr. George Herman Jjuuko Kkolokolo
Immediately after our arrest, we were driven to the CPS
where we spent 14 terrible days! For the first night, I
had to share a cell with a detainee accused of high treason,
a Sikh (Singasinga) accused of fighting in a night club,
and four kondos (thieves) arrested in Ssekanyonyi (Wakiso).We
had two blankets full of lice and bedbugs and no bed, no
mattress! Our only unique meal a day was a chapati and beans
served at 6p.m.
It was on the occasion of our first meal that evening
that I was surprised to see three leading personalities
also lining up for their chapati: Dr. Abiasali Kibaya, the
first Ugandan Medical Superintendent of Mulago Hospital,
accused of conspiring to overthrow Obote; Hon. Bazilio Lukyamuzi
MP (Masaka), arrested in Kenya and accused of funding pro-Kabaka
Mutesa groups in Nairobi; and Hon. Semu Ssemakula (Oweekitalo),
an outspoken Member of the Buganda Lukiiko, arrested in
his hiding in Teso and accused of dangerous connections
with Sir Edward Muteesa!
I took away my plate.I had no appetite! It was the kondo
who ate my share !
Needless to say that a night at CPS is a night in hell itself!
The Sikh almost spent the whole night yelling from time
to time, as he scratched his head and beard!
It was only the kondos who could sleep! However, the Sikh
was set free the following day which was Labour Day, a public
holiday. The kondos were later taken to court and released,
as they had a good lawyer from Ben Kiwanuka & Co. Advocates,
a firm which also successfully defended many detainees and
helped me a lot after my release.
At C I D headquarters
As for me, I was hand-cuffed and driven to the CID Headquarters
at Parliament buildings for interrogation. The Goan officer
who interviewed me decided to release me but when he contacted
his immediate superior he was advised to refer me to a certain
Mr. Farooqui, a terrible officer of Zanzibari origin who,
on seeing me, exclaimed ‘Oh ! Oh! Glad to see
you my brother Kyeyune!’
When he was told that I wasn’t Kyeyune but his brother,
he immediately ordered the accompanying constable to fill
a detention form for me stating in a Nota Bene that I was
Then I was led to the office of the CID boss, Mr. Hassan,
an officer of Egyptian origin, who was busy interrogating
Hon. Lukyamuzi. Another CID officer, Mr. Wawuyo, a deadly
Mugishu officer, dropped in for something and both were
very happy to see me arrested! They frowned at Lukyamuzi’s
remark that as a student I wasn’t fit for detention!
Then I was driven back to CPS to continue my calvary!
Some 12 days later, early in the morning, a group
of armed soldiers from the Special Force entered our section
accompanied by the O/C who assembled us and read the names
of detainees to be transferred to Luzira Upper Prison: Kkolokolo,
Dr. Kibaya, Lukyamuzi, Lt. George Mpiira, a Munyankole army
officer arrested in Nairobi and accused of connections with
Sir Edward Mutesa, Opolot and Kyeyune’s group, the
list also included my mother who was to spend three months
at the Women’s Section, not far from Upper Prison.
We were put on an open Land Rover and driven first to
the CID Headquarters to get our detention charges, then
off to Luzira.We were immediately introduced to the O/C
who happened to be Assistant Commissioner Mwebesa, a sharp,
pragmatic, principled officer whom I had already known at
St. Mary’s College where he did his HSC when I was
in S1 and S2. He was indeed surprised to see me in the group!
Looking at his British assistant and other colleagues,
he said a few words about me, then asked me some questions
about the college and the Brothers! I observed the whole
group felt comforted! Then a senior clerical officer recorded
our full particulars in the prison register and gave us
sheets of paper to write a will giving, in addition, the
full particulars of the person to contact in the event of
death in detention!
We were then given the official khaki uniforms in exchange
with our ordinary clothes and all other belongings on us
which were taken to the official store for custody. They
also gave each of us a number of other items: a pair of
blankets, toilet paper rolls, a toothbrush, powder, colgate,
and a mug.
Then the O/C ordered a nice Musamia askari to take us to
a dormitory in the prison’s central division. This
was a nice room capable of accommodating a dozen inmates.When
we reached there, we were handed to an askari on guard in
that section. He was a somewhat stiff warder. Before he
opened the door, he ordered us in Swahili ‘Mketi chini!’,
meaning ‘Squat!’ Then, looking at both Dr. Kibaya
and Hon. Lukyamuzi, he opened the room, saying in broken
Swahili ‘Mtoke ndani, hapa pana yiko watu wakubwa!’,
meaning: ‘Enter! Here, we don’t give a damn
about important personalities!’
Next to us was a group of 18 individual cells all occupied
by detainees accused of high treason against the government!
Only three of them had been sentenced; the others, whose
profiles ranged from a bicycle mechanic from Kiboga to a
graduate in civil engineering, were acquitted and placed
into detention for two years!
So we got on to business. The whole group appreciated my
presence in their midst because we were in general well
handled due to my ancient acquaintance with the O/C!
I must say that compared to the brutal treatment at CPS
or Hotel Brutus, as it was then known in witticism, Luzira
Upper Prison was a rehabilitation in body, mind and soul!
Here, we would bathe, wash, have three meals a day and enjoy
a reasonable sleep! And twice a day we were allowed to walk
in our small courtyard, an opportune moment to make our
toilet. Our big problem was just getting used to posho!
Sometime later, a number of other detainees were added
to our group.They included Oweekitiibwa Latimer Mpagi, ex-Minister
of Finance (Omuwanika) in Mengo, reportedly caught with
a letter from Sir Edward Mutesa, George Kalanzi, Chief Administrator
of Mengo Municipality, accused of dangerous connections
with Sir Edward Mutesa, and four young men ; one a
Musoga, two Banyoro, and a son of Dr. E. Lumu (an Obote
Minister already in detention).
All were accused of spreading malicious propaganda against
the regime. It was Dr. Lumu’s son who informed us
about the arrest of the Kyeyunes whom he had left at CPS.
These new inmates gave us a lot of news and brought in a
Bit by bit, due to stiff parliamentary action by heroic
Opposition DP MPs, notably Alexander Latim (Acholi) and
Boniface Byanyima (Ankole), things began to improve. We
could now stay outside for four hours, two in the morning
and two in the afternoon, beds were introduced, leading
personalities among detainees were put on a special diet,
etc…It was at this venerable period that the prison
chaplains were officially allowed to come and pray in our
In our wing we were all moved to full emotion when one afternoon
we saw Rev. Fr. Joseph Kalyabe, a very exemplary priest
popularly loved and respected by all in Luzira, entering
our place while holding a small crucifix in his right hand.
He recited some prayers, gave us nice words of comfort and
finally blessed us and moved away to other dormitories,
leaving the rest of us petrified and deeply grateful!
Fr. Kalyabe left an indellible mark on all detainees whom
he never abandoned on any single occasion!
One day, for the first time since our detention, our group
was taken to the tribunal. This was a kind of court empowered
to hear detainees on CID accusations against them and also
to deliberate on them by way of recommendation to the Minister
of Internal Affairs. It sat regularly in the premises of
Luzira Prisons and each detainee would be summoned to it
once every three months.You could be represented by a lawyer.
Its chairman was Justice Fuad, a British of Turkish origin
who later became Chief Justice under Amin. He had three
assessors to assist him.
Before entering the tribunal, detective Farooqui put me
aside and asked me once again whether I was really the brother
of Kyeyune! In the tribunal, I pleaded against the laughable
charges lavelled against me and the chairman together with
the assessors were already aware of the fact that the CID
officer who interviewed me and who took my statement had
found me innocent and had decided to release me but it was
Farooqui and his group who were now [pursuing] me!
At the end of the hearing, I was surprised to see a CID
chap stand up to tell the judge that the police was still
inquiring into those charges against me! At that moment
I knew that my detention would take very long and my chances
of entering university were now jeopardised!
I was right since I was to be freed 16 months later, after
my brother’s death in Nairobi!
Following the recommendations made by this tribunal, dozens
of detainees were released, among them my mother who had
been there for three months. Others included many Ssaza
and Ggombolola chiefs, in addition to soldiers of the Kabaka’s
All of these had been in detention for 15 months having
been arrested in connection with the Battle of Mengo Hill.
Only three Ssaza chiefs remained in detention; Pokino Mukwenda
and Ssekiboobo. All three had been arrested slightly before
the Battle of Mengo Hill and accused of preparing an insurrection
to back the Kabaka’s battle.
Many of the released chiefs wept on seeing that they were
leaving behind Prince A.D. Ssimbwa, the Kabaka’s brother,
who spent more than two years in detention! All detainees
were madly loyal to Prince Ssimbwa who iconized the presence
of their Kabaka amongst them!
Following this mass release, arrangements were made to
group the rest of us in a much bigger dormitory.CID had
wanted me to be transferred to a single cell, but O/C Mwebesa
stood firm in my favour and I was put in the dormitory.
I’m still grateful to Mwebesa for this gesture, it
facilitated things for me. While in this dormitory, I was
elected joint prefect for a year, sharing this responsibility
with a certain Kassan Mulindwa, an ex-serviceman arrested
and charged with planning military action with Sir Edward
It was at this stage that we were allowed to receive visitors
once a week, to play football, to undergo an obligatory
medical check-up once a month, to attend religious services
on Sundays (the Muslims on Fridays), and eventually to watch
a film every Wednesday.
As prefect, I arranged the room for the film and presented
regularly our demands to the O/C as well as interpret for
our colleagues who didn’t know English.
We were allowed to read boks from the prison library and
I deepened my French. Newspapers and press articles were
strictly forbidden although they could come in with the
complicity of askaris, but we had to destroy them immediately
after reading for fear of the dreaded search teams.
My role as prefect taught me many excellent lessons
and enlarged my sense of initiative.When they allowed us
to smoke, I was one of those who invented and encouraged
barter trade! One could arrange through the kitchen services
an exchange of a packet of cigarettes for an evening cup
of tea for four days! We also initiated a secret way of
letting in money from relatives.This would enable one to
live more comfortably.
This took place once every month inside the prison. The
prison medical doctor was a Korean who spoke poor English
but good French and Russian! He knew his job well but he
was less experienced than a person like Dr. Kibaya. To any
detainees, this Korean was an
indispensable asset because he was the only person officially
authorised to grant a special diet!
On finding out that you lacked a vitamin, for example,
he would just put you on the list for that diet where you
could regularly be served with meat, milk, rice, some greens,
etc. The best way to access the good diet was through flatterring
him! This method fetched us many rewards. Dr. Kibaya would
also plead for many colleagues and the Korean would respond
positively using his famous phrase, ‘Yes, that’s
right according of this one!’
In case of a very serious health problem, the doctor would
recommend a detainee to the sick-bay or to Mulago Hospital.
The time I was there, only Hon. Amos K. Ssempa, ex-Minister
of Finance both at Mengo and in the Central Government,
was recommended there for an operation, and he personally
chose Prof. S.Kyalwazi who carried it out successfully.
Among the detainees there was a number of very prominent
personalities.There was the five legendary detainee ministers;
Mathias Ngobi, George Magezi, Emmanuel Lumu, Grace Ibingira,
and Balaki Kirya, all accused of conspiracy against Obote.
They stayed in
Luzira for five solid years.
There was Brigadier Shaban Opolot, accused of collaborating
with Sir Edward Mutesa to overthrow Obote. These six individuals
were the detainees whom Obote feared most. The five ministers
lived in strongly guarded cells in an area whose small courtyard
had a very strong barbed wire fence atop of a solid high
wall surrounding it! And it wasn’t very far from the
section of the condemned.
The courtyard was also the place officially reserved for
the administration of kiboko (caning) to the criminals.
A British prisons officer told us that the area was thus
strongly fortified in order to eventually receive persons
like Ben Kiwanuka, Paul Ssemogerere, Cuthbert Obwangor,
W.W.K. Nadiope, Abubaker Mayanja, etc… And this is
what really happened!
These persons together with Prince Ssimbwa, Amos
Ssempa, Dr. Kibaya, Lawyer Mpungu and Major Katabalwa were
permanently put on a special European diet since they had
been in important positions or had serious connections!
We could only get in touch with the five ministers during
Sunday church service or on Wednesdays for the cinema.
Every detainee invested himself in prayers. There were the
Sunday church service prayers (or Friday prayers for the
Muslims) with the chaplains. Then the group prayers on a
Catholic prayers were conducted by an ex-seminarian and
Lukiiko Member, Pio Kizza, who was also the official arbitrator
in any one of our conflicts. He was accused of trying to
incite a pro-Kabaka rebellion.
The rosary was conducted by Buddu Ssaza Chief, Michael Matovu.
For the Anglicans, there was Dr. Kibaya and the elderly
Rev. Kyobe, a Lukiiko member accused of secretly communicating
extensive pro-Mutesa propaganda during church services.
The Muslims had Kassan Mulindwa and Mulongooti. It wasn’t
unusual to see an inmate profoundly absorbed in spiritual
recollection. People’s prayers did great wonders for
By the time I was there, a small Protestant prayer group
popularly known as Biafra Group had been formed under the
auspices of one Musa Mukiibi, editor of Ddoboozi newspaper,
arrested for having written an article judged insolent towards
Obote. The group insisted on mentioning the name of Sir
Edward Mutesa in prayers and on inserting it in songs, in
spite of the presence of askaris on guard.
Sports and other activities
In that place where detainees didn’t work, sports
was a necessity. Football was the major sport and Prince
Ssimbwa, a former national player, would show his prowess
in the game watched even by officers and askaris.
Other games included chess, taught to many by Dr. Kibaya,
Ludo, the board-game (mweso) in which the official executioner
(hangman), an officer of Nubian origin, would at times take
part, regularly uttering his famous expression whenever
things went well with him, ‘Ekyo kituufu!’meaning
We would also read books, the Bible, the Koran. Others
would do personal studies in Swahili and other subjects.
I improved on my French, Swahili and notions in Latin thanks
to the ex-Seminarians we had. Many would consult the professionals
we had in the group, notably the doctor and lawyer Mpungu,
an advocate who helped many avoid trial in court. One detainee
who refused to heed to his counsel fell prey to eight months’
imprisonment. He was removed from the group and taken to
the criminal section where he served in the prison carpentery.
Conversation was mainly centred on politics, economics,
religion, culture and education, etc. Many detainees would
ask me questions about my Alma Mater, and the Brothers.
I found that St. Mary’s College Kisubi was very
much loved by all.
About politics, there was a lot of interest in the Biafran
War in Nigeria and almost all detainees were for Biafra.
Then there was that eternal talk about the Kabaka since
many were his chiefs and others his personal friends or
former schoolmates at King’s College Buddo.
About national politics, very many appreciated the action
of DP MPs in favour of detainees. This, coupled with the
fact that most of the lawyers defending the detainees were
from Ben Kiwanuka & Co. Advocates, rehabilitated Benedicto
Kiwanuka and the DP among many diehard Kabaka Yekka inmates.
A rumour was an appetizer to [accompany] a plate of posho;
it was a medicine, a relaxer and a sedative. Many detainees
could bear prison conditions thanks to rumours.
The best rumours were those about a possible release from
detention, about anything negative towards the UPC, and
about the Kabaka’s possible return. Visitors, askaris,
prisoners and ordinary prison personnel were always the
source of these rumours. An askari could announce news about
an imminent release of a group of detainees.
Then somebody could bring in an anti-UPC rumour which would
provoke the emotions of detainees. Rumours about Sir Edward
Mutesa’s return would tell how the Kabaka had been
seen in Mombasa; how stamps and bank notes bearing his effigy
were secretly circulating in Kampala, how his troops were
amassing at the border, etc.
Many detainees would get excited and become stubbornly arrogant
and big-headed towards the CID [officers] who now, whenever
they came in to see them on formal matters, would go away
Profile of detainees
We had a prince and Buganda chiefs, Kabaka Yekka supporters
mainly from rural Buganda; some army officers like Brig.
S. Opolot, Major Katabarwa, Captain Mugarura, Lt. Mpiira ;
the five Obote ministers; very many Baganda, some well educated
and others almost illiterate; two Europeans who were eventually
deported: a young Briton from Scotland, arrested in the
regions of Ntungamo where he had reportedly excited people
in a bar that he was a mercenary on mission! The other,
a European was from Denmark who had entered Uganda without
official documents and was suspected to be a mercenary from
the Congo. Both strongly regretted leaving Uganda. The
general age-bracket of detainees was between 23-75 years.
On Friday, September 7, 1968, we all realised that the radio,
controlled in the O/C’s Office and emitting to our
dormitories through loudspeakers, wasn’t on. We then
suspected that there was going to be a ggambo (great news)
as we used to call news about releases.
At bedtime, the askari on guard secretly confided to us
the news about the release of several detainees. Speculation
began as the askari didn’t give any single name.
On Saturday, September 8, at 5.30a.m., lights were switched
on in the O/C’s Office, another sure sign of a possible
release because that was the moment when belongings of those
to be set free were being sorted out and their names crossed
out from the routine register.
At 7a.m., the morning session askari, a very nice guy from
Tororo, arrived. He secretly disclosed some of the names
he had heard on radio and, turning towards me, said in Luganda:
‘Kkolokolo, naawe bakutadde’ (Kkolokolo, you
are also released !).
Half an hour later, the O/C arrived with the official list.
When he read my name, all inmates applauded, thanking me
for having been very good to them.
In all, 12 were set free. They included Prince Ssimbwa,
the three famous ssaza chiefs, two Lukiiko members, an army
officer, and Opolot’s brother-in-law, accused of helping
We dressed up and an officer accompanied us to the main
gate where hundreds of relatives, friends, etc. received
us with deafening cheers and ululations.
An ex-detainee, Mr. Ssekajja, then an executive officer
at Namulonge and present on the scene, immediately gave
me Shs 100 for entandikwa (start up capital).
I arrived triumphantly at home as anybody would imagine.
Many people vowed to help me and they did so. A former schoolmate
at St. Mary’s, Leonard Lubowa, one-time Mayor of Kampala,
who was then a mere second year student at Makerere University,
had the courage to introduce me to friends and to often
familiarise me with Makerere University which I joined in
1969, after six months with Shell Co.
After Makerere, I taught at the prestigious St. Peter’s
S.S. Nsambya before going overseas for further studies.
While abroad, I participated very actively in the guerrilla
struggle, helping the three movements; UFM, NRM, and FEDEMU.
At the same time, I advocated for human rights in Uganda.
I am now a keen supporter of the DP, a party I joined to
say THANK YOU for what it did for us during and after our
And I’m loyal to our beloved President General, John
Ssebaana Kizito, and his team who are doing an excellent
job for Uganda and whose very intelligent outlook, efforts
and programmes are very highly appreciated abroad.
Detention under the Emergency Regulations Act was a very
unfair deal which turned against its authors. It planted
the revolutionary seeds that brought about the downfall
of Obote I and Obote II.
It tarnished the image of Parliament which regularly enacted
its extension, of the CID whose bosses paid a stiff price,
of the Ministry of Internal Affairs for regularly misinforming
all national institutions on Buganda.
Detention failed to achieve its objectives: the Baganda
remained madly loyal to their Kabaka, UPC failed to woe
them and they eventually ventured into DP, and the heroic
action of such non Baganda MPs like A. Latim (Acholi), B.
Byanyima (Ankole) ended by showing the Baganda the goodwill
Uganda had towards them. This was among the things which
gradually led to the natural demise of the Kabaka Yekka
And the prisons staff, a mainly non Baganda institution,
somehow championed the cause of patriotism by showing a
great deal of modesty towards the suffering mainly Baganda
detainees. I even saw Langi officers and askaris extending
true sympathy to us.
The non-Baganda thus seized the occasion to pass a special
message to the authors of detention laws, some of whom were
Baganda parliamentarians, that in all circumstances, Ugandans
were indivisibly one and the same people bonded to
the common ideal of their great nation.
Fortunately, the UPC of today under Miria Obote’s
pragmatism is trying to make amends for the past ills, a
thing appreciated as a sign of indubitable courage and wisdom.
Now let all of us Ugandans try to turn our back on the
nasty past and look only at that common ideal that will
peg all assets of our destiny only to God and our Country.