History

October, When Death Picked Some of Africa’s Liberation Heroes

OCTOBER 2 1990.

Rwanda’s Fred Rwigema

Major General Fred Gisa Rwigema started the Liberation War of Rwanda on 1 October1990. He died hours later on 2nd October 1990. 

Fred Gisa Rwigyema (also spelled Rwigema; born Emmanuel Gisa; 10 April 1957 – 2 October 1990) was a founding member of and leader of the Rwandan Patriotic Front, a political and military force formed by Rwandan Tutsi exiles descendants of those forced to leave the country after the 1959 “Hutu” Revolution.

Rwigema was born in Gitarama, in the south of Rwanda. Considered a Tutsi, in 1960 he and his family fled to Uganda and settled in a refugee camp in Nshungerezi, Ankole following the Hutu Revolution of 1959 and the ouster of King Kigeri V.

After finishing high school in 1976, he went to Tanzania and joined the Front for National Salvation (FRONASA), a rebel group headed by Yoweri Museveni, the brother of his friend Salim Saleh. It was at this point that he began calling himself Fred Rwigema. Later that year, he travelled to Mozambique and joined the FRELIMO rebels who were fighting for the liberation of Mozambique from Portugal’s colonial power.

In 1979, he joined the Uganda National Liberation Army (UNLA), which together with Tanzanian armed forces captured Kampala in April 1979 and sent Idi Amin to exile.

He later joined Museveni’s National Resistance Army (NRA), which fought a guerrilla war against the government of Milton Obote.

After the NRA captured state power in 1986, Rwigema became the deputy Minister of Defence. He was regularly at the front line in northern Uganda during the new government’s offensives against remnants of the ousted regime.

On 1 October 1990, Rwigyema led the RPF troops in the first battle against the regime of President Habyarimama Juvenal. On the second day of the struggle, Rwigyema was shot in the head and died, which discouraged the RPF fighters. There is a dispute about the exact circumstances of Rwigyema’s death; the official line of Kagame’s government, and the version mentioned by historian Gérard Prunier in his 1995 book on the subject, was that Rwigyema was killed by a stray bullet.[1][2] In his later book, however, Prunier states that it is likely Rwigyema was killed by his subcommander Peter Bayingana, following an argument over tactics.[3] Paul Kagame who is now the president of the Republic ofRwanda replaced Rwigyema as the head of the RPF army until the victory in July 1994.

Rwigyema is one of Rwanda’s national heroes. His body was buried at the Heroes Cemetery in Kigali.

Source: wikipedia

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October 13 1961

Prince Rwagasore

Prince Louis Rwagasore was King Mwambutsa IV’s oldest son, and an important political figure in the history of Burundi, which was then a colony of Belgium. Prince Rwagasore, who was born on January 10, 1932, was the heir apparent of the throne of the Burundi Kingdom, which had existed since the 16th Century. Rwagasore was born in the province of Muramvya, the political center of the Burundi Kingdom, the place where all Burundian kings and their families resided. Rwagasore’s father, King Mwambutsa IV, was the last king of Burundi, and governed from December 16, 1915 to July 8, 1966.

In 1952, 20-year-old Prince Rwagasore briefly attended universities in Antwerp and Louvain in Belgium, but returned to Burundi to lead an evolving anti-colonial movement. In 1956, Rwagasore urged Belgian Vice-Governor General Jean Paul Harroy to install a ‘Murundi’ constitution in preparation for eventual Burundi independence. One year later he founded a series of cooperatives to encourage economic independence. Belgian authorities, however, recognized these cooperatives as a threat to their colonial power and banned them in 1958. In response, Rwagasore founded the Union for National Progress (UPRONA) as Burundi’s first indigenous political party and became its leader. At the first UPRONA Party Congress in March 1960, Rwagasore demanded complete independence for Burundi and called on the local population to boycott Belgian stores and refuse to pay taxes. His calls for civil disobedience led his being placed under house arrest.

Rwagasore’s nation-building efforts were despised by the Belgians who were already angry over his promotion of Burundi’s independence. On October 13, 1961, as the Prince was having dinner at the Hotel Tanganyika in Bujumbura, the capital city, he was assassinated by a Greek mercenary. He was 29 years old. Most historians believe that his death was the result of a conspiracy between the Belgians and the pro-Belgian Christian Democratic Party, one of Rwagasore’s opposing parties.

Source: https://www.blackpast.org/global-african-history/prince-louis-rwagasore-1932-1961/

14th October 1999

Mwalimu Julius Nyerere

One of Africa’s most respected figures, Julius Nyerere (1922 — 1999) was a politician of principle and intelligence. Known as Mwalimu or teacher he had a vision of education that was rich with possibility

Julius Kambarage Nyerere was born on April 13, 1922 in Butiama, on the eastern shore of lake Victoria in north west Tanganyika. His father was the chief of the small Zanaki tribe. He was 12 before he started school (he had to walk 26 miles to Musoma to do so). Later, he transferred for his secondary education to the Tabora Government Secondary School. His intelligence was quickly recognized by the Roman Catholic fathers who taught him. He went on, with their help, to train as a teacher at Makerere University in Kampala (Uganda). On gaining his Certificate, he taught for three years and then went on a government scholarship to study history and political economy for his Master of Arts at the University of Edinburgh (he was the first Tanzanian to study at a British university and only the second to gain a university degree outside Africa. In Edinburgh, partly through his encounter with Fabian thinking, Nyerere began to develop his particular vision of connecting socialism with African communal living.

On his return to Tanganyika, Nyerere was forced by the colonial authorities to make a choice between his political activities and his teaching. He was reported as saying that he was a schoolmaster by choice and a politician by accident. Working to bring a number of different nationalist factions into one grouping he achieved this in 1954 with the formation of TANU (the Tanganyika African National Union). He became President of the Union (a post he held until 1977), entered the Legislative Council in 1958 and became chief minister in 1960. A year later Tanganyika was granted internal self-government and Nyerere became premier. Full independence came in December 1961 and he was elected President in 1962.

Full article here: https://www.marxists.org/subject/africa/nyerere/biography.htm

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October 15 1987

After renaming his country to Burkina Faso, here’s Thomas Sankara’s accomplishments, ONLY 4 YEARS in power (1983-87).

Thomas Isidore Noël Sankara (21 December 1949 – 15 October 1987) was a Burkinabé military captain, Marxist revolutionary, pan-Africanist theorist, and President of Burkina Faso from 1983 to 1987. Viewed by supporters as a charismatic and iconic figure of revolution, he is commonly referred to as “Africa’s Che Guevara”

– He vaccinated 2.5 million children against meningitis, yellow fever and measles in a matter of weeks.
– He initiated a nation-wide literacy campaign, increasing the literacy rate from 13% in 1983 to 73% in 1987.
– He planted over 10 million trees to prevent desertification
– He built roads and a railway to tie the nation together, without foreign aid
– He appointed females to high governmental positions, encouraged them to work, recruited them into the military, and granted pregnancy leave during education.
– He outlawed female genital mutilation, forced marriages and polygamy in support of Women’s rights
– He sold off the government fleet of Mercedes cars and made the Renault 5 (the cheapest car sold in Burkina Faso at that time) the official service car of the ministers.
– He reduced the salaries of all public servants, including his own, and forbade the use of government chauffeurs and 1st class airline tickets.
– He redistributed land from the feudal landlords and gave it directly to the peasants. Wheat production rose in three years from 1700 kg per hectare to 3800 kg per hectare, making the country food self-sufficient.
– He opposed foreign aid, saying that “he who feeds you, controls you.”
– He spoke in forums like the Organization of African Unity against continued neo-colonialist penetration of Africa through Western trade and finance. • He called for a united front of African nations to repudiate their foreign debt. He argued that the poor and exploited did not have an obligation to repay money to the rich and exploiting
– In Ouagadougou, Sankara converted the army’s provisioning store into a state-owned supermarket open to everyone (the first supermarket in the country).
– He forced civil servants to pay one month’s salary to public projects.
– He refused to use the air conditioning in his office on the grounds that such luxury was not available to anyone but a handful of Burkinabes.
– As President, he lowered his salary to $450 a month and limited his possessions to a car, four bikes, three guitars, a fridge and a broken freezer.
– A motorcyclist himself, he formed an all-women motorcycle personal guard.
– He required public servants to wear a traditional tunic, woven from Burkinabe cotton and sewn by Burkinabe craftsmen. (The reason being to rely upon local industry and identity rather than foreign industry and identity)
– When asked why he didn’t want his portrait hung in public places, as was the norm for other African leaders, Sankara replied “There are seven million Thomas Sankaras.”
– An accomplished guitarist, he wrote the new national anthem himself

Read the full article here http://www.thomassankara.net/facts-about-thomas-sankara-in-burkina-faso/?lang=en

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October 19 1986

President Samora Machel

Samora Machel, first president of independent Mozambique, was born on September 29, 1933 in the village of Chilembene, in the Gaza Province of Mozambique. He was of the Shangana ethnic group and was born into a family of farmers. Machel attended a Catholic mission school for his primary education and by 1954 he had started studying in the capital city of Maputo to become a nurse, one of the few occupations open to black Mozambicans at the time. It was during this time that Machel began criticizing the Portuguese government, protesting that black nurses were paid less than their white counterparts.

In 1962 Machel gave up nursing and volunteered for the Mozambique Liberation Front (FRELIMO), which was an organization dedicated to the liberation of Mozambique from colonial rule. In 1963 Machel received military training and the following year he led FRELIMO’s first guerrilla attack against Portugal in northern Mozambique. By 1969 he had become Commander-in-Chief of the FRELIMO army. When the founder of FRELIMO, Eduardo Mondlane, was assassinated in 1969, Machel was first elected to the three-man presidency council which took Mondlane’s place, and was then in May 1970 elected as president of FRELIMO. On the 25th June 1975 Mozambique was finally granted its freedom, due to the combined efforts of FRELIMO and the military coup in Lisbon, and Machel became Mozambique’s first president.

Machel’s presidency was a turbulent one. Faced with the task of transforming the now post-colonial Mozambique, Machel attempted to recast the nation according to his Marxist-Leninist beliefs, and as such began the nationalization and socialization of the country’s wealth and resources. He set up schools and hospitals for the country’s peasants and he allowed organizations fighting white colonial rule in South Africa and Zimbabwe to operate from Mozambique. 

In response, Apartheid South Africa and Rhodesia strangled the Mozambican economy, and created the Mozambican rebel group, Renamo, which set about killing peasants and destroying schools and hospitals built by Machel’s Frelimo ruling party.

But the South African support for Renamo and Rhodesia could not stop Zimbabwe’s independence in 1980, after which apartheid South Africa grew even more desperate as the inevitable drew closer.

Meanwhile, destabilisation of the young Mozambican state increased dramatically.

Renamo became more vicious.

And even though the Inkomati Accord, a non-aggression pact, agreeing to avoid war or armed conflict between them and resolve their disputes through peaceful negotiations, had been signed between Mozambique and South Africa, Machel’s continued support for Nelson Mandela’s ANC became a festering sore.

Thus, on October 14, 1986, Machel left his capital, Maputo, to attend a meeting of the Front Line States.

WHEN the plane of Machel, crashed on the night of October 19, 1986 killing him and 34 others, Apartheid South Africa immediately blamed it on “pilot error”.

“The Russian crew were high on Vodka,” crowed Pik Botha, the then foreign minister.

Read the full article here https://wp.me/p7OMJc-1r2

 

 

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