Notorious in his way, a no-nonsense soldier as he loved to refer to himself, probably known as the only General with a licence to shoot at anything, but loved by so many. Retired Maj General Kasirye Ggwanga has finally rested his gun.
Ggwanga, who has known only two professions in his 68 years on earth (army and farming) was rushed to Nakasero Hospital on May 27, where he slipped into a coma following surgery on his brain.
On Tuesday, June 9, while the country started heroes’ day celebrations, the general on whose hands we attained freedom, whose trigger happy fingers brought the NRM government to power, disengaged his bullet chamber, emptied his magazines, and let go of his gun. A hero down, may his soul rest in peace.
Did he have a Christian name? No, he insisted as a military man, he did not require one.
“I am military man, just know that,” he said dismissively to anyone who wanted to know, while on several occasions he fronted Wasswa as his Christian name; “My other name is Wasswa.”
Wasswa Kasirye Ggwanga loved Afrigo Band music, considered himself their number one fan and he later grew to like David Lutalo’s music, but he was not willing to let go of country music which he always claimed is the only music he enjoys around him during his spare time.
Cowboy, like he wanted to refer to himself always, had dreamed of starting his radio station that would play only country music from dusk to dawn.
“It (country music) cools me down,” he said during one of the interviews with The Observer.
In 2018, Ggwanga retired from the army after 47 years of service. He then went into his other profession of farming, hosting two farms in Mukono and Mityana Districts.
The one in Mityana, famously known as Camp David, is where he loved spending much of his time, reading books, sport shooting, and tending to his dogs. He once bragged having read over 1000 books from Camp David.
At this Camp David, Ggwanga built a two bedroomed house in sight of Lake Wamala. The house he shared with his dogs, on which he lay all his trust.
“I like the dogs to guard me because they can never betray me like people. I don’t even trust my bodyguards more than my dogs,” he once remarked.
At Camp David, he missed nothing, a fully connected DSTV kit was at his disposal, and he enjoyed news wires like BBC, Aljazeera, and CNN. He lived a life he wanted, claiming he had enough money to do anything but enjoyed a simple lifestyle with all the basics according to him.
“I can build a better house in the city, but what for. This is simple but it contains everything Kampala Serena Hotel can have,” he once told the Daily Monitor, adding that his retirement package had Shs600m, but far too little and he would not touch it.
Give it to him, he lived the life he wanted, puffing away at cigarettes, riding around with his dogs and once in a while firing at ‘idiots’ to cut the crap.
Gwanga joined the army in 1972 during Amin’s regime, he was then posted to West Nile as a map reader aged 20 years old. Probably one of the few young officers.
Before joining the army, Ggwanga attained education at Katakala Primary School and Kibuli Secondary School.
In 1977 he was promoted to artillery officer and later posted to a staff sergeant. In 1979, during the liberation war with UNLA, Ggwanga was arrested as a prisoner of war and detained for 900 days in Tanga, Tanzania.
He was later brought back to Uganda together with other prisoners and arrested at Muluku prison in Mbale before being transferred to Kirinya prison in Jinja and consequently released on President Binaisa’s pardon in October 1981.
Months after his release, there was a raid at the army barracks in Mengo, the government again started hunting for Ggwanga and the recently released army prisoners. While in the hunt, government forces landed on his brother Lt James Kasirye whom they killed in retaliation after he failed to help them trace Ggwanga.
Angered by his brother’s death, Ggwanga rejoined active service in the military, via Andrew Kayira’s Uganda Freedom Movement, but Kayira ran away from them. Ggwanga later chose to join Museveni’s NRA bush war.
Kasirye Ggwanga claimed to have stared at death more than any other office alive and promised to write a book about it. He said his being alive was a miracle.
‘I’ve stared at death more times than anyone in the world and to be here still is already a miracle. In fact, I’m soon writing a book about my life and adventures.”
Ggwanga retired from the army in 2005, but his addiction to the gun led him back, renewing his army vows on a contract basis until 2018 when he was fully retired.
His gun, the best tool he has held in his hands, and he used it at every opportunity to redeem and threaten. Yes, he one time confirmed that he loves ‘threatening idiots’.
The latest occasion is when shot the tyres of singer Catherine Kusasira around Makindye, for allegedly playing deafening music and making him and his grandchildren uncomfortable.
Like he was allergic to noise, on December 24, 2009, Ggwanga walked into a pentecostal crusade in Makindye playgrounds, and while the pastor led the congregation into praise and worship, the notorious general fired bullet volleys in the air, scattering all who had been beckoning for a miracle.
The quiet he enjoyed is just the way he wanted it and it’s the same reason he claimed he does not want to stay with his grandchildren. “They are noisy and naughty,” he said.
Have you heard of a wife by Ggwanga? No, he preferred silence on the subject, but he kept vowing to slay whoever would mess with his wife.
“We military men don’t get married. We just make children and we don’t expose our women like you wananchi. I got my first wife while still serving in Amin’s army. She died. The second one I got her during the  war…she didn’t survive it. I got another one after but, unfortunately, she also died. The one I have now is in the USA. I’ve lost three women. After what I’ve been through, I can’t allow anyone to mess with my wife.”
Ggwanga chose a quiet retirement life, that once in a while was full of spontaneous action. After his retirement, he camped in Camp David and said he missed nothing in the army, and he felt so youthful.
Alas, he would be swiftly carried away for medical attention, only for him to return to Camp David for his final and eternal rest. Indeed, his will has always been: “I want to be buried here (Camp David)”