Lt.Col. Ahmed Kashillingi was one of the brave men that commanded operations that captured Kampala in January 1986.
He commanded the 5th Batallion that captured the strategic Kampala- Masaka Road at Katonga Bridge, his battalion went on the block Entebbe Road on the final capture of Kampala.
Ahmed Kashillingi was born in Rukungiri District and completed his A-Level from Kigezi College, Butobere, after he went to join Uganda Prisons services where he was rejected because of his height. He later found his way into the army in 1967 when he heard that there was ongoing army recruitment in Mbarara.
He got training in a number of military courses from Libya and Iraq. In 1970, he was sent to the UK where he obtained a course in Records Management which would later land him to being the first Records Director after NRA took over power. It was during his administration as a records director that fire gutted the Republic House and lost all records.
From his own confession, the field officers who were reporting exaggerated numbers of soldiers planned to burn the building and destroy records. The field officers were benefiting from the salaries of ghost soldiers. He was later incriminated for burning it. It was at this point that he disgracefully retired from the army without any promotion.
The low-profile commander who played a significant role during the Bush war has been less talked about by his own comrades. It is surprising that he died without getting a medal or promotion from the government he risked his bone and blood to bring into power.
“You can imagine the life I went through, I have never been promoted. I am not a robber, I have never committed murder but I have never been promoted or given a medal. I have a lot of pain. I wonder why other retired officers have been promoted and the dead have been posthumously recognized but Ahmed Kashillingi has been ignored, “ said Kashillingi in an Interview with Daily Monitor.
His interview expressed intrigue and betrayal within the circles of the former National Resistance Army. Another Bush War hero that has suffered similar circumstances like Kashillingi, Major John Kozoora, went ahead to pen down a heartbreaking memoir of what happened when they were in the bush and how intrigue and betrayal cropped up and found the Resistance resisting its own children and adopting “yes men” that are now being showered with medals and the real bush war heroes are in their home villages keeping a low profile as commoners. The some of the real bush war heroes who passed through hell during the bush war, life has been hell for them until their death. You have no space to speak, even Kazoora’s book, was seen as an enemy to the regime by those orchestrating intrigue and betrayal.
In his interview, Kashillingi narrated a chest-thumping story of how he missed getting a medal at the last moment when he had been shortlisted among the medalists in a function that took place in Butalango, Nakaseke District.
“I joined other officers to get tags for the function. I picked my card but as the President was about to arrive at the venue, a certain girl came and asked: Who is Kashillingi? She told me to hand over the card.” narrated Kashillingi in a 2014 interview published by the Daily monitor.
He later inquired from the girl why his card was taken away only to be informed that his name has been removed from the list. The disappointed 5th Battalion brave commander said he sneaked out as if he was going to ease himself and drove away. The circumstances surrounding his treatment may make one mistake him for a rebel who was fighting NRA not fighting for NRA. He said that during the celebration of Heroes Day, many people they used to regard as enemies in the bush, they’re being showered with medals.
“All street women are carrying medals whose significance they don’t even know. These medals have lost value because they’re being abused,“ lamented Kashillingi during the same interview.
The Bush War combatant said there are many times he wished his name to be removed from the list of those who fought in Luweero but people will never stop asking who commanded the 5th Battalion, who captured Katonga Bridge and who blocked Entebbe Road during the final siege on Kampala.
His former Bush War comrade and Opposition heavyweight, Dr. Kizza Besigye Kifeefe eulogized the fallen comrade referring to him as a General who never became on his Facebook account.
“ Lt.Col. A Kashillingi, the General that never became, has departed. His last years have been. His last years have been very painful, deserted by his own comrades & most of his family!” wrote Dr. Kizza Besigye on his official Facebook page.
Besigye revealed that Kashillingi found him at Nsambya and told him many painful stories but most urgently he needed 50k (Fifty thousand Uganda Shillings) for Medicine. He also told him that he was writing a book which Besigye wished that someone should find and publish.
Ahmed Kashillingi joins his many Bush War comrades who fought to bring peace but never lived in peace until their death.
Lt. Col. Ahmed Kashillingi was laid to rest on Friday, 4th November 2022 in his home village in Kebisoni, Rukungiri District. His burial was attended by a handful of UPDF soldiers without much attention and recognition that is always given to many of the former Bush War fellows who don’t part ways with the ruling government.
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