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Echoes of Ambition and Betrayal: The Early Years of James Kabarebe

By: Robert Patrick Fati Gakwerere

In my childhood, we would often play in the yard of Lieutenant General Kayumba’s father, where James Kabarebe, a young man taken in by the family, resided. Kabarebe, then in Senior 5, was a garrulous figure, always clutching a small notebook filled with meticulous notes.

Treacherous assassin Gen James Kabarebe
Treacherous assassin Gen James Kabarebe

With his trademark mug of porridge, Kabarebe enthusiastically shared tales of global and African liberation struggles. His subjects spanned the Namibian Independence struggle under SWAPO, the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa led by the ANC, the revolutionary spirit of Che Guevara, the Mozambique liberation under FRELIMO, and the Zimbabwean war of independence orchestrated by ZANU-PF. His narratives weren’t just stories; they were impassioned lessons aimed at kindling a spirit of awareness and resistance among us. His fervor for change was palpable, even to our young minds.

We, as young primary school children, listened intently to Kabarebe’s expansive knowledge, absorbed in his narratives.

Gen Kayumba Nyamwasa

A childhood friend, now a senior lecturer, recently remarked, “Whenever I watch James Kabarebe, I always remember his talks. The man has always been ambitious, but we didn’t realize it because we were young.” Kabarebe’s early declarations of his presidential aspirations seemed far-fetched at the time, yet they foretold a trajectory marked by both remarkable ascendancy, sheer brutality and treacherous decisions. James Kabarebe would often share his dreams of one day becoming president, his youthful enthusiasm evident in his voice.

I am compelled to start narrating series on James Kabarebe’s arrival in Kakoba, Mbarara, Uganda—his feet marred by jiggers. These tales as a response by those who always urge me to respect this pol – military criminal and a ruthless assassin who betrayed those who provided him a home and familial love.

Now, when I see James Kabarebe sitting in front of Criminal Paul Kagame’s television, disparaging Gen Kayumba Nyamwasa, I am taken aback by how low this thug can stoop.

We shall always hold Gen Kayumba Nyamwasa accountable for bringing this Satanic figure (Kisirani) into a noble, loving, and humble family.

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