Museveni’s children successfully cajoled him into blowing the candles, literally, last Sunday at Nshwere in Kiruhuura district, after what Museveni’s son Brig. Muhoozi Kainerugaba described as family anxiety about their fathers exact birth date.
Muhoozi who spoke on behalf of his siblings who organised the party, said: “We thank Mzee for what he has done for us as a father and holding the family together despite busy schedule as a statesman. We ask God to protect you. For many years, we thought we might not live to see this day due to a lot of problems and trials,” he said.
According to records revealed by the National ID system, Museveni was born on September 15, 1944. But the president repeated during the private thanks-giving church service held to mark his birthday that this was still a subject of convenience and guess work as his parents did not have hospital records showing his exact birthday.
Museveni said an old woman who knew about him, said he was born when that old woman was harvesting Omugobe (cow peas leaves) that are usually harvested in September, he decided to be diplomatic and put his actual date on September 15, 1944.
“I may not tell you the exact date, that am not sure, but certainly am not in danger of not knowing the season,” he said.
Judging by the time it has taken him to mark this event, Museveni’s certainly considers birthdays as a trivial matter. Nonetheless, the president used it to exalt family life and urge young people, his children and grandchildren not to squander theirs.
Museveni said: “My young people, my children and grandchildren, what you need is to look after your health. Don’t squander it by taking alcohol, smoking and umalaya. If your health is good, you can do a lot of things. I don’t know what I would be if I did all that,” the President said.
Museveni thanked his wife Janet Museveni for raising their children and for building the family while he was away fighting.
“When we got married, they were turbulent times, I didn’t look after the children, it was Janet. She was very strict, she did all the work and am very grateful to her. The Banyankole say that when a man becomes of age he has to kwombeka (building a home). She built our home. Okwombeka now means getting an education, after get a wife, then children and after that wealth. Janet has helped me do all this,” Museveni said.
The President’s first ever birthday celebration was marked with a thanksgiving service led by Rev. Emmanuel Katamunanwire from Nshwere Church of Uganda and later followed by a family lunch held at the President’s country home in Rwakitura.
Museveni urged his children and grand children to value family life.
“Make sure you have families. Life without family is meaningless. I hear some people like it that way but this undermines the purpose life. I get a lot of happiness and purpose from my family. It is eternity, you pass on the torch. It is a part of eternity to have children,” he said, adding that they must also work for wealth. This however, he said cannot happen if you don’t love and fear God.
The President urged his children to help each other always and not to allow another person to suffer if it is within their means to help them.
“Don’t be selfish, help each other and don’t let people divide you. When you do that, God does your work for you. I have not done my work for my family, I have been working for Uganda and for Africa and most of my work has been done by God. I hope many of you will reach this age and surpass it,” he said.
While paying tribute to his late parents Amos Kaguta and Esteri Kokundeka for raising and educating him, Museveni said that he is glad for the life that God has given him.
“Am grateful to my parents for raising and educating me, it gave me a very rare opportunity for me to do what I have done,” he said.
The First Lady and Minister of Karamoja Affairs Janet Museveni said there is need to really praise and thank God for the life of Museveni saying like the biblical Gideon, he has taken him through challenging times and sought him out to do a multitude of things for the country.
“Gods goodness has lifted this man and used him to do a multitude of things. We don’t take anything for granted. You have blessed us with wonderful children and grandchildren and we thank God,” she said.
At the end the President cut a cake with his granddaughter Nzima whose birthday is two days before his.