KAMPALA — It is 23 years since the passing of Gen. Chefe Ali aka Eriya Mwine, former Chief of Staff UPDF (1996-1998).
It was Chefe Ali who recruited his schoolmate, Emmanuel Gisa, the man many would come to know as Fred Rwigyema
Together with 26 others, they secretly left Uganda in 1976 to undergo military training in Tanzania and Mozambique under the guidance of FRELIMO.
3 years later, the group aka FRONASA marched into Kampala as part of the allied liberation force that deposed Idi Amin Dada.
But war soon broke out in 1981 against the new Obote regime as various forces took up arms.
One of these outfits, UNLF-Anti Dictatorship, set up a military base in the Rwenzori mountains with 55 men and 16 guns with Chefe Ali, Prof E. Rugumayo, Lt. J. Nasasira and others as leaders.
Prior to the 1st Kabamba attack in Feb 1981, PRA (later NRA) had planned to attack the barracks as a joint force with UNLF-AD (which helped reconnoitre the area); however, days to the attack, the two groups apparently failed to make contact and the group retreated to the mountains.
The two forces would merge later after 2 groups of UNLF-AD fighters joined the NRA; one led by Jet Mwebaze (1982) & another led by Chefe Ali.
It was partly due to Chefe Ali’s influence that the NRA moved to the Rwenzori area in 1984/5 to open up a new front in Western Uganda.
During the Battle of Kampala in 1986, Chefe Ali commanded the 11th Battalion, NRA which was key in capturing parts of Kampala fighting their way through Nakulabye, Makerere, Nakasero, Kampala Golf course and finally Kololo Summit View.