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‘Unhinged’ Gen Muhoozi played clueless Kenyan journalists like nyatiti

A country’s president is the commander-in-chief of the defence forces. One afternoon, the head of the Army, who happens to be the president’s first son, fires a volley of tweets threatening to invade a friendly neighbouring country.

Totally unprovoked sabre-rattling. What’s going on?

Because Ugandan General Muhoozi Kainerugaba launches his ‘war’ against Kenya on Twitter, the fiercest fire is from ‘KoT Defence Forces’. Angry memes light up cyberspace. Within minutes Muhoozi is trending.

Shock headlines go up on news websites. “Cheche za Generali Muhoozi”, a KTN Leo headline screams that evening. The entire coverage of this startling story for nearly a week features Muhoozi’s tweets and reactions from Kenyans.

Every media house awaits official response from the Kenyan government and a clarification from Kampala. No attempt whatsoever to independently find out what Muhoozi is actually up to.

When Foreign Affairs CS nominee Alfred Mutua releases a picture of a meeting with Uganda High Commissioner Hassan Galiwango in Nairobi, the media makes it a big deal – although Mutua gives no illuminating details. What is Mutua expected to discuss with Galiwango, anyway? He is not Kenya’s Foreign minister, as he is yet to be vetted by Parliament and formally appointed by President Ruto.

Kenya’s editorial cartoonists go for Muhoozi’s jugular, lampooning him as a toddler swaddled in soiled diapers.

President Museveni responds. He does not crush his son: Only apologises to Kenya over his tweets, removes him as Army boss but then promotes him to four-star general. What?

East and Central Africa’s largest newspaper, the Nation, reports Kampala’s reaction under the headline, “Museveni moves to tame wild son”. Story says Muhoozi made “juvenile military threats against Nairobi”.

“Now, as relations between East African nations appeared to be warming up and military incursions were on a downward spiral, Mr Kainerugaba’s social media activity has once again put to the test the ties that bind Kenya and Uganda,” the paper reports.

How now? Does Kimathi Street, after all, take seriously the “juvenile military threats” of Museveni’s “wild son”? What does the newspaper know beyond the tweets? Do Kenyans have reason to fear a possible military incursion?

Editorialists weigh in, generating more heat than light. The Standard on October 5 states: “Such careless posts fly in the face of the ideals of the East African Community at a time the region’s combined efforts should be directed at fighting Ebola, Covid-19 and widespread hunger”.

“Muhoozi’s joke on our territorial integrity is unacceptable, especially when viewed against the claim by President Idi Amin Dada that Western Kenya, all the way to Naivasha, belonged to Uganda”.

The Star argues, seriously, that, “These tweets cannot be laughed off as the erratic utterances of an immature young man.” But then proceeds to laugh off the tweets. “First, his tweets are not serious. If the Ugandan army invaded Kenya, it would get bogged down, just like the Russian army in Ukraine”.

For the record, Muhoozi is not “an immature young man”. He is 48, joined the army 23 years ago.

Taken together, the media coverage simply treated Muhoozi as a spoilt brat who was woefully incapable of appreciating the grave implications of what he was tweeting.

But was that correct? How does a high-ranking soldier – and son of a president to boot – post such incendiary tweets for fun?

On October 6, veteran Ugandan-born journalist and Nation columnist Charles Onyango-Obbo stuck out his middle finger at the media in an op-ed titled, “Muhoozi ‘war’ isn’t about Kenya” (p.16). Onyango-Obbo is a walking encyclopaedia on Ugandan and East African politics.

“It would be a mistake to think that Muhoozi’s tweet about overrunning Nairobi was about Kenya. It was all about Uganda, particularly the race to succeed his father, in power for almost 37 years,” Onyango-Obbo wrote.

Until June, it appeared Muhoozi would succeed his father in 2026. But Museveni isn’t about to retire yet. His ministers and ruling party MPs have endorsed his re-election. His son is agitated over this.

“Reputed to love his beer, a charge he has rejected, his extreme positions and controversial tweets hobbled him with the image of an unhinged soldier”. Some Ugandans prefer Museveni continues if the alternative is his son.

“For Muhoozi, the straw that broke the camel’s back seems to have come a few days ago when [a] group of elderly leaders, who were with Museveni in the bush during their guerrilla war, reportedly also endorsed him for 2026”.

The most revealing tweet from Muhoozi, Onyango-Obbo said, was when he stated that: “In 2026, it will be 40 years of the old people in charge. That will change. Those are instructions from Jesus Christ. Our generation will be in charge of this country”.

Was Muhoozi at war with Kenya?


See you next week!

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