The life of Elly Tumwine

Gen Elly Tumwine shaking with Gen President Museveni

“The police has a right, to short and kill you,” is one of the most recent strange statements on record that most Ugandans connect to the life of Gen Elly Tumwine.

The general is one of the named fighters of 195 who boost restoring peace back in Uganda.

General Elly Tumwine was born on 12th April 1954 in Burunga, Mbarara District, and died on 25th August 2022, at the age of 68. He died at Agha Khan Hospital, Nairobi in Kenya.


Elly Tumwine started his education at Burunga primary school and went to Mbarara High School, and St. Henry’s College Kitovu. Then he joined Makerere University and graduated with a Bachelor’s degree of Arts in Fine Art and a diploma in Education where he specified in the history of Art (painting).

He also subsequently graduated from the Cadet Officers Course at the Tanzania Military Academy at Monduli in 1980.

He attended the senior Command Course at Uganda Senior Command and Staff College at Kimaka in Jinja.

Military and Ministerial Career

In 1978, Elly Tumwine left his teaching career and joined the FRONASA force which was led by Yoweri Museveni to fight against the violent regime of Idi Amin Dada. When the National Resistance Army started its rebel activities, Tumwine is said to have shot the first bullet in the war that brought the army into the government.

During the first fight of the NRA, Tumwine sustained facial injuries and lost one eye.

In 1884, he was named the commander of the army unit in 1987 and went on serving in various positions in the government.

In 1989, Elly Tumwine served as the minister of Defense, he was appointed the Director of External Security Organization (ESO) from 1994 to 1996. He was a presidential advisor from 1996 until 1998.

Tumwine also served as Chairman of the High Command Appeals Committee from 1986 to 1999.

Gen Tumwine represented Uganda’s People’s Defense Forces in the parliament from 1986 to 2021.

In 2005, Tumwine was promoted to the highest rank of General and appointed the chairman of the UPDF General Court Martial.

He was named among 34 generals who are set to retire from the UPDF which was to happen on 16th May 2022 and the function was postponed to 31st August 2022.

The general is considered among the warlord of Uganda who restored the once lost peace of the country.

The dangerous spots of Elly Tumwine

Tumwine was reappointed as the minister for security from 2016 to 2021, during this period as a security minister during the presidential election, Elly Tumwine was recorded with a louder vocal saying “the Police haS a right, to shoT, and kill you.” The statement made headlines following the incident where Presidential candidate Robert Kyagulanyi (Bobi Wine) was arrested in Luuka district which resulted in a great riot over 60 citizens were shot by police and killed and several sustained injuries.

His love for fine art led Tumwine to occupy the Nommo Art Gallery which is under the Ministry of Labour Gender. Tumwine ever since he occupied the gallery had never paid rent, the Uganda National Cultural Center (UNCC) 2018 accused the general of failing to pay the rent for using the gallery.

The Art Life of General Tumwine

Tumwine interest in Fine Art was accidental, he was influenced by the then-famous guitarist, Rock Ruganzi who had been hired by Mbarara High School to teach art. Tumwine was instead interested in playing Ruganzi’s guitar.

“I got interested in Art not because of anything else but to enjoy Ruganzai’s guitar in the art room. By the end of senior one, he was the one who advised me that when you reach Senior Four, do art as your fourth principal,” Tumwine shared.

Tumwine would have joined Ntare School for his A’ Level but Ntare did not teach Fine Art, so he joined St. Henry’s Kitovu where he was inspired by Professor Francis Xavier Musango Gwa Ntamu

In November 2021, Gen Tumwine launched his book titled “Liberated My Art Life,” in the book he partly documented his life as an Arts student at Makerere University. “During my youth, in spite of the challenges of a bad regime, as a youth, my art life at Makerere was very exciting. Mainly not because of anything else, I was liberated to think freely. That is why I’m calling my book liberated,” he revealed.

For about 40-year career, General Elly Tumwine was renowned as a National Resistance Army war hero. He served as the Army Commander, one of the army representatives to Parliament, Chairman of the UPDF General Court Martial, and Minister in President Yoweri Museveni’s government.

Tumwine, Museveni should retire

After a long time of serving in the army and in the cabinet of President Museveni Museveni, Elly Tumwine for the first time was dropped from either side and from representing the UPDF in the parliament which post he occupied since 1986.

After the cabinet list was documented and Tumwine missed it, he argued that Museveni should retire from the position of president of Uganda.

Gen Elly Tumwine says since he has been dropped as minister & appointed advisor on security, he will advise President Museveni to retire so as save himself from hubris syndrome (intoxicated with power). M7’s retirement, he says is important for the stability of Uganda.









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