Bro. William Okello's Testimony
The first time it occurred to me that the government of Idi Amin was finally falling was when I looked up over the trees towards the hill in the distance and saw it covered with Tanzanian soldiers in dark combat fatigue.
Then all hell broke loose. Not by the invading army, but from the villagers who lived in the surrounding villages. Swarms of looters broke into all the uninhabited houses, whose tenants had run away for fear of the fighting, and ferried all that they could carry. I saw men with heavy sofas and fridges piled high on their heads (and managing to run too!) go to and fro in a crazed frenzy of looting. In short, a breakdown of law and order occurred and the foreign army did not seem to think it part of their duty to restrain the looters and keep the peace.
Not even the hospitals were spared of their necessary beds. In this mayhem of lunacy, a number of these looters began heading towards the government virus research laboratories at the national institute based on the outskirts of Entebbe. Their aim was to take away the fridges housing the deadly viruses. They were however warned of the destruction that would be unleashed on the town (and their families too) by the viruses should they go ahead. This was the only time they seemed to see sense.
This spectacle taught me something. It is that a man without God is not too far from a beast, and all it takes to display his true nature is for an opportune occasion to present itself. It made me wonder how dreadful the Great Tribulation will be after the restraining hand of the Holy Spirit is withdrawn and Satan takes complete charge of this earth together with his demon possessed subjects. I imagine the most ungodly acts possible will be visited upon those still on this earth then. This should cause us to yearn for and prepare for the only escape route: the Rapture of the church. This is precisely what the End Time Message was sent for.
Despite the fall of Entebbe, it would be another two weeks before the capital city of Kampala would fall too, and with it the final demise of the dreaded regime of Amin. That came by way of an announcement over Radio Uganda. After this, the remainder of the major urban areas in Uganda quickly succumbed too.
I waited for a few more weeks before attempting to travel from Entebbe where I was stationed to the countryside to find out what had become of my family. Frankly, I did not know. There were no mobile phones those days for making contact. However, as a believing Christian, I believed all was well and that I would soon see my family again.
On reaching the village, my joy at finding my family had arrived safely was tinged with one disappointment. Joyce too had become concerned about me and taken a bus to Entebbe to check on me and in the process we crossed paths without realising it. You can imagine my disappointment on hearing this after travelling about 250 miles.
Some good did however come out of this. Several months earlier, Joyce had found herself an office job in Kampala while we were yet living in Entebbe. This meant she had to travel daily to work 21 miles each way by road. On this particular occasion when she came to check on me, she stopped over in Kampala and chanced upon the new government allotting luxury flats to graduates in government employment. This was a huge complex of flats, which had been built by the Israeli government in aid and as an act of national development. With the expulsion of the Israelis, the military government had seized these flats and turned them into a barracks for soldiers so as to inspire loyalty in the army. With the fall of the government, these flats reverted to their original purpose which was as residences for civil servants. Our family was allocated one three-bed room flat sometime in mid 1979 and this was better than anything we had lived in before.
Before moving in however, we had a delicate task to perform. The flat was littered with bullets, and army uniform and who knew what else? So we had to proceed carefully and meticulously picking our way through the rooms until we had thoroughly cleaned the flat. Shortly after that we transferred our belongings from Entebbe to Kampala. Joyce’s journey and my journey to work were now in reverse. Whereas before she had to travel from Entebbe to her office in Kampala, it was now my lot to travel to and from Entebbe for my job as an Air Traffic Controller at Entebbe International Airport. This of course was quite costly. Then began what was perhaps the most difficult time of our lives that tested our faith to the limit. This will be related in the next two instalments.
(Next: Economic Desperation)