Shortly after the Civil War in the United States, “Decoration Day” was established to honor the fallen soldiers. Our current Memorial Day reminds us that people were united in purpose and indeed sacrificed their lives for democracy. In response, we are anchored in gratitude and submitted to that which serves our fellow citizen.
From 1868: “The 30th day of May, 1868 is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village, and hamlet churchyard in the land.”
Wars Involving Tanzania
With the exception of Sweden and Switzerland who have not been in a state of war internationally since 1815 and 1814, respectively; every country in the world has seen war. Tanzania is no different. A list of wars in which Tanzania was involved is below. You can click on the matrix to access the full Wikipedia article on these wars.
The Kagera War (Tanzania-Uganda)
The Uganda-Tanzania War, known in Tanzania as the Kagera War (Vita vya Kagera in Swahili) is the area where ETI works and where our partners live. Below is the Wikipedia article on this war. Those from Tanzania generally and Kagera specifically, are invited to share their views, experiences and interpretations to make this a better blog.
The Uganda–Tanzania War, known in Tanzania as the Kagera War (Kiswahili: Vita vya Kagera) and in Uganda as the 1979 Liberation War,[a] was fought between Uganda and Tanzania from October 1978 until June 1979 and led to the overthrow of Ugandan President Idi Amin. The war was preceded by a deterioration of relations between Uganda and Tanzania following Amin’s overthrow of President Milton Obote and subsequent seizure of power in 1971. The President of Tanzania, Julius Nyerere, had close ties with Obote and supported his attempt to launch a rebellion in Uganda in 1972, leading to a border clash and eventually the signing of an agreement with Amin which stipulated that both leaders would withdraw their forces from the border. Nevertheless, relations between the two presidents remained tense, and Amin began claiming that the Kagera Salient—a stretch of Tanzanian land between the official border and the Kagera River, should be placed under Uganda’s jurisdiction. Over the following years, Amin’s regime was destabilised by violent purges, economic problems, and dissatisfaction in the Uganda Army.
The circumstances surrounding the outbreak of the war are not clear, and differing accounts of the events exist. In October 1978 Ugandan forces began making incursions into Tanzania. Later that month the Uganda Army launched an invasion, looting property and killing civilians. Ugandan official media declared the annexation of the Kagera Salient. On 2 November Nyerere declared war on Uganda and mobilised the Tanzania People’s Defence Force (TPDF) to retake the salient. The Organisation of African Unity (OAU) failed to mediate a diplomatic resolution, and the TPDF launched a counteroffensive, re-securing Kagera by January 1979 and occupying a Ugandan border town. Nyerere also mobilised Ugandan rebels loyal to Obote and Yoweri Museveni to weaken Amin’s regime. At first Nyerere wanted only to defend Tanzanian territory. After Amin failed to renounce his claims to Kagera and the OAU failed to condemn the Ugandan invasion, the TPDF occupied the towns of Masaka and Mbarara in southern Uganda.
While the TPDF prepared to clear the way to Kampala, the Ugandan capital, Muammar Gaddafi, the leader of Libya and an ally of Amin, dispatched several thousand troops to Uganda to assist the Uganda Army. The Palestinian Liberation Organisation also sent a number of guerrillas to aid Amin. In March the largest battle of the war occurred when the Tanzanians and Ugandan rebels defeated a combined Ugandan-Libyan-Palestinian force at Lukaya. The loss of Lukaya led the Uganda Army to begin to collapse. Nyerere believed that Ugandan rebels should be given time to organise their own government to succeed Amin. He sponsored a conference of rebels and exiles in Moshi later that month, where the Uganda National Liberation Front (UNLF) was founded. In early April the TPDF seized the airport in Entebbe, inflicting heavy casualties on Libyan troops and destroying the Uganda Army Air Force. Libya ended its intervention and its troops fled the country. On 10 April a combined TPDF-UNLF force attacked Kampala, and secured it the following day. Amin fled into exile while a UNLF government was established. In the following months, the TPDF occupied Uganda, facing only scattered resistance. It secured the Uganda–Sudan border in June, bringing the war to an end.
The overthrow of a sovereign head of state by a foreign military had never occurred in post-colonial Africa, and Nyerere’s decision to invade Uganda provoked a row in the OAU. The war severely harmed Tanzania’s fragile economy and inflicted long-lasting damage to Kagera. The Uganda–Tanzania border dispute remained at low intensity until its resolution in 2001. The war also had severe economic consequences in Uganda, and brought about a wave of crime and political violence as the UNLF government struggled to maintain order. Political disagreements and the persistence of the remnants of the Uganda Army in the border regions ultimately led to the outbreak of the Ugandan Bush War in 1980.