- Chief guest. President Museveni is expected to officiate at the weekend commemoration of Gad Wilson Toko’s life.
KAMPALA. West Nile is due this week to posthumously honour former vice president Gad Wilson Toko for his contribution in pacifying Uganda, professionalising its military’s Air Force and aviation sector.
Organisers say the two part event, a public lecture at Heritage Courts in Arua Town on Friday, and a memorial service on Saturday at Emmanuel Cathedral, in the outskirt is to “celebrate the life and legacy” of the ex-Vice President. He deputised Tito Okello Lutwa during the short-lived military junta and led the government delegation to the 1985 Nairobi peace talks, which collapsed and ended with President Museveni capturing power in January 1986.
“Toko was one of those educated, very professional and simple but intelligent serviceman in Uganda,” State International Affairs minister Oryem Okello, a son of former President Lutwa, said yesterday.
He added: “Toko went to the Nairobi peace talks with a sincere heart to seek a peaceful solution to (Uganda’s then) dire situation and wanted the parties to be sincere and agree on a peaceful way forward from the country.”
Maracha East MP James Acidri, one of the organisers, said this week’s events aim to flag Toko’s rise from humble beginnings to prominently contribute to Uganda’s development so that the younger generation is inspired to aspire for greater things in life and ethical leadership.
“A key value, which this country now lacks that I learned from Toko, was ethics and integrity. He served Uganda without any blemish,” Mr Acidri said, adding, “He also exhibited the element of hard work and was a pacifier because he prevailed peace had to prevail for all else to happen.”
In his memoir titled, Intervention in Uganda: The power struggle and Soviet Involvement, Toko chronicles a distressed early childhood during which his parents, a catechist father and house-wife mother, sent him to stay with a relative who mistreated him.
“I lived with a teacher who was cruel and demanded many services from me in return for the food I ate. Unlike his son, who had everything laid before him on a plate, I had to sweat to earn my bread...” he wrote in his 1979 book. That was before he became vice president.
Toko trained as a pilot in Russia, Britain and the United States and served as commander of Uganda Army’s Air Force and later the General Manager of the East African Airways. In both positions, the then President Idi Amin accused him of plotting a coup and verbally stripped his family of Ugandan citizenship after accusations that he allegedly concealed information about the 1976 Israeli raid.
The widow, Ms Restituta Toko, said her husband “loved his family, loved his people in West Nile and was generally a people’s person”.