An intimate look at Uganda's First Lady
Janet Museveni (nee Keinembabazi) was born on August 15, 1949, in Bwongyera village, Kajara, Ntungamo, Uganda).
Her parents were Mr and Mrs Edward Kataha. Her father also got a child with an aunt of Janet's and this cousin as well as step-sister to Janet was called Jennifer Nankunda, who later became Mrs. Jennifer Kuteesa, wide of the current Foreign Minister Sam Kuteesa.
Janet Keinembabazi attended Kyamate primary school around the same time as one Violet Kajubiri, a step-sister to Yoweri Museveni. She went on for high school to Bweranyagye Girls' Secondary School.
As Radio Katwe reported last week, at Bweranyangye Girls', Janet Keinembabazi was an insignificant student; there were times that she was the bottom of the class. She does not like to be reminded of her poor school performance, and this is why she has rarely identified herself much in public with her former school or its activities.
She did not pass her O'Levels and went to live with a well-to-do cousin, John Wycliffe Kazzora, who financed her overseas studies. She attended a secretarial course in Wales and on returning to Uganda got a job as a ground hostess with the then East African Airways.
She had originally applied to be an air stewardess but was turned down because she suffers from epilepsy. During her East African Airways tour in the Nairobi office, she worked with air hostesses like the late Dorcas Karara.
It is also said by some of her former colleagues in Nairobi that she was a girlfriend of the Nairobi East African Airways manager, Patrick Makumbi, with whom she had intimate relations.
Around 1971, she is supposed to have fallen in love with a young man called William Mwesigwa, nicknamed "Black Mwesigwa". Mwesigwa was a classmate of Yoweri Museveni at Ntare School in the 1960s and he shared Museveni's love for guerrilla warfare and revolutionary talk.
When Mwesigwa fled to exile in Tanzania in 1971 and became involved in guerrilla war against the new government of President Idi Amin, Janet Keinembabazi joined him there. Janet Keinembabazi, Mwesigwa, Museveni, and Hope Rwaheru shared a house in Dar es Salaam because as refugees they did not have much money to rent different houses.
After Museveni killed Mwesigwa in 1972, Janet became romantically close to Museveni. Museveni himself had another child called Muhoozi Kainerugaba by Hope Rwaheru and he murdered Hope around 1974.
Some sources say Museveni and Janet Kataha got married in London in August 1973 but most information available in Uganda says that the two have never formally legalised their marriage and that has remained a cause of tensions between them.
For example, no single photograph of Museveni has ever been seen of him with a wedding ring on his finger.
When the Amin regime fell from power in April 1979, the Musevenis moved back to Uganda from Tanzania.
Most reports say a daughter Natasha was born to the couple in 1976 and another daughter Patience, was born in 1980 and their last child, Diana, was born in 1981.
But some reports from knowledgeable sources in the Uganda People's Congress party say that details of Natasha are not clear.
The UPC people claim that Natasha was a child of Janet and Black Mwesigwa or another comrade of Museveni's called Martin Mwesiga who Museveni murdered in 1974.
Others say that Natasha's real father could even be Patrick Makumbi, her former boss and lover when she worked for East African Airways.
They argue that the only children between Museveni and Janet are Patience and Diana. Around the time that Major Muhoozi Kainerugaba got married in 1999, Ugandan newspapers used to confuse Patience and Diana because of how much they resemble, but none of them confused Natasha with any of her sisters.
These pundits also point to the behaviour of the Museveni children.
They say that whereas Patience who is now married to Odrek Rwabwogo and Diana who is now married to Geoffrey Kamuntu have been in the public eye like Muhoozi and Natasha, Patience and Diana have remained without any reports or rumours of scandal or strange behaviour all their lives.
But the Museveni children who have gone wild, been violent sometimes, or sexually loose have been Muhoozi and Natasha, because when they were told about their real parents, it affected them. Muhoozi once pulled a gun at the gate of Nile Hotel in Kampala when he was stopped from entering a music show and Natasha's pregnancy and abortion with soldiers' children is well-known.
In 1981 when Museveni launched his guerrilla war against the new government of former President Milton Obote, Janet Museveni and her children re-located to Nairobi, Kenya, where they lived with family friends until 1983.
In 1983, the Museveni family moved to Gottenberg, Sweden, where they lived until May 1986, four months after Museveni had captured state power in Kampala. In Sweden they lived on the same apartment block as the children of Amelia Kyambadde, who is now the Principal Private Secretary to Museveni.
When Museveni captured state power in 1986, he had vowed that his new wife was now Winnie Byanyima, who had been his childhood friend and then secret girlfriend since the late 1970s.
That is why Janet did not immediately come to Uganda when her husband took power because Byanyima was in her way. Prominent church leaders and Museveni's Prime Minister the late Dr. Samson Kisekka told Museveni that his continuing affair with Byanyima was embarrassing him and Uganda.
That was when Museveni ordered his stepbrother Salim Saleh to evict Byanyima from State House and Janet came to Uganda in May 1986.
Janet Museveni then started a campaign to show Winnie Byanyima as an evil and malicious woman who tried to kidnap Museveni's son Muhoozi and so on.
Janet founded the Uganda Women's Effort to Save Orphans (UWESO), a private relief agency in late 1986 which she said was shaped by her experience as a refugee. She also became involved with the HIV/AIDS campaign in Uganda through the 1990s.
In fact, the warm feelings between Patrick Makumbi and Janet continued after she became First Lady that for a number of years the Kampala office of UWESO was located at the Kampala City Council offices, where Makumbi was the Town Clerk.
When Museveni discovered that the two were still an item, he worked toward the dismissal of Makumbi as Town Clerk.
Many people, though, do not know that under the cover of UNESCO, Janet Museveni has been receiving large financial and material donations from Europe and North America, which she channels to her children and some of her loyal staff.
It is the money she raises from local donations that she actually gives to Uganda's orphans.
Around 1988 or 1989, Janet Museveni got the shock of her life when she tested positive for HIV, which she got from her husband. In those days, people who got AIDS were sure they were going to die because there were no antiretroviral drugs yet.
The shock of being found HIV-positive is what made Mrs. Museveni turn to religion for comfort and she started following the �gborn again�h movement.
At the same time, her husband's excessive infidelity and getting many children out of wedlock pushed Janet more and more in the direction of religion.
In 1992, the "Uganda Confidential" newsletter reported that Janet Museveni and her half sister/half cousin Jennifer Kuteesa had been involved in a land wrangle with the Kagondoki family in Ntungamo and to resolve it, they arranged for the murder of one of the boys, Aaron Kagondoki.
In 1994, Janet Museveni decided to pursue a degree in education at Makerere University.
As usual, she was dull in class and a no-nonsense and principled lecturer in the Department of Psychology, a Mr. Opolot, marked her exam paper and she had to do a re-take because she had failed the paper.
As usual, she look a leaf from her husband who disregards institutions which stand in his way. Janet Museveni was humiliated by having to be told to do a re-take and using the power of State House, she influenced Makerere University to expel Opolot.
She was awarded free marks in the paper, she did not do the teaching practice which is compulsory for undergraduates pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree in Education, and so she got a junk degree from Makerere.
Meanwhile, while Janet Museveni was trying to behave in public as a God-fearing woman of high moral standards, the public was hearing something different.
In the mid 1990s, her daughter Natasha from nowhere turned into a crazy girl and began doing crazy things. She started sleeping with President Museveni's aide de camp, Captain Kavuma, and she got pregnant by a sergeant who used to be a guard at State House.
When it came to discussing what to do about Natasha's pregnancy, Museveni took a liberal position saying since it had already happened they had to live with it. (This makes us wonder if Museveni could be so casual about it if Natasha was his real daughter.)
Mrs. Museveni refused to hear that and insisted that Natasha had to have an abortion so that she could get a "proper" marriage in future. The abortion was carried out on the orders of the God-fearing born-again Janet Museveni.
There were also reports from sources inside State House around 1999 that Janet Museveni had tried to befriend and sleep with a young soldier in State House but the soldier could not imagine such a thing and he refused and fled into exile in London.
The Internet Wikipedia encyclopedia said in a profile of Mrs. Museveni this way:
"[D]uring this same period there grew an impression in Uganda that Janet Museveni, behind her modest Christian beliefs, led an extravagant lifestyle.
In May 2000, the government-owned New Vision published a story saying that the Libyan leader Col. Mu'ammar Gadhafi had donated a $100,000 BMW car to Janet Museveni.
The light green BMW, model 740, was flown to Entebbe International Airport from Libya in October 1999. Abbas Misurati of the Libyan embassy in Kampala confirmed the reports, saying the car was a personal gift from Gadhafi to the First Lady.
Janet Museveni has been widely rumoured to be the core shareholder in a number of Uganda's largest businesses ranging from hotels to real estate and telecommunications. Among these are the Hotloaf Bakery, Simu telephone booth company, Garden City Complex, East African Airlines, Crane Bank, and the Imperial Resort Beach Hotel."
That is a reputable encyclopedia telling you about Janet Museveni, not RadioKatwe.com which some people think just hates the First Family.
In 2005, an elusive fellow called Smart Musolin who says he writes from Entebbe broke the story to the world that Janet Museveni has having an affair with a Swedish man of Eritrean origin and she had bought him a lavish house in Sweden.
It seems Mrs. Museveni had become tired of all her husband's extramarital escapades. The latest reports say he now has four wives, apart from Janet.
In fact one time on his radio show, the loud mouth Andrew Mwenda told the KFM listeners that Museveni in 2004 was introduced to the family of a young woman for a traditional wedding by Brigadier Jim Muhwezi. State House did not deny Mwenda's claims.
Another shocking report says that there is a room in State House which is kept strictly locked, 24 hours a day. The only person who has the key to it and opens it is President Museveni himself.
One day, Janet Museveni got the key in one way or the other and went to check the room to see what her husband keeps there which nobody is allowed to see.
The sources said she opened the room and almost fainted. On the floor there was something that looked like a traditional African witchcraft shrine and it was surrounded by bones, teeth of animals and other juju things.
In the middle of it there was a life-size statue of....Yoweri Museveni!
Mrs. Museveni could not believe that her husband had become so mad and was now a full worshipper of witchcraft!
In November 2005, she announced that she would seek the parliamentary seat of Ruhama in the election of February 23, 2006.
On the day of nominations, Janet Museveni was nominated in the morning and her rival Augustine Ruzindana of FDC was nominated in the afternoon. After her nomination, Mrs. Museveni threw a big party in the township paid for by State House.
Ruzindana did not have that kind of money and he instead went about meeting people and asking for their support.
Instead of the Ruhaama people abandoning him because he had no money, the villagers contributed their goats, bulls, and chicken and threw a party for him and themselves.
That is how little support Janet Museveni has in Ntungamo.
In fact, the thing which got the Canadian journalist Blake Lambert in trouble with the government Media Centre was not because of his anti-NRM views (he is a moderate in his views, we are told), but because he visited Ruhaam and spent a week there and when he came back, he concluded that there was no way Janet Museveni could win the parliamentary seat there.
That is the story of Janet Keinembabazi Kataha Museveni.