On March 1, 2020, Assistant Commissioner of Police SAM OMALA clocked 60 and officially retired from the Uganda Police Force. He had served in various positions, but quelling opposition protests, mainly walk-to-work, endeared him to many through his public order management skills.
Quick Talk had requested a sit-down interview but his busy schedule left us with a virtual interview.
You are extremely busy!
Yes, I will be out of Kampala for almost a month. I am busy during the day on official duty for our security company. [Time check is 9:12pm, his preferred time for the interview.]
By the way, congratulations on your appointment!
I thank God for that. People who knew my good track record called me to make the company better. I am the deputy executive director in charge of operations at Arrow Security Systems Limited.
Are you friends with Capt Mike Mukula, the chairperson of the company?
We know each other. I have a good name and that’s why I was called from retirement.
But this appointment seemed not to have gone well with retired AIGP Asan Kasingye…
Yeah, I saw his tweet. He’s entitled to his words but my fans online fought him with harsh words. I am a celebrity of the people and they love me across the country. I knew people would handle him because it was like putting your naked hand on fire.
Why did you retire from the police?
The police has political and civil appointments. Any officer from the rank of constable to senior commissioner of police, you are a civil servant who must retire at 60 years. I was under that category. Officers from the rank of AIGP, deputy IGP, and IGP, are political appointments but they also retire [although both categories can serve on contract after retirement.]
How was retirement before this appointment?
It was nice. I am a man who had prepared himself. Beyond Arrow Security, I am a consultant with a multi-million dollar company led by the government of Switzerland. This company will open in Uganda next year. They will manufacture a lot of things with maize as a raw material.
These people give me some good dollars monthly in addition to other private things that give me money, too. By the time I retired, I had also constructed my beautiful home.
Where is the beautiful home?
Just go to Google and type Afande Omala’s home.
Wow…. Anyway, you wanted to join politics at some point...
Yes, and it became a concern for many people. At that time, there was an LC 5 vacancy in West Budama North. My two wives advised me to leave politics and I obeyed them. I don’t regret where I am now.
They must be strong women in your life...
[Laughs out loud] Oh, yes. Behind a strong man, there must be a strong woman. My two wives are very supportive. I tried one woman who was my tribemate and I was defeated. I put her on the side and brought two young ladies with whom we have stayed for about 23 years now.
Do they share the same house?
My home is built on one acre with two separate houses representing two women. They share the compound and main gate. You can’t keep two women in one house. Those were things of our ancient fathers. I am happy the government gave me electricity with a personal transformer inscribed Afande Sam Omala.
They also gave my parish three more transformers.
How about the children?
At 63, I have 16 children and 39 grandchildren. God has blessed me that I have never lost a child. My last born is eight years old. I am a peaceful and lucky man.
Opposition politicians did not find you peaceful during walk-to-work protests…
Opposition politicians are not enemies of security personnel. This is why we use non-lethal weapons on them like teargas which does not kill, in case they want to become unruly.
Who was your best and worst politician in field operations?
The most hostile politician was Rtd Col Kizza Besigye and his team, but I managed to tame him. I put him under preventive arrest for a whole week. There were some people who didn’t believe in violence like Norbert Mao and Rtd Maj Gen Mugisha Muntu.
Is it why people refer to you as “Besigye tormentor”?
Those are hopeless people. They are entitled to their opinions and that cannot obstruct my dignity in any way.
Walk-to-work protests surely brought you to the limelight.
Eeeeehhhhh, that was the most dangerous and notorious political protest. It was terrible and needed a careful officer like me to handle it. During that time, no ordinary Ugandan lost a life under my command and control, apart from our own AIP [John Michael] Ariong who was killed.
After me, one Bobi Wine protest went with 54 lives due to lack of control by the security forces and shooting anyhow.
Is the police failing to handle Bobi Wine?
I don’t want to blame the police because everybody has their leadership style. For example, Afande [Kale] Kayihura was a man of media and he would appear like four times a day. This is not the case with Afande Martin Okoth Ochola.
Do you want to conclude that Ochola is much better than Kayihura?
You know better…The answer is, that’s a leadership style.
If you were contracted to tame Bobi Wine….
Towards my retirement, they tried it but failed. I didn’t opt for any job on contract with the Uganda Police. I am much better than when I was a police officer. I don’t look for jobs but people just call me to work with them. I left a good legacy that is coming with good money.
Talking of Afande Kayihura, he was your friend; are you in touch?
You should know that the man is alive. I know he’s a Ugandan living in the country. I have no grudge against him but that doesn’t make him my friend. I wish him to live longer.
How did you coin the slogans; Musajja wa Kabaka and Mukodomi wa Buganda?
It’s the Katikkiro Charles Peter Mayiga who named me Musajja wa Kabaka. When I married my first wife, a Muganda, with whom I am on the bed right now as I talk to you, I became an in-law of Buganda. I love the Kabaka and I can confront anyone who talks ill about Buganda.
No wonder your Luganda sounds slightly better…
Hahahaaa! Mine is broken Luganda but the Baganda like it. I am a Japadhola from Bukedi sub-region. I grew up in Buganda, studied with Baganda, and married a Muganda.
Meanwhile, let me hope we are not eating into her time with this call!
She’s aware of this interview. She came from Tororo to visit me at my hotel in Mbale. We love each other so much.
You must be enjoying these official duties ……
Definitely. Just pray that you also get a husband who can call you while on official duty upcountry instead of sleeping with side dishes out there. I always call on my wives. I am a born-again Christian who doesn’t believe in changing women like clothes.
Do you talk to politicians that you used to arrest?
Now, how can I chat with them? One time, I went to visit the Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago but I didn’t find him. We both married from the Fumbe clan. Besigye is also my muko because I have his niece as my second wife.
Eeeehhhh! Why were you arresting your muko?
I was doing my work. One time, I asked my wife how she felt whenever I fought with her uncle. She said: “Do your job because he’s also doing his.” I remember when I went for my introduction, Besigye’s cousin was the chief negotiator on behalf of the family. But, their women are expensive!
They asked me for 10 cows, but we negotiated to six.
Please share your family and educational background...
I don’t want to go into that. Just know that I am an educated man who will not behave like politicians. I don’t need to expose too much to the public.
How do you spend your free time?
I spend it at home and maybe, on social media. I like watching war films. You will not find me at social gatherings. I don’t take alcohol – I quit drinking at 23 years. I also don’t smoke. I live like an elder who doesn’t visit people’s homes anyhow.
What car are you driving?
I don’t want you to know those things because I am a simple man who drives small cars. I drive myself and move with my simple guns [hahahahaaa…simple guns, sir!] You can hardly find someone in my car, maybe, my wife or children.
Your rapport with journalists is unmatched...
I am a compassionate person. When I was the operational commander, if I was about to teargas rioters, I would tip journalists to tactfully move behind me so that they were not affected. When I was deployed to Busoga and Bukedi as a sector commander, they started beating journalists kiboko. I don’t like it.
Do you have a favourite artiste or song?
I love everybody. In my home, you will find photos of me with people like Bobi Wine and Bebe Cool. I love any meaningful songs like for my good friend Mathias Walukagga, but not these upcoming musicians who just shout.
It is 9:56pm. Your wife must be complaining now.
She’s here on the bed looking beautiful and calm. I have given you enough time. When you are writing the story; don’t fix words in my mouth like what some journalists do. May God bless you!