Isaac Lumago

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Isaac Lumago
Uganda Army Chief of Staff
In office
January 1977 – 8 May 1978
PresidentIdi Amin
Preceded byMustafa Adrisi
Succeeded byYusuf Gowon
Minister of State for Defence of Uganda
In office
January 1977 – April 1978
PresidentIdi Amin
Personal details
Died8 May 2012
Arua, Uganda
RelationsIdi Amin
Military service
Allegiance Uganda
Branch/serviceUganda Army (UA)
Former Uganda National Army (FUNA)
Years of service1963–?
RankMajor general

Isaac Lumago (1939 – 8 May 2012) was a Ugandan military officer who served as chief of staff for the Uganda Army from 1977 to 1978, and later became leader of the Former Uganda National Army (FUNA).


Isaac Lumago was born in 1939.[1] He was an ethnic Nubian, and a cousin of Idi Amin.[2] Lumago joined the Uganda Army in 1963.[1] He later became Uganda's High Commissioner to Lesotho.[3] In July 1976 he was in Kenya, and he overheard Kenya Air Force officers on 4 July, discussing plans by Israel to carry out a raid against Entebbe International Airport to free hostages who were held there by Palestinian and German airplane hijackers with the complicity of the Ugandan government.[4] Lumago and Colonel Gad Wilson Toko, who was in Nairobi for non-military reasons, managed to telephone Brigadier Isaac Maliyamungu after failing to reach Uganda Army Chief of Staff Mustafa Adrisi. Maliyamungu, who was reportedly drunk at a night club, dismissed the warning and told both men that since they were acting in civilian capacities they both should not involve themselves in military matters.[5] The Israelis subsequently launched Operation Entebbe, rescuing the hostages and destroying a significant portion of the Uganda Army Air Force.[4] Lumago was recalled to Uganda later that year.[3][a]

In January 1977 Lumago, at the rank of general, was appointed Chief of Staff of the army and Minister of State for Defence.[6] Lumago did little to exercise responsibility over his ministerial portfolio.[3] At the time, he was regarded as follower of Adrisi who had been appointed Vice President.[7] In early 1978, a political rivalry between Adrisi and President Idi Amin gradually escalated until the latter was injured in a suspicious car accident. The Vice President was consequently flown to Egypt for treatment, whereupon Amin purged his followers from the government.[7] In April 1978, Lumago was among those officers who were deeply criticised by Amin in a public radio broadcast.[8] Afterwards, on 8 May he was dismissed as Chief of Staff and Minister of State for Defence and relegated to inspecting the equipment of the army's mechanised regiments.[7][9]

In 1979 Tanzanian forces and Ugandan rebels invaded Uganda and overthrew Amin. Lumago fled from his mansion in Koboko, which was subsequently destroyed.[10] He went to Zaire,[11] from where he organized remnants of the Uganda Army into a rebel force. Together with other pro-Amin groups, Lumago's force invaded the West Nile region in 1980, starting the Ugandan Bush War.[12] He eventually rose to commander of the pro-Amin insurgent group known as Former Uganda National Army (FUNA). In July 1985, the Ugandan government under Tito Okello invited him and about 1,500 FUNA fighters to return. He accepted, joined Okello's government, and consequently began to fight against another rebel movement, the National Resistance Army (NRA) of Yoweri Museveni. Lumago consequently had set up his headquarters in a hotel in Kampala from where he gave interviews and directed his troops. Meanwhile, FUNA was accused of gross indiscipline, reportedly raping and murdering civilians in the capital and other areas, though Lumago denied these charges.[13] He also lobbied for an anmesty to allow Idi Amin to return to Uganda.[14] Lumago's troops fought with the UNLA to defend Kampala from a NRA offensive in January 1986, but were defeated.[13] Lumago was forced to flee back into Zaire where he continued to live in exile until 1997.[15]

In late 2011 Lumago was made adviser to President Museveni for security in the West Nile sub-region. In 2012 Lumago fell ill and was taken to a medical clinic in Koboko. The clinic referred him to Arua Referral Hospital in Arua, where he was taken and admitted into the intensive care unit. His health continued to deteriorate until he died on 8 May at the age of 73.[1]

Personal life[edit]

Lumago was Christian.[2] By the time of his death, he had three wives and about thirty children.[11] Lumago was a close friend of Andrew Mukooza, the last commander of the Uganda Army Air Force.[16]


  1. ^ According to To the Point International, Luamgo's recall was viewed by international observers "as a move to reduce the influence of the then Minister of Defence, Major General Mustafa Adrisi".[3]


  1. ^ a b c Clement Aluma; Felix Warom Okello (9 May 2012). "Maj. Gen. Isaac Lumago dies at Arua referral hospital". Daily Monitor. Retrieved 7 June 2019.
  2. ^ a b Decalo 2019, The Collapse of a Dictator.
  3. ^ a b c d "Uganda : Idi Amin cracks down on ministers". To the Point International. 5. 1978. p. 26.
  4. ^ a b Alexander, Ben (4 July 2016). "Operation Thunderbolt: Daring and Luck". Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs. Retrieved 17 April 2019.
  5. ^ Rwehururu 2002, p. 76.
  6. ^ "Uganda : Vice-President Appointed". Africa Research Bulletin. January 1977. p. 4284.
  7. ^ a b c Otunnu 2016, p. 313.
  8. ^ Omara-Otunnu 1987, p. 140.
  9. ^ "Ministerial Appointment and Military Promotions in Uganda". Summary of World Broadcasts: Non-Arab Africa. 8 May 1978.
  10. ^ Rice 2003, p. 3.
  11. ^ a b Batre, Ronald (9 May 2012). "General Isaac Lumago Dead". Uganda Radio Network. Retrieved 15 December 2019.
  12. ^ Africa Confidential 1981, p. 8.
  13. ^ a b Harden, Blaine (20 January 1986). "Ugandans Learn to Live With Chronic Tribal War". The Washington Post. Retrieved 16 December 2019.
  14. ^ United Press International (12 August 1985). "Amin's Generals Seek Amnesty for Him". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 7 January 2020.
  15. ^ Rice 2003, p. 7.
  16. ^ Magembe, Muwonge (15 October 2015). "How Amin's pilot was killed". New Vision. Retrieved 4 October 2019.