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Museveni’s daughter: Unclaimed secrets in a box in Kenya for 27 years

Posted by African Press International on September 4, 2012

By Moses Njagih

One cold night in 1982, a group of security agents visited a top Nyeri primary school on a mission to rescue a Standard Two pupil whose life was in danger.

Moving through the shadows, they whisked the girl into a waiting car and drove out of the current day Moi Nyeri Complex Primary School as quietly as they had come.

Natasha Karugire, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni�s daughter.

Few teachers knew of the impending operation, carried out at 3am. Even fewer people knew the girl was the daughter of (current Uganda President) Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, then a guerrilla leader.

“It was a big mystery and her presence was scary for us,” says Mr Geoffrey Kuira, who was then the school principal.

And this is how Natasha Karugire Museveni was saved from State agents of then Ugandan government, which Museveni was fighting.

They had allegedly plotted to capture her and use her as a bait to have the father surrender from waging a guerrilla war against former President Milton Obote.

Hiding place

Today, teachers at the school still wait for her � or even the president � to collect or send for belongings she left there.

Her briefcase with some school essentials would be a treasured memento for the family.

Interviews with her former teachers and classmates indicate the school was more of a hiding place than a place for her to learn. She lived incognito, her identity not even known by classmates or teachers.

Ms Mary Kirichu (top), a teacher at Moi Nyeri Complex Primary School, who was Natasha�s class teacher

Natasha had barely spent two terms at the school when she was roused from sleep and whisked away. It appeared something had gone terribly wrong and Museveni had learnt some people wanted to harm her.

A former classmate Angela Kimaru who was in the same dormitory as Natasha recalls they were always baffled by the way she communicated through letters.

She says Natasha would not write the names of those she was writing letters to on the envelope.

“Her letters were strictly addressed to Mum, Dad, Uncle or Aunt and their Nairobi addresses. No names were written on them. We were later to learn that this was for security reasons as she was supposed to stay incognito,” says Ms Kimaru.

She says teachers and friends only woke up to find she had left and would not be coming back to school.

Due to the haste in which her rescuers acted, Natasha left behind her personal belongings, which are still in the school�s safe custody at Niger Dormitory, where she slept.

Khaki envelope

Ms Angela Kimaru, Natasha�s childhood friend during the interview. [PHOTOS: MOSES NJAGIH/STANDARD/COURTESY]

When the red suitcase was recently opened to reveal its contents, a few personal belongings, her clothes and a pair of white shorts and a red T-shirt used as games uniform were still inside.

Sandwiched in between the clothes is a khaki envelope bearing the address �Dad, P.O. Box 39061, Nairobi�.

But it is the writings, in a red fountain pen, inscribed on the right corner of the inner side of the suitcase that betrays its real owner as �Natasha Museveni�.

The suitcase has remained at the same position for the past 27 years, unmoved, save for the few times the matron has disturbed it for routine wiping to rid it of dust.

“Various administrations have been hoping that may be, one day she might decide to come and pick her belongings and possibly visit her childhood school as many others have done,” says Mr Kanyingi Machira, the principal.

Kuria, the former headmaster, says Natasha was reunited with her other family members who were then fugitives in Nairobi before they were evacuated to Sweden for safety.

Today, Natasha is married to Mr Edwin Karugire and was recently appointed by her father as the Private Secretary to the President in-charge of Household Affairs.

Police sources say Museveni�s intelligence caught wind of the plot against Natasha in the nick of time � a night before it was executed.

He sent emissaries to snatch Natasha from school with the help of Kenya Government officials.

According to her former class teacher, Ms Mary Kirichu, Natasha barely spent two terms at the institution.

Natasha had been enrolled in the school, then known as Nyeri Primary School in 1982.

Kirichu, who is almost retiring after more than 30 years at the school, says she realised the girl was missing when she came to class in the morning to call the register.

“When she did not respond I wondered what was wrong with her. I went to her dormitory to see if she was unwell and that is where I met the matron a Mrs Nyagah, who told me she was collected at night,” she says.

The teacher says details about those who collected Natasha from the institution have never been revealed to other teachers apart from the then principal.

Childhood friend

Her teacher remembers her as a quiet, intelligent and beautiful girl.

“We did not even know she was a daughter of a senior person since she was just one among children of senior people at the school,” says another teacher Ms Catherine Mutua.

Kimaru, her former classmate, says she hopes to meet her childhood friend. She once attempted to visit Natasha when she visited Uganda in 2006, but was discouraged by friends.

“When I visited Kampala three years ago I told some of my friends there that I would attempt to see her but they told me I would not make it since she is always guarded. But I would love to meet her again,” she says.

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