Arua. At the time most children were growing especially in West Nile, the name Toko was familiar as there were stories about him as being one of the best pilots who could fly with precision.
Although many who cherished Toko did not meet him, he was a darling and inspiration to many hearts of those aspiring to become pilots. But who is the Brigadier Toko who conquered the air with the planes? Brig Gad Wilson Toko was born on 1st July 1943 at Paranga, Maracha district. His parents, Joshua Adebo (RIP) and Priscilla Buziru (RIP) were devout Christians.
He passed on at the age of 59 on August 18, 2002.
1956-1957 attended Arua Junior Secondary school, Mvara. Obtained a Junior School Certificate.
1958-1961, was in Sir Samuel Baker, Gulu, and he obtained a Cambridge School Certificate in 1961. From 1962-1963, studied Engineering at Kampala Technical Institute.
Rtd Ambassador Mr Harold Acemah, who studied with the late Brigadier Toko at Sir Samuel Baker secondary school in 1961 and also spent a long time together with him up to his death in 2002 said Toko played a key role in the Nairobi Peace Talks, which brought President Museveni’s government to power in 1986.
“He was a devoted Christian who loved his family and the country. His death is a loss to us and the nation. He was a trustworthy person,” he said.
Rtd Ambassador Harold Acemah delivering key note address. All photos by Felix
1963, he joined Uganda Air Force and trained in USSR now Russia and at the Royal Air Force College, Bracknell, UK. He was the first Ugandan pilot to fly solo in a sophisticated Russian MIG jet fighter.
In 1967, Toko was part of a team of UAF Officers sent to Gulu to establish a squadron of MIG jet fighters bought from Russia.
Then in 1971, Gen Idi Amin Dada staged a military coup which took place when Toko was already Commander of the Uganda Air Force.
March 4, 1972, Toko married Ms Resti Karugonjo at All Saints Cathedral, Kampala. They have four children, Sandra Toko, Nicholas Toko, Emily Toko and Joshua Toko. Unfortunately, Sandra passed on before Toko died.
Toko’s son Denis, the mother and other relatives while in Arua.
1972, Gen Idi Amin sent Col Toko for training in Egypt. His host in Egypt was Egyptian Air Force Command, Hosni Mubarak who later became President of Egypt in 1981 after assassination of President Anwar Sadat.
1973-1977, Col Toko was appointed Director General of East African Airways Corporation until the East African Community collapsed.
Dr. Charles Andi, a London based medical practitioner, who lived with the late Brigadier Toko said the late spear headed the formation of West Nile Welfare Association, which became successful in London, bringing Ugandan exiles together.
“I gave clothes to Wilson Toko when he returned for the second time in exile. And Toko fitted well with us and he was made our leader for West Nile Welfare Association. Many of us did not want him to return to Uganda, but we later allowed him return,” he said.
Dr Charles Andi, who cared for Toko while for second exile in London.
1977-1979, Gen Amin told Toko he was not welcome to return to Uganda and so Toko went into exile with his family in Pittsburgh, USA. He enrolled at Pitsburgh University and while there, he published a book tittled: Interventions in Uganda-The power struggle and soviet involvement.
March 1979, Col Toko participated in the Moshi Unity Conference, which paved way for the overthrow of Gen Idi Amin on Apil 11, 1979 by Tanzania People’s Defence Forces and ULNA. He was briefly appointed a Deputy Minister in the UNLA government.
1980 to July 1985, Col Toko was General Manager of Uganda Airlines and he turned the national carrier into a profitable parastatal organization.
July 1985 to January 1896, Brig Toko was Vice Chairman of the Military Council led by Gen. Tito Okello Lutwa. Toko was de facto Vice President of Uganda.