By Denis Jjuuko
For over a century, long before Buganda Kingdom signed an agreement with Kooki in 1896, the tiny county was part of Buganda. The Kabakas of Buganda presided over this territory that extended into Kiziba, in current day Northern Tanzania. The route the Kabakas used to go to Kiziba is in present day Kooki County.
However, due to problems that may have existed, a prince ran away from Bunyoro and settled in Kooki. He sought protection from Buganda kings and they granted it. This protection stopped Bunyoro from persecuting him. Sseekabaka Jjunju and Ssekabaka Ssemakookiro provided this kind of protection long before any agreements were signed.
Then in 1896, an agreement was signed. The major clause in this agreement was that Kooki would have a special status as a county enabling it to have a hereditary chief. It is, therefore, wrong for anybody to assume as some Kooki officials regularly do that Kooki was a Kingdom whose chief, the Kamuswaga, was at the level of the Kabaka with a ‘throne’ of his own in the Buganda Lukiiko.
Installing the hereditary chief of Kooki County was always the responsibility of Pookino — the county chief of neighboring Buddu. It wasn’t even the Katikkiro’s responsibility. That is how insignificant this Kooki-Buganda special relationship is. However, preparations to install the current Kamuswaga, Apollo Ssansa Kabumbuli were presided over by Katikkiro Joseph Mulwanyamuli because the Kingdom had been banned in 1966.
In fact, Kabumbuli would not have been installed had he not paid allegiance to and sought support of Kabaka Ronald Mutebi who instructed his Katikkiro to spearhead the process. President Yoweri Museveni was made aware of these negotiations to install Kabumbuli as a hereditary chief of Kooki not as a king of any county.
Some Kooki officials probably with a personal vendetta use any chance they have to allege that Katikkiro Charles Peter Mayiga removed Kabumbuli’s ‘throne’ from the Buganda Lukiiko chambers. The latest such allegations are being peddled by Kooki’s Information Minister in a missive written for his ‘news’ website. First, Mayiga only became Katikkiro in May 2013 and, therefore, could not have removed any seat because it was not there in the first place.
How then did some people in Kooki think that the Kamuswaga had a ‘throne’ at Bulange? It is because Kabumbuli’s grandfather Kamuswaga George Kayemba was a friend of Ssekabaka Edward Muteesa II. Muteesa used to go to Kooki on some expeditions and would spend nights at Kamuswaga’s. They were very close. So when the Kamuswaga came to Mengo, Kabaka Muteesa did not allow him to sit on the floor like other chiefs and elders. Back in the day, apart from the Katikkiro, all chiefs and elders including the Kamuswaga sat on the floor while meeting the Kabaka. Muteesa would always inform his handlers that Kayemba; because he was a royal from the Babiito Clan should be let to sit on a chair. Muteesa simply extended an arm of friendship. Obviously, some people in Kooki have misinterpreted this history.
There have also been allegations attributed to Katikkiro Daniel Muliika that he had made instructions to install a ‘throne’ for Kamuswaga in the Buganda Lukiiko. Buganda can only have one Kabaka and, therefore, a former Katikkiro should know this. Secondly, Muliika was Katikkiro for nine months and the Baganda have not forgotten how disastrous his reign was. He cannot, therefore, be the sole answer to Buganda’s problems as he often fronts himself or the media portray him.
Lastly, Kooki does not belong to the Babiito royal family alone. There are many Baganda clans living in Kooki. They pay their allegiance to the Kabaka given the way they welcome him whenever he tours and their participation in Kingdom activities such as Ssaza Football Competitions and previously Ettoffaali. And by the way, the people of Kooki even welcome the Buganda Katikkiro on his visits more than they do to Kamuswaga. They know the difference between a Kabaka, a Katikkiro of Buganda and a county chief. Babiito royal family members like Kyaddondo County Chief Patrick Luwaga Mugumbule serve in key positions at Mengo.
This further underscores the fact that there is no bad blood between Katikkiro Mayiga and the people of Kooki. The Kamuswaga is welcome to Bulange any day as long as he respects the Kabaka and the institution. And he and his officials should stop making weird allegations against the Katikkiro and the Katikkiro will not seek permission from anybody before he tours any part of Buganda. By the way, where does Kamuswaga and his Information minister get permission to live in Kyaddondo??
The writer is a communication and visibility consultant. firstname.lastname@example.org