By Denis Jjuuko
Bulange Mmengo: This Sunday, July 31, 2016, marked 23 years since Ronald Muwenda Mutebi II was installed as the 36th Kabaka of Buganda at Naggalabi Buddo Coronation Grounds.
The story of his coronation is a unique one as he had to endure the intricacies of restoring his kingdom – abolished 27 years earlier by the Milton Obote regime.
It, therefore, comes without saying that Kabaka Mutebi II’s greatest achievement in 23 years is the restoration of his kingdom, keeping the throne amidst challenges and changing times.
It is important to note that where kingdoms were abolished before, they were never restored even when people demanded for them. The examples include Germany, France, Congo, and Zimbabwe among others.
“Kabaka Mutebi is extremely skilled given the fact that he managed to restore his kingdom – it is a lifetime legacy,” Katikkiro Charles Peter Mayiga says. “And to see young people so interested in their kingdom explains some of these very rare skills,” Katikkiro Mayiga adds. Ideally, one would expect young people not to be as interested – looking at the kingdom as ancient. “The youth are the most interested people in Kabakaship which further underlines Kabaka Mutebi’s skills in galvanizing his people,” Katikkiro Mayiga explains.
This year’s theme was centered on the fact that the Kabaka is on his throne, which makes Buganda happy.
“My major responsibility as Katikkiro and that of all people in Buganda is to ensure the integrity of Kabaka’s headship of Buganda’s heritage – it is our major aspiration as a Kingdom as explained in our number one tenet or aspiration – Ensonga Ssemasonga Esooka. Hence, the theme for this year’s anniversary,” Katikkiro Mayiga explains.
“The Kabakaship as the first tenet enlightens that the heritage cannot abound unless the Kabaka is on the throne. As Baganda we regard the Kabaka as the custodian of our culture,” Katikkiro Mayiga adds.
The Kingdom is united behind their leader and all people moving in our direction. This is exhibited in the support people have towards their king. For example, last year, the Ssaza Football Finals saw probably the largest crowd ever seen at the Nelson Mandela National Stadium at Namboole. The Kabaka’s Birthday Run is now one of the largest events in Uganda.
“If you look at Ettoffaali and the way people turn up everywhere Katikkiro Mayiga turns up shows the love people have for their Kabaka,” Owek Noah Kiyimba, Minister for Information, Protocol and Kingdom Spokesman observes. “About nine billion has been collected by people giving the little they have. That is a strong indicator of unity,” Kiyimba adds.
However, this unity has been achieved because Buganda has been able to set a developmental agenda. In 1996, the kingdom started a radio station which is now the biggest and most popular in the country. CBS FM has very many developmental programmes that touch people’s lives.
The Buganda Cultural and Development Foundation (BUCADEF) has been at the forefront of an agricultural and environmental revolution providing tree and crop seedlings on top of advisory services to communities.
In education, the Kabaka through the Kabaka’s Education Fund has provided bursaries to 45,000 primary pupils, 69,000 students at secondary school level and 49,500 at tertiary institutions. The beneficiaries of these bursaries come from all over the country.
The ministry of health organizes health camps where Kabaka’s people are treated free of charge where thousands turn up. Recently, the Kingdom, to further help people reach hospitals faster, acquired a brand new ambulance.
The proceeds from the Kabaka’s Birthday Run have been used to treat fistula for the last three years. From next year, proceeds will go to treatment and raising awareness of sickle cell anemia. Architectural plans are underway for a referral hospital.
The Nnaabagereka Development Foundation is leading a cultural revival with its much thought-after Ekisaakaate programme where thousands of children and young adults are impacted with morals. Applicants come from across the country.
By all Ugandans working together, the tombs at Kasubi and Wamala are being rehabilitated. A perimeter wall fence covering 64 acres at Kasubi is now in place. Modern houses with solar systems and piped water have been built for caretakers at Kasubi Royal Tombs. However, there is still ongoing works on Muzibu Azaala Mpanga – the main mausoleum where four kings are buried, which will be complete soon.
Masengere, a modern building that was lying idle besides Bulange for 40 years is now complete and occupied by paying tenants. Talking of Masengere, it houses Buganda’s new TV station, Buganda Broadcasting Service (BBS). The station is a result of a responsive culture at Mmengo as it was directly demanded by Kabaka’s subjects.
Currently, works are ongoing on the Kabaka’s Lake – one of the few man-made lakes in the world – to restore it using money that is being raised through Ettoffaali.
On the political side and very importantly, the Kabaka is free to tour his entire Kingdom. Although this year’s coronation anniversary is in Butambala, it could have been in any county had the Kabaka wished so.
· Increased support and partnerships from the private and development sectors
· Ngule lager – is now the fastest growing beer in Uganda
· Mirembe Villas under construction (40 modern houses already built). Efforts underway to build houses for low-income earners in Ssentema in Busiro
· The central government has returned more properties to the Kingdom and agreed to compensate properties sold
· Kabaka’s people more united under their King.