In our continuing series on the 25th anniversary of Kabaka Mutebi’s coronation we look at some of the dark moments in Mutebi’s reign.
It has not been a bed of roses for the 25 years of Kabaka Muwenda Mutebi’s reign.
From the unknown fires that changed the history of Buganda kingdom, to the riots that caused death to some of his subjects and the subsequent closure of the kingdom mouth piece.
Arrests in the kingdom
Baganda and their rich history seem to be 2 inseparable aspects, and any destruction, disregard or erosion to its heritage is disastrous.
However on several occasions, this heritage has been disregarded by events many have considered dark moments for the reigning King Kabaka Ronald Muwenda Mutebi II.
It began with the arrest of kingdom officials who are considered to be exercising power on behalf the king which to many was seen as a direct attack on the king’s authority.
These include Medard Ssegona (Then deputy Information minister,now Busiro East legislator), Betty Nambooze (Then chairperson of Buganda Civic Education Central Committee (CECC),now Mukono municipality MP), and Charles Peter Mayiga (then spokesperson of the kingdom, now the kingdom premier).
These were later charged with inciting violence and attempting to obtain firearms to engage in terrorism. This was considered ridiculing the power of the kabaka and brought back memories of disrespect for the Kingdom and king in the Obote government.
Nipping Kabaka’s freedom of movement
This would mark the beginning of the many arrests that were yet to come.
On October 6, 2008 Kabaka Muwenda Mutebi was blocked by the central government and local leaders from launching Bulungi Bwansi (community programmes) at Nakasongola headquarters, citing security threats in the region.
Kabaka’s visit to Buluuli County headquarters, which is also the Nakasongola District headquarters, had been strongly opposed by the Baruuli, who were seeking autonomy from Buganda kingdom. Buruuli cultural head, Ssabaruuli Mwogezi Butamanya, also banned the singing of Ekitiibwa kya Buganda at public functions.
September 10, 2009, wasn’t any happier moment for the king when the police and UPDF cordoned-off River Sezibwa bridge, blocking the then Katikkiro, J.B Walusimbi and his delegation from proceeding to Kayunga to check on the progress of the preparation for the Kabaka who was set to visit to celebrate Buganda’s youth day.
The outcome of this action was later felt in Kampala, the seat of Buganda kingdom.
Hell broke loose characterised by destruction of property, looting of shops, setting up fire barricades.
Police fought to put the situation to normality and by the time sanity returned, lives had been lost and CBS and other 3 radio stations Catholic run Sapientia, Buganda-leaning Suubi FM and Akaboozi owned by former minister of Finance Maria Kiwanuka, were re – opened after apologising to government but CBS stayed closed for an entire year before reopening.
All this as the king witnessed his territory become a battle ground.
Fire in the kingdom
Then came March 16, 2010, when the historic Kasubi tombs went up in flames which engulfed the main building housing the mausoleums of four former Buganda kings Muteesa I, Basamula Mwanga II, Daudi Chwa II and Fredrick Walugembe Muteesa II.
The grass-thatched hut was reduced to ashes and all that was left was the brick wall.
The tombs are Unesco-certified World Heritage site that were bringing in millions of shillings to Buganda kingdom and Uganda through tourism.
But away from the tourism, Buganda’s history was changed for ever.
The kabaka who by his identity is not supposed to cry could not hold back his tears when he visited the scene.
As the Kabaka wept, Baganda mourned with many putting on black cloths and bark cloth as a sign that the unthinkable had happened to the kingdom.
Everybody rushed there including president Museveni to find out what could have caused the fire that had once again put Uganda in the international news.
As the kingdom was trying to come to terms with this fire, another fire broke out on August 8, 2012, this time at the coronation site destroying the 450-year-old Bwanika House, where the Crown Prince performs the final rituals before ascending to the throne.
It was there that Kabaka Ronald Muwenda Mutebi was crowned on July 31, 1993 Located in present day Wakiso District, Naggalabi hill.
Again in just a matter of months, another fire gutted the security office at Bulange house on October 10, 2012. Five people including, Captain Stephen Kisitu, the head of the Kabaka Protection Unit (KPU) lost their lives.
Some of the these and more mysterious unfortunate incidents that the Kabaka has had to encounter have brought disregard to historical norms . This could simply be described as mere display of humanity though at an expense to culture.