On November 22, 1969, Mutesa died in his one bedroomed flat in Bermondsey, London a poor neighborhood. Most loyalists, however, rubbished the news and said it was government propaganda to proclaim the King dead, while those near Mutesa indeed confirmed his death and followed it with the message; Obote poisoned him.
Indeed, there was ground to sow this kind of message. Mutesa was the most prominent Ugandan in exile and he wasn’t even on good terms with the sitting government back home. Joyce Mpanga, Mutesa’s personal friend, who was also in exile with her husband, in an interview claimed that the Kabaka had received several threats on his life.
“We got warnings, people used to write to say someone has been sent to kill the Kabaka and they would tell us to be aware,’ Mpanga told the BBC in an interview.
Indeed, prince David Ssimbwa, the younger brother to Mutesa, who had been arrested during the attack on the palace had earlier written to the Kabaka to warn him about a plot to assassinate him using a Muganda girl.
In his letter to the Kabaka, Ssimbwa included a photograph of a one Tatu Ssekannyo, asking his brother to be very careful with the girl as she was a planted state agent aimed at finishing him. There is a theory that Mutesa was actually poisoned through alcohol by a Muganda girl.
Alcohol Poisoning the cause?
Many people who were close to Kabaka argue that he did not have any alcohol with him, and neither had he become a perpetual drunkard to drown his sorrows as alleged.
Dr Arthur Gordon Davies, a surgeon who conducted the post-mortem on behalf of the British government also concluded thus; “I find that the deceased died on the 21st day of November 1969 at 28 Orchard House, Rotherhithe, from acute alcohol poisoning.”
In the book ‘the bitter bread of exile’ by prof Kasozi, the author blames psychological pressure for Mutesa’s death.
‘It slowly turned into depression, which might have increased his desire for the bottle. If this was the case, then the increased amount of alcohol in his blood is understandable.’
However, Kabaka Mutesa’s friends claim he never touched the bottle, and died of completely different causes.
According to Joyce Mpanga, the Kabaka collapsed while having a conversation with Capt Johoash Katende while the latter washed utensils after dinner, and by the time a doctor arrived to attend to him, the Kabaka had died.
Mpanga however ruled. out any alcoholism on the part of the Kabaka.
“The Kabaka had almost become a teetotaler who consumed only white wine not anything else. Wednesday he drunk a little, Thursday he had dinner with friends who confirm he did not drink. We believe he was poisoned and the Uganda government was involved because as long as he lived, he was a threat.”
The writer is a private contributor to the Nile Post