The squabbles involving Buganda, Obote and British government took a whole week, while Mutesa’s body lay embalmed in Britain, and it would stay that way longer as the first funeral program would happen on December 3- funeral service at Guards Chapel in Wellington.
But first, the government issued a tough statement saying that their ‘instructions to the high commission in London to make arrangements to bring the body for burial in Uganda still stands.’ The government also condemned the relatives of Mutesa and the kingdom for ‘concealing’ the burial program and facilities.
The statement was sealed with several promises to Buganda and Mutesa, including paying school fees for all his 9 children, and ‘consular assistance’ to Mutesa’s wife, Damalie Kisosonkole.
Buganda and Mutesa’s close relatives were acting from a point of view that Obote and his government had for long mistreated the king and his subjects, burial in Uganda therefore, would be symbolic of sealed fate. The group as opined by Mutesa’s close friend Joyce Mpanga were very certain Mutesa would return to the throne at any time, and here he was- dead and cold. A grave in Uganda, therefore, would completely give the idea that Buganda has died and it rests with Mutesa where Obote can see.
The government on the other side also chased their side of the body, sending a one Paul Etyang, who was the high commissioner then to tag around Mutesa’s widow ‘tightly’ in order to have her rescind the decision to bury Mutesa in the UK.
Etyang attached two officials who ‘harassed’ Mutesa’s widow with endless phone calls that she would later have to shift from her late husband’s flat in Bermondsey and seek refuge at a home belonging to Joyce Mpanga. Here, calls from Etyang and the likes were responded to by someone else on Kisosonkole’s behalf, who proved to negative for Etyang’s liking that he demotivated himself and ditched his mission.
Burial arrangements went forth, but still, there was another subject of contention. Was the Queen of England, by her virtue as head of commonwealth nations meant to attend? Or at least would she attend to disclaim recent accusations from Buganda that Britain, with whom they had shared relations for quite long had abandoned their king at the time of need?
The government was still pulling their strings to frustrate the entire process, and at this point, they put another card on the table. Through the foreign affairs minister, Sam Odaka objected to the Queen’s attending of Mutesa’s burial program.
According to Odaka, the Queen’s presence would be misinterpreted by the government and could raise ‘unnecessary misunderstandings’ between the two nations. The Kabaka was of significant political importance to both states and as much as each state wanted to succeed in their missions, Britain mostly did not want to injure relations with Uganda.
Buganda had won round two, they had the body and had decided where to bury it, but first, they had to know who else is with them. None at the moment.
The writer is a private contributor to the Nile Post