As the squabbles between Obote’s government and the British government climaxed, Mutesa’s family was organizing a final send-off for ‘King Freddie’ starting with a funeral service at Guards Chapel in Wellington.
There was no representation of any known prominent official from the Uganda government as they claimed Mutesa was a common man and they were not invited. Obote’s government also urged Britain not to associate themselves with Mutesa, saying they would take it as an ‘exceptional’ message should the Queen be present at the funeral.
Government through Akena Adoko also had gotten wind that there was a plan being mooted to bury Mutesa with ‘full military honors’, this they sent a stern warning to Britain to abandon such a plan, which Britain denied immediately.
It took Britain’s efforts to stage a meeting between the British High Commissioner in Kampala and President Obote to explain circumstances of Britain’s involvement and to give a commitment that Mutesa would not be buried with full military honors.
Obote’s government also had issues with British media referring to Mutesa as the Kabaka, to which Britain said they had no control over and asked that Mutesa’s death be given no further political limelight as media would ‘forget him soon”.
Thus, on December 3, 1969, Muteesa was temporarily buried at Kensal Rise cemetery in London, with the hankering that maybe one day, his body would find its way to Uganda and be buried in full honors in accordance to the Buganda tradition.
The queen sent representatives, different religious leaders from Uganda and Britain were present for the burial, and Benedicto Kiwanuka also attended, albeit to score a political card.
Back in Uganda, traditional Baganda clad in backcloth sat out the day, closed shops and mourned loudly on streets. Many of them turned up at Kasubi tombs only to be dispersed by the army. A memorial service that was scheduled a Namirembe Cathedral was canceled without ceremony, and Makerere University students who had gathered around a vigil fire were dispersed at once.
Mutesa’s life in exile came to an end, in a cemetery, with completely no dates to it as to when he would be reunited with his kingdom back home. He had ended his chapter of a bitter life and indeed, Obote had won, but no for long.
Immediately, Obote started a life of animosity from Buganda and Uganda at large. Buganda was as if it had been consumed by a rebellion ghost, the government started arrests of political figures-mostly Baganda, and abolished the Democratic Party.
Two weeks later, On December 19, 1969, as Obote left Lugogo Indoor Stadium in Kampala where he had just addressed a UPC delegate’s conference, he survived death by a whisker after he was shot.
Shortly before 10 pm, it was time for the President to leave and so he stepped out of the hall amidst cheers and chants from the delegates and walked on but somewhere within the vicinity, stood an armed man whose episode was set to start rolling in a bit.
“……I walked out and I saw somebody aiming a gun at me. After that I don’t know what happened because I was shot at: I broke my tongue, broke my teeth, then I was taken to Mulago Hospital,” Obote narrated.
The writer is a private contributor to the Nile Post