The Mengo Establishment was installed in January1892 with the help of Lugard’s Maxim gun at the battle of Mengo.
By May 1899 the Mengo Establishment had become so strong that it was able in in combination with the colonial forces to capture Kabaka Mwanga and Omukama Kabalega in a move where by Katikiiro Kaggwa ditched Buganda, and chose to cooperate with the British colonialists.
Kabaka Mwanga had said, “bwenfa ng’obwakabaka bukomye” (my death will mark the end of Buganda Kingdom). The Mengo Establishment had destroyed their own Kingdom. With Kabaka Mwanga off the scene Apollo Kaggwa negotiated with the colonialists a deal on how Baganda would be governed under British rule.
The deal came to be known as Buganda Agreement whose dominate feature lay in the confiscation of Baganda land and granting it as freehold to the Mengo establishment. The grant created a formidable coalition between the Mengo Establishment and the British Colonial Administration.
The 1900 Agreement had not created a Kingdom. It was a province headed by Daudi Chwa and Apollo Kaggwa.
By whatever titles named, these two were the most powerful chiefs who in years to come were conferred the British knighthood title of Sir, being the highest title conferred by a British monarch to a commoner.
They were the ruling oligarchy administrating the Uganda colony on behalf of the British. They became the self-appointed spokesmen of all Baganda and assumed an arrogant stance of a special status.
In the years ahead the Mengo Establishment became a thorn in the flesh of nationalist aspirations of Ugandans.
Whatever the rest of Uganda wanted, Mengo Establishment opposed and vice-verse. This special status stance led to the deportation of Edward Muteesa in 1953 to the United Kingdom because of his refusal to join the Legislative Council (Legco), frustrating the progress of Buganda as an integral part of Uganda.
The return of Kabaka Edward Muteesa, from the UK exile was only achieved under a 1955 agreement under which Kabakaship position and that of Katikiro and the Lukiiko members became electable.
The agreement however did not tame the Mengo Establishment as effective 1st January 1961, the Mengo Establishment declared Buganda’s independence, the British ignored it and that was the end of the matter.
Undaunted, in January 1961 the Mengo Establishment declared a boycott of the elections scheduled for March 1961.
Those Baganda who defied Mengo’s orders were threatened with violence. Their coffee plantations were cut, animals slaughtered, and houses burnt.
Despite the boycott, the March 1961 elections were held and the Democratic Party’s Benedicto Kiwanuka became Uganda’s first Prime Minister.
The Mengo Establishment woke up to the reality that Buganda must be part of an independent Uganda and that power in independent Uganda will be in the hands of a political party supported by all Ugandans.
Awakened to this reality, the Mengo Establishment registered its Kabaka Yekka party, secured consent for the Kabaka to appoint the Buganda Members of Parliament, and secured the agreement for the country to hold another general election before independence.
With the Buganda MPs in his hands, obtained through disfranchising the Baganda, the Mengo Establishment had secured enough MPs to join Obote’s Uganda people’s Congress to form a coalition Government with UPC without subjecting itself to direct elections.
On 9th October 1963 the head of Mengo Establishment Edward Muteesa became President of Uganda.
Muteesa however was uncomfortable with the ceremonial role and began plotting along with others to remove Prime Minister Obote and take control of the executive power.
President Muteesa requested the Queen of England to supply him with guns so that his group could fight and overthrow Milton Obote.
Her Majesty declined the request. He then turned to Gail and Roberts, a gun manufacturing British company which also declined. Milton Obote moved to defuse the coup detat.
On his part, Edward Muteesa mobilised the Lukiiko which passed a resolution for Buganda’s secession from the rest of Uganda, non-recognition of the Obote regime and eviction of Uganda Government from Buganda soil.
With the resolution passed the Mengo Establishment mobilised the whole of Buganda for war.
Unruly elements took the law into their own hands. Law and order broke down. Roads were blocked or damaged, wanton destruction and damage of Government property followed.
Police stations were burnt down, chaos and anarchy were set loose. It was obvious that Muteesa’s Mengo establishment leadership was nothing more than an introvert oligarchic band with no foresighted leadership to see that, there was no way a rugged band of ex-soldiers and rioters would defeat well-trained army with modern weapons.
Consequently when the guns fell silent, it was obvious that the gods had been on the side the bigger guns.
The Mengo Establishment’s seventy year influence over the affairs of Uganda had ended. Ugandans from the Western, Northern, and Eastern provinces shed no tears as the Mengo Establishment collapsed.
It had always distanced itself from its neighbours and at that critical time in Uganda’s history, found itself isolated and friendless. “
Kayemba nantabulirwa alisabara bwa bbumba”.
The author is a Senior Partner at Kampala Associated Advocates
[email protected] www.kaa.co.ug