Very early in the morning on November 22nd, 1939, Kabaka of Buganda Daudi Chwa II released his grip on the shield, a Buganda term that was back in the day used to signify that the protector of the kingdom had rested.
Kabaka Chwa II had been indisposed for some time and there were rumors in the kingdom citing his ill health. On a fateful day, while in the company of his mother and close relatives in Lukuli, Makindye, the Kabaka slumped to the ground and died.
His body was fetched quietly by the Katikiro and as tradition dictated, placed in his house. His subjects were later given the update regarding his death over 8 hours later.
A series of theories regarding Chwa II’s death was raised, with the first and most believable citing he had died of cardiac arrest while the TIME on Monday, November 30th, 1942 stated the Kabaka had died of a chronic hangover.
At the time of his death, Kabaka Chwa II was recorded to have fathered at least 36 children (20 of them male) across at least eight or more women.
However, among his children, Daudi Chwa II indicated a question mark on his 5th son Edward Frederick David William Mutesa Walugembe and indicated on his death will that: “I doubt He is not mine”.
This was symbolic that Kabaka Chwa II could have had doubts about his son Mutesa’s paternity let alone the fact that by the time of Mutesa’s birth in 1924, the Kabaka (Chwa II) and his mother Irene Drusilla Namaganda were not on good terms.
Namaganda, probably the only Christian wife of Kabaka Chwa II was educated in Gayaza, the Church Missionary Society’s prestigious girl’s school, before her 1914 Christian marriage at the age of eighteen to Kabaka Daudi Chwa. The marriage gave birth to Mutesa in 1924 (November 19).
However, Mutesa raised by Missionaries was never Kabaka’s Chwa’s favorite son. Indeed, the Kabaka had indicated Omulangira Goerge William Mawanda as his heir in principle.
Mawanda was also regarded by senior traditional chiefs as the logical successor to the king, with Mutesa denied and his paternity questioned.
However, in his death Will, Kabaka Chwa II indicated that Mutesa would be a co-heir to Mawanda alongside another son Frederick Ssekamanya Kayondo. Kabaka Chwa II said Mutesa and Kayondo would be “minor” heirs.
The Kabaka also stated that he would not touch the Kabaka ship question but had only chosen his personal heir to inherit his “mutuba” (rank in the royal family).
“I have not touched the question of the Kabaka-ship due to the fact that when you read Article 6 of the principal agreement of 1900, you find it states “The kabaka shall be selected from descendants of Mutesa of Kasubi and that the selection of the majority in the Lukiko will be confirmed by his excellency the governor,” Kabaka Chwa II stated on 14th August 1928.
“Well, as they are my children, who are the grandsons of Mutesa, the matter is up to the Lukiko and the choice of majority will be put into effect,” he added.
In an updated will two years from his death ( May 4th, 1937), Kabaka Chwa II appointed Mutesa II the future King of Buganda.
“I Daudi Chwa II son of the late Kabaka Mwanga II, the grandson of the late Kabaka Mutesa I. I have gone where all people go,” the will stated.
“You Edward William Frederick David Walugembe Mutebi Luwangula Mutesa II. I put you in the hands of God to look after you as I have been.”
In the Will, Kabaka Chwa ordered Mutesa II to keep peace in Buganda.
“The drum “wango” will be sounded for you. All traditional drums will be sounded for you.”
Indeed, following the death of Kabaka Chwa II, the Prime Minister Martin Luther Nsibirwa informed the Lukiko of Mutesa’s selection and he was passed with a majority vote.
Mutesa, then only 18 years old and studying English at Kings College Buddo was fetched to perform the ritual of okubika ko olubugo.
Several theories have been raised as to why Kabaka Chwa II publicly doubted the paternity of Mutesa and even did not indicate him earlier as future king.
Many supposed that had Mutesa been indicated as future king, then he would be killed earlier by those scrambling for the throne.
Just like Kabaka Chwa II noted in his will, Buganda was not at peace as there were several people trying to cause confusion and indeed there were several efforts later to overthrow Mutesa and install Mawanda.
Later with Mawanda’s efforts futile, another group organized to place Omulangira Ssuuna on the throne. Therefore, Kabaka Chwa II’s master plan to hide Mutesa from the throne all this while proved a master class, as he would later become the future king of Buganda.
Indeed, in the afternoon of November 25th, 1939, Mutesa II became kabaka (king) of Buganda without any drama. This was historically unusual as Carol Summers concludes in her book Scandal and Mass Politics: Buganda ‘s 1941 Nnamasole Crisis:
“In selecting Mutesa, rather than one of Daudi Chwa’s other 35 children, the Lukiiko also chose his mother, Irene Namaganda, as the new nnamasole, or queen mother.
Daudi Chwa’s long reign thus ended and Mutesa II’s began with a quick choice of a candidate born in Christian marriage to a Christian mother, and raised by protestant missionaries.
This selection affirmed Buganda’s association with Christian Britain and bypassed the sorts of struggles among scheming clans and ambitious royal women that had been as much a part of previous successions as any vote of the Great Lukiiko. With apparently apolitical speed, the succession demonstrated how colonial authorities had ended older forms of political contention.”
The story was inspired by the findings of DR JONATHON L. EARLE