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25 years later, Kabaka Mutebi holds his Kingdom together amid political challenges

Buganda Kingdom on Tuesday July 31 celebrated 25 years of Ronald Muwenda Mutebi II on the throne (FILE PHOTO).

BULANGE– In 1993 July 31, Kabaka Ronald Mutebi II was crowned 36th, King of Buganda at Buddo Naggalabi. Mutebi was crowned as the restoration of cultural institutions took shape in Uganda since 1966 when then Prime Minister Dr. Apollo Milton Obote abolished them.

In Kabaka Mutebi’s 25 years, Buganda has seen itself recover from the turbulence the kingdom suffered before and also set up new innovations.

Central government returns property

In 1966, the Prime Minister of Uganda, Dr. Apollo Milton Obote abolished all kingdoms after changing the 1962 Constitution. Buganda’s assets were then taken over by the newly introduced republican.

In 2013 the government agreed to return to the monarchy all property in its possession. This followed a State House meeting with Buganda’s Katikkiro Charles Peter Mayiga, Prince David Wasajja and the kingdom’s Attorney General, Mr Apollo Makubuya and Mr. Herbert Ndiwalana who represented the Kabaka.

During the meeting, President Yoweri Museveni signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to effect the transfer of the properties.

The understanding was that Buganda would be given back her former estates among those:

  • Land in urban centres or towns.
  • Land where former local administration headquarters i.e. counties and sub-counties where situated.
  • Land not claimed, utilised or occupied by any lawful or bona-fide occupant.
  • Land on Mityana Road (Jjeza Farm).
  • Former Buganda Kingdom Markets.

Buganda Land Board

Kabaka Mutebi set up a professional body, the Buganda Land Board (BLB), to manage land and properties returned under the Restitution of Assets and Properties Act of 1993.

The body has this far helped settle land disputes, giving land titles to many that were previously only squatters.

To widen its income base, the kingdom rebuilt Masengere, a modern building that lay idle for 40 years. The original structure of was constructed by former president Idi Amin in 1975 at Bulange, Mengo but he was ousted before its completion.

In 2014, the kingdom embarked on reconstructing Masengere using funds raised by Katikkiro Charles Peter Mayiga’s mobilisation drive (Ettofaali).

The building was handed to the Kabaka as a gift on his 60th birthday.

The building houses Buganda’s TV station, Buganda Broadcasting Service (BBS) and Central Broadcasting Services (CBS) radio and houses other tenants too.

 Media

  • Central Broadcasting Services (CBS RADIO)

In 1996, the kingdom started a radio station CBS FM which is now the biggest local private commercial FM radio in Uganda.

CBS has been on air for over 20 years.

  • BBS TV

Buganda Broadcasting Service (BBS) TV is relatively new but enjoying viewership mainly because of the goodwill of the Buganda. The station is a result of a responsive culture at Mengo as it was demanded by the Kabaka’s subjects. In December 2015, the kingdom responded to its subjects and opened up the station.

  • K2 Telecom company 

Buganda Kingdom has a stake in one of the recent entrants in the telecommunication industry K2 Telecom.

The vision of this telecom company is to enable social-economic development through provision of reliable, quality and affordable telecom services.

K2 telecom recently ditched its code from 0703 to 0708 in a partnership with Airtel Uganda.

Health

Buganda Kingdom patterned with the United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) to revive the fight against HIV/AIDS.

Buganda’s health ministry holds health camps where people are treated free of charge and they have acquired an ambulance to reach out to Kabaka’s subjects.

Kabaka’s annual birthday run is one of the largest events in Uganda. The event has been used to help in fighting against ailments like fistula and sickle cell anaemia.

Architectural plans are underway for a referral hospital, expected to be located at Lubiri.

Education

The Kabaka Education Fund (KEF) has so far provided bursaries for 45,000 primary school pupils and 69,000 in other institutions of learning, and is still counting.

 Nnabagereka Foundation

The Nnabagereka Development Foundation is leading a cultural revival with its much sought-after children’s camp (ekisaakate), where thousands of children and young adults are impacted with morals, taught domestic duties and empowered with skills.

Ekisaakate is a brainchild of Nnabagereka Sylvia Nagginda, and about 10,000 youths have participated since its inception in 2007.

 Royal Tombs

The royal tombs at Kasubi and Wamala have been rehabilitated. A perimeter wall covering 64 acres at Kasubi is now in place, modern houses, with solar systems and piped water, have been built for caretakers at the Kasubi tombs. Works are ongoing on muzibu azaala mpanga – where four kings were buried.

Agriculture

The Buganda Cultural and Development Foundation (BUCADEF) has been at the forefront of an agricultural and environmental revolution to provide tree and crop seedlings, and advisory services, to communities.

Currently, Ettoffaali fundraiser is facilitating the transformation of the Kabaka’s lake located in Ndeeba, a Kampala suburb.

 Revival of sports

Buganda has revived games wrestling (Ekiggwo Gumbya) and the board game (Omweso). Football Leagues like Masaza and Bika cup.

Revival of Butikkiro

Butikkiro, the Katikkiro’s official residence was in the hands of the government but it was handed back to Buganda and Charles Peter Mayiga on July 28 became the first katikkiro in 52 years to occupy the facility.

Other achievements

Innovations like the Ngule Lager, the fastest growing beer in Uganda, Mirembe Villas which are under construction – 40 modern houses already built – in Kigo, Entebbe.

Challenges

Buganda has experienced some challenges in the 25 years.

In September 2009, three days of unexpected riots broke out in Buganda when the then Katikkiro, John Baptist Walusimbi, was prevented by the central government from visiting Kayunga district to prepare for a Buganda youth event to be presided over by the Kabaka. Dozens of people lost their lives in the riots.

In March 2010, fire gutted the historic royal tombs at Kasubi just outside Kampala and the cause of the fire has never been officially established.

In 2012 another fire erupted at the site of the Kabaka’s coronation at Naggalabi.

In 2013, the government of Uganda shut down CBS FM for more than a year following.

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