KAMPALA – This whole talk of sickness, poisoning and death of the Kabaka of Buganda Ronald Muwenda Mutebi II began when the King flew to Kenya to allegedly attend to an argent meeting with some visitors although speculators concluded that he had gone to seek treatment for an undisclosed health problem.
What was intended to be a private trip became public with many circulating rumours on social media that the good lord had taken his humble servant back to the heavens due to his continued absence from the public.
As a a consequence of his travel, he was unable to attend to some of the duties that he had never missed since ascending to the throne. It was always a norm that the Kabaka would grace the closure of the annual Masaza football fete.
Amidst the speculations, the Kabaka of Buganda was conspicuously absent at the closure of the annual Masaza Cup at St Mary’s Stadium Kitende. Katikiro Mayiga, who stepped in for the Kabaka told the spectators that the Kabaka couldn’t make it because he had an urgent meeting with some visitors in Kenya.
The public had their own reservations and in the depth of their hearts concluded that Charles Peter Mayiga was covering up something, death being one of the fears.
The rumour hit the country so hard that it gave the central Government cold feet especially that allegations of poison were involved.
I keep wondering why the public is always quick to associate all poison-related ailments or death with Government.
Fearing that the rumour would escalate and cause unrest, the Government and Buganda Kingdom released photos of a seemingly jovial Kabaka meeting with Uhuru Kenyatta and Raila Odinga in Nairobi. This is what I call perfect public relations and it worked out so well.
However, these pictures were the opposite of the Kabaka’s appearance at the opening of the Masaza Cup in December 2020 and during the opening of the 28th Buganda Lukiiko on January 11, 2021. The Kabaka looked frail, drained, aged, thinner, he struggled to breathe and his skin looked lighter. I have seen many social media posts that have concluded that the King might have a problem with his kidney or under-went a Kidney Transplant.
Buganda will recall that since the Kabaka assumed his throne in 1993, he had never missed presiding at a single kingdom event organized in his name such as his coronation anniversary, the opening and closure of the Masaza Cup, the opening of the Lukiiko, his birthday celebrations among others, and his absence at the closure of the Masaza cup that he had himself flagged off raised eyebrows. It is the Katikiro who had the duty to assure Buganda that all was well even when there were unanswered questions.
Surely, when he later came out for his 66th Birthday celebrations, it was in white and black, the Kabaka was not well but knowing that the Kabaka operates on instructions of the Kabaka, it would be wrong to say the Katikiro lied, he might have been told to say what he said.
Many blamed the katikkiro for having allowed the Kabaka to appear in Public looking so ill while others think Katikkiro Mayiga is the reason the kabaka has not received specialized treatment. Why are the Baganda being so myopic and allowed to be used to fight wars that will eventually end in the destruction of Buganda?
Have we forgotten that Buganda is partly what it is today because of Mayiga, has he not changed the face of Buganda since his appointment 2013. Who says the Kabaka needs Katikkiro’s permission to make any decision concerning Buganda Kingdom, who says the Kabaka needs to seek Mayiga permission in order to get treatment or travel out of the country? Who says the Kabaka works on the instructions of the Katikkiro and therefore that the Katikkiro determines how the Kabaka handles his private life, every King has a private life outside that of his office as King.
Amidst all these speculations, the katikiro continued to reassure Buganda that the king was in perfect health. On April 13, 2021 during the celebration to mark the Kabaka’s 66th birthday, the public again went up in arms, Mayiga had lied that the Kabaka was in perfect health whereas not. The Kabaka actually struggled to speak and it was evident that his breathing system was not at its best, he had lost of weight and could hardly keep his eyes open.
In an attempt to quell the rumour, the katikiro came out and admitted that indeed the Kabaka had health issues that were being managed medically. Unlike what has been making rounds on social media, Mayiga said the Kabaka’s health challenges are caused by allergies, which trigger breathing difficulties especially when he has a mask on or a shield over his face and that the public should disregard the rumour that the Kabaka was poisoned. This is exactly what Mayiga was supposed to do whether the Kabaka was poisoned on not.
If he said the Kabaka was poisoned, it could pause a security problem in the country and perhaps be arrested for inciting violence or spreading propaganda. If he said the Kabaka was in good health, the public would go up in arms against him.
What do we want to Katikiro to do under the circumstances, to keep quiet yet it is his duty to manage public relations on behalf of the Kingdom? I agree with the school of thought that those attacking katikkiro Mayiga are being used, are being unreasonable and are enemies of Buganda. And I also want to believe that Katikkiro Mayiga’s works in Buganda over the years is what has earned him the biggest number of enemies from outside and from within.
It is hardly 8 years since Charles Peter Mayiga was appointed katikiro but he has done what others would never have done in 20 years. He was by far the youngest yet the most efficient Katikiro that Buganda Kingdom has ever had. Mayiga took over a position that was previously a preserve of Buganda’s senior citizens. Since then, he has been working day and night to ensure Buganda regains its lost glory as a Kingdom with a Republic.
In achieving the above, Mayiga found himself unintentionally and intentionally stepping on the toes of many who wanted the status quo maintained. Others looked at him a record breaking Katikiro that would over shadow the achievements of his predecessors yet at the same time, he had a duty to engage Government to return whatever belonged to Buganda. I think sometimes he pushed so hard to achieve the many promises that the central Government had been made.
Katikkiro Charles Peter Mayiga has always been a go-getter, mixing profession and business. He extended the approach to Buganda and succeeded. The katikiro will among other things be remembered for promoting talent through sports. For instance, the Masaza Cup has become an annual event that has helped sports scout fish talented players to play at all levels.
There was the infamous Ettoffaali drive that pooled money for completing the Masengere that had stood still and incomplete for over 40year, the renovation and furnishing of the Twekobe, construction of a state of the art perimeter wall around a 64 acres piece of land housing the Kasubi tombs, fixed Muzibu Azaala Mpanga among others. Mayiga is also credited for having created partnerships that saw the Kabaka give back to his people. The Kabaka’s birthday run is now one of the biggest events that attract crowds who in return contribute to neglected diseases such as fistula, aids and sickle cell among others.
Clearly, one can tell that there are mafia forces behind the social media calls for Mayiga to be thrown out of Mengo. I believe the falsehoods and malicious allegations are being instigated and spread by people who claim to love the Kabaka. This is a dangerous path that Buganda should not buy into, it is a well calculated plot by the enemies of Buganda to use this opportunity to weaken the Kingdom by creating rifts amongst the people of Buganda and undermining the person of the Mayiga as Buganda’s Katikkiro. The forces behind the hate social media writings are of wrong elements who pretend to support Kabaka and Buganda but their agenda is to destroy the fiber that has been kept afloat by Katikkiro Charles Peter Mayiga.
By fixing Buganda’s ancestral sites, Mayiga has promoted tourism as one of the biggest income earners for Buganda and has recently launched the Emmwanyi Terimba in an attempt to encourage Kabaka’s subjects to pick interest in coffee farming. There are those who have been pointing an accusing finger at him that he told the Baganda to pick only ripe coffee to reference to a certain colour used by a certain political group, find a better enemy to fight, you will not manage bringing down a man who is backed by the Kabaka himself.
In this world, there are people who speak for the sake of speaking, while speaking on a Zoom meeting to Ugandans living in Canada, the Former Katikkiro of Buganda Daniel Mulika is on record for having made allegations that Charles Peter Mayiga had neglected the Kabaka. Mulika seems to have forgotten that it is Mayiga who came up with a program of looking after his predecessors. For instance, he bought this very Mulika man a Toyota Landcrusier on top of giving a fuel card to each of his surviving predecessors that is loaded with 2M every month. On top of that, his predecessors have their medical bills picked by Mengo from Nakasero Hospital, Paragon, Kampala hospital or Platinum hospitals. If Mulika can go ahead to attack Mayiga, I cannot blame the rest of the public for saying whatever has been said.
One wonders how Mayiga can look out for his Predecessors and forgets the Kabaka who appointed him into office. So for those of us who were looking forward to a reshuffle at Mengo with the hope that Mayiga will be dropped, please think again, Mayiga is here to stay and he still has work to do. His shoes as an achiever are too big even for those eying the katikkiroship. Mayiga has done nothing absolutely wrong and the Kabaka knows this. It is a waste of time to subject Mayiga to ridicule as if to suggest that the Kabaka needs the input of any of these mercenaries before appointing or dismissing his Katikkiro.
For whatever the motive behind the mind of those fighting Mayiga, is what he had about the people who are attacking him. He said “It’s only a tree with fruits that birds perch on; it’s the same tree that they throw stones at for fruits to fall. I have a lot of work on my hands helping the kabaka administer his kingdom. I have no time for those who attack me, my duty is simple, to serve the Kabaka and Buganda Kingdom, period”.
The writer, Rogers Wadada is a human rights lawyer and social and political analyst