From: IN%"UGANDANET@BIBLE.ACU.EDU" 23-FEB-1995 11:26:54.52
Subj: RESTORATION OF AFRICAN KINGS: UGANDA
Date: Thu, 23 Feb 1995 10:54:56 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: RESTORATION OF AFRICAN KINGS: UGANDA
Yoswa you asked very profound questions about the kingdoms of Uganda, and how President Museveni would have handled their restoration if he taken the Uganda history seriously into consideration, particularly the period between 1950-1989. This is the time when Uganda was undergoing mass nationalism, independence movements and self-redefinition as one nation and not four or more nations based on kingdoms and ethnicity.
The questions of kingdoms are more vexing in Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Ethiopia, Ghana, and some parts of Nigeria because these areas have had kingdoms which probably go back into the past millennium. The empire of Ethiopia being a contemporary of Egyptian Empire predated the birth Christ. As such, it predated most of the European empire, such as the famous Roman empire and other kingdoms, including the United Kingdom itself, which emerged much later.
There is great emotional investiment and attachment to this kind of African history and institution. Yet, Mengistu Mariam Haille carried out a bloody military coup and unceremoniously swept it aside without thought for the preservation of history, culture, art, religion and ceremonies attached to this long established institution. Therefore, it should be restored for Africa's pride and historical reasons, especially now that Mengistu and his murderous regime are now out of power and on trail for these evils.
The Ugandan kingdoms are ancient institutions which trace their establishment from the famous Bunyoro-Kitara. This Bunyoro-Kitara was a cattle-based economy, ruled by the cattle-keeping Babito aristocracy (ca. 1200-1600). It is reported to have covered vast areas in East Africa including, much of Western Kenya, Northern Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, parts of Eastern Zaire, and most of Uganda.
The regional areas or provinces, finally broke a way to form their own kingdoms, such as those of Rwanda, Burundi, Karagwe, Kooki, Igala, Ankole, Mpororo (empire and kingdom), Buganda (agricultural and left alone), and later Toro which broke away from Bunyoro in the later part of the nineteenth century. These kingdoms paid tribute to Bunyoro at first, then, later declared their own autonomy. Bunyoro constantly waged war against them to bring them to submission, without success.
Therefore, at the time of British colonization, many Ugandan kingdoms, particularly, Buganda would have welcomed foreign allies and treaties of Protection from Bunyoro's aggression! As a result, Buganda collaborated with the British to defeat Bunyoro and as reward, some of her counties and territories in Buyaga, Bugangazi, Singo, Buruli and Bulemezi were given to Buganda as reward for collaboration.
In addition, the Baganda chiefs were employed in Bunyoro and other areas as the agents of the British government. Luganda was employed as the language of the new British rule in these areas. In reality, the Baganda had become the local imperialist agents of the British conquest, colonization and rule in Uganda.
As a result, local national resistance against the British colonialism and imperialism became locally expressed as anti-Baganda movements. In Bunyoro, the "Kyanyangire Abaganda Rebellion" was really a local Bunyoro nationalistic protest against both the British and the Baganda as their agents.
In general, Ugandan local nationalism tended to be anti-Buganda and anti-Baganda. In this respect, the events of Kabaka Yekka and apparent Buganda secession attempts of the 1950s and 1960's were negatively viewed as anti-Uganda movements. The subsequent clash of Buganda and Uganda in 1967 and the consequent abolition of kingdoms in Uganda, was greeted with Joy by many Ugandans, because they saw it as a just punishment for Buganda and the Baganda.
Since Milton Obote abolished the kingdoms of Uganda, the nation has been more united. However, Idi Amin's ascendence to power and success in governing Uganda for so long was partly due to the fact that Obote had abolished the kingdoms. Many Baganda hoped that Idi Amin would restore the kingdoms.
However, Idi Amin correctly realized that once, he did that, he would never be able to rule Uganda, since he had the hopes to become a life-president, he decided not to give the Baganda, the Kabaka, the unifying force that would render his governance of the united and hostile Baganda impossible. Both Obote and Amin learned that for most Baganda, loyalty was with Buganda and the Kabaka, and cared little for the united Uganda.
However, President Yoweri Museveni did not seem to learn the what both Obote and Amin had learned, prior to his reinstitution of the kingdoms of Uganda. In his bid for political unity, Museveni was willing to restore the former kingdoms as cultural institutions, without any political power. How many Baganda "commoners" (bakopi), aristocrats and intellectuals would have settled for this compromise?
At least for many Baganda, the idea of a compromise was acceptable just as a means to their larger original goal! What was the Baganda's original goal! Of course to restore the institution of Kabaka and restore Buganda to its former glory! Would this mean that Buganda owns Kampala, Entebbe and the real estate? Yes, unless there was an amendment to create these areas into a neutral zones, beyond the jurisdiction of Buganda, such as the District of Columbia in USA.
Since, the kingdoms have been restored, then, their due powers, jurisdiction, lands, and property have also to be restored. This means that the Buganda kingdom can still go after the eviction of the central government from Buganda or confiscate the assets of the government in Entebbe, and Kampala, if negotiation or legislation to protect them does not take place.
Can the tragic history of the sixties repeat itself? There are those who optimistically think (like John Kiggudu), that it will not. However, my own answer is: "Yes. If we are not careful, Ugandan tragic history can repeat itself, to some destructive degree." If we refuse to learn from the past history and avoid the mistakes or correct them to avoid such a tragedy. Safeguards have got to be in place, so that it does not depend on the personalities of those who happen to be players as the Presidents of Uganda and the Kabakas of Buganda.
President Museveni took a bold step to restore the kingdoms of Uganda. However, Museveni is not Uganda. In a democratic fashion , he should have put the question to the referendum or constitutional assembly, to whether they wanted the kingdoms restored and how or when. As it stands now, the Banyankole are refusing to restore the Bahima institution where the majority are non-Bahima.
The Solution here is either let the institution lapse and sink into oblivion, or to create the Bahima kingdom/district in Nyabushozi where Prince Barigye will be king of the Bahima! The third option is to have the king elected by the majority of the Banyankole and to abolish its Bahima aristocratic hereditary nature. This would mean that a qualified "Mwiru" like the late Francis Xavier Tibayungwa the former (Enganzi) Administrative Secretary of Ankole would be elected king.
Kingdoms are an effective decentralization system for the effective development of Uganda. Therefore, the kings should be given full authority to govern, tax, discipline and their subjects and those people who live under their jurisdiction, except as exempted by the federal laws. The federal laws should outline the constitutional duties and powers of the local governments, including kings and their lukikos (legislatures). Those areas without kings should be allowed to elect and institute the equivalent of kings or governs who will have the same powers and legal privileges as kings!
In short, Uganda should be a federal government. There should be strong central government, but the local kingdoms and regional governments should be accorded sufficient power to develop their areas, including the establishment of schools, universities, banks and media communication-networks. Defense, highways, laws, coining money and foreign relations, trade and certification of education and the like should remain a federal obligation.
Emmanuel K. Twesigye, OWU