By Prof. Muhammad Ndaula
I have read with great anguish Peter Mulira’s article on Kooki. It is correct on some aspects but he deliberately errs and distorts some of the assertions he makes and on some factual issues.
For example, the agreement that bought Kooki into Buganda fold was signed in 1896 not 1886 as Mulira observed.
Mulira errs very badly on Kooki history when he says that after the 1896 agreement, Kamuswaga became a Mengo appointee. For me, as the Sababiito of Kooki (cultural head of the Babiito, this is a distortion of the spirit of the agreement and indeed what we know.
What is factually known is that the Ssaza chief of Kooki is a hereditary chief (not king) since there can’t be two kings in the same kingdom and in Buganda structure he is the only one who is not a Mengo appointee.
This scenario is common knowledge among the Baganda elders, experts on Buganda and authors such as Bazzebulala Nsimbi. Mengo, once again, has never ever appointed a Kamuswaga because to do so would be a flagrant violation of the 1896 agreement.
It is also utterly false to misinform readers that automatic heirship for Kamuswaga began after the regents approved Kezekia’s son, Kabumbuli, to be his successor. The notion of inheritance for the Kamuswagaship is in the spirit of the agreement, but drawn from our ancestral customs.
It should be indicated here, that the initial agreement had not included the fact that the Kamuswaga should be hereditary. This proposition was infused into final draft after my grandfather, late Bwana Amani Kassejjege, Sababiito at the time, joined the meeting and caused the provision to be incorporated in the agreement.
And this provision has always been observed and adhered to and that the heir becomes Kamuswaga, not appointed by Mengo.
The practice of ascending to the Kooki chieftaincy is that the deceased leaves a will to the most prominent heads of major households who go through approvals, with the cultural head (Sababiito) presiding and performing the ritual of installing the Kamuswaga. If there is no will, the heads of households pick one of the deceased’s sons to become Kamuswaga.
Mulira is again quite wrong when he asserts that Kabumbuli’s funeral rites were not performed because Sir Edward Muteesa II was in exile in London. Actually, these rights were delayed because the whole episode had become too acrimonious for the Mulira family; Asanasio, Deborah Eldad (Peter‘s father) Enock and the Bishop of Namirembe favoured, Bwowe, one of Kabumbuli’s sons, while the rest of the Kooki Babiito were in favour of Yoweri Kayemba.
It was not until Sir Edward Muteesa sent a telegram to Katikiiro Kintu indicating that Kabumbuli, when alive, informed him that at his death, Kayemba should be his heir.
This revelation did not amount to Muteesa picking the heir but being a high profile individual who had been entrusted with key information about facilitating the decision for the next Kamuswaga.
Moreover, there is a clear contradiction in Mulira’s analysis when he says that Tefero Mpisi introduced Kayemba to Sir Edward. If the Buganda establishment appointed the Kamuswaga why was Mpisi introducing Kayemba to Sir Edward as the next Kamuswaga and County Chief.
Nagenda is indeed very wrong to have imputed that Peter Mulira is the Crown Prince of Kooki. As Mulira points out, he is no longer in line for becoming Kamuswaga. Because after the death of Omukama Ndaula II, Kitayimbwa, Busoita’s brother, ascended to the throne.
Busoita, Mulira’s great grandfather was thus knocked out of the ascendancy to the Kooki throne. But aspirations to take over the throne could linger in their family. For now the Kamuswaga is Apolo Sansa Kabumbuli II, son of Mazinga, grandson of Kayemba, grandson of Kabumbuli.
For our forebearers to have given up the trappings of a monarchy, they had to be compensated in equal measure.
In the agreement Kooki retained its cultural practices and to hold onto a hereditary county chief; giving the Babiito the continuity of their lineage as rulers of Kooki. In recent history and in the past there are no records indicating Mengo appointing a Kamuswaga, even if appointing meant tacit approval. If this provision had to be scuttled over, we could be having reservations on the purpose of the whole exercise of being part of Buganda.
It is because of this cultural lee way enshrined in the agreement that the county of Kooki leadership enjoys unique cultural and customary status and practices as provided for in the agreement.
It is the only county which installs the Kamuswaga as a county chief according to its customs, norms and traditions. It is the only county whose leader possesses several drums among which are; mayange, butentwe, kikindukindu, and others which are sounded at major ceremonies and functions.
The Kamuswaga dynasty, unlike other counties, possesses several burial sites including Serinya, for burying the Kamuswagas, Mpunge, Kasabukengere, Kawunguli, among others for burying the princes and princesses of Kooki.
Kamuswaga possesses a Palace not a residential home but a personal mansion built for him in 1935 by Sekabaka Daudi Chwa of Buganda, an illustration of the long mutual and cordial relationship that has existed for over two centuries between the Bakama of Kooki then and the Kabakas of Buganda. Some of these practices give to Kooki the semblance of a Kingdom, which is not. The 1896 agreement reduced Kooki to account and that is what it is.
I do not buy into Mulira’s legal theatrics that at any one time there was duality in inheriting the Kamuswaga. That at the investure there was an heir to the person and another one for the office of Kamuswaga.
This claim is not supported by any living data. The practice has been that whoever succeeded his father simultaneously took over office of Kamuswaga. Indeed it is the practice in all kingdom areas in the Lake Victoria basin.
Finally, I want to end on a sad note. I have always been under the impression that Peter Mulira is one of the respected and trusted Babiito of Kooki, one whose word could not be doubted and questioned but given the deliberate distortions on the historical and traditional information about Kooki as reflected in his recent article, in the New Vision, I now regard his entire demeanor as a matter of grave concern for me.
The writer is the Sababiito, Kooki and a Professor of Education, Kampala International University, recent Vice-Chancellor K.I.U