It was a packed day at Lubiri Palace in Kampala. PHOTO/Abu Mwesigwa
By Joseph Kizza & Carol Kasujja
9.00 am: Welcome to live coverage of celebrations to mark 20 years since reigning Kabaka Ronald Muwenda Mutebi II was officially crowned the 36th ruler of Buganda Kingdom in 1993.
The coronation event two decades ago marked the end of a ban on kingdoms in Uganda by former Ugandan president Dr Apollo Milton Obote. So it was in the 7th year into current president Yoweri Museveni’s regime that cultural institutions were restored, breathing new life into the decades-old establishments.
9.05am: Today we are at Lubiri Palace in Mengo, the official home of the Kabaka, and the spotlight is well sprayed brilliantly on Buganda Kingdom -- around an event seen by many Baganda as one of the most special days in their dynasty’s existence.
It has been months of anticipation, weeks of preparation, and days of fine-tuning. Now the day is finally here. A day the Ganda people have waited for. A day that will no doubt remain emblazoned in the history books of a kingdom that has stood firm against the test of time since the 14th Century.
Subjects, donning the cultural white tunics, sound the drums. PHOTO/Abu Mwesigwa
9.10am: WEATHER UPDATE 25°C | °F - It’s not a bright day as you would have wished for, but we will work with what Mother Nature has got to offer us. Here in Kampala, winds are traveling at a good 16km/hr and the humidity stands at 63%. Chances of rain are high, but the mighty skies could soon open up. So for now, hold on tight onto your coats and scarves, and also be sure to carry along an umbrella for either a rainy surprise or for some sweltering temperatures later in the day.
9.20am: So what did we miss on the eve of the big day? Plenty of activities in the form of a Kasiki. Hundreds of people spent the day at the Palace to kick off fesitivities. There were lots of eats and drinks going around. People danced their bones away to rhythms of Buganda songs. It was merry-making throughout the evening.
For now, scores of people are streaming into a tightly secured Lubiri Palace. It's where the main celebrations are taking place. Kanzus and Gomesis is the dress-code of the day. School buses have pitched camp already and hordes of school children are wearing brown caps made from barkcloth, waving miniature flags emblazoned with the Kabaka or the Buganda emblem, and lots more. Exciting.
L-R: Frank Gashumba and his daughter Sheila; Former PM Apolo Nsibambi; and a guest is welcomed at Lubiri. PHOTOs/Eddie Ssejjoba
9.30am: As guests continue to flock in, we are having school children on stage performing music and dance on Buganda culture.
Are you at Lubiri or heading heading there? Or did you decide to follow the day from the comfort of your living room? Well, if you decided to keep indoors, as you keep up with our text commentary here, you can also feed your eyes and ears on Live TV programming of the event on Bukedde TV.
Later on, we will let you know how you can send in your feeback through SMS. For now, keep it going there.
9.50am: Officials on the organizing committee are giving directions to guests coming in. Diplomats, ambassadors, MPs and all sorts of guests are arriving at the venue. Kibuli-based Supreme Mufti Sheikh Zubair Kayongo shows up, as does former Anglican Archbishop Livingstone Mpalanyi Nkoyoyo.
Kibuli-based Supreme Mufti Sheikh Zubair Kayongo (waving) arrives. PHOTO/Abu Mwesigwa
10.00am: Now there is heavy police and security deployment at the Palace, and there is no doubt about the magnitude of the day's significance. President Yoweri Museveni is expected any time from now, as is the chief guest, Kabaka Ronald Mutebi. Earlier reports had indicated that the Kabaka would make his presence at 11.00am.
10.20am: For now, it's the beauty of the musical notes from various school choirs that is setting the tone of the day. Former Ugandan prime minister Prof. Apolo Nsibambi has arrived. It's a bee-hive of activities that should have your camera lens roving in a 360° motion.
Buganda Royal Institute students perform. PHOTO/Abu Mwesigwa
10.40am: According to the programme, Metropolitan Yona Lwanga of the Orthodox Church will lead the service today. Also, Parliament Speaker Rebecca Kadaga is scheduled to be a part of the event although we have not caught any glimpse of her yet.
Did we mention that former Kenya Prime Minister Raila Odinga is joining in on the celebrations?
10.50am: The Palace is enveloped in every kind of flair that could come across your imagination. Cultural flair, to be very clear. The symbolic Omujaguzo drums are paraded. Later on in the day, the Kabaka is expected to sound the drums after a 20-drum salute by subjects. Why 20 drum beatings? It's all about the event.
If you are not a part of them, then you should know that thousands of people are camped inside the Lubiri, with scores still outside struggling to make it through the tight security check points.
10.55am: So what are our latest high profile arrivals? Kenyan politician Raila Odinga; CHECK. Kabaka’s younger brother David Kintu Wasajja and his wife Marion Elizabeth Nankya; CHECK. We are in for a long day folks! The programme of the day indicates that the chief guest, the Kabaka, comes in at 11.00am, but from past experiences, that could take a bit of a while. The temperatures are rising, so any thought of a late morning storm should go down the drain quite easily.
Former Kenya PM Raila Odinga (red tie) and Soroti Municipality MP, Capt. Mike Mukula (yellow tie) at Lubiri. PHOTO/Abu Mwesigwa
11.05am: MORE ARRIVALS: The Katikkiro of Buganda, Charles Peter Mayiga and Vice President Edward Ssekandi. Others include FUFA president Lawrence Mulindwa, Finance Minister Maria Kiwanuka, Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago, Rwenzururu King Charles Wesley Mumbere, the Ankole Queen Mother and former VP Gilbert Bukenya.
11.30am: Kabaka’s eldest son Prince Jjunju, Princess Katrina-Sarah Ssangalyambogo and other princesses have also arrived. Retired Archbishop of Kampala, Cardinal Emmanuel Wamala is also present. The Kabaka shouldn't be far away.
GETTING INVOLVED. Are you at the event? Did you witness the very first official coronation of Kabaka Ronald Muwenda Mutebi II 20 years ago? Are you at Lubiri now? Share your thoughts and greetings by texting on 8338 if you are in Uganda. Type KABAKA20, leave a space, then your message and send to 8338. You can also join in on Twitter by using the hashtag #Kabaka20
President Yoweri Museveni and his deputy Edward Ssekandi arrive. PHOTO/Abu Mwesigwa
11.50am: President Yoweri Museveni shows up. The Kabaka is yet to arrive. We've got some warm weather ladies and gentlemen, and we should brace ourselves for a hotter afternoon!
12.05pm: KABAKA IS HERE. Kabaka Ronald Muwenda Mutebi II, the main guest of the day, arrives. Thousands of necks are craning high to catch a glimpse of him. It's crowded and if you are claustrophobic, we would advise you keep a distance from the Lubiri Palace. Many have fainted here before, and such has also happened during other crowded events. So if you don't have the stomach for it, please stay away.
The Kabaka is air-lifted by a subject. On tow is Katikkiro Charles Peter Mayiga and other officials. PHOTO/Abu Mwesigwa
12.10pm: The Kabaka, wearing a barkcloth sash and leopard skin strapped diagonally over his shoulders, over a white tunic, is air-lifted all the way to his tent, thanks to the strong shoulders of a subject. Upon 'landing' safely, he has a handshake with President Yoweri Museveni and Raila Odinga.
Speaking of the president, let's remind you of a key event that happened just Friday evening at the State House, Entebbe. President Museveni met with top officials from Buganda Kingdom and signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), paving way for the return of the kingdom’s properties. Key move.
12:15pm: OMUJAGUZO. It's time to sound the drums in pure traditional fashion. A 20-drum salute. BANG! BANG! BANG! Subjects hit the drums 20 times while the thousands of guests cheer on, punching their fisted arms in air in succession. The Kabaka takes his turn on the drums and sounds the 'Omujaguzo' [royal drums].
12.20pm: All the stanzas of the Buganda Kingdom anthem are sung in spirited unison. It's thunderous at Lubiri. The heated ground is trembling under the weight of hundreds of feet above it.
Performers play the traditional xylophone. Music is a part of most Ganda festivities. PHOTO/Eddie Ssejjoba
12.45pm: It's prayer time at Lubiri. We have religious leaders from across the churches in Uganda present to take part in the festivities. The service, led by Metropolitan Yona Lwanga of the Orthodox Church as mentioned earlier, is underway and the reading is taken from Samuel I 12:13.
Meanwhile, the weather is cooling down a bit.
1.00pm: MP Vicent Ssempijja of Kalungu County East reads a coffee report to the Kabaka. In the past two decades, Kabaka Mutebi has been hailed for his contribution towards the agricultural, educational and health sectors. He has been recognized for supporting cultural activities within the central region. In support of this is the Kabaka Foundation and the Nabagereka Development Foundation.
1:10pm: MP MPUUGA SPEAKS. Masaka Municipality MP Mathias Mpuuga delivers a vocal address before the Kabaka, who is seated silently in his seat, listening on attentively. There is a prolonged grin carved on his face.
The vocal legislator calls on the Ganda people to remain strong in upholding the kingdom's heritage. He reiterates what Katikkiro Mayiga has once brought out as part his plan for the kingdom during his reign: Strengthening the spirit of hardwork, building on the legacy of his predecessors, and having the Baganda continue to respect and protect the Kabaka.
On his part, MP Mpuuga drums for the spirit of togetherness. He points out that there could never be development in Buganda without working in unity, and being behind the Kabaka and the whole kingdom.
He maintains that building institutions that will bring together the people of Buganda in serving their king and kingdom remains a sure way forward for the centuries-old cultural establishment.
1.40pm: So while we are at it, let's have a brief flashback of what's been going around the kingdom. We have already told you of the Memorandum of Understanding signed by President Museveni and top Buganda officials on Friday. Earlier in May, Buganda received news that Charles Peter Mayiga was appointed the new Katikkiro, taking over from Eng. JB Walusimbi.
Before then, in April, Buganda witnessed yet a first for the year. A royal wedding. On April 27, Prince David Kintu Wasajja tied the knot with Marion Elizabeth Nankya at Rubaga Cathedral.
So clearly, it has been a busy first half of the year for the kingdom.
Kabaka meets Raila Odinga, the former Prime Minister of neighbouring Kenya. PHOTO/Abu Mwesigwa
1:54pm: MAYIGA ON RESPECT OF KABAKA. Katikkiro Charles Peter Mayiga takes the podium and makes key introductions before the Kabaka. First, he introduces President Yoweri Museveni, followed by Buganda Kingdom ministers. He recognizes former Kenyan PM Raila Odinga, representatives from other cultural institutions, religious leaders and other high profile guests. He also welcomes different ambassadors from different countries who are part of the event. And finally all the other guests who have shown their support by attending the celebrations.
2.00pm: Mayiga starts by making clear that at Mengo, religious discrimination is not tolerated. "We welcome everyone,” he says, making sure to stress that as long as one respects the Kabaka, he will be welcomed at Mengo.
He goes on to say that the Kabaka wants to see everyone in Buganda earn at least sh3,000 a day. That to be achieved, he says, can only be through growing coffee. So he goes on to call on the Baganda to be hardworking by growing and selling coffee to provide for themselves and their households.
For ages, coffee has been the chief earner of the Baganda people, and a major cash crop for the country.
The premier further calls for transparency, proper planning and the love for Kabaka and the people of the kingdom.
LOVE AT HEART: Such was the intensity of emotion that gripped the crowded Lubiri Palace. PHOTO/Abu Mwesigwa
2.20pm: The kingdom prime minister observes that the reign of Kabaka Ronald Muwenda Mutebi II, the 36th ruler of Buganda, has been that of whose focus has been on the youth. He stresses that the Kabaka chose him as Katikkiro so as to help empower the youth to love their king and to help build the entire kingdom.
He goes on to urge the youth to work closely with the elders of the kingdom, before thanking the organisers for a successful event put together. He welcomes the Kabaka to speak.
2.30pm: KABAKA SPEAKS. He starts by welcoming President Museveni and his deputy Edward Ssekandi, Raila Odinga and other guests. He delivers his speech seated in his majestic chair.
He thanks all who worked hard to restore the kingdom and all those who have dedicated their efforts towards the growth of the kindgom in the past two decades. He particularly thanks Museveni "for the role that he played in the restoration of the Kabakaship."
He goes on to stress the need for language. He explains that much as it is good for children to expand their knowledge of various languages, especially English, it is far more important that they master their indigenious languages first, in this case, Luganda. He also calls on teachers in schools to not punish their students for communicating in their local languages.
Kabaka Mutebi further thanks local musicians for promoting the existence of the kingdom wherever they go to perform, beyond the boundaries of Uganda.
Surely nothing can take away the pride this elderly man has for his Kabaka and kingdom. Nothing. PHOTO/Abu Mwesigwa
2.47pm: MUSEVENI'S TURN. Next is President Museveni who is wearing his trademark yellow tie. He asks to deliver his speech in what he calls a katogo form, meaning, mixing English and Luganda due to what he calls his not-so-good proficiency in Luganda.
He starts by making reference to the genesis of the move to restore the operation of kingdoms in Uganda. He reminds Kabaka of how he met with him in London way back in 1981 at the house of fallen Professor Lule's house. Then, Museveni (who was not a president yet) told Kabaka Mutebi that the cultural institutions in Uganda could be restored if the people wished so.
And that since then, the two have been working together despite friction between the Central government and the Buganda government along the way. But Museveni is quick to point out that working together is not a guarantee that disagreements will not arise along the way, and that the only way to put things back right is to sit and resolve the matters.
The chief guest meets the Ankole delegation. PHOTO/Abu Mwesigwa
He further presses on that pan-Africanism is as important as modernization is in modern-day society. He also goes on to speak of the importance of indigenous languages in society, making it clear that such languages are more significant than, say, English.
He goes on briefly about the level of development that the country has gone through in the past 20 years in the infrastructure sector, agriculture, health and other sectors. He wraps up his delivery by urging the people of Buganda to continue to work their way out of poverty.
3.15pm: Kabaka Mutebi is ushered forward to a mighty table on which lies plenty of meat. He knifes through the meat of a whole cow, ready to be served to his guests.
And just immediately after, the Buganda Kingdom anthem is played to close the event.
CUTTING THE "CAKE": Kabaka Mutebi cuts the meat prepared for his guests. PHOTO/Abu Mwesigwa
3.20pm: Loud music is blaring over the speakers pitched all over the crowded Lubiri Palace. The Kabaka has left, with other high-profile guests in his trail. Not sure yet but it's most likely they are headed for a VIP dinner.
The other ordinary guests, all excited, are dancing away to local music, mingling, taking group photos and snacking away on whatever they can get their hands onto. It will surely be an evening of continued rejoicing and partying, but for us here, we will end it right here and go grab something to munch away on too.
Thank you for keeping it with us here!
Long live Kabaka Ronald Muwenda Mutebi !
As it happened: Buganda 20th coronation event