The Kabaka Run in pictures . . .
By Joseph Kizza
In a land far far away, there lived a king. One day, news of his birthday spread across the vast kingdom, and as you would expect, that got his subjects all euphoric. "Long live our king!" they chanted as preparations got under way to celebrate his birthday.
OK, let's drop the fairytale line from the script and give it a modern, present-day brush-touch. The king in question still lives. He is Kabaka Ronald Muwenda Mutebi II of Buganda. This year he turns 61, and to celebrate his six decades of living, a charity run was organized.
Proceeds from this run, dubbed Kabaka's Birthday Run, would be channeled to a worthy cause: the fight against fistula.
Well, now that you know where we are coming from, let me get down to this short story . . .
On the morning of Sunday, April 10th, those who would participate in the run hit the 'pause' button of their sleep episodes, climbed out of their beds, peeled off their pyjamas (some didn't have to) and splashed cupfuls of water in their faces to clear their bleary eyes. Then they eased into their leggins/jeggins (females) and shorts/tracksuits (males) and slapped on their red vests (emblazoned with the words 'Kabaka's Birthday Run') over whatever tops they wore. Next, they quickly worked into their sneakers, before hitting the road high on gusto and beaming with enthuasism and determination to Lubiri palace, Mengo.
Dusk was still hesistant to give way to dawn but despite the darkness, participants got down to awakening their limbs with some pre-run aerobics. Er, let me focus on women and kids here . . .
While some participants set their alarms the night before to be able to make it up early, others relied on that one cock in the compound for a more natural alarm call: the cock crow. I can't tell if these kids had to be dragged prematurely out of their sleep, but what I can tell is that they looked energetic here and raring to hit the road . . .
This youngster definitely enjoyed every bit of it . . . not sure though if she enjoyed the sweating later on the road
Yes, you can be all there feeling energetic and powerful during the warm-up session, but how the real running can bring you down onto your knees! I, too, do struggle during my routine evening run but every time my body wants to stop, I let my mind reign supreme, and eventually, I find myself pushing further. Athletics is a classic case of 'mind over matter', my friends!
During aerobics time, while the majority stretched to the left (from my point of view, and right from theirs), this youngster in the front had long lost touch with direction, while someone else decided to skip the whole warm-up thing and instead elected to capture the moments on phone . . .
Were some people doing the aerobics just fwa? Of course there was an instructor (not in camera view) but even then, some people chose to do their own things . . . pan your eyes to the far-left in the front and you will get what I am talking about. But wait, even those in the background seemed to be doing their own things. Oh dear!
At least this lot below appeared more synchronized. But hey, this is the easy part. Wait till you get to the road. It won't be cheese & crackers anymore . . .
Meanwhile, as daylight continued to be elusive, some kids decided to start off the day with some candy/lollipops while the senior people in their company looked readier than the most elite of runners . . .
And here comes a bit of sub-plot: So you think it's all about the warm-up? Think again? The success to any run is about how much you have invested in beckoning your spiritual existence. Ask this elderly woman who, wearing a rosary around her neck, took time off to read the Bible while others did aerobics. Did she run? That, I can't know . . .
Dancing? No, they are not. Aerobics? Oh yes. Only they were enjoying every moment of it so much so that it appeared as though they were attending some sort of live concert . . .
As dawn finally started to show its face, in came the main man of the event: Kabaka Mutebi -- amid tight security. Every time the Buganda king appears before his subjects, there is definitely an ubiquitous sense of excitement that fills the atmosphere, and Sunday's was not exception . . .
And the 61-year-'young' monarch emerged sporting a nicely casual look . . .
He was welcomed by Vision Group's CEO Robert Kabushenga and Airtel Uganda communications manager Remmy Kasule (who greeted the king the kiganda way: kneeling). Wait, can you spot the Buganda princess, Omumbejja Katrina Sarah Kirabo Ssangalyambogo? If you can't, then I recommend a visit to the optician ASAP . . .
No prizes for guessing what was happening when this picture was taken . . .
An early morning drizzle did not dampen participants' already-turned up eagerness to get to the road and run for a worthy cause . . . and with their king 'in the house', many pulled out their phones to take a picture of him.
Buganda's prime minister (katikiro) Charles Peter Mayiga watched on as Robert Kabushenga, Airtel Uganda's Remmy Kasule and others presented a shirt to the Kabaka . . .
As this was going on, down below, people scrambled to take a picture of that moment. This woman gave it her all, as you can see, but was she in time to freeze the rare moment with her phone camera? Well, if she could run as fast as a Uganda Cranes striker, then she managed to snap it . . .
Another kind of conversation to do with the Kabaka's run was going on virtually . . . on Twitter. And for the techies, or any other keen user of social media for that matter, the popular hashtag for this discussion was #KabakaWange
The moment when . . . everyone feels they can beat even the best photographer at his/her job . . .
So what happens when you finally get to see the Kabaka in person? This, ladies and gentlemen, is what happens . . . 'A picture tells a thousands words', goes the adage, right? Well, I think it can tell even a million words!
Wait, whose head is the Kabaka going for? A pickpocket? An imposter? . . .
. . . . hi hi hi. No, not any of that, you! He definitely is not aiming for anyone's head. That's a double-side flag (Uganda on one side and Buganda on the other) Kabaka Mutebi is holding during the flaging off of the run