The kingdom was formally reinstated and recognized in 2009, the same year Charles Wesley Mumbere was crowned.
PIC: Charles Wesley Mumbere was charged with murder and remanded
By Robert Atuhairwe
Clashes between militia believed to be linked to the Rwenzururu kingdom and government security agencies left at least 55 dead by the end of Sunday, including cops. The resurgence of the clashes came after a similar deadly outbreak early this year in which scores perished.
The area records a history of unrest right from when the founders of the kingdom were fighting for autonomy (from Tooro), through the days of NALU and then ADF in the 1990s. Something about the terrain must have a luring effect to belligerent elements given the Rwenzori ranges which are ideal for concealment and hard target maneuvers. Kasese itself is a calm but scorching flat land with amazing tourism and trade potential.
The kingdom was formally reinstated and recognized in 2009. King Wesley Mumbere was crowned in October the same year. This was after decades in oblivion with Mumbere exiled in the US where he was a nurse’s aide.
As the weekend clashes erupted in Kasese, resulting in the “strategic transfer” of Mumbere from his palace, his counterpart, the Kabaka of Buganda was in Kayunga (Bugerere) at a function to close this year’s annual bika (clan) football tournament. Ronald Muwenda Mutebi’s presence in Bugerere marked a step higher from past acrimony when he couldn’t make the trip and violent clashes broke out (in the same year when Mumbere was crowned).
At the time, the relationship between Buganda and Bunyala had unresolved issues surrounding it but since then, the Kabaka’s subjects are no longer at loggerheads among themselves- meaning that the Buganda institution has played a uniting part and bargained for greater relevance in affairs of the people.
At about the same time, the Omukama (king) of Tooro, Oyo Nyimba Kabamba Iguru Rukidi IV, was touring agricultural projects in his kingdom, rallying the youth to take up the vocation in all its forms rather than stampeding for white collar jobs which, he said, are less rewarding.
Buganda, Tooro, Busoga (and Ankole) kingdoms preexist Rwenzururu, which is an infant dynasty in comparison. In spite of the 1966 set back when they were summarily abolished by the Obote I government, they have stood the test of time. Their sustainability has relied more on using their cultural privilege to instill unity among their peoples while encouraging hospitability and co-existence.
Their mandate has evolved from the singular one of cultural identity to development and togetherness within and across cultural, religious, political and social boundaries. Culture now works in a broader context that presupposes a willingness to co-operate and share tips among authorities at all levels for common good. They are also in charge of their people!
What’s happening in Rwenzururu is a measure of inadequacy on the establishment which, taking the voice of the Omusinga, argues lack of awareness of what is going on; not least, being in the know of subjects being engaged in activities that are wholly or partly responsible for the breakdown of tranquility in that part of the country.
Are there subjects who find the Obusinga a nonfactor, that in their aspirations and trials they don’t appeal to officials for counsel to an extent that they risk their lives and those of others in expeditions whose motive is a subject of conjecture and guess work? Are these outsiders violating the sanctity of the lands watched over by the Rwenzururu to turn the place into a haven of destruction and bloodletting?
If it’s Yiira Republic in the works and the kingdom denies involvement in such schemes, are agitators for the same finding extreme unpleasantness and disconnect with Obusinga that they defy its aversion to the idea? How safe would the Omusinga be with these “unknowns” operating in his backyard and brazen enough to launch attacks on better positioned state security?
What if, by the remotest of chances, they succeeded in achieving a breakaway; will they forcefully take him on board? By their acts alone, they are making a strong claim on his power.
I am afraid the agitation for Yiira Republic is to secede from Rwenzururu as from Uganda. Since the Commander-In-Chief, President Museveni, has previously sworn that there won’t be “an inch taken away from Uganda”, the Rwenzururu institution should unreservedly back the campaign to get to the root of whichever cause belies the problem and its gory outcomes or be prepared to carry on as an imposition without touch on the ground, risking to sink under the weight of state intervention.
There are precedents to take to the bank!
The writer is a member of the Commonwealth Writers’ Group