The installation of the cultural leader of the Baruli-Banyala, the Isabaruli on December 11, has generated unease and bitterness at Mengo.
Mengo believes his installation was a ploy to break up Buganda kingdom. The Isaabaruliâ€™s pronouncements that the Baruli wonâ€™t be under the leadership of Mengo and the banning of Bugandaâ€™s anthem, Ekitibwa kya Buganda in Buruli, have all reinforced the view that the anti-Mengo agitation by some Baruli-Banyala that culminated into the installation of the Isabaruli was part of a scheme against Buganda.
The installation of the Isabaruli came when relations between Mengo and the Government were frosty over federo. President Museveniâ€™s presence at the ceremony showed the installation had the backing of the government.
The Isabaruli issue has deepened the rift between the government and Mengo. It has poisoned the atmosphere, dashing any hopes of the government and Mengo reaching a consensus on federo ahead of the debate in Parliament. Museveni is faced with a problem his predecessor, Milton Obote had to grapple with 40 years ago. Mengo and Obote fell out over the â€˜Lost Countiesâ€™, the present-day Kibale district. The row finally led to the 1966 political crisis. One hopes the row between Museveni and Mengo wonâ€™t end the way the Obote-Mengo row did.
The Constitution recognises the Baruli and Banyala as distinct communities. It also guarantees each person the right to enjoy, practise, profess, maintain and promote any culture, cultural institution, language, tradition, creed or religion in community with others. Thus the Baruli-Banyala have a right to practise their culture. Nonetheless, it must be recognised that the Baruli and the Banyala are ethnic minorities in Buganda. Mengo ought to accept this reality. The social status of Baruli and Banyala in Buganda is comparable to that of many other minorities within bigger nationalities in other parts of the country. Busoga, Teso, Karamoja, Kasese, Toro, Ankole and Bunyoro all have such minorities. They are recognised and should be allowed to practise their culture.
The Baruli and Banyala should freely practise their culture, but must maintain harmony with the Baganda. Sectarian utterances, particularly the anti-Mengo statements by some politicians from Kibaale and Nakasongola, undermine national unity and stability. Political leaders in Nakasongola and Kibaale should not make statements that provoke ethnic tension and conflicts. Recent remarks by the Bugangaizi MP, Dr Kasirivu Atwooki, urging the Baruli to violently deal with the Baganda landlords were very unfortunate. There is a wrong belief that all the Baganda who acquired land in Kibaale and Nakasongola are â€œabsentee landlordsâ€. But there are many Baganda in both Nakasongola and Kibaale whose forefathers settled in in the area hundreds of years ago. They also have the same right as the Banyoro or Baruli to stay and own land in Kibaale and Nakasongola and to practise their culture, including paying allegiance to the Kabaka just as the Banyoro in Kibale pay allegiance to the Bunyoro king although Kibaale is not part of Bunyoro.
Nakasongola was curved out of Luweero district, and so remains in Buganda. It canâ€™t secede from Buganda. And there should be no conflict between Mengo and the Isabaruli. Mengo recognises the Kaamuswaga of Kooki, why not the Isaabaruli?
The Isabaruli should also stick to cultural matters and work to foster harmony between the Baruli-Banyala and other people of Uganda. That is the way to go.
Mengo, Isabaruli need not wrangle