TOP
Friday,August 14,2020 17:03 PM
  • Home
  • Archive
  • Four princes line up for Bakonzo/Bamba kingship

Four princes line up for Bakonzo/Bamba kingship

By Vision Reporter

Added 7th November 2006 03:00 AM

THE controversy over the Bakonzo/Bamba kingship may deepen as four rival princes line up to be crowned.
The princes are Charles Wesley Mumbere alias Iremangoma, who is living in the United States, Swalleh Tibamwenda Basikania, who lives in Kampala and Isingoma Kisalitha, a recent claimant of th

THE controversy over the Bakonzo/Bamba kingship may deepen as four rival princes line up to be crowned.
The princes are Charles Wesley Mumbere alias Iremangoma, who is living in the United States, Swalleh Tibamwenda Basikania, who lives in Kampala and Isingoma Kisalitha, a recent claimant of th

By John Nzinjah

THE controversy over the Bakonzo/Bamba kingship may deepen as four rival princes line up to be crowned.
The princes are Charles Wesley Mumbere alias Iremangoma, who is living in the United States, Swalleh Tibamwenda Basikania, who lives in Kampala and Isingoma Kisalitha, a recent claimant of the Bakonzo/Bamba crown.

The fourth prince is the youthful Robert Bwambale, grandson to Tibamwenda, one of the Bakonzo freedom fighters who were hanged in the early 19th century and buried in a mass grave near Kagando Hospital in Kasese district
Mumbere, who is popularly known as the omusinga or Iremangoma (king), is the son of the Isaya Mukirania Kyibanzanga (RIP), who died in 1966 after leading the Bakonzo/Bamba freedom struggle against cultural and political oppression.
According to Yolamu Mulima, the prime minister in the Obusinga bwa Rwenzururu, Kyibanzanga was first crowned king of the Bakonzo and Bamba on August 15, 1953 at his palace at Kasulenge in Horugali sub-county, Bundibugyo district.

The function was attended by Bakonzo/Bamba clan leaders and traditional chiefs.

In 1954, Mukirania led a research team that earned him assistance from a British journalist, Tom Stacy, known among the Bakonzo/Bamba as Isemusoki, which culminated into an open struggle in 1961, a year before Uganda got her independence.

From then, Mukirania, led the Bakonzo/Bamba freedom struggle based in the cold and hostile forests of the Rwenzori Mountains until in May 1966 when he died, leaving behind his first-born, Charles Wesley Mumbere, as crown prince of the Obusinga bwa Rwenzururu.

Mulima says in 1963, Iraya Mukirania celebrated 10 years as a unitary cultural leader of the Bakonzo/Bamba at a function held at Kyambogho in Buswagha, Kitholhu sub-county Kasese.
The function was attended by Bakonzo/Bamba clan leaders and traditional chiefs, including George Mudere Basikania, the father to Swalleh Tibamwenda Basikania, then the traditional chief and clan leader of the Basu clan.

In 1982, the Ugandan government struck a deal with Mumbere, through a Kasese Member of Parliament, Amon Bazira (RIP), to convince the Rwenzururu fighters in the mountains, to surrender peacefully.

Clad in a king’s attire, Mumbere descended the hills and was received by a crowd at Nsenyi Catholic Parish Church. He addressed his subjects and was driven to Mweya Safari Lodge in the Queen Elizabeth National Park.

The Government sponsored Mumbere to the US, where he is pursuing further education.

Since the NRM government came to power in 1986, it has facilitated his stay in the US and three times, helped him to visit his people in the Rwenzori region, where he has received a tumultuous welcome.

“Omusinga Mumbere, the Iremangoma, was crowned king after his father died in 1966. We are only waiting for the Government to recognise our obusinga bwa Rwenzururu like other cultural institutions in the country.

“It will only be like celebrating his coronation,” Johnson Kitsumbire, the Obusinga bwa Rwenzururu defence secretary, said.

However, Mumbere’s claim of the Bakonzo/Bamba kingship has not been immune to challenges, with the emergence of three other claimants of the crown. Tibamwenda, appears to be the arch Mumbere’s rival.

His father, George Mudere Basikania, died in December 2004 at Kagando Hospital, Kasese, at the age of 130. Mudere died a few days after admission to hospital.

He is said to have renewed his respect and recognition to Mumbere in 1998, when Mumbere visited Bundibugyo district on a programme to mobilise the Bakonzo and Bamba to intensify their support to government forces to flush the Allied Democratic Forces rebels out of the Rwenzori region.

But Tibamwenda denies that his father, Mudere, had ever recognised Mumbere as a cultural leader of the Bakonzo/Bamba and so he should be the rightful king of the Rwenzori Region community of the Bakonzo and Bamba.

Recently, Tibamwenda wrote to president Yoweri Museveni appealing to him to endorse the Bakonzo/Bamba cultural institution saying it had existed since 1630. He said the Bakonzo/Bamba monarch was only suppressed by colonialism.

Tibamwenda, in his letter, proposed that the four princes meet to discuss and establish the rightful king of the Bakonzo/Bamba and then also agree on how to share the cake of the kingdom.
He says he should be declared king of the kingdom of the Rwenzori adding that he has distaste for the word Rwenzururu because it is militaristic.

“I am fully prepared to be crowned and my subjects are ready to do everything necessary for the ceremony to be a success because we have waited long for the day,” Tibamwenda said recently at the Verina Gardens Hotel in Kasese.

One of the earlier struggles of the Bakonzo/Bamba against suppression left three of their freedom fighters namely; Tibamwenda, Kapolyo and Nyamustwa, hanged and buried in a mass grave near Kagando Hospital in Kasese.

Robert Bwambale, one of the claimants of the Obusinga bwa Rwenzururu, is the great grandson of Tibamwenda.

He put up traditional huts near the mass grave, where he periodically performs rituals. He has asked the other claimants to show to the Banyarwenzururu (people of the Rwenzori), where their grand parents were buried.

“We are only waiting for the Government to recognise our cultural institution and our King Robert Bwambale will be crowned,” a family member of Tibamwenda, said recently.

Another claimant, Isingoma Kisalitha, who was heard of for the first time last year, presented himself to government officials and opinion leaders in Kasese saying he was the rightful king of the Bakonzo.

Early this year, Kisalitha survived mob justice in Maliba sub-county, where he had gone to present himself to the people, but found a hostile audience.
He was rescued by the local administration police and rushed back to Kasese.

But according to some people, Kisalitha is the great-grandson of a Mukonzo king, whose palace was destroyed when the break-away son of the king of Bunyoro claimed the Rwenzori region, forming his separate kingdom more than 100 years ago.

Kisalitha, a Kampala-based businessman, has been attending public functions in Kasese, but has not gone to Bundibugyo.

So, while the Government is in the process of recognising the Obusinga bwa Rwenzururu , each of the princes claiming the kingship is rehearsing how to put on the attire fit for a king.

Four princes line up for Bakonzo/Bamba kingship

Related articles

More From The Author

More From The Author