To mark 50 years of Uganda’s independence, New Vision will until October 9, 2012 be publishing highlights of events and profiling personalities who have shaped the history of this country.
To mark 50 years of Uganda’s independence, New Vision will until October 9, 2012 be publishing highlights of events and profiling personalities who have shaped the history of this country. Today, ABDULKARIM SSENGENDO profiles John Kabaireho, the last Prime Minister of Ankole Kingdom
Many Ugandans don’t know how the country got her independence from Britain. Many assume a command came from the blue, stating: “Let there be independence,” and Uganda got it.
However, far from it, a few elite Ugandans marshalled ideas, sacrificed their time, spent sleepless nights and fought ideological wars for Uganda to get her independence on October 9, 1962.
John Kabaireho, 89, a resident of Bwoma village in Ryeishe subcounty, Bushenyi district was one such Ugandan who sacrifi ced for the country’s independence. He was one of the few Ugandans who attended the Uganda Self Governance Conference at Lancaster House and the Independence Conference in Marlborough House in 1961.
Kabaireho was part of the delegation that comprised offi cials from all the kingdoms in Uganda, districts and political parties. He headed the offi cials from Ankole in his capacity as the kingdom’s prime minister (Enganzi), an offi ce he served in from 1960-1963.
In a mixture of English and Runyankore, he recalls that during the Independence Conference in Marlborough, it was decided that every kingdom makes its own constitution to effect the changes that had been agreed upon.
Kabaireho says after the UK conferences and after Uganda got independence, several regional awareness mini-conferences were held to inform Ugandans on the benefi ts of independence. He did his part at the Western Regional Conference held in Fort Portal, Hoima district just prior to Uganda’s self-governance was granted in 1962. “Independence did not come into existence by a miracle. It was as a result of people’s tireless voices and ideas,” Kabaireho said.
He notes that shortly before October 9, 1962, the Democratic Party (DP) took the reins of power from the British. The party was headed by Benedicto Kiwanuka, a Muganda lawyer, who was also the chief minister.
DP was in power until elections were conducted by colonial officials just before independence. DP was defeated when the Uganda People’s Congress (UPC) allied with the pro-Buganda Kabaka Yekka (KY) party. Obote then became the fi rst postindependence Prime Minister with the Kabaka of Buganda Sir Edward Mutesa as fi rst President.
Kabaireho however claims the elections were rigged. “The colonial secretary and the chairman of the conference suggested that we hold other elections.
Together with Benedicto Kiwanuka, we opposed the idea because we did not see why we should have re-election at that time. Kiwanuka walked out of that conference and I followed him. However, the colonial officer insisted and the new elections took place, which brought UPC to power,” he adds.
His illustrious career
Kabaireho was the first Catholic prime minister of Ankole Kingdom. He followed Nuwa Mbaguta, Lazario Kamugungunu and Zekeria Mungonya. James Kahigiriza, was the last prime minister. He is currently the DP chairman in Bushenyi. He, however says due to advanced age, he intends to hand over the party chairmanship to ensure continuity.
Kabaireho was a commissioner general of the western region during the regime of Prof. Yusuf Lule that lasted 68 months.
On becoming president, Lule divided Uganda into four regions. These were west, east, north and Buganda. Kabaireho was appointed to head western region and its headquarters were in Fort Portal.
His responsibility was to recruit soldiers and create a strong army and set up the training base for this region in Mbarara. He accomplished both tasks with the help of Tanzanian army officers, who assisted in training the new recruits.
Kabaireho is also credited for allowing Rwandan refugees to settle in Orukinga valley, an idea that had been opposed by the UPC government.
“Much as UPC was against these settlements, we conducted a vote with the council where I mobilised my people and we won by a majority, thus allowing the refugees to settle,” he adds. He chaired a commission of inquiry into the alleged corruption in the ministry of works and communications in the Obote II government. “Our fi ndings were that there was corruption in the works ministry, but unfortunately, nothing was done to the corrupt offi cials,” he laments.
His take on the future
“The future of Uganda is determined by what is happening now. Most of the young people we have in Uganda are well educated and exposed. They should have a sense to see what is best for this country. They must find remedies to rectify wrongs such as the heavy burden of corruption,” Kabaireho said.
Kabaireho put up a spirited fight for Uganda’s freedom