During his reign, rats invaded Busoga causing a plague. The colonial government passed a decree that required every Musoga to take a certain number of rat tails to the administration offices in Jinja as proof that they were killing the offending rodents
CULTURE | POLITICS | HISTORY
The story of Sir William Kadhumbula Nadiope, the first Vice President of Uganda, is a most captivating one.
During his reign, rats invaded Busoga causing a plague. The colonial government passed a decree that required every Musoga to take a certain number of rat tails to the administration offices in Jinja as proof that they were killing the offending rodents.
People trekked from as far as Buwenge, Bugweri, and Busiki to deliver the precious tails in the belief that they were being used to make medicine to cure the plague.
Of course, all this was just part of the campaign by the British colonial administration, to eliminate the rats that were spreading the plague. Upon delivering the tails, one would be issued with a certificate of compliance.
Nadiope fought this policy because he considered it degrading and this angered the colonialists.
When he tried to assert his independence and resisted British attempts to destroy his chiefdom, he was deported to Bunyoro, making him the third king after Bunyoro's Kabalega and Buganda's Mwanga to be deported.
Born in 1911 to the Bugabula chief, Yosiya Nadiope, he was in 1924 taken by the colonial government to Britain for formal education. He was aged 13.
He returned in 1929, to be enthroned on February 3, 1930, as the Gabula (local chief) of Bugabula, one of the chiefdoms that made up Kamuli. Other chiefdoms were Buzaaya and Budiope.
He joined the King's African Rifles (KAR) in 1941 and fought in India and Burma in the Second World War. His war skills and his ability to mobilise people earned him Queen Elizabeth's admiration and later he was knighted, among other honours.
Nadiope returned home in 1946 at the rank of Captain and was given a job with the Colonial Secretariat at Entebbe.
As the Kyabazinga, Nadiope welcomed Queen Elizabeth when she visited Uganda to commission the Owen Falls Dam in Jinja in 1954. It was at this ceremony that he was knighted.
Henry Woira Kitimbo, the Gabula clan's custodian of historical records, says that in 1947 Nadiope was elected to the Legislative Council, a colonial legislature, which opened to black representation in 1945. Following that, he was elected Kyabazinga of Busoga in 1948 by the Busoga Lukiiko, when the first Kyabazinga, E.T. Wako, retired.
"To this day, I remember the ceremony," says Kitimbo, who was by Nadiope's side. "All those white men seated watching a black man sign a paper," he recalls. Between 1949 and 1962, Nadiope played a significant role in the independence struggle. He was part of the Uganda delegation that went to the 1961 Lancaster conference in England to advocate for independence. He was also a member of the Uganda People's Congress (UPC) and was party vice president.
Six years into Nadiope's reign as the Kyabazinga, Henry Wako Muloki was elected to replace him. However, using his shrewdness and popularity, Nadiope bounced back in 1962 as the Kyabazinga of Busoga. His opposition to colonial rule greatly enhanced his popularity with the masses.
Ascent to the vice presidency
In 1963 when the Constitution was amended to provide for the posts of ceremonial president and vice-president, Buganda's Kabaka Sir Edward Mutesa and Nadiope were elected respectively and Nadiope became Uganda's first Vice President.
In the days that preceded independence, Nadiope reportedly took the UPC president, Milton Obote, to all the houses of former chieftainships of Busoga, adopting him in each as their son.
When cultural institutions were abolished following the 1966 crisis, Nadiope took to farming. He died in the 1970s of cancer.
This profile has been extracted from the 'UGANDA: Building Of A Nation' jubilee book published by Vision Group. To buy your copy, call 0782800840