President Yoweri Museveni has lauded cultural institutions in Uganda for contributing to patriotism in the country, Pan-Africanism within Africa and modernisation.
In a speech delivered by the Prime Minister, Ruhakana Rugunda, during the silver jubilee celebrations of the coronation of King Oyo Nyimba Kabamba Iguru, Museveni said the National Resistance Movement had no difficulty in supporting cultural revival.
Museveni praised the great significance of the traditional institutions in uniting the many clans under single administrations.
The President commended the cordial and mutual co-operation and collaboration that has existed between the kingdom and the central government since 1995. "We are grateful for the achievements that have been reached for both sides and we remain committed to safeguarding the cultural revival aspirations of the kingdom at all times," he said.
He expressed government's commitment towards developing the infrastructure, such as roads, electricity, railways, telephone and communication, throughout the country.
"All the above are important for they reduce the cost of production of goods and services, thus reducing the cost of doing business," the President said, before assuring all Ugandans of a peaceful and secure environment that will enable people to work, earn money and invest for the future.
King Oyo thanked God for enabling him to celebrate his silver jubilee amid the COVID-19 pandemic. He said the kingdom has got more partners and friends from other kingdoms, both in Uganda and abroad.
"We had planned to have a monarch summit, but it was postponed to July 2023, due to COVID-19," he said.
The king said his office has started implementing measures that are aimed at equipping the youth within the kingdom with skills. "I would like to thank the Uganda Industrial Research Institute for answering our call of developing skills among the youth in Toro.
This is part of our five-year development plan," King Oyo said and called on the youth to embrace it. On farming, the king said they are to start up different model farms across the kingdom, to help farmers learn best farming practices.
The kingdom prime minister, Bernard Tungwako, thanked the Government for fulfilling some of the pledges in Toro Kingdom, which, among others, include the construction of a perimeter wall around the palace.
Reconciliation During the thanksgiving service, Bishop Reuben Kisembo of Rwenzori Diocese, for the first time spoke out about the rift between the kingdom and religious leaders.
The rift started in 2015 after Prince David Kijanangoma came out to challenge his cousin, King Oyo. At that time, Kijanangoma threatened to overthrow King Oyo from the royal throne, accusing him of incompetence and mismanaging kingdom properties, among others.
The situation was saved by the intervention of President Museveni who appointed a group of religious leaders from Toro to investigate the allegations and also come out with a report, which they did.
During his sermon at the celebrations on Saturday at Karuzika palace, Kisembo said: "As religious leaders, we would like to publicly reconcile with the kingdom and its officials."
As a sign of reconciliation, the religious leaders made a cash donation towards the organisation of the silver jubilee.
COVID-19 SOPs adhered to Unlike the usual empango celebrations which attracts multitudes, this time round, the function was attended by a few guests, in order to adhere to the social distancing guidelines.
Washing of hands, temperature checks and face masks were mandatory for all guests. Sanitisers were also placed on each table.
King Oyo asked to marry
The crowds were sent into an uproar as the religious leaders, led by Bishop Kisembo, asked the king to marry. "As elders and religious leaders, we advise King Oyo to get married and start a family," Bishop Kisembo said.
The same call was repeated by Ernest Kalege, one of the kingdom's county chiefs from Mwenge in Kyenjojo district.
Compiled by Rogers Sunday, Geoffrey Mutegeki and Wilson Asiimwe