Sunday February 2 2014

Greenery, ecstasy in Kayunga

The Kabaka’s subjects preparing to entertain him by the roadside.

The Kabaka’s subjects preparing to entertain him by the roadside. 

By Brian Mutebi

A serene and irresistible greenery embeds the tarmac the road to Kayunga. A narrow and almost dustless road was what our driver maneuvered through. It had many bends but was relatively smooth, at least by Ugandan standards.
Being a first timer, I had a vague mental picture of a long winding bumpy and dusty road leading to a town crowded with dilapidated structures. Oh I was wrong!Coming from a dusty Kampala, I envied the residents who partake of this cool air daily.

By all accounts, poverty is still prevalent in this part of the country, but with the decent looking semi-permanent structures by the roadside, they are looking forward to development. Such sights were predominant in Naggalama, Nakifuma enroute to Kayunga.

I realised I was following the King when I saw royal archs ,ebiyitirirwa all the way through Bukolooto. Every grocery store had a banana shoot planted at the front or by the side. This is how a dignitary is welcomed in Buganda. At almost every arch, kiyitirirwa, crowds clad in barkcloths gathered, drummed, sung, danced and enjoyed the moment of the Kabaka’s wave or visit to their locality. Those who could not afford the full bark cloth attire had at least a cap, a bandana or bracelet made from the same material inscribed with the Kabaka’s picture and words like Wangala ayi magulunyondo.

I was eager to get to that point that sparked off the now famous Buganda riots of September 2009, the bridge at River Sezibwa from where the then Buganda Katikkiro, Eng. John Baptist Walusimbi, preceding Kabaka’s visit was blocked. At Sezibwa, a taller arch was erected. “Tukwaniriza Ssabasajja Mu saza lyo ely’ebugerere (we welcome you Kabaka into your county, Bugerere),” read a big banner. Besides these big decorations, a big bridge symbol had been drawn. Anyway, Sezibwa seemed to be a small stream of water largely covered by papyrus stretching about a quarter a kilometre.

Men wearing brown cylindrical caps inscribed with words in support of Buganda Kingdom had lined up by the roadside to welcome the royal. There seemed to be many Muslims in that area.

On arrival
Surprise! Every two to three strides I made, I could hear phrases like, “Omutanda atuuse wa wenyini?”(Where exactly has the King reached?) The crowds could not contain themselves as they danced and drunk to their fill. It was all jubilation as Kabaka Ronald Muwenda Mutebi II alighted from his vehicle waving to the cheery crowd of his subjects at his county palace at Ntenjeru, Kayunga. Hajat Saida Najjuka, a local resident, who was also excited said, “This is our new year’s gift in Bugerere. Even if we do not live to see anything else for the rest of the year in Kayunga. This is all we needed.”

“The Kabaka doesn’t sleep in the house but in a palace,” Najjuka, who is also the sub county chief emphasised.
There was no palace in Bugerere but an old small house somewhere next to the county council hall, at the foot of Ntenjeru Hill. “We had to renovate the house and the surrounding to make a setting of a palace,” said Najjuka. The king’s subjects were mobilised. In weeks, the house had a facelift with modern glass windows and tiled roof. However, that is a story for another day.

Almost every accommodation facility I visited had been booked weeks and days in advance. Residents informed that the people who escorted the Kabaka had booked almost all the lodges in the town.