On the morning of Monday August 26, the Busoga Lukiiko endorsed the election of Prince William Gabula IV, as the Kyabazinga of Busoga.
Prince Gabula was elected by the Busoga Royal Chiefs Council, the body of the Hereditary Chiefs of Busoga’s 11 traditional counties who constitute the Electoral College that elects a Kyabazinga, on the afternoon of Saturday August 23.
The development came about a month after an ultimatum from the Speaker of Parliament, Ms Rebecca Kadaga, on July 27, asking the subjects to elect a Kyabazinga within one month or lose her support.
However, that was not the only ultimatum. Prince Edward Columbus Wambuzi had on August 13 issued a 14-day demand that the Chiefs recognise him as the Kyabazinga or else they face legal action. The ultimatum elapsed on Wednesday August 27.
The Lukiiko’s endorsement, the elections and the ultimatums that preceded it are the latest in a series of twists and turns that have bedevilled Busoga since the death in September 2008 of Kyabazinga Henry Wako Muloki.
The back and forth fights over the crown have reduced the institution of Obwa Kyabazinga Bwa Busoga, to what some youths have dubbed the “Kaunhe Comedy show” because of the ever changing positions of the Ssabalangira (Chief Prince) Daudi Kaunhe Wakooli.
So how does Gabula’s reign start? What is his meal for the years to come made of?
Already, Prince Wambuzi’s response to the Saturday afternoon election by the chiefs was curt.
“I cannot comment about that (election of a new Kyabazinga) apart from telling you that I am still the Kyabazinga as declared by court,” he told this newspaper on phone.
The chief minister of Bulamogi County, Mr Sam Mutono, has since declared that Gabula IV’s election will be contested in the courts of law.
“…That election was simply some piece of drama, but we shall challenge it,” he told journalists last Monday.
Chief Prince Kaunhe, has indicated that the election was illegal.
“When you look at the process we followed to elect Nadiope [Gabula] it is in breach of our constitution. Besides, there was an injunction against any activity at the kingdom so I decided not to go to Bugembe. I instead went to court to follow up on our case,” he told the press on Monday.
However, during Monday’s function, Ms Kadaga said the election of a substantive Kyabazinga was a stepping stone towards the benefits that other kingdoms are enjoying.
It now seems from the word go that the new Kyabazinga’s task for the years to come has already been cut out. He takes over a widely divided Busoga and analysts think reconciliation is the key element to a better kingdom.
Sources within the Busoga Chiefs Royal Council indicate that the immediate task is to complete work on the kingdom’s constitution.
But Jinja Municipality Mayor Haji Muhammad Baswari Kezaala thinks the first thing Gabula has to do to solve Busoga’s squabbles is institute a region-wide dialogue. He also calls on the two parties to keep away from the fights and unite for the benefit of Busoga.
“If both (Prince) Wambuzi and Gabula love Busoga, they should use this opportunity to lead Busoga for a defined period of time to allow for a process of healing,” he says.
Busoga University lecturer Dr Frank Nabwiso, who believes that Busoga will continue to be plagued by confusion and division, agrees with Haji Kezaala on the idea of the rivals stepping aside, but thinks that the solution lies in greater democratisation of the process of elections.
“I think a council of elders should discuss the way forward, but the colonialists had at one time barred the chiefs from electing. I think the powers to elect should be taken back to the rest of the members of the elected Lukiiko,” he says.
However, veteran politician Alhaji Kirunda Kivejinja defers, saying those are wrong solutions to the problems of an institution which was built on quick sand.
“You cannot construct a firm house when the foundation was weak. In the end it will crumble. I am not surprised that they keep going back and forth. The institution will only cause more problems than it can solve,” says Kivejinja.
What then is the magic?
“How long has Busoga been there and how was it being managed? We have for long been managed through the clans. Have you ever married your fellow clan mate? Did you need such a big institution to guide you? Now if you want a meaningful cultural institution the clans must have a say,” Kivejinja adds.
Time to move on
Others like businessman Ahmed Osman Noor who comes from Bulamogi County, and held cabinet positions under former prime ministers Martin Musumba, Prof Juma Wasswa Balunywa and Wilson Muwereza, thinks that it is time for Busoga to draw a line under the Kyabazingaship debate and move on.
“For more than five years, we have been literally at sea. We have as a region missed out on a lot of things because we didn’t have a substantive Kyabazinga. Now that the chiefs have said they are to introduce a new constitution that provides for rotation and regular elections, let us move on,” he says.
Kamuli District chairperson Salaamu Musumba, who once led a team of women from Busoga region in begging the hereditary chiefs to stop shaming Busoga with their endless bickering, says this is the best opportunity that Busoga has ever had to make a fresh start.
“We have a Kyabazinga who comes without excessive baggage. He is not tainted like some of us who have been in politics and he is yet to commit mistakes unless it is we who are going to make him commit them,” she says.
Ms Musumba adds that there is now a multifaceted plan to economically empower the people of Busoga beginning with the 11 traditional hereditary chiefs, but that the first will, however, be to end the divisions and disunity by extending an olive branch to Prince Edward Columbus Wambuzi.
“We want to share with him our aspirations, which are actually his aspirations and those of the people of Bulamogi and the rest of Busoga. Those discussions will, however, be outside the public domain,” she concludes.
origin of the fights
According to veteran politician, Alhaji Kirunda Kivejinja, seeds of confusion were first sowed by the colonialists who forcefully lumped the 11 independent Emirates of Bugabula, Bulamogi, Kigulu, Luuka, Bukono, Busiki, Bugweri, Bukooli, Bunya, Bunyole and Butembe in order to make it easier for them to administer over them. This, he says, led to the creation in 1894, of the Lukiiko with Governor Grant as its first and second president and the 11 chiefs as members.
After Kakungulu’s removal, the Lukiiko in 1913 introduced rotational leadership, which provided for every chief to move to Bugembe to preside over Busoga for three months, but that was scrapped in 1919 when they opted to elect one of them to rule. That led to the election of late Ezekiel Tenywa Wako, who led until 1949 when he retired.
Among the changes that had come about during E. T Wako’s reign was change of title of president of the Lukiiko to the more indigenous one of Isebantu Kyabazinga, expansion of the Lukiiko to include two elected representatives from each of the 55 sub-counties and the resolution that a Kyabazinga would always be elected from among the five Babito (Baise Ngobi) hereditary rulers who are believed to have originated in Bunyoro Kitara.
He argues that the forceful lumping, attempts at rotational leadership and introduction of elections for a select group of people, were always going to lead to problems.
The current squabbles started on October 31, 2008 when Prince Wambuzi, heir to the late Kyabazinga Henry Wako Muloki, was elected to replace his father.
Prior to the election, there was an altercation involving Chief Juma Luba Munulo of Bunhya County and Chief William Gabula of Bugabula.
Chief Kaunhe Wakooli presented Prince Wambuzi to the Lukiiko presided over by Speaker Alfred Mugooda.
- Ezekiel Tenywa Wako (1919 to 1949), - Sir William Wilberforce Nadiope (1950 to 1955 and 1963 to 1966),
- Henry Wako Muloki (1956 to 1962 and 1996 – 2008)
On October 31, 2008, Prince Edward Columbus Wambuzi declared elected Kyabazinga of Busoga, although it was marred in controversy
On June 9, 2009, Prince William Gabula IV, was declared Kyabazinga of Busoga and met subjects at the Busoga Square in Jinja town. Six of the 11 Chiefs declared allegiance to him.