Sunday January 31 2016

Why Bakiga crowned Amin life president

President Amin

Former president Idi Amin. File photo 

By Faustin Mugabe

When the Bakiga lobbied for Gen Idi Amin to be crowned life president and also be given the highest military title of Field Marshal, not many Ugandans had heard of the Akaryeija kararuga Kabale adage.
Ancient Bahororo had coined the saying Akaryeija kararuga Kabale (the surprise/trouble would emerge from Kabale).

The Bahororo lived in former Mpororo kingdom, north of present-day Kabale District. The kingdom was dissolved in 1902 by British colonialists in order to let the Bashambo upper class of the kingdom live with the Bairu-Bahororo in harmony.
But even after that, a rift between the Bashambo-Bahororo (the rulers) and Bairu-Bahororo (the subjects) continued to exist. The rift had existed since the establishment of the kingdom around 1840’s. Nonetheless, the two lived together.

Bakiga crown Amin life president
When the “Kigezi proposal” to crown Amin life president of Uganda and also be promoted Field Marshal became a reality, the Bahororo’s proverb Akaryeija kararuga Kabale had manifested once more.

On January 24, 1973, residents of Kamwezi Sub-county in Kabale District, Kigezi sub-region, made history.

Although it is not recorded who among the 3,000 who gathered at Kamwezi Sub-county headquarters proposed that Amin be made life president and promoted from four-star General to Field Marshal, what is well documented is that the gathering was chaired by Mr Karegyesa, the Kamwezi Sub-county chief.

The Kigezi proposal was later sold to the Eishengyero Rya Ankole (Ankole District Council).

After the September 1972 invasion by rebels from Tanzania through Mutukula and Isingiro in southern Uganda, no local leader wanted to be labelled a rebel associate.
Besides, at the time many believed in Amin’s leadership and wanted to be so close to the establishment.

Perhaps, the reason to crown Amin life president was to appease him after he visited Kigezi District and warned of severe consequences if anyone was caught supporting the guerrillas who were, according to the intelligence, operating in the area because of its proximity to Tanzania, the country sheltering them.
And to prove that they supported the government, it is believed, they wanted Amin to be crowned life president.

In late January 1973, a second meeting of chiefs and elders from the two districts was held at Kamukuzi, Mbarara District headquarters in the presence of Lt Col Ali, the commanding officer of Simba Battalion in Mbarara District.
The meeting had been hosted to review the security situation in both districts following the recruitment of guerrillas, particularly in Kigezi sub-region at the time.

On January 31, 1973, the Voice of Uganda newspaper carried a lead story: “Make him life president call.”

It had a sub title: “Ankole, Kigezi people make historic proposal on Gen Amin’s leadership and urge all Ugandans to support.”

The story in part read: “The Defence Council has been urged by the people of Kigezi and Ankole to consider very seriously the proposal of making General Idi Amin Uganda’s life president and they have also appealed to all Ugandans to support the proposal.”

At the Kamukuzi meeting, nine reasons were forwarded for why Amin should be made life president. They included:
1. Abolishing of political parties which had divided Ugandans
2. Abolishing of the General Service Unit and Kondoism (thuggery)
3. Expulsion of Indians
4. Expulsion of Israelis
5. Expulsion of the British
6. Abolishing of mini-skirts and dresses
7. Uniting religions in Uganda
8. Bringing back the body of former Kabaka Sir Edward Muteesa II
9. Handing over of the economy to Ugandans.
It would seem the Defence Council took the Kamwezi proposal to Amin and he liked it.
In late 1974, Amin accepted the life president title to be bestowed on him by the Defence Council. And on July 15, 1975, at a function hosted at State House Entebbe, Amin was promoted to Field Marshal. The Defence Council gave eight reasons for promoting him to that rank.

Bahororo saying
The Bahororo could have invented the Akaryeija kararuga Kabale saying because they had witnessed unusual happenings in and around Kabale area, or State as ancient tribes often referred to each other.

For instance, in September 1909, there had emerged the notorious Nyabingyi Movement, a religious/ militant cult led by a priestess, Nyiragahumuza, who claimed to be fighting colonialists.

The movement went on, though in different phases, until September 1945 when Nyiragahumuza died.

She died in a prison at Kakeka, Mengo, near Kampala, according to available records. Since never before had the Bakiga and Bahororo heard of a woman commanding a war, the saying akaryeija kararuga Kabale was thus brought to life.

Kabale public executions

February 27, 1918: The public execution of two former Nyabingyi fighters, Baguma and Bagorogoza, at what is now Kabale stadium proved the Bahororo’s prediction.
The duo was executed by the guillotine after British colonialist and Kigezi District Commissioner J. H. G. McDougall found the two guilty of participating in the infamous Nyakishenyi battle of August 27, 1917 in which a British camp was destroyed and several people killed.
February 10, 1973: On that day, Kabale residents witnessed the second public execution. Joseph Bitwari, James Karambuzi and David K. Tusingwire, part of the Yoweri Museveni-led Fronasa group, were executed at Kabale stadium by firing squad conducted by the Uganda Army .

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