Saturday July 19 2014

Rwenzururu king’s ‘un-royal’ birth, Museveni’s vassal kings

By Asuman Bisiika

On June 30, 1962, a one Isaya Mukirania made a ‘unilateral declaration of independence’ of the Bakonzo from Tooro Kingdom (and her British colonial overlords in Entebbe).

Isaya Mukirania was not unknown. A grade one teacher, he had been dismissed from the Tooro Kingdom’s teaching service in 1954 for insisting that Bakonzo children be taught in Lhukonzo. And before his Unilateral Deceleration of Independence (UDI), he had been a member of Tooro Kingdom’s Orukurato (parliament).

But in the lead up to Uganda’s national independence from Britain, no one cared about an obscure former Grade One teacher declaring a unilateral independence and secession of a people so often called monkeys.

Government only got interested when ‘the new’ independent state’s armed forces, kitted with spears, machetes and arrows, started attacking government establishments. With the endorsement of the Bakonzo clan leaders (hereditary traditional chiefs or land owners), Mukirania declared himself King of Rwenzururu United Kingdom in 1964.
What followed is chronicled as the Rwenzururu rebellion which ended on August 15, 1982 and the Rwenzururu kingdom, now one of the kingdoms or cultural or traditional establishments cynically called Museveni’s vassal kingdoms.

After the recognition of Central Government, the kingdom authorities changed what they hitherto called independence day to peace day. And Rwenzururu Mulighirwa (Beloved Thee Snow Mountain), their national anthem, was tweaked to reflect ‘the new peace’.
Un-royal birth
Charles Wesley Mumbere, became the king of the Rwenzururu United Kingdom after the death of his father Mukirania.

The first son of Mukirania (the founding or first King of Rwenzururu), King Mumbere is not associated with the Luo Bito or Bunyoro Kitara royal heritage. Plus he was born before his father became king.
Mumbere’s only claim to royalty is via his father’s fiat (and industry) and some bluish blood from his mother’s side. So, to challenge his royalty, one has to do it on the self-defined merits of the kingdom his father created (and the loyalty he enjoys from his people).

This brings us to the Kinyarwanda saying: Ingoma s’umwami, n’abagabo (the throne is not the king, but the men). Challenging Mumbere’s royalty is an act in futility because the Bakonzo men would protest your uncharitable address of their king.
Chief Ruhandika, was a hereditary traditional chief (landlord or clan Leader). It is in Chief Ruhandika’s territory, in the mountain reaches of Bundibugyo, that a young Tooro prince and her mother sought refuge from the marauding armed forces of Omukama Kabalega.

The prince, chief Ruhandika saved from fatal danger was the sole male survivour of the Tooro royal family; and he was later to become Omukama Daudi Kasagama of Tooro. Needless to say, chief Ruhandika’s name has been immortalised in a road named after him: Ruhandika Road in Fort Portal Municipality.

Chief Ruhandika begot Samuel Bukombi who begot Christine Mukirania (Mumbere’s mother). And George Kahiwa, Mumbere’s maternal uncle, was to be the first Mukonzo to be appointed as subcounty chief in Tooro Kingdom. Mr. Masanduku, Mumbere’s grandfather was an ordinary Muhira clansman (Totem: Guinea Fowl).

But the debate on Mumbere’s royalty is diverting us from the social and economic dynamics impacting on the conflict between the Basongora pastoralists and the Bakonzo cultivators in Kasese. We also run the risk of being diverted from the updates on the situation. And here:

1) The mastermind of the attacks was from Kisiinga Subcounty (Kasese District) , 2) He is in police custody, 3) He was arrested at Lhubiriha by plain-cloth security agents as he tried to flee to the DRC, 4) He is the son of a veteran fighter of the Rwenzururu rebellion and had links in the Rwenzururu Kingdom establishment, 5) He is now helping the State to rally the youth to surrender to the authorities.
Mr Bisiika is the executive editor of East Africa Flagpost.