There is evidence of physical achievement. What has it taken for you to streamline the financial flows in the kingdom?
It has taken big efforts. When the kingdom was restored in 1993, we depended pretty much on volunteers to run the operations of the kingdom which played a significant role in the work of the kingdom. The challenge you get with volunteers is that you cannot enforce regulations in a strict manner.
When I was named Katikkiro in 2013, 20 years after the restoration of the kingdom, people were used to a certain way of doing things.
My colleagues and I thought that 20 years were enough to lay the foundation and we decided to introduce a number of measures, for example, a financial manual, procurement manual, disposal of assets manual and volunteers’ policy manual.
We still have volunteers but they must comply with the provisions of the volunteers’ policy manual, HR [human resource] policy manual. It is difficult when people have been used to doing things in a way for 20 years.
When you introduce new measures and methods, people think that you are interfering with their space and they may not like it. It’s been tough and it is still tough but we have to move forward.
What are the sticky challenges you have face? Are there opportunities that you have realised in these challenges along the way?
The biggest challenge I think was to make all the players abide by one set of aspirations. The kingdom belongs to everyone. Even a man deep in the village believes that what he knows determines the survival of the kingdom. So you can imagine about the players at the centre.
People have different views on how we can go about the different programmes and it’s a big challenge to make people see things in a singular direction. When you are going to the village to fight poverty, other people will be telling you to go confront the government about this and that.
When I went to raise money in the Ettofali drive, people thought I should have been doing something else. But I guess all institutions experience this.
You just have to galvanise people if you get a good majority who appreciate you as a government and the programmes you’ve laid out then you move forward. So it has been a big challenge. I consult my master, the Kabaka, and agree on a programme and then move forward on that.
As a Muganda, what are the big norms and culture that make you proud?
As a Muganda, I have got a king. That makes me proud because he is the custodian of what I believe in.
He is the rallying point that makes me absolutely happy because to have a culture that has stood a thousand years is no mean feat. It is no mean achievement but that’s possible because we’ve got a king and that makes me extremely happy.
To have a clan system, that makes me extremely happy because a clan is a family and every time we go to our original home, the Butakka, as a member of the Omutima clan, I am extremely happy knowing that probably 600 years ago, our great grandfather stayed in that particular place, is very fulfilling.
Having a language like Luganda which is sufficiently rich is also a very big thing. A culture without a language is a very big challenge. Another culture that makes me very proud is the family.
It is our greatest source of wealth and, of course, the extended family is the social security in Africa because in Africa my brother’s son is my son. I am required to care for him. My sister’s daughter is my daughter. I am required to care for her, so I don’t think there is anything better than that.
Buganda has a rich culture and heritage. What is the kingdom’s agenda towards promoting its tourism potential?
We set up the Buganda heritage and tourism board to showcase our heritage to the entire world. When you go to the United Arab Emirates, they’ve got a number of tourist sites that are man-made.
They are almost conjured up. In the kingdom of Buganda, tourist attractions are based on our heritage that define a particular aspect of life and I know that many tourists would like to see that. The Buganda heritage and tourism board is supposed to identify all these places.
You often interact with the Kabaka. Who is the Kabaka that we probably know or don’t know?
The Kabaka is a good leader. He pays particular attention to every issue pertaining his kingdom. People may not know but he follows every bit of it. He knows what is going on in every corner of the kingdom. He also takes trouble to understand the people he works with.
He has got very good knowledge of the chiefs, the ministers and all the people that serve under him. He takes care to know, he follows the programmes that we initiate and in any case, he approves all of them before we pronounce them.
People may not know that the Kabaka has got a very busy schedule because we give him plenty of reports. He reads so many reports, so his desk is always full. I don’t know whether people know that the Kabaka works everyday like all of us and many times late into the evening.
So that’s the summary of the Kabaka people do not know about. Next time, I will tell you more.
What should be the focus on survival for kingdoms like Buganda in the dynamic world?
In the dynamic world, I think kingdoms like Buganda should focus on the people because you see culture doesn’t live in the vacuum.
Culture is about the people. You are Batte because you belong to the Njovu (elephant) clan but Batte is a human being and for him to thrive, he needs to enjoy the cultural morals that were passed on to him by the forefathers. He must be a wholesome person. He must have a good job.
Edgar Batte must be in good health, take his children to school and be educated in the first place.
He is having this interview with me because he went to school so the kingdom of Buganda and any other kingdoms or chiefdoms should focus on the people, their well-being. Kabaka Mutebi dedicated his reign to the youths.
I don’t know anything as far as his reign goes is more insightful than that because if you care about the youth and focus on the people, you’re assured a productive and promising future.