Muteesa blindfolded, bundled into plane and flown to exile

Sunday October 20 2019

New agreement. Kabaka Edward Muteesa II

New agreement. Kabaka Edward Muteesa II (extreme left) after the signing of the 1955 Buganda Agreement at Namirembe, Kampala. PHOTOS COURTESY OF FAUSTIN MUGABE  

By Faustin Mugabe

Thursday, October 17, marked exactly 64 years since Kabaka Edward Muteesa II of Buganda returned from forced exile in London, England.
He had lived in England since November 1953 when he was abducted and bundled into a British Royal Air Force plane that was waiting at the Entebbe International Airport tarmac. Muteesa was forced into exile on the orders of Queen Elizabeth II of England.

The arrest
On November 30, 1953, Muteesa was abducted at the Government House, now State House, on Nsamizi Hill in Entebbe.
Muteesa had been in a meeting with then Governor of Uganda, Sir Andrew Cohen, which ended bitterly with the Kabaka opposing the orders given to him by the governor on behalf of the Queen of England.
Some of the contentious issues that that they failed to agree on during their meeting were that Buganda should not secede from Uganda; Buganda to adhere to the 1900 Agreement and Buganda to accept the formation of the East African federation – all of which Muteesa rejected.

The British had anticipated Muteesa’s response, and so they sent two British commandos to arrest the unsuspecting Kabaka. The two soldiers, who were also pilots, had landed at Entebbe the previous night.
As Governor Cohen engaged Muteesa over the sticky issues, the two commandos listened in from the next room. And when Muteesa rejected the British’s demands and got up to leave the room, the governor opened a door to a room where the commandos came out from.
They pounced on the Kabaka, covered his head with a blanket and they headed to the waiting plane. A few minutes later, they were in the sky, heading to England.

Former Governor of Uganda Andrew Cohen (left)
Former Governor of Uganda Andrew Cohen (left) and Kabaka Edward Muteesa II.

Queen unhappy
Kabaka Muteesa’s insistence on Buganda’s position infuriated the Queen of England. Indeed, many did not know that the Queen herself ordered the exiling of Muteesa until a report was later published.
The 46-page report titled Withdraw of the Recognition of Kabaka Muteesa as the King of Buganda: By Her Majesty the Queen of England mentions how the Kabaka irritated the Queen.

“The Kabaka repeatedly made it clear at this meeting that he would not drop the demand for independence (or separation) of Buganda. Moreover, he made it plain that he intended publicly to oppose the decisions of Her Majesty’s government in the Lukiiko and would not undertake to advise the Lukiiko to accept them,” the report reads in part.
The governor repeatedly emphasised the gravity of the situation which would be created by the persistence in this attitude.
He pointed out more than once during the interview that while the Kabaka was entitled to make confidential representations to Her Majesty’s government, if he persisted in his determination to publicly oppose the decisions of Her Majesty’s government this would constitute a breach of agreement.


“It was made clear to the Kabaka that open opposition to the decisions of Her Majesty’s government might lead to the withdraw of recognition from him as native ruler,” the report adds.
The report also quoted governor Cohen mentioning of a meeting in which Muteesa vowed to oppose the Queen of England in as a far Buganda was concerned.
“When at the meeting on November 6 [1953], the Kabaka repeatedly made it clear that, so far from accepting the decisions of the Secretary of State, he would not even agree to keep silent when they were discussed by the Lukiiko [parliament], but would publicly oppose them. It was clear that a very grave situation had arisen.”

Other meetings were held, but Muteesa still stuck to his guns.
The report further mentions that when Muteesa returned with three of his ministers on November 30, 1953, he brought with him a telegram and a letter addressed to the Secretary of State, informing him that he could not sign the undertaking without consulting the Lukiiko.
The governor explained that this consultation was out of the question since the undertaking concerned the line which he would take in his speech at the opening of the Lukiiko.

Finally, the governor, in accordance with his instructions, specifically said if the Kabaka persisted in his attitude, it would involve a breach of the 1900 Agreement which would entitle Her Majesty’s government to withdraw recognition.
The report further reads: “The governor was, therefore, obliged to sign a formal document notifying the Kabaka that that Her Majesty’s government had withdrawn recognition from him under Article 6 of the [1900] Agreement and that was no longer recognised as native ruler of the Province of Buganda.
“He also signed a proclamation bringing into force in Buganda the provisions of the Emergency Powers Order-In-Council, 1939, and signed the necessary regulations under that order.”
Under these regulations, Cohen made an order for the deportation of the Kabaka who was then escorted to Entebbe airport from where he was taken to the United Kingdom.

Kabaka Muteesa hugs his wife as he lands at
Kabaka Muteesa hugs his wife as he lands at Entebbe airport on Monday, October 17, 1955.

Governor announces Kabaka’s forced exile
It was almost four hours after the plane lifted from Entebbe that the country got to know about the banishment of the Kabaka.
In those days, the best and quickest means of mass communication was through radio. So governor Cohen went to Radio Uganda and personally announced that Edward Muteesa II was no longer the Kabaka of Buganda and that he had been deported on the orders of the Queen of England and that he was on a plane en route to the United Kingdom.
The news of the deportation of Muteesa was so shocking that one of Buganda’s princesses, Nalinya Zalwango, died upon hearing the announcement on Radio Uganda. Zalwango was close to Kabaka Muteesa.
In his book, The Desecration of my Kingdom published in 1967 when Muteesa was again in exile after the 1966 Buganda Crisis, he mentions the death of his sister.

Muteesa says the morning before he left for meeting with Cohen, he confided in Princess Zalwango and told her that he felt that something peculiar was bound to happen to him in Entebbe.
Meanwhile, from Radio Uganda the governor proceeded to Mengo and addressed the Buganda legislative council, the Lukiiko, during which he suggested that since Muteesa was no longer the king of Buganda, a new Kabaka should be elected. There was a protest inside and outside the Bulange, Buganda’s legislative house.
After tempers cooled, the Buganda parliament decided to take the matter to the courts of law. However, a diplomatic course was also later adopted. In both, Buganda won.

Muteesa returns
And on Monday, October 17, 1955, Kabaka Muteesa returned from exile in England. He arrived aboard the British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC), which later became British Airways.
He was welcome by thousands of people who lined up along Entebbe Road. He was entertained by the King’s African Rifles and Uganda Police bands as well as traditional dancers from Buganda.

The following day, October 18, at Namirembe the 1955 Buganda Agreement, also known as the Namirembe Agreement, was signed.
The agreement was a changer in the politics of Uganda; the Kabaka ceased being an absolute monarch.
The 1955 Buganda Agreement stipulated that the Kabaka of Buganda and his prime minister (Katikkiro) would be elected by the Lukiiko.