Welcome to Rubanda - the latest of the proposed newest districts

Sunday August 5 2012

By Prof. George Kanyeihamba

I read with consternation that my village, sorry, county of Rubanda has been politically baptised a district. My surprise arises from my ignorance. When did the people of Kabale District demand to be balkanised and the inhabitants of Rubanda request to be stillborn as a district and cut themselves from the modernity and developments of their headquarters in Kabale Municipality to which their sons and daughters, not to mention their ancestors, have contributed significantly?

It is not long ago that the then Kigezi District was classified as one of the smallest Districts of Uganda under the able leaderships of its heroes such as Ngorogoza, Mukombe, Rukeribuga and Kitaburaza. At one time its traditional ruler, John Bikangaga, Rutakirwa (he who is superior to all) and his dear wife Grace who is still alive, and was called Nyinabona or the mother of all, were loved and respected by the Banyakigezi perhaps with the exception of a few unprincipled and ambitious politicians.

The second generation to them of the Bitunguramye, Kikira and Bitwari continued the same spirit of development for Kigezi. They were followed by industrious successors who included the Bulegyeyas, doctors; Nsanzemuhire and Besigye, Gasasiras, Beinganas, Kahirimbanyis, Byagagaires, Babukikas and the generation that followed them of Mulengas, Kalegyesas, Ntaruhungas, Byagagaires, only to mention but a few. These were the golden years of development and glory of Kigezi. In the 1960s, the late and much lamented son of Kigezi and former VC of Makerere, Frank Kalimuzo, was once asked why there were so many Kigezians amongst Makerere University students and he retorted, perhaps undiplomatically, that it is because Kigezi was very small and therefore unable to have big farms of tea or coffee and could only develop and export brains. He and Canon John Bikangaga are amongst the greatest public servants Uganda has ever had.

These ancestors developed Kigezi, which is known as the Switzerland of East Africa. Unfortunately, ambitious politicians, appear to succeed only under clouds of fear tribalism, religion self, and hatred.

They now happily accept the dismembering of beautiful Kigezi into the unviable Districts of Kabale, Kanungu, Kisoro, Rukungiri, Rukiga and Rubanda. The ancestors of Kigezi must be shaking violently in their graves when they hear that even these tiny hamlets of Kigezi are currently being subdivided into minute and unviable administrative units still labelled Districts.

In the Constituent Assembly of the 1990s, the spirit to revive the name the current four districts by deeming them of Kigezi was overwhelmingly expressed except for one delegate who took the advantage of Chairman James Waphakabulo’s consensual decision that even if one delegate objected to deeming, there would be no deeming.


The opportunity presented itself again in 2005 during consideration of the Constitutional Amendment Act. The Members of Parliament from Kigezi persuaded the august House to deem the four Districts, the region of Kigezi.

Many Kabale District people do not know any reasons to justify the divisions of Kabale District into Rukiga, Rubanda and Kabale. They are dismayed by the idea and wonder where it came from and who supported it without consulting the people. The 9th Parliament must stop the crazed belief that whatever the Executive proposes is always right.

Many NRM party supporters in Rubanda are deeply disappointed about the latest reversals of promises by its MPs. The constitutional provision that all power belongs to the people which they exercise through the casting of votes or their elected leaders have become obsolete.
A glance at the map of Uganda before it was subjected to political expediency will reveal that the names of the then districts had space within the territorial boundaries of the Pearl of Africa to be inserted.

Today, many new districts’ names are written in the territories of neighbouring Kenya, Northern Sudan and Rwanda because there is no space for them in the map of Uganda. Certainly, there is no space in Kabale District where the new Districts of Rukiga and Rubanda can fit. They will presumably appear in Rwanda or Ntungamo District.

Have Kabale Councillors and Members of Parliament contemplated all the complex problems that will arise with the establishment of these tiny baby districts? In Rubanda, the only permanent and spacious buildings are to be found at Kiizi Parish and the Archdeaconry of Nyaruhanga. There are some other buildings such as school dining halls of nearby schools and Kanyeihamba hostel.

The new region RDS, CAO, education officers, and six Members of Parliament will have to negotiate with religious and private institutions for housing, meetings and accommodation.
It is perhaps inevitable that the new Rubanda District headquarters will be at Mulore which is a historical Kinyarwanda name relating to the wars the Bakiga and Byarwanda fought over the sovereignty of the area.

Apparently, in one famous battle, the Bakiga defeated the Rwanda army and its allies, the Batwa, who were Pigmy mercenaries. The Rwandan survivors, in one battle shocked by the numbers of their fallen comrades, summoned the survivors to come and see the consequences of the battle or in Kinyarwanda, “Nimuuze Mulore!”

Today the Bakiga, Bahororo and Banyarwanda of Kabale will surely say “Nimwije mureebe, ngu Rubanda nayo ni District!”or come and see, they say, Rubanda is also a District.

Justice Kanyeihamba is a retired Supreme Court Judge.