T he Buganda King, His Highness Ronald Muwenda Mutebi II, and His Highness the Aga Khan have been applauded for championing cultural diversity and pluralism in Uganda and the rest of the world through the different undertakings of their institutions.
These honours were sounded by Mr Joseph Mulwanyammuli Ssemwogerere, a former katikkiro (prime minister) of Buganda Kingdom, on Friday evening in Kampala during a public lecture on the theme: ‘Buganda Kingdom: A shining beacon in Uganda’s cultural diversity and pluralism’.
The lecture was part of the Aga Khan public lecture series organised by the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN), to mark Kabaka Mutebi’s Silver Jubilee, which Buganda Kingdom has dubbed Jubireewo. Kabaka Mutebi marked his 25th coronation anniversary on July 31 in his Mengo palace.
“It is at this same occasion of celebrating our cultural diversity, initiated and sponsored by our friends of the Aga Khan Development Network, that we want to appreciate and thank His Highness the Aga Khan, and indeed the Aga Khan Development Network, for demonstrating in practice the kind of cultural diversity and pluralistic sense of citizenship that we as Baganda believe in,” Mr Ssemwogerere said.
He said much as the Aga Khan lives in Europe, he has traversed the world, including making regular visits to Uganda, to help people who are not even members of his Ismaili community, culture and religion.
He added that AKDN has, “for the better”, touched all sectors of Uganda’s economy by building primary and secondary schools, hospitals, establishing banks, insurance companies and media organisations, and also building power dams.
Mr Ssemwogerere, the first katikkiro kabaka Mutebi appointed following his coronation in 1993, commended Kabaka Mutebi for fostering the spirit of cultural diversity, unity and pluralism that Buganda has been known for.
He said under Kabaka Mutebi and also during the reigns of his predecessors, Buganda as an open society has been accommodative to all other ethnic groups from within Uganda and across the world, and has thrived in business and other developments.
“Today, Buganda is a microcosm of Uganda. What Buganda is, the rest of Uganda communities should be; her openness, her inclusiveness, and her friendliness. That is why most Ugandans have an address in Buganda, have land and real estate in Buganda,” Mr Ssemwogerere said.
He added: “We are grateful to Kabaka Muwenda Mutebi II who has consolidated the Buganda ethos of unity and accommodation. Today, the Baganda are one of the most welcoming and accommodating community in Uganda, making Buganda one of the most culturally diverse parts of the country.”
According to Mr Ssemwogerere, since the arrival of Allidina Visram, the first Ismaili to set up base in Buganda, the Ismailis have been part and parcel of Buganda culture, with some of them becoming ministers and members of the Lukiiko (kingdom parliament).
He added that in the recent kingdom cabinets, there has been an Ismaili, Mr Mohamud Thobani; Asians such as Mr Rajni Taylor; Rwandans; Banyoro, British and people of other cultural extraction.