Kasese/Mbarara. Like Tooro Kingdom, the battle for the dormant Ankole throne is taking shape after another prince emerged to claim its leadership.
Some Ankole Kingdom loyalists on Sunday met in Kasese District at a function to unveil a new prince, Umar Asiimwe, at his residence at Railway Ward in Central Division Kasese Municipality and vowed to push government to restore their cultural institution.
Monarchies in Uganda were abolished in 1967 by then president Milton Obote but in 1993, government under President Museveni restored the kingdoms apart from those of Ankore and Rwenzururu. The Obusinga Bwa Rwenzururu was later restored on October 19, 2009.
However, agitators for the restoration of Ankore Kingdom had their dreams shuttered in 1993 when government declared “null and void” the crowning of Prince John Barigye as King of Ankole.
Prince Charles Aryaija Rwebishengye was installed as heir on October 24, 2011, after Prince John Barigye died in the same month.
“We have been patient enough for government to have what belongs to us. I think it is time now to go back to our roots and demand our rights,” Prince Asiimwe said.
Since 1993, kingdom elders have appealed to government to speed up the process of re-organising the kingdom and return its assets in vain.
Prince Asiimwe, the fourth grandson of King Ntare said government should return all their kingdom assets it took over in 1967.
He said the loyalists have already secured a palace at Itaba village, Kabanyoro in Mbarara District on the Ntungamo highway, to coordinate their activities as they fight for what belongs to them.
Prince Asiimwe said government’s failure to restore their kingdom has impacted negatively on their cultural practices and language.
“We have lost huge chunks of land under Ankole Cultural Trust and the culture of the Banyankore is almost nowhere and yet we have a great influence in Africa,” he said.
He said he will embark on the mobilising all the Banyankore to rally behind and ensure that their culture does not face extinction. “I am very happy that these elders have trusted me with the responsibility of taking over the leadership and my main task will be the promotion of Ankole culture,” Prince Asiimwe said.