Kampala. Buganda Kingdom is set to upgrade Kabaka Ronald Muwenda Mutebi II’s official residence commonly known as Twekobe as one of the various activities to mark 25 years since he was installed on the throne.
July 31 is celebrated annually in commemoration of the coronation of Kabaka Mutebi at Naggalabi in Wakiso District in 1993.
According to city businessman and chairperson Twekobe Rehabilitation Committee, Mr Godfrey Kirumira, renovations on Twekobe will be done in four phases.
“The current phase is to do with furnishing and we have already shipped furniture from Italy, Dubai and Turkey,” he said during an interview on Wednesday.
“The Twekobe is going to be remodelled into a seven star facility because of the status of the Kabaka and the nature of his visitors,” Mr Kirumira explained.
He said there is going to be an overhaul of the roof, lighting system, drainage, kitchen, and the living rooms are going to be fitted with state –of- the art equipment.
“We are also going to erect a perimeter wall separating Twekobe from other facilities within Lubiri [palace],” he said.
The renovation works will cost Shs7.5b, according to Mr Kirumira, but the current furnishing phase requires Shs.2.5b, which is to be mobilised from well-wishers. “The Kabaka’s guests will not be required to sleep in hotels, since Twekobe will be equipped to cater for all categories of guests.”
So far, Shs540m has been raised, with Shs400m contributed by well-wishers and an extra Shs140m raised from a dinner organised by the kingdom last week. Twekobe was last refurbished in 1997 and the Kabaka has not been residing there due to unperformed cultural rituals.
The wider Lubiri complex also comprises two schools - Nabagereka Primary School and Lubiri High School, as well as staff quarters.
A section of the perimeter wall near Ndeeba area that had collapsed is being raised again.
In his end of 2017 speech, the Kabaka was emphatic to his administration that redevelopment of the palace should be Mengo’s priority.
“I want our people to ensure that Twekebo and the entire Lubiri are given a befitting look,” the Kabaka said.
But he did not specify what the developments would be.
There have been several attempts to redevelop the spacious place, but such efforts were frustrated by radical kingdom royalists, who say the site has to be preserved as a palace.
Recently, a redevelopment committee led by Mr Francis Kamulegeya recommended that the entire palace be parcelled accordingly to the four projects with Twekobe (main house - palace) taking the largest share (70 acres), an education complex (50 acres), teaching hospital (60 acres) and exhibition grounds (36 acres).
The palace will have such amenities like library, boardroom, lounges, banquet rooms, royal guest houses and kitchen buildings, among others.
It will also have office blocks with offices for clans’ affairs, office of the palace caretaker, the traditional reception house, office of the Kabaka’s chiefs and palace staff houses, among others.
According to Mr Charles Peter Mayiga, the Buganda Kingdom premier, they plan to hand over a fully-furnished Twekobe to the Kabaka on July 24, a day before his coronation anniversary celebrations.
The head of Kabaka coronation anniversary organising committee, Mr Twaha Kawaase, said they have a huge task to renovate Twekobe to the required standards, but kingdom well-wishers have shown commitment.
In Buganda, Mengo palace is the only official palace and it is considered to be the capital of the kingdom. However, Kabaka Mutebi has a right to own his private palace apart from the official palace at Mengo. Some of the private palaces include; Bamunanika palace in Luweero, Lukunyu palace in Kyotera, Nkoni palace in Lwengo, which were built by Ssekabaka Edward Muteesa II, Salama palace and Kikeera palace, which were built by Sir Daudi Chwa, Banda and Kireka and these were built by Kabaka Ronald Muwenda Mutebi II. However, Kabaka Mutebi prefers to reside at Banda most of the time.
Background. By the time the Kabaka assumed the throne in 1993, Mengo Palace (Lubiri), where Twekobe is located served as an army barracks- something that caused distress among Baganda royalists.
“Twekobe was a torture chamber at one time, a centre for all crimes when Milton Obote’s soldiers took it over. We must rebuild it,” Ms Margaret Zziwa, a member of East African legislative Assembly (EALA), told Daily Monitor from Mengo last week.
Getting it back. Through concerted negotiations with the Central Government, the kingdom got back the Lubiri in late 1993 through the Traditional Rulers (Restitution of Assets and Properties) Act, 2013.
Soldiers vacate. But soldiers vacated the Lubiri in 1997 as Buganda was in preparation for the Kabaka’s wedding on August 27, 1999 and the soldiers were relocated to other barracks such as Kakiri in Wakiso District.