60 years in the life of a Kabaka

Monday April 13 2015

The Nnabagereka serves her husband cake on his

The Nnabagereka serves her husband cake on his 57th birthday party. FILE PHOTO 

By Angela Nampewo

LINEAGE

• He was born on April 13, 1955 at Mulago hospital
• The Kabaka’s full name is Ronald Frederick Muwenda Mutebi II
• Kabaka Ronald Muwenda Mutebi II is the 36th King of Buganda in a lineage of kings dating back to 1300 AD. Kabaka Mutebi I, the only other king who bore a similar name, ruled between 1674 and 1680.
• He is the grandson of Ssekabaka Daudi Chwa who reigned between 1897 until 1939. He is the son of the late Ssekabaka Edward Muteesa II who reigned between 1939 and 1969; the 34th and 35th Kabakas of Buganda, respectively.
• His mother is the late Lady Sarah Nalule Kisosonkole from the Nkima (monkey) clan therefore; Kabaka Ronald Mutebi belongs to the Nkima (monkey) clan. In Buganda, kings take on the clan of their mothers.
• His father, Sir Edward Frederick Walugembe Mutesa II, the first president of Uganda, was deposed in a bloody coup d’etat by then prime minister Milton Obote in May 1966, and died in exile in the United Kingdom on November 21, 1969.
• The Kabaka lived in exile, following the abolition of kingdoms. One of the conditions for the restoration of the kingdom and the kingship was that the Kabaka’s role would be purely ceremonial and cultural, without any political function.

ROAD TO THE KABAKASHIP

• He was nominated heir apparent by his father. In his will, Sir Edward Muteesa II states, “My child No.1. Ronald Frederick Muwenda Mutebi is my heir whom I have chosen to succeed me (to succeed to my Mutuba).”
• After his father’s death, he was taken under the wing of two of his late father’s most steadfast friends, Ronnie Owen and Richard Carr-Gomm.
• Kabaka Mutebi was proclaimed heir after his father’s death in 1969. Mayanja Nkangi who was Katikkiro (prime minister) from November 1964 up to 1993 recalls making this announcement.
In an interview, he says, “no one could have done it,” an account supported by the narrative in Prof A.B.Kasozi’s book titled, The bitter bread of exile written about Kabaka Muteesa II’s last days in exile. After the death of Sir Edward Muteesa II, some Baganda apparently refused to believe that the Kabaka was dead. The Katikkiro therefore announced Muteesa’s death and declared Prince Mutebi as heir. “The former Katikkiro, J.S. Mayanja felt that the Baganda needed to be told the truth by someone who was as near the Kabaka as he was. In a statement, Mayanja Nkangi said, “I am telling all Buganda that the beloved Sir Edward Muteesa II died in November 1969…”
• The Kabaka (then a teenager) returned to Uganda in 1971 for the burial of his father. Henry Kyemba, then permanent secretary in the office of the President and secretary to the cabinet, was responsible for the prince’s programme while he was in the country for his father’s burial.
• The crown prince must perform special cultural rites on the Royal Drums (mujaguzo) before he can be declared king of the Kingdom of Buganda. Upon the birth of a royal prince or princess, the royal drums are sounded by drummers specially selected from a specified clan as a means of informing the subjects of the kingdom of the birth of new member of the royal family.
• The same royal drums are sounded upon the death of a reigning king to officially announce the death of the material king. However, during the burial of Ssekabaka Sir Edward Muteesa II, the royal drums were not sounded. There was controversy over several customs associated with passing on the spirit of the “kabakaship”
• One of the most important issues at the burial of Kabaka Mutebi’s father was the custom of covering his father’s body with a piece of bark cloth (akabugo). As heir to the throne, this was an important custom that the young prince had to perform.
• When all the princes and princesses are called to view the body of the late king lying in state, the selected prince lays the special piece of bark cloth over the body of the late king, revealing himself as the successor to the throne.
It was this custom that became a subject of debate and it required a special committee to address this and other traditions surrounding the kabakaship. Mayanja Nkangi, who was a lecturer at Lancaster University in the UK, returned for the burial of the late Kabaka in April 1971 and together with several others, including Joyce Mpanga, Kasozi Luganda, I. Iga and Nkata Mukasa deliberated over the traditional issues. According to then Katikkiro, Mayanja Nkangi, it took the special intervention of a one Mildred Lwanga, a daughter-in-law to Kabatsi-Miti for Prince Ronald Mutebi to be allowed to lay bark cloth on his father’s body.
Lwanga is said to have spoken to one of Amin’s men, Captain Abbas, who went to implore Amin to allow this custom to be performed.
She is reported to have asked, “What is so wrong with the young boy covering his father’s face, will it make him (Muteesa II) come back from the dead?” Then Amin gave the go-ahead for the ceremony to be performed. However, the young prince, did not strike the mujaguzo drums. According to Mayanja Nkangi, it was feared that this would send the wrong signal to the powers-that-be who would view it as a declaration of his kingship.
• On 31 July 1993, he was crowned Kabaka of Buganda at Naggalabi Budo.

LIFE IN EXILE

• The Kabaka lived in exile from 1966 to 1986, following the abolition of kingdoms.
• Kabaka Mutebi worked as a journalist while in exile in England and served as Associate Editor of the African Concord.
• Life in exile was no walk in the park, as many have testified and Kabaka Mutebi’s life was not an exception, as Henry Kyemba hints in an interview; “Exile can be a unifying factor. Home is home and there is a longing to be home and there we were in that difficult experience together. He (Prince Mutebi) had been there (in exile) much longer and his father had been there before him…” recalls Kyemba.
• He supported the liberation struggle against the misrule in Uganda. During the 1981-1985 rebellion, the Kabaka was introduced to the National Resistance Movement (NRA) leadership by current presidential adviser, John Nagenda. The result was that the young prince moved through parts of Buganda, under the guard of NRA soldiers, meeting influential Baganda in various parishes.
In 1985, Kabaka Mutebi, in the company of John Nagenda, travelled to Uganda during the Bush War to meet NRA fighters and ordinary subjects living close to the battlefield. Although there were initial fears about the Kabaka’s safety, then NRA commander Yoweri Museveni designated Amanya Mushega to travel along with the Kabaka when he made his way into Uganda from Kigali in Rwanda through the border point of Katuna. The Kabaka and his entourage travelled through Kabale, stopping by Kilembe and passing through Fort Portal on the way to Mityana and later Luweero. On the Kabaka’s return journey, his entourage went through Masaka where they were received by Yoweri Museveni.

FAMILY

Kabaka Ronald Mutebi married Sylvia Nagginda at St Paul’s Cathedral Namirembe on August 27, 1999. Together, they have one daughter, Sarah Katrina Mirembe Ssangalyambogo Nachwa, born on July 4, 2001 in London, United Kingdom.

Children
The children of Kabaka Ronald Muwenda Mutebi II are:
Prince (Kiweewa) Cryspin Jjunju Suuna, whose mother is Vénantie Sebudandi. He was born in London, United Kingdom in 1986. He attended King’s College, Budo before moving to England for further studies.
Princess (Omumbejja) Joan Nassolo
Princess (Omumbejja) Victoria Nkinzi.
Princess (Omumbejja) Katrina Sarah Kirabo Ssangalyambogo. She was born in London, United Kingdom on 4 July 2001. She is an excellent swimmer and has won awards at competitions.
Prince (Omulangira) Richard Semakokiro, born in July 2011.
On 17 January 2012 the Katikkiro (Prime Minister) of Buganda Kingdom at that time, Engineer John Baptist Walusimbi, confirmed that Prince Semakokiro’s mother is a Muganda lady from the Enseenene (Grasshopper) clan.
Later, the prince’s mother was revealed as Rose Nansikombi, who hails from Luweero District in Buganda (Central Uganda).

Kabaka Mutebi’s siblings
David Kintu Wassajja
Dorothy Namukabya Nassolo.
Anne Sarah Kagere
Suuna (who lives in Augustine M. Bakaluba’s home).
Ndawula (the son of the late Muzaana Nalwoga).
Catherine Nabaloga
Mukarukidi (who lives in Tooro).
Masamba (who lives with the Namasole at Namulesa).
Goloba (who lives at Blasio K.Kavuma’s)

Not unlike a commoner
• He has walked to school before: Kabaka Mutebi once lived in the household of a county chief in Buwekula near Mubende, and that is where he started his primary school. It is said that he would walk to school without shoes, and the only privilege he enjoyed was an armed guard. He was living the life of an ordinary Muganda. His father wanted to prepare him, to understand how the people he was going to lead live, so that he is not out of touch with reality.
• He wept in public. By nature of his position and the tradition of Buganda kings, the Kabaka rarely engages in public displays of emotion. When the Kabaka cried, it is when fire, in 2010, gutted the Kasubi tombs, the burial place of his forefathers’ remains are buried. As he stood looking at the crumbling structures smouldering and turning into a pile of ash, Kabaka Ronald Muwenda Mutebi broke down in public and wept.

TITLES AND RESIDENCES

• As a ruler, he has a long list of titles. They include Ssaabasajja, Empologoma, Bbaffe, Ccuucu,Magulunnyondo, Ssemanda, Musota, Seggwanga, Ssabalongo, Nantazibirwa Kkubo and Maaso moogi, among others
• Palaces: The kingdom of Buganda runs at least five palaces which are the official residences of the Kabaka.
• The Kabaka’s main palace, also known as Twekobe, is located in Bulange, Mengo. The palace is located at the southern end of a 1.6km stretch of the Road known as Kabaka Anjagala, named after the column of trees that once occupied this stretch before recent road works led to their destruction.
Midway the Kabaka Anjagala road is a gated pathway through a roundabout, called Nnantawetwa. This path is kept locked and reserved solely for the king’s use.
During the regimes that followed the 1966 coup that deposed Kabaka Mutebi’s father, this palace was occupied by the armed forces. The Twekobe was finally handed back to Buganda Kingdom in 1993. The palaces in Mengo, Banda and Kireka are the most commonly talked about or most well-known.
However, there is also the Bamunanika palace in Bulemeezi, Luweero District, Nkoni Palace in Buddu, Masaka, and, Lukunyu palace in Rakai District. However, it is also custom that wherever the Kabaka resides, is his palace and his first palace (home) upon return from exile is said to have been in Komamboga, a suburb of Kampala.

Education
• The Kabaka went to Budo Junior School. He also went to King’s Mead School in Sussex and Bradfield College, a prestigious public school in West Berkshire. He then joined Magdalene College, Cambridge, where he read Social Anthropology and Law but left before he earned a degree.

SOCIAL LIFE

• He likes to jog, with his dogs
• Movie lover; The Kabaka is said to be a keen and ardent lover of movies, whether it is simply watching from the high comforts of the palace or a cinema.
• He plays football with his left foot

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