Social events that keep Buganda alive

Friday July 26 2013

By Ivan Okuda

Buganda Tourism Expo
“Wearing brown gumboots, a coat and tunic, Kabaka Ronald Muwenda Mutebi braved the downpour to go to Lubiri to close the Buganda Tourism Expo on Sunday, which saw hundreds of people cheering and singing praises to the king,” is how one news website reported the 2011 edition of this annual event that brings thousands of people from in and out of Buganda.

It is not necessarily centred on tourism, but cuts across matters of cultural heritage such as clans showcasing their totems and traditions. This year’s expo which runs from July 29 to August 4 is hinged on the theme, “Tourism and Water”. According to Buganda Kingdom tourism minister Ritah Kisitu Namyalo it is aimed at “celebrating and promoting the protection of the environmental resources across the country.”

Don’t confuse this with ekitoobero though the two are almost identical. Organised by the kingdom’s radio station CBS, Enkuka yo Mwaka at Lubiri is how the kingdom light-heartedly ends the year while crowning winners of the six month long Omuzira wa Bazira (hero of heroes) quiz competition which tests knowledge of Buganda kingdom culture. It brings together some of Buganda’s finest musicians like Bobi Wine who rarely misses the event as it is usually graced by the king.

It is essentially entertainment, merry-making and full blast fun before the king officially ushers his subjects into the new year with a symbolic key. Rather than join urban Uganda’s elite in high end hotels, the Kabaka comes to watch the fireworks and performances with his people, a gesture that is interpreted by many as a show of humility and connection with the masses, and the reason mammoth crowds attend the Lubiri event.

This is how and when CBS radio celebrates its birthday and rewards home-grown musical talent at Nakivubo Stadium annually. It is a typical fan-fair as the kingdom’s radio station rewards listeners and connects them to their presenters.

“This is one way to keep them listening to CBS because as a kingdom we believe in the power of the media and to keep them glued to CBS is a sure way to keep the kingdom’s values and people generally intact,” Abbey Mukiibi, CBS programmes director, asserts.

Kabaka’s Cup
With tried and tested footballing talent like Mike Sserumaga and Jajja Walusimbi doing fine at their game, the Kabaka can sit back on his 20th coronation anniversary and nod with satisfaction to the fruits of the sports competitions in the kingdom.

With the Masaza Cup among counties in Buganda, the Bika Cup (for clans), the Kabaka Cup (for schools) and the Nnabagereka’s trophies at different levels in netball, basketball and volleyball, the kingdom continues to identify and nurture talent.

It is played under a knock out format among 18 counties and funded by CBS FM, Buganda Land Board, St Mary’s SS Kitende, Peacock Paints, Zion Estates. These sports competitions are seen as the glue that sustains the unity and co-existence in the kingdom while giving talent a chance to shine, some outstanding players have since been spotted and integrated in the local and national teams.

Entanda ya Buganda
Entanda ya Buganda is a radio quiz programme which aims at promoting Buganda culture and norms. The competition that tests participants on a wide range of issues from and within Buganda, including idioms and mastery of Luganda, culture, sports, politics, among others, attracts more than 500 participants. The winner of the competition is always crowned on December 31 during a function presided over by the Kabaka at his Mengo palace. Winners walk home with land titles and cash prizes. Mukiibi explains, “We also introduced entanda ya masomero in schools which the Nnabagereka’s office facilitates. Certainly as Buganda we treasure it, we want our people to be proud of and master Luganda and our culture in general. We believe in the power of these events to sustain our culture and kingdom.”

That immorality is chewing down the fabric of Uganda’s culture, especially among the young people, is not in doubt. This possibly explains why the kingdom’s first mother (if such a title exists anyway), Lady Sylvia Nagginda came up with the idea of Ekisaakaate in 2007. Not many picked the idea with as much enthusiasm but over the years, the organisers have had to limit numbers due to overwhelming public demand for the annual children’s holiday camp which aims at, “nurturing young boys and girls into holistic and versatile individuals who can appreciate both cultural and modern values,” according to the kingdom’s website. Ekisaakaate is held in schools and has been hosted by Katikamu SDA Secondary School, Kaboja International School, Trinity College Nabbingo, St. Mary’s SS Kitende among others.

Buganda Royal Arts Shield festival
“We are born with many talents but we don’t use them. That is one of the reasons why Africa is still behind. If we use our God-given talents well, poverty will be eradicated in our families,” is what the Kabaka said in 2010 at Summit College Kyengera in Wakiso District when handing over the Royal Family Shield trophy.

The Buganda Royal Arts Shield Festival competition remains one of the most anticipated kingdom events in primary and secondary schools. Mukiibi agrees with the king, “it really helps bring out talent, you can be sure there will be many more singers and actors coming from our kingdom. As artistes we are extremely glad His Majesty is nurturing the young generation to take on after us. The future is bright if you attend those competitions.”

If the Kabaka’s promise at his inauguration 20 years ago to focus his reign on uplifting and giving the youth in Buganda a better place be the litmus test, then the royal, arguably has lived up to his promise.

Perhaps, that these social events and development programmes are inclined towards that youthful and vibrant generation, Buganda can be testimony enough of fairly great strides made by the kingdom to bring Kabaka’s subjects together and instil in them love for their kingdom.