Kabaka: 30 years of roses and thorns

Kabaka Ronald Muwenda Mutebi II at  an event. Tomorrow he celebrate his 30th coronation anniversary. 

What you need to know:

  • A journey. Kabaka Ronald Muwenda Mutebi II is the longest-serving King of Buganda since the founding of the Kingdom by Kato Kintu in the 11th century. As we commemorate the 30th coronation anniversary, Gabriel Buule traces strides made under his leadership. 

In 1993, Buganda’s crown Prince Ronald Mutebi won the famous mock-war game, alias Olutalo lwe birumbirumbi, winning Omutaka Ssemanobe the custodian of Naggalabi-Buddo the coronation site of Buganda Kingdom.

Onto Namulondo Bwanika (The King’s throne), a couple of rituals were performed in the coronation called ‘Nakibuuka’ and outside Naggalabi, Buddo.

Cultural enthusiast Simon Peter Kaddumuka reveals that this was among the last of the many rituals that preceded the restoration of Buganda Kingdom that had been abolished by Obote government.

Giving him the traditional spear dubbed Kanuuna as one of the instruments of leadership, Ssemanobe who is traditionally in charge of the king’s coronation encouraged the king to love his people, be fair and just  as his people.

Wangaala ayi beene (Long live the King), agunde gunde (Reign over us) the people of Buganda and well-wishers chanted slogans as the kingdom celebrated the restoration of one of the most popular monarchies in the East and Central Africa.


With a throne of flowers and thorns, Kabaka Mutebi has written a number of successes to his name amidst challenges.

Most of the Kabaka’s time and efforts since his crowning have been directed at restoring Buganda institutions, customs, and cultural practices.

He has played a leading role in inspiring the confidence of his subjects not to abandon the practices that have made the kingdom endure over the last 800 years.

The people’s king

Isaac Mpanga, a member of Buganda Lukiiko (parliament), notes that the most important bit about the 30 years of Kabaka Mutebi’s reign is being able to serve his people which is explained by the overwhelming love for the Kabaka.

He explains that most leaders are absent from the faces of the people which creates the same absence from the hearts of the subjects  unlike the Kabaka: “He is not an absent leader,” he explains.

Mpanga notes that being a people-centred king has helped the Kabaka to understand the problems of his subjects hence informing the decisions that he makes for the kingdom. Such range from education, public health, social life to other development programmes.

Over the years, the Kabaka has been fully involved in people’s lives contributing to a wide-range of programme that benefit his subjects and the people of Uganda.

Mpanga reveals that the Kabaka has been a phenomenal figure in public health being at the forefront in the fight against, polio, HIV/Aids, fistula, sickle cell disease, Covid– 19 among others.

Kabaka  takes an oath of allegiance to his subjects during his coronation on July 31, 1993.

In April 2017, Kabaka Mutebi was appointed by the UN programme on HIV/Aids (Unaids) as goodwill ambassador in the fight against HIV/Aids.

In a recent interview with the Katikkiro of Buganda, Charles Peter Mayiga, he revealed that the Kabaka birthday run, an initiative meant to raise money for different health programmes, is one of the most attended events  in Africa attracting a growing number of  people every year.

As part of the Kabaka’s  commitment  to better  health, Mpanga says the kingdom  has embarked on creating Health Centre IVs with hopes for a referral hospital.

Such efforts have always been backed up by a couple of health camps with the Kabaka often attending some in person.

The Katikkiro says the Kingdom is committed to improving the health standards of the people.

Mpanga shares that the Kabaka has been at a centre stage of promoting agriculture and financial independence.

He says such efforts are mirrored in projects such as CBS Pewosa, (trade fair), Zambogo Sacco, and Emmwanyi Terimba (a coffee growing and processing project).

The modern king

Mpanga shares that Kabaka Mutebi has ably evolved with the changing times hence the slogan Omulembe Omutebi ( the Mutebi era) which suggests a king in modern era.

The Kabaka has been at a forefront of improving modern communication and this justified by the introduction of  radio stations, such as Central Broadcasting Services (CBS). The media stations created have been at the centre stage of communicating to the youth and the older generation, while informing, educating and entertaining.

The station which was started on June 22, 1996 has had its role in promoting among others agriculture, health, politics, education, and entertainment.

The station has greatly shaped the entertainment sector, not only paving way for Luganda music, but also organising one of  the biggest entertainment events, Enkuuka y’omwaka  annually.

Kabaka Mutebi often attends Enkuuka y’omwaka where he shares moment with his subject as his subjects exhibit their talents.

Mpanga notes that most artistes have come to existence because of CBS radio and the Kingdom organised events such as Enkuuka and previously, Kitoobero.

Talking communication, the Kingdom has a television station, BBS Terefayina and a telecom, K2/Airtel telecom.

He adds that such modernity has also been exhibited in arrangements such as Kabaka Education Fund where the Kabaka has always been devout to educating children from Buganda through scholarships and bursaries.

The education fund provides more than 1,000 bursaries at all levels annually regardless of student’s origin. The kingdom also has established tertiary institutions and schools to foster education.

The  Lukiiko member notes that similar moves have been exhibited in helping the people to protect their land through documentation done under Buganda Land Board.

Kabaka  with some of his family members. 

In a similar manner, an arrangement to avail affordable housing has been put in place and a project in Sentema, Wakiso District has been inaugurated.

The  Sentema project will not only provide housing, but at least 3,000 jobs in a partnership between Buganda Kingdom and Chinese firm Gorji.

The king’s love for sports has seen him support Masaza Cup, Buganda’s annual intercounty football tournament.

This tournament that has been played since 2004 has established itself as a strong social event that promotes talent. Mpanga says youth have evolved from Masaza Cup to play at national and international level.

Protecting Bugandas’ sports heritage, Kabaka Mutebi has often promoted marine games under the Buganda Royal Regatta commonly known as Empaka za Maato.

A reign pricked by thorns

With many achievements to his name, Kabaka Mutebi’s reign has been often subjected to a couple of challenges.

The Kingdom’s subjects have always challenged the Kabaka’s administration to deliver federo rule, a question yet to be answered.

The royal’s subjects believe that with federalism, the central government can concentrate on some areas for example, the army, foreign affairs and then regional governments handle issues such as  health, environment, cultural affairs, and education.

However, with federal yet to be delivered, the Katikkiro who has always insisted that federalism will be a key to the development of Uganda.

Mpanga echoes Katikkiro position on federo, emphasising that one-day federo will be realised but the Kabaka will not wait for federal to elevate her people from poverty, advocating for better health, education and other developmental issues.

“The political federal will arrive but the real federal started with the Kabaka improving standards of his people,” he adds.

Politically, Kabaka Mutebi era  has often found itself clashing with the central government over various issues.

On September 10, 2009, Uganda police blocked a delegation representing the Buganda kingdom from visiting Kayunga District causing bloody clashes that led to loss of lives.

The Kabaka’s administration is opposed to the creation of new cultural units within Buganda Kingdom and Banyala ethnic group in Kayunga are among the factions that officials in Mengo believed that they have been created to undermine Buganda Kingdom.

The Kabaka has also presided over a Kingdom whose land tenure system has been opposed by the central government with the president often calling it unfair.


Who is Kabaka Mutebi

Ronald Edward Frederick Kimera Muwenda Mutebi II is the reigning Kabaka (King) of the Kingdom of Buganda, a constitutional monarchy in Uganda.

Kabaka Mutebi is the 36th Kabaka of Buganda and he has served since the restoration of the Ugandan Kingdoms


On July 31, 1993, Kabaka Ronald Muwenda Mutebi II was officially crowned at Naggalabi – Buddo after the Restoration of Ugandan Traditional Monarchies.