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Bunyole on eve of crowing its cultural leader

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Prof Elley Wesana-Chomi. The Sehulu has shared his Bunyole development agenda with his proposed cabinet. PHOTO/MUDHANGHA KOLYANGH

I herein respectfully respond to Prof Mukwanason A. Hyuha’s article in Sunday Monitor of June 9. He gave his views on why Bunyole has failed to get a cultural leader.

The article in the most part, with due respect, is ruse and devoid of nascent developments and legal appreciation over the institution of traditional or cultural leaders.

The purpose of my response is three fold:
1). To shade light on the truth and underline falsehoods therein;
2). To provide the status report on the progress of Owa Sehulu Wa Bunyole Cultural Institution, for possible useful but appropriate edits to the research piece in the portended book Eby’e Bunyole: Contemporary Issues in the History, Culture and Politics of Bunyole , before the final product is out.
3). To appeal to the readership and the authorities for their fair judgment in the need to gazette Prof Elley Wesana-Chomi as the Sehulu of the cultural institution.

No doubt, Prof Hyuha is a distinguished scholar, elder and opinion leader the Bunyole community is privileged to have nurtured and whose academic matter has been shared with the entire country and beyond.

And he is on record to have dismissed the need for the institution of Owa Sehulu Wa Bunyole Cultural Institution, under his article: ‘Why Bunyole has failed to get a cultural leader.’

Prof Hyuha is partly on course when he points out that Bunyole community has never had a king or royal clan(s) before. 

In fact, all the claims by anyone of having had either a traditional or cultural institution in Bunyole before the advent of the Institution of Traditional or Cultural Leaders Act, 2011, are null and void ab nitio. 

The long title to the Act provides in the most relevant part as follows: “An Act to operationalise Article 246 of the Constitution on the institution of traditional or cultural leaders; to provide for the existence of traditional or cultural leaders in any area of Uganda in accordance with the Constitution…”

Article 246 (5) of the Constitution transitions or inherits those institutions of traditional leader or cultural leader existing immediately before the coming into force of the Constitution of 1995.
It is surely settled common knowledge and, indeed Prof Hyuha’s research findings confirm that the Banyole have never had a traditional leader, or king of whatever name called. Therefore, the Banyole elders claiming to have headed royal or cultural settings in their community before the enactment of the mentioned laws are merely holding out, and are therefore, rightly dismissible.

Prof also criticised the title of ‘Sehulu’ for the leader of the cultural institution on the premise that it was coined on biases of traditional relational/biological names. He falls short of proposing an appropriate title though. 

In his historical brief to the cultural leadership in Bunyole, Prof Hyuha attempts to justify the titles; ‘Kabaka’, ‘Kyabazinga’, ‘Omukama’, ‘Omugabe’, etc. for fulfilling the attribute of uniqueness character rather than biological name considerations. 

Largely, the institutions where these titles abound are traditional in nature and not cultural under our current enabling law quoted herein above. Further, Prof Hyuha is obviously illusionary wrong, and with respect, to refer to the Ba’Masaba’s current cultural leader as ‘Omuyinga’ when in fact, His Highness (Owe Lukhosi) is addressed, depending on the part of Bugisu one hails, as ‘Omuguuga’, or ‘Omukhukha’, literally meaning ‘Sehulu’ (grandfather) among the Bunyole community.

It suffices now to understand what ‘traditional or cultural leader’ means. In accordance with the Act, it means ‘a king or similar traditional leader or cultural leader by whatever name called who derives allegiance from the fact of birth or descent in accordance with the customs, traditions, usage or consent of the people led by that traditional or cultural leader’. 

Underlining supplied for emphasis. So referring to the cultural leader of the Banyole as ‘Sehulu’ is neither a misnomer nor premised on biological name connotations as the impugned article suggests, but on law. 

The Banyole in their Owa Sehulu Wa Bunyole Cultural Institution constitution (Egambi) of 2018 clearly provides the name ‘Sehulu’ for the title of his highness. It is evident, therefore, that Prof Hyuha’s appreciation of the distinction between traditional and cultural leaders’ matters rescinds fast into oblivion.

A bit of the institution and installation of traditional or cultural leader discourse.

Institution
As late as 2018, the Bunyole council of clan leaders for the first time resolved to make a constitution to preserve, protect and promote cultural and traditional values under the Sehulu Wa Bunyole for unity. The preamble to this constitution clearly states, among others, as thus:
“…In pursuit of that the aforesaid objective, therefore, Abanyole wish to form and own a legitimate cultural institution, Owa Sehule Wa Bunyole headed by Sehulu so that, among others, their language, history, literature and cultural identity are promoted and preserved”.

Under the current legal framework, no community in Uganda can legally or even casually be understood to have a traditional or cultural leader unless the institution was formally put in place and officially communicated in writing to the minister responsible for culture. 

Section 4 of the Act enacts for two ways a traditional or cultural institution may be instituted. Either;
(a). In accordance with the culture, customs and traditions of the people to whom it applies; or 
(b). In accordance with the wishes and aspirations of the people to whom it applies, through a resolution of not less than two thirds of all members of the district local council and sub-county local government councils respectively in the area.

However, Article 246(5) of the Constitution transitions or inherits those institutions of traditional leader or cultural leader existing immediately before the coming into force of the Constitution of 1995.

In the case of Bunyole, which Prof Hyuha’s research correctly concludes that there has never been any king of sorts, the wishes and aspirations of the community were expressed only after 2011 legislation through resolutions at both the district and sub-county local government councils by the respective aggregate member voting ratios and accordingly communicated to the minister in writing. 

Pursuant to compliance with the law above, and process, Owa Sehulu Wa Bunyole Cultural Institution was thus born in March 2019 as a corporate legal person when a submission was made to the minister. Next was the election of the king, the ‘Sehulu’.

Installation
This is in reference to the leadership of the institution. Section 5 of the Act provides:
(1). A person may be installed as a traditional or cultural leader in any area of Uganda if that person derives allegiance from:
(a). birth; or
(b). descent,
in accordance with the customs, traditions, usage or consent of the people led by that traditional or cultural leader. It is worth noting that this legal provision also operationalises Article 246(6) of the Constitution of Uganda.

The Banyole reflected their adored customs, traditions, usage and consent through a constitution of 2018 that was duly consented to by a council of all clan heads (Ehijaami).

For information and avoidance of doubt, article 4 of the Bunyole cultural constitution 2018 promulgates as follows: “Owa Sehulu Wa Bunyole Cultural Institution shall be headed by His Highness The Sehulu Wa Bunyole as provided by this constitution”. This is why our leader (Sehulu) is not a traditional one but a cultural leader. My advice to the good respectable Prof on the unbefitting title ‘Sehulu’ for the Banyole king, is to cause a constitutional amendment, and not to attempt to polarise the Banyole by writing falsehoods. In the interest of unity and respect to authorities, a status report here below has been provided.

Prof Hyuha also faults the electoral process that saw ‘his friend’, Prof Wesana-Chomi, elected to the cultural leadership for being marred with corruption. He selfishly concludes in the article that Bunyole has failed to get a cultural leader on account of a botched electoral process, and that the Banyole people do not deserve a cultural leader. 

It is a travesty of facts to state that Bunyole has failed to get a cultural leader and further opine non justiciable reasons for the ‘failure’. His Highness Wesana-Chomi is the Sehulu of the institution. It is only fair and appropriate to say, the leader’s name has delayed to be gazette in accordance with the law.

Both the Bunyole cultural constitution and the legislative framework in place provide for how disputes in the circumstances are resolved. In the case of Bunyole community, there is no ground whatsoever that anyone may premise themselves to challenge the status quo. 
At least I know, delay by the Executive to indulge in the gazetting process is not one of the reasons one can seek court redress for. However, it polarises the Bunyole community in significant implications, some of which are beginning to manifest.

Gazette status
The minister of Gender is on record to have written to the President of the Republic of Uganda, pursuant to Cabinet minute Extract No.4 (3) 296 (CT2020) requesting directions to gazette Prof Elley Wesana-Chomi as the cultural leader of Owa Sehulu Wa Bunyole Cultural Institution.

Appeal
It is now close to a year since, and the respectful Banyole await. The Sehulu has shared his Bunyole development agenda with his proposed cabinet. It is such a rich piece of matter that anyone loving Bunyole on development and cultural preservation diversity should embrace by enabling the gazetting of the duly elected cultural leader for Bunyole. I humbly place this appeal to gazette Sehulu Wa Bunyole to avert consequences of the delay.

The writer, Samuel Munobe, is a Chief Magistrate