Buganda, Kooki division deepens

Some of the Kooki loyalists protest against a football tournament which Buganda Kingdom officials had organised in Lwamaggwa, Rakai District in May. PHOTO/ file

What you need to know:

  • Since its incorporation in 1896, the Kooki chiefdom has shared a troubled history with Buganda kingdom.

Chairpersons of different sub-counties in Rakai District are moving to secede from Buganda region on account of poor service delivery, Saturday Monitor can reveal.

Mr Elisa Wangi Ssemanda, the LC3 chairperson of Ddyango Town Council, has already petitioned President Museveni through the office of the Rakai Resident District Commissioner (RDC), indicating the intent of the secessionists.

Ms Sarah Kiyimba, the Rakai RDC, could neither confirm nor deny receipt of the petition from the sub-counties that taken together form the greatest part of Kooki chiefdom.

“I will not say no or yes. I just have no comment,” she said on Friday.

The secessionists, however, continue to speak of their plans with force and conviction.

“We have realised that when it comes to service delivery, we always lag behind, especially when it comes to infrastructure like roads, schools, health centres and water services,” Mr Ssemanda told Saturday Monitor, adding, “We have therefore made a move to have our own region and we hope we shall achieve it.”

Charm offensive

Mr Ssemanda was sparing with the details around the content of the petition. He, however, told Saturday Monitor that they have launched a charm offensive to persuade other districts into joining what he calls a “region comprising enough local government units.”

Saturday Monitor has established that the districts being wooed include Kyotera, Lwengo and Lyantonde.

“We all know that a municipality and a city have higher budgets with better service delivery depending on even the employees unlike our normal district local governments. We need such better services if our people are to grow and improve their standards of living,” Mr Richard Mbaziira, the chairperson of Lwamaggwa Town Council in Rakai District, said.

Since its incorporation in 1896, the Kooki chiefdom has shared a troubled history with Buganda Kingdom. The semi-autonomous Kooki has done its best to indicate that it isn’t part of Buganda kingdom’s 18 counties. Mengo insists that Kooki became its county when the then Kamuswaga forfeited his kingship title and settled for a county chief position following an agreement with Kabaka Mwanga on November 18, 1896.

Mr Ssemanda was, however, quick to describe the current state of affairs as “politically driven” and nothing more.

“We don’t mind whether we are under the Kamuswaga or the Kabaka, but we instead need better service delivery. People have misquoted us and connected our struggle with culture, which is not true,” he told Saturday Monitor, referring to the age-old Buganda-Kooki impasse.

The development comes nearly five months after bitter clashes were witnessed between Kooki and Buganda loyalists during the official launch of a pre-Masaza (county) cup game at Lwamaggwa playgrounds in Rakai District. Just last week, the police stopped Mengo from organising a match between Gomba and Kooki in Rakai District as a “precautionary move.”

All of this comes against the backdrop of the revelation of details of an agreement Kabaka Mwanga entered into with Kamuswaga, Apollo Kagwa and Stanislaus Mugwanya on November 18, 1896. The agreement, which Saturday Monitor couldn’t independently verify, was witnessed by Kago Pozo, George Wilson, Pokino Sebowa, Mukwenda Yona, Zakaria Kangawo, Kabandagara Katikiro of Kamuswaga and Mugara Sabadu of Kamuswaga.

Real or fake pact?

The agreement, which either side of the document has offered a seal of approval, details the major concessions made by both parties. A clause in the agreement stops Mengo from speaking directly to the agreement.

“It is a tricky agreement for both sides and they will stay noncommittal on it because it is double edged,” Mr Henry Lubwama, a traditionalist, told Saturday Monitor.

By press time our attempts to get a comment from Mr Chris Bwanika, Buganda Kingdom’s attorney general, on the agreement were futile. Possibly the only time an official from Mengo has commented on the dicey issue came in 2014. Back then, Mr Male Kyewalabye—the then chief executive of Buganda Land Board—weighed in on Kooki autonomy claims. This was during the peak of the chiefdom’s demand to have 13 land titles returned to it.

“The Kamuswaga is a Ssaza (county) chief of Buganda. His role as a Buganda chief and at the same time a traditional leader of Kooki is always mixed up,” Mr Kyewalabye said, adding, “Going by the 1896 agreement [between Kooki and Buganda], his Kamuswaga loyalty and allegiance is to the Kabaka of Buganda. There is, therefore, land that belongs to him as Kamuswaga and land that belongs to Buganda kingdom, and for us we are concerned about the kingdom land.”

Kooki speaks out

Asked about the agreement currently doing the rounds, Mr Stanley Ndawula—Kooki’s Information minister—said: “I can’t say the agreement is authentic because I have seen about three of them in different forms. That agreement is not anywhere in the government archives. We looked for it in Entebbe and it’s not there.’’

He added: “All documents, which are even minor and as old as 100 plus years, are there. When you look at this one, its is edited to try and fit today’s generational understanding. I doubt anyone has a genuine copy. But even if this one is correct, why don’t they want us to officially recognise it? We don’t even believe there was an agreement. If it is there, let it come on table.”

The agreement first emerged in a social media group that has Buganda Kingdom officials, serving and retired, Buganda Parliamentary caucus lawmakers and journalists to mention but a few. It has never been disputed or authenticated by the concerned officials.

Kooki has consistently accused Mengo of disrespectful conduct and refusal to return their 13 land titles, part of a cache of 213 land titles the government handed to Mengo.

In August 2013, the government entered an agreement with Mengo and President Museveni—who met face-to-face with Kabaka Mutebi—promised to give Mengo what had been seized in the awake of the 1966 crisis.

On May 30, 2013, then Attorney General Peter Nyombi—in a letter to Katikkiro Charles Peter Mayiga—recalled 13 land titles after contestation by Kooki’s cultural leader, the Kamuswaga Apollo Ssansa Kabumbuli II.

An agreement that was signed between Kooki and Buganda gave away much of the rights Kooki wielded. Current government attorney general Kiryowa Kiwanuka told Saturday Monitor he has not seen the said agreement and referred us to “the archives in Entebbe.”

Kooki was recognised as a kingdom between its founding in 1740 until 1896 when it sought protection from Buganda, which had already established contact with the British. Kamuswaga Kabumbuli Sansa II is its present head.


The 1896 Agreement between Kooki and Buganda

The agreement between Kooki and Buganda in full reads as follows:

To all whom it may concern, be it known that the undersigned, Mwanga king of Uganda [Buganda] and Kamuswaga, King of Kooki, have this day made the following agreement:-

Whereas I, Kamuswaga, hitherto independent King of Kooki, I am desirous on behalf of myself, my chiefs and people, that county of Kooki shall become part of the Kingdom of Uganda [Buganda] and be included therein as a new province and thereby enjoy and profit by the advantages secured to that Kingdom through the presence, guidance and assistance of British officials.

And whereas I, Mwanga, King of Uganda [Buganda] with the full concurrence of my government, I am ready and willing that the county of Kooki shall be so included in my Kingdom and its inhabitant become Waganda [Baganda] subjects.

Now, therefore, I Kamuswaga, hitherto independent King of Kooki, hereby declare and make known, on behalf of myself, my chiefs and people that our country of Kooki become from this day forth part and province of the Kingdom of Uganda [Buganda] and passes under the sovereignty of Mwanga, King of Uganda [Buganda].

And I, the said Kamuswaga, do hereby of my own free will and choice surrender my position as an independent King, and recognising myself to be henceforth a subject of the King of Uganda [Buganda], accept and assume the position of a Muganda saza of the first class, whose province shall be Kooki and whose powers, privileges rights, duties, obligations and position generally shall be those of the other Waganda [Baganda] sazas of the same rank.

And I recognise that henceforth the sovereign of Kooki is Mwanga King of Uganda [Buganda] and after him, his heirs and successors.

And I recognise further that all treaties, international agreements, laws and regulations of every kind, as well as tribute and other obligations of every kind at the time and the future in force or leviable in Uganda are henceforth similarly applicable stand leviable in Kooki which now becomes an integral part of the kingdom of Uganda [Buganda].

And I Mwanga, king of Uganda [Buganda], hereby pledge myself and my government and my heirs and successors to recognise Kamuswaga, hitherto independent King of Kooki, as a Muganda saza of the first class whose province shall be Kooki, which henceforth becomes part and province of the Kingdom of Uganda [Buganda].

And I the said Mwanga pledge myself, my heirs and successors that the said Kamuswaga shall enjoy all the powers, privileges and rights which belong to the position of a Muganda saza of the first class and further that the welfare and prosperity of the province of Kooki shall be the objects of all our care and solicitude equally with the welfare and prosperity of our Kingdom of Uganda [Buganda].

And we the undersigned Mwanga, King of Uganda [Buganda] and the Kamuswaga, hitherto independent King of Kooki, agree that we will submit this agreement to her Britannic Majesty’s representative in Uganda in order to petition that he, acting on behalf of Her Majesty’s government, may approve it and comfort it;

And we freely agree and recognise that if at any time, any question should arise regarding the interpretation or meaning of this agreement or any part thereof, this English text of the agreement shall be considered true text and Her Majesty’s representative shall be its interpreter, whose decision on any point in question regarding it or any part of it shall be final and binding upon us both, in faith whereof we hereunto set our hands and seals, in public baraza at Kampala this 18th day of November in the year 1896 of Christian era.

Done in duplicate both in English and Luganda at the place and date above mentioned.


# Mwanga Kabaka

# Kamuswaga

# Apollo Kagwa

# Stanislaus Mugwanya

Witness to the above signatures

# Kago Pozo

# George Wilson

# Pokino Sebowa

# Mukwenda Yona

# Zakaria Kangawo

# Kabandagara Katikiro of Kamuswaga

# Mugara Sabadu of Kamuswaga.


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