Chief Justice asks Buganda to stop attacks by ‘lumpens’

Chief Justice Alfonse Owiny-Dollo delivers his speech at the late Speaker Jacob Oulanyah’s home in Muyenga on Tuesday. PHOTO/DAVID LUBOWA

What you need to know:

  • The head of Judiciary, Justice Alfonse Owiny-Dollo, in bare-knuckle comments, says individuals who protested over the cost of flying then stricken Parliament Speaker for treatment in the United States, are “wicked” and taking Buganda down an “abyss”. Our Reporter Tonny Abet reproduces the speech.
  • "One day, Buganda will produce a national leader [and] they will fail to sell that national leader," he warned. 

We landed yesterday (Monday) evening and drove beyond Gulu to meet [Nathan Okori], the father of our fallen brother [11th Parliament Speaker Jacob Oulanyah], and then drove back [to Kampala].

Right Honourable Prime Minister, I don’t know the composition of the organising committee for the State funeral of Oulanyah. I spoke to his father (Okori) today. He thanked me for having gone to see my brother (Oulanyah) in America [where he was hospitalised and died] and made this request that ‘please, bury your brother ki deyo,’ which means ‘bury your brother with dignity, honour, with a lot of integrity.’

Jacob Oulanyah must be buried with royal Bwola dance. The honourable Prime Minister, let the State get the royal Bwola dance [a graceful Acholi traditional dance for royalty or other notables during which high achievements including battle exploits or tribulations are recounted] where I come from to come and escort Jacob Oulanyah. I will dance for him. 

The reason I stood up to speak to you [Pr Martin Ssempa of Makerere University Community church, and a Muganda by tribe], you are a man of God, you have a following. I am an Acholi like Jacob Oulanyah.

But I want you to know that I came here in central Uganda (Buganda region) when I was 16, and went to King’s College Buddo, a school in Buganda… From 1974 to this day, except for two years when I went to study in Mbale, I have been [living in] central Uganda. If I could still go freely out, you would most likely find me in the company of Baganda, not Acholi, because the people I grew up with, the friendship I made, are from here.

When I asked when I was nominated to become the Deputy Chief Justice of Uganda, without even thinking, when I looked at the record, my character referees were all Baganda. I didn’t even think about the tribe. It so happened that the people who could speak about me were from here. This was the same when I applied to become the Chief Justice, out of the three (referees), two were from Buganda. 

The Buganda I know, the Buganda I am proud to associate myself with, [the Baganda] are very welcoming people, very accommodative. But I am speaking today, and my brother you are here, when Jacob was still alive and strong, he saw the wickedness that was exhibited by people who come from here. ‘Oulanyah go back home,’ [they said]. That ‘why do you come to hospital here [in the United States]? Go back home. You should come and die here [in Uganda],’ [they said].

[Protestors wearing red t-shirts similar to the uniform of the National Unity Platform protested outside the hospital in Seattle where Oulanyah had been taken for specialist care after unverified information emerged that the government forked out $500m (Shs1.7b) to charter a Ugandan Airlines plane to fly the speaker to the US – Editor]

Then in several fora, this social media, reason, ‘You (Acholi) are the ones propping up [President] Museveni, the dictator, [in power].’ Those are their (protestors’) words. ‘Had it not been for you,’ meaning Oulanyah’s people (the Acholi) ... Because in the elections of 2021, Oulanyah’s people voted for Museveni. So, they demonised my brother, your brother (Oulanyah), they continued to demonise him even in death.

I asked myself: ‘Are these true Baganda’; the Buganda I know, the Buganda where I grew up? Are these true Baganda.’ I have defended Buganda among my people that these people [who are demonising Oulanyah] are not representing Buganda. 

These are wicked, wayward people who are not representing Buganda. But what pains me is that the [good] Baganda like you have not spoken up to condemn this. I have not seen it anywhere and people are judging you by the action of evil people.

You will go to [Oulanyah’s home district] Omoro and see people who are coming to weep for Oulanyah, and do you think they will forget this? My appeal to the people of Buganda is how can you allow these lumpens to be seen to be speaking for Buganda? How, how? There will be a price to pay and it will pain me to see that the place I have respected, the place where I have the best friends, I am just seeing them sliding down and you call it politics? This is not politics.

One day, Buganda will produce a national leader [and] they will fail to sell that national leader. Forget this thing that we are seeing today, that’s not politics. But Buganda will produce a national leader and will want to go and speak about the true Buganda we know. The political leaders in Buganda have not spoken up [about the attacks on deceased Oulanyah], they’re not speaking about it in church because they are now subdued by these opinion leaders who are taking Buganda to the abyss.”

Not happy 
But what pains me is that the [good] Baganda like you have not spoken up to condemn this. I have not seen it anywhere and people are judging you by the action of evil people,” Justice Alfonse Owiny-Dollo