Struggle for Bugwere throne after rival leader is installed

Coronation ceremony. A spiritual leader (right) installs Prince Nelson Mulabi Kamba Kidandaire as Nagwere at Gadumire grounds on January 18. Photo by Micheal Woniala

The struggle for kingship in Bugwere Cultural Institution has taken a new twist with the installation of another parallel cultural leader.

Prince Nelson Mulabi Kamba Kidandaire IV from the royal clan of Balangira, was installed at the weekend at Gadumire Grounds at Budaka Sub-county in Budaka District.

The ceremony comes after they developed misunderstandings with the current leadership led by Bishop John Christom Weyabire.

Bishop Weyabire, was on July 4, 2015, elected unopposed and crowned as the rightful king of Obwa Ikumbania Bwa Bagwere after the institution was gazzetted by government on May 6, 2014.

During the function, Prince Muhammad Ngobi, who was appointed prime minister, said historically, the leader of the royal Balangira clan, automatically becomes the reigning king of Bagwere.
Mr Ngobi added that they do not recognise Bishop Weyabire as their king.

“The current gazetted cultural leader is holding the title illegally and worst of it, his title is Ikumbania, which has never existed. Historically, our hereditary kings were referred to as Nagwere not Ikumbania, who is elected by human beings,” Prince Ngobi, said.

He said the Nagwere title has been in use since 1450s unlike the Ikumbania, which started in 2000.

“Our clan gave birth to other clans in Bugwere and that is why the Nagwere, who was king from our clan presided over the entire Bugwere,” he said.

In December, last year, a section of clan and spiritual leaders in Bugwere Sub-region also installed a parallel cultural leader from Balalaka clan allegedly on orders of their ancestral spirits.

The general overseer of Balalaka be’Ngoma clan, Mr Patrick Byassi, then said the gods had appeared and instructed him to install Prince Paul Patrick Pangoli Ndobooli Lyada as their king in order to avert their anger.

Balangira and Balalaka be’Ngoma clan are some of the clans in Bugwere Cultural Institution. They are in the districts of Kibuku, Budaka, Pallisa and Butebo. The Bagwere constitute an estimated 4 per cent of Uganda’s population.

One of the area leaders, who preferred anonymity, said trouble started after Bishop Weyabire used his money to buy his way.

“He used money to influence clan leaders from weak clans but those from the strong ones, who believed that a position should be given to a traditionalist, were not happy and they have remained fighting up to day,” the source said.

The opposing clans say Bishop Weyabire is not fit to be their cultural leader because his appointment was not inspired by spirits.

“The current cultural leader was stage-managed and we cannot bow for him,” Mr Kintu Samuka, a resident of Budaka Sub-county, said.

However, the prime minister of Bugwere Cultural Institution, Mr Eric Kasolo, said they were surprised that Balangira clan members went ahead to install their king despite the engagements they had aimed at reconciliation.

Earlier, Mr Kasolo, also dismissed the insertion of royal clans among the Bagwere. “There has never been a history of a cultural leader or a king in Bugwere,” he said.

The RDC of Budaka District, Mr Martin Orochi, called for dialogue, saying continued confusion will cause disunity.

“But, as far as security is concerned, we only know the only recognised cultural leader Bishop Weyabire but still it’s important that these issues are resolved harmoniously,” he said.

Last year, the clan leaders in Bugwere Cultural Institution petitioned the Inspector General of Police, Mr Martins Okoth-Ochola, to stop Prince Mulabi from undermining the leadership of the duly installed king, Bishop Weyabire.

The October 10 petition, which was signed by Mr Kisolo, indicated that Mr Mulabi and his agents were annoying and ridiculing the king of Bugwere through organising unlawful meetings to solicit funds from residents in the institution for his official installation.


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