Sylvia Nagginda: A queen touching the nation’s very soul

The Nnabagereka of Buganda: Sylvia Nagginda. File Photo

What you need to know:

Royalty with a difference. Rather than remain in the palace and only come out to occasionally accompany her husband, as is usually expected of a traditional Queen, the Queen of Buganda instead chose to come to the forefront, subtly using prominence and position to uplift women, children and other minorities, writes GUMISIRIZA MWESIGYE

Many girls, upon completing secondary school, aspire to join university, but still face the hurdle of not accessing higher education. Though they are intellectually able, they cannot afford university education and financial costs involved because of their disadvantaged background.

A mother expecting to deliver a child, hear its first cry and hold it, does not live to see the moment. She is another statistic in Uganda’s high maternity rate. At the other end, bringing up children is a challenge as fathers and mothers lack the time to instill in them values they would have desired.

These are the issues concerning women and children that Her Royal Highness, Sylvia Nagginda, the Queen of Buganda, is passionate about. As such, she champions the causes, or adds her voice, for a society in which development goes hand in hand with equity, modernity that does not trample the good traditional values, and progress that does not leave the vulnerable - the women, the girls, the children- behind.

Focusing on the nation’s foundation
Nagginda’s main focus is on early childhood care and development, girl child education, vocational training and youth employment for the youth, women empowerment of women, and health issues particularly but not limited to childhood diseases, nutrition, and HIV/Aids.

According to tradition, as a wife to the Kabaka of Buganda, the Nnabagereka was expected to remain in the background, probably remain in the palace and only come out occasionally to accompany her husband. Instead, she chose to remain visible but not in a way that overshadows the King.

The queen has still played the traditional role as a wife, demonstrating her support for the wive’s traditional duty to their husbands. “I call upon African women to love and respect their husbands,” she has said on a number of occasions. This support extends to mobilising money to fund Kabaka Mutebi’s Education Fund (KEF).

A mother to the Nation
As Mama wa Buganda, she is more than just a mother to one teenage girl, her first born, Katrina Sangalyambogo; she is considered a maternal figure for the Baganda.
Nagginda is the first queen in Buganda’s history to have a public role, or several roles in her case. The Office of the Nnabagereka is established in the Kingdom’s structure. In 2000, she founded the Nnabagereka Development Foundation (NDF), through which many of the activities she is involved are coordinated. In addition, she is a patron of several organisations.

During one media interview, she asserted that “an educated girl makes up a good mother, a good woman, and a good leader in future”. It is no surprise she was first choice for patron of the Makerere University Female Scholarship Foundation (FSF), when it was launched in November 2010.
It was started to build on a previous Female Scholarship Initiative, which run for 10 years and aided 691 female students to study at the university. So far FSF has supported more than 20 female students to enroll at the university.

FSF’s goal is “… giving priority to applicants from disadvantaged backgrounds and under-represented geographical areas in Uganda”. As this shows, Nagginda’s work is not limited to her constituency, Buganda, but extends to touch lives in other parts of Uganda.

Traditional Queen advocating for modernity
At the other end, both adults and children need extra-curricular activities in their lives. In 2004, Nagginda established the Kampala Ballet and Modern Dance School. It offers dance classes body conditioning and strength exercises. This helps improve physical, social and cognitive skills.

The Royal Enclosure
But Ekisaakaate (Royal Enclosure) is perhaps the most popular. It promotes cultural values, leadership, spiritual and practical skills for the children from six to 19 years. It is held as a two-week residential camp every year.

The first was held in 2007 and this pioneer group had 300 girls and boys aged between nine and 15 years. During the official opening, the Nnabagereka herself demonstrated how to prepare groundnut sauce. By the second Ekisaakaate, held in 2008, there were 680 girls and boys aged between nine and 18 years. At the official opening of that camp, Nagginda showed them how to make a mat.

Now, in the sixth year, the numbers have been growing as parents realised the importance of having their children know such skills and have such values.
With her focus on mainly women and children issues, Sylvia Nagginda has created such an impact that touches at the soul of a nation and the hearts of its people.


Born: 9 November 1964 in London, UK
Parents: John Mulumba Luswata and Rebecca Nakintu Musoke
Siblings: Three brothers and three sisters
Education: Lake Victoria Primary and Gayaza Junior School (primary school), Wanyange Girls School (secondary school), City University of New York (Associate’s degree), New York University (Bachelor of Arts degree), New York Institute of Technology (Master of Arts in Mass Communication)
Nnabagereka Development Foundation
Has various projects and programmes in seven areas: Child welfare, Education and community development, Economic empowerment of women, Employment creation for the youth, Health and environment, food security, and culture