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Stop Buganda persecution, says Kabaka

We shall not tire from our efforts to claim our inalienable properties, and we shall not tire from fighting against persecution

Kabaka Ronald Muwenda Mutebi II chose the weekend celebrations to mark his 17th coronation anniversary, to break his silence and delve into the delicate subject of Buganda Kingdom’s fallout with the central government.

In the speech he read out to his subjects who converged in Butambala district, the venue of this year’s celebrations, the Kabaka drew attention to events that precipitated the fallout, which include the September 2009 riots that killed an estimated 30 people, sparked by government’s decision to block his visit to Kayunga, a region under his kingdom.

The closure of Buganda’s radio, CBS, in the wake of the riots, the 2008 arrest of three Buganda officials, the mysterious fire that razed part of the Kasubi Royal Tombs, and what he called the continued persecution of Buganda, among others.
The tone and message were very clear and seemed to signal that the kingdom is running out of patience.

Below is a loose translation of his Luganda speech

First, I would like to thank the people of Butambala for the magnificent preparations. I would also like to thank the Katambala (Butambala Saza Chief). He is a very hardworking man. I would like to pray and comfort all those who lost their loved ones in Kampala and its surroundings, and those who got injured in last September’s riots.

We are together with those who lost their loved ones in Kasubi. We grieve with Buganda and the entire world for the burning of our traditional place of culture and history. We are hopeful that the Baganda and our people of Uganda together with UNESCO shall reconstruct Muzibu azaala Mpanga back to its dignity. We thank all those who have and still help to rebuild our mausoleum.

Last month, we were shocked by the deaths of people in Lugogo and Kabalagala. We feel for and comfort all those who lost their loved ones.
Nowadays Buganda is under a lot of provocation. First, it is very difficult now for us to reach out to the people. It is very hard to send out developmental news and deal with poverty as we used to previously when our radio, CBS, was on air.

Secondly, Buganda has been divided, and many of its properties haven’t been returned.
Thirdly, it is very disappointing that there are places in Buganda where it is said the Kabaka of Buganda must seek permission before visiting his people there.

Fourth, we all wondered at the arrest of our ministers in Mengo. I think, and it is right, that we the Baganda must regain our properties. They are our inheritance which our forefathers worked for and left for us to add onto and leave for our children and grandchildren. In the same vein if there are things for other people in Uganda that were taken in that way, then they should be returned.

I also want to assure you that we shall not tire from our efforts of claiming our inalienable properties that belong to the Kabakaship; and we shall not tire from fighting against persecution. We shall ensure that the current persecution of the Baganda is stopped. History shows that time comes when those who stick to what they think is right, triumph. We all know that people like Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela stuck to what they believed in and eventually won.

That is why I am encouraging the Baganda and all those who wish us well not to back track, to be united and steadfast in what we demand for. Those three people I have mentioned above went through a lot of problems but in the end the people they fought for got peace and happiness. The Baganda shall not waver but go ahead and fight for what was taken away from us forcefully. We thank all those who fought courageously to ensure that Buganda gets its properties.

I see a lot of poverty everywhere I visit in Buganda and many people in Uganda are dying of poverty. Poverty is the most important issue and that is why we fight to get leadership and power in our government in Mengo and elsewhere in Uganda so that we can help the central government in fighting against it. It is an issue.

We ask for our properties so that we can fight poverty by helping people improve their economic wellbeing through developing agriculture, business and small-scale industries, building of technical  schools, building schools and hospitals and helping parents who have children who perform well but find difficulty in paying fees. For instance, the government of Buganda used to pay school fees for people here in Uganda and abroad when it still had power. The people got the highest form of education. If our properties are returned, and if we regain authority, we shall be able to help and empower our people.

Nowadays we are in shock and sorrow for our children who get killed. Child sacrifice, kidnap for ransom is a new trend in Buganda and we all must condemn it. We all have a responsibility to take care of and love children.

Previously, I encouraged you to register yourselves so that you can be able to elect the leaders you desire. I thank you for registering in such big numbers. I also ask you to go out and vote, when the time comes, for the leaders you want in peace. Serving is in many forms and the Baganda serve in many ways. I want the Baganda to get involved in serving your country by standing for various positions. Then you can join other Ugandans in serving your country well.

I want to thank all our leaders and clan leaders in Buganda who have done a great job in uniting the Baganda and for encouraging them to stick to their traditions. I thank the saza chiefs for the big job they do to help the people improve their wellbeing. I thank the Lukiiko members and ask them to do more in their service to Buganda.

I thank religious leaders for the help they give us on the various issues, for leading us well and for discerning the truth. We thank the people in the Diaspora who work with us to develop Buganda and Uganda. I know that those people send a lot of money here to help their relatives. They have done a lot in helping Uganda’s economy and we ask them to continue, particularly those who can start up factories, to help employ our children at the same time developing the country.

Since time immemorial, Buganda would collect and welcome people who came from elsewhere. We don’t discriminate. I am glad that that tradition still goes on. I want all of us to be at peace with the people who settle in Buganda. We should find a solution to what befell us previously. I want to assure all Ugandans that we (Baganda) are together with you. We want to open a new chapter with everyone as long as they agree with our aspirations.

Finally, I want to emphasise one more point. There are people who think that loving your tribe means not loving your country. That is very wrong. We in Buganda cherish our clans but that doesn’t stop us from loving our country Uganda. In the same way, no one should think that if someone cherishes Buganda then they don’t love Uganda. I once again thank those who brought us gifts, the organisers, and the people of Butambala. I am thankful for all that has been said that develops our country. Thank you very much.
hbogere@observer.ug

© 2016 Observer Media Ltd