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Understanding Mayanja’s love-hate relations with Buganda

Sam Mayanja

Sam Mayanja

Sam Mayanja, the recently appointed state minister for Lands, has in recent years built a reputation as a polarizing figure due to his strong views on the land issues in Buganda.

His appointment, therefore, has been viewed in some circles as a telling signal from President Museveni to do away with Buganda’s mailo land system.

DERRICK KIYONGA bases on Mayanja’s writings over the years to analyse what he brings to the fore as far as the central government's relations with the kingdom are concerned.

About a decade ago, Sam Mayanja was a highly place confidant in the top hierarchy of Buganda kingdom. With his repute as an astute lawyer, he was part of top-level negotiations between the kingdom and the central government regarding the return of Ebyaffe.

However, there are several conflicting narratives that led to his fallout with the kingdom and an official who was part of the negotiations but prefers anonymity blames greed as the central issue. It is not clear where the greed falls but one thing for sure is that the trait of Mayanja’s thought-provoking newspaper articles on land has been stinging the kingdom since.

To understand this well, one needs to go back to his views regarding the controversial 1900 agreement. Firstly, Mayanja believes Anglicans/Protestants Sir Apollo Kaggwa and Zakaria Kisingiri, two of the three Buganda regents that signed the agreement, represent the architects of now the Buganda land problem. The third regent was Stanislus Mugwanya, a catholic.

According to Mayanja, top positions in Buganda at the time were allotted along religious line. For instance, the unwritten rule was that the katikkiro and treasurer were Anglicans while the Mulamuzi (judge) was catholic. He blames the two for aiding British imperialists to get rid of Kabaka Mwanga and install a young Daudi Chwa as king yet the infant couldn’t make any decision.

Mayanja says that the two Protestants; Kaggwa and Kisingiri became Katikkiro and treasurer respectively while Mugwanya, a catholic became the omulamuzi. One protestant who missed out on top positions was Semei Kakungulu, Mayanja says. Kakungulu was instead told to go Bukedi region.

“He was duped that he would be the king of the Bukedi yet the real reason the British wanted him over there was for him to become a colonial agent. He died a disillusioned person..." Mayanja consistently writes.

At the time, Buganda was small nucleus comprising of Kyaddondo, Busiro, Busujju and Mawokota. The British wanted to make Buganda the center of its imperial agenda by taking advantage of its centralized structure and to qualify as such it had to be bigger in territory.

“They helped Buganda raid its neighbors, more so Bunyoro, and that’s how Buganda came to have 20 counties, including the two so-called lost counties [Buyaga and Bugangaizi] which were later given back to Bunyoro by [President] Obote,” he says.

In 1899, Mayanja says the British sent in administrator Sir Harry Johnston who clashed with Kaggwa on the how Buganda was to be called. On one hand, Jonhston, in line with imperial diction, wanted Buganda to be called a province while on the other; Kaggwa insisted that it was kingdom. Eventually, Mayanja says Johnston gave in to Kaggwa’s wish though with a punch line: “I don’t care what you call it. You can call it a kingdom.”

LAND QUESTION

With that, Mayanja says the protestant oligarch in Buganda together with the British, whose interests were taken care of by Johnston, signed an agreement that has led to the ever present land crisis in Buganda - the 1900 Buganda agreement - which cemented British authority over Buganda and by extension Uganda.

“In the agreement, they came up with what they called Crown and Mailo land,” Mayanja explains, adding that signing of the 1900 Buganda agreement basically ended Kabaka’s control over Buganda land. Besides the protectorate government that got about 10,500 square miles, the rest of the land was given to the Protes- tant oligarchs led by Kaggwa and Ssaza [county] chiefs as well as the Kabaka.

While at it, Mayanja says peasant Baganda were left out. Eight years after the Buganda agreement was signed Mayanja says that there was no official demarcation of land in Buganda. That said, Kaggwa had moved to entrench his hold over power.

He moved to enforce one of the clauses of 1900 Buganda agreement by forming the Lukiiko in a move seen as copy and paste of the Westminster system.

“As per the 1900 Buganda agreement, the Lukiiko was given powers to curve out land. It was filled with supporters of the protestant oligarchs who distributed land among themselves,” Mayanja says, adding that Lukiiko wasn’t known in Buganda traditions and it started with Kaggwa who was in total control of the kingdom since Kabaka Chwa was too young to object to anything.

Mayanja says it was in 1908 when land was officially allotted with Kaggwa, who got over 100 square miles. In fact, Kaggwa got way to much land to the extent that it is said he started distributing land to his unborn children.

“If any of his wives was pregnant, he would simply say, this piece of land belongs to that child [fetus] of mine...” Mayanja explains.

Of all the land that was distributed, it is that 350 square miles of land that was given to Kabaka Chwa – not as an individual but in as Kabaka to hold in trusteeship on behalf of the Buganda – that has created much storm up to date.

Presently, lawyer Male Mabirizi is at the Supreme court challenging the obligatory process of registering people living on the official mile at a fee ranging from Shs 100,000 and Shs 600,000 depending on the size and location of the land.

The thrust of Mabirizi’s case is that the Kabaka doesn’t individually own this land to start charging people. Nevertheless, in the 1908 land bonanza, Mayanja says Chwa, as an individual, was given 101 square miles and this wasn’t part of the official Mailo.

“This is the only land that Chwa’s descendants have a claim over. If they want, they can sell it. But official Mailo is public land. It can’t be owned individually.”

To buttress his point, Mayanja says under colonial rule, Buganda Land Board, which was a public entity, was formed and its role was to take care of the official mile. This is a sharp contrast to what is happening today,” he claims.

“Buganda Land Board, which says that it is in charge of official mile, is a limited company. It is a private company owned by one person, Kabaka Ronald Muwenda Mutebi. A private company can’t take care of public land,” Mayanja explains.

According to Mayanja, the 1966 crisis and the subsequent abolition of kingdoms in 1967 also entrenched the concept of official Mailo being public land.

“Since the kingdoms weren’t legal, all the land was turned into public land by Obote’s regime,” Mayanja says, adding that even when Idi Amin took over power, he insisted that the land should be in the hands of Uganda Land Commission.

“In 1975, even private mailo became public land. People would go to the land commission to get land titles,” Mayanja says.

On that background of views, it remains to be seen how the kingdom will work with Mayanja for a concerted effort to prevent illegal land evictions and land grabbing. Going by President Museveni’s recent remarks that Mailo land is devious, the stage is set for a longstanding battle of wills and egos.

dkiyonga@gmail.com

Comments

+3 #1 kabayekka 2021-06-17 15:34
Yes this is another of these catholic Ganda diehards(DP) who only know the great job Benedict Kiwanuka did to amalgamate the State of Buganda with the other 14 tribal provinces to declare Uganda a Republic.

Now that the Kingdom State of Buganda is gradually being colonized again by the adjacent tribal states, this gentleman feels on top of the world to apportion the fertile lands of Buganda to those who are currently have the money to upgrade and update it!
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+1 #2 kabayekka 2021-06-17 15:57
Buganda land or Central Region is only about 23,708 square miles of land and lakes with a population of 10 million peoples.

Territories surrounding this small country are so big in land mass but with very small populations. For example Tanzania is 364,900 square miles with a medium population of 58 peoples.

The Congo is 905,568 square miles with a population of only 11 million peoples by the year 2050. So for Mr Mayanja, Sir, what is your problem of apportioning the whole population of Uganda of 38 million peoples on the size of Buganda mailo land of 9000 square miles. And yet all these great tribal people have so much of their own lands in many of the surrounding African territories.
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0 #3 Empayippayi 2021-06-17 18:38
Quoting kabayekka:
Buganda land or Central Region is only about 23,708 square miles of land and lakes with a population of 10 million peoples.

Territories surrounding this small country are so big in land mass but with very small populations. For example Tanzania is 364,900 square miles with a medium population of 58 peoples.

The Congo is 905,568 square miles with a population of only 11 million peoples by the year 2050. So for Mr Mayanja, Sir, what is your problem of apportioning the whole population of Uganda of 38 million peoples on the size of Buganda mailo land of 9000 square miles. And yet all these great tribal people have so much of their own lands in many of the surrounding African territories.

The population of the D.R. Congo is over 92 million people!
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0 #4 kasede 2021-06-18 00:31
Quoting kabayekka:
Yes this is another of these catholic Ganda diehards(DP) who only know the great job Benedict Kiwanuka did to amalgamate the State of Buganda with the other 14 tribal provinces to declare Uganda a Republic.

Now that the Kingdom State of Buganda is gradually being colonized again by the adjacent tribal states, this gentleman feels on top of the world to apportion the fertile lands of Buganda to those who are currently have the money to upgrade and update it!


My Dear, Pleaseunderstand that History well. (1) Budanda was duped by the Brits through the Buganda Agreement [Study Hong Kong too] that reduced the status of the Kingdom to a province.

(2) Therefore the Kingdom was NOT in the latter [L-caster] Agreement that gave Uganda Uhuru. (3) Unlike Benedcto, the Kingliked both Obote & the B-Agreement, until Daudi in the "Buganda Question" around 1965 that messed-up the close relationship between Obote & Mutesa. etc. No more space here.
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+3 #5 Omuzira Ente 2021-06-18 10:23
Mayanja like Tamale Mirundi is at liberty to abuse Buganda while enjoying the false protection of the illegal occupation regime of NRM that is holding power by gun not by the will of the people as they were voted out of power in 2021 General Elections.

What Mayanja and his masters need to know is that sowing seeds of hatred and greed for Money has far reaching impact on the future of their children.

Buganda was build on a very firm Foundation which will NEVER be broken a mere NRM military JUNTA.

The casualties in Mayanja's thinking are many right from the colonial masters, The list is endless including Dr Milton Obote and UPC,Akena Adoko, Idi Amin, Bidandi Ssali, Kanyehamba, Adoko Nickon and Binaisa to mention but a few. The power of the PEN has all it needs to disgruntle the GUN.

Those who wish to acquire Land world over follow the transferal arrangement of the indigenous people that explains why the colonialist had to run 100years of occupation. Many tribes use fake Kiganda Names
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+2 #6 kabayekka 2021-06-18 14:42
And as the Central Region of Uganda is being land victimized and taken over by ensi yaleeta, well, Rwanda is about the same size as Buganda with the land size of 26, 338 square miles. The population of Rwanda is 12.63 million peoples.

That is higher than Buganda of 9 million peoples. Now is this the reason why the people of Rwanda would rather be reduced in population so that many of them can immigrate to Buganda other than to the Congo and Tanzania or Kenya?

Mr Mayanja, is this your ambition therefore to try and appropriately divide the land mass of Buganda to the immigrating Rwandese citizens, the refugees of South Sudan, and the Congo?

And there are the immigrating 14 tribes of Uganda with a land size of 69,292.1 square miles of their own eg in Acholi land, Ankole land, and West Nile land, who also want a bit of the 9000 square miles (mailo akenda) of the Central Region of Buganda for their employment and better future investments!
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0 #7 kasede 2021-06-19 16:31
Quoting kabayekka:
And as the Central Region of Uganda is being land victimized and taken over by ensi yaleeta, well, Rwanda is about the same size as Buganda with the land size of 26, 338 square miles. The population of Rwanda is 12.63 million peoples. ...


Are you justifying the of milo land by the Rwandese or not for mailo?

If not please do not cry for for the lost land because you guys invited the Rwandese in. It is simply a CAUSE &EFFECT issue. I empathise with you though. If you must shed something, do not waste your tiers b'cause it will not aid your cause anyway.
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