By Patrick Kagenda
Ugandans breathed a sigh of relief when it was announced that Busoga had at last resolved its long-standing Kyabazingaship issues. The Independent’s Patrick Kagenda talked to Frank Nabwiso, an elder and political analyst on Busoga affairs, to get an insight into the Busoga question. Excerpts
Why has Busoga failed to get a King accepted by all the Basoga?
The Obwakyabazinga bwa Busoga is a historical issue because the Kyabazingas of Busoga have always come from two counties namely Bulamogi and Bugabula. The two counties have rivalled each other in the politics of Busoga from 1949 to to date – a period of 65 years. I have done research on both people in the area of intermarriage and what I discovered is that what happens at the social level is not what happens on the political scene. They intermarry freely but when it comes to politics the picture is the total opposite.
What do the elders of Busoga make of this political disagreement?
As a researcher on the Kyabazingaship, I found out that when political rivalry takes place, political emotions don’t allow logical and rational thinking to reign. This is what is happening now because all the good things are submerged by political sentiments. It is difficult to get what you would call elders in the area to reach an amicable resolution. And when the government gets involved, elders are disempowered.
What exactly happened in 1949?
That was when, after World War II following the formation of the UN in 1940, the British saw the need to give independence to colonies starting with India in 1941 followed by Pakistan. By 1949, all British governors were called by the first Labour Party Prime Minister Clement Attlee and told to expedite the process of giving independence to the colonies. Among other requirements was that all local government councils be democratized. Earlier in 1948, there had been riots in Buganda (the Buganda riots) against Kabaka Mutesa for his closeness to the British, while in 1945 the Baganda had killed Luther Nsibirwa who had served as Katikiro of Buganda (1929-1941) at Namirembe. Meanwhile in 1925, the British had started educating children of the chiefs and had even sent Kadumbula William Nadiope to Trinity College in London where he spent four years. His return was premised on a couple of issues ranging from health reasons because winter affected his breathing, being a loner, etc. He was supposed to go to Achimota Kings College in Ghana but never went because his subjects wanted him to reclaim his kingdom of Bugabula where in 1930 he was crowned as heir to Yosia Nadiope.
Way back in 1919, the Busoga Lukiiko had asked the British for a three-year president and consequently a palace was built at Bugembe for the president of the Lukiiko. Meanwhile, Ezekiel Wako in 1922 had been re-elected as President of the Busoga Lukiiko and was comfortable with the British having studied at Kings College Buddo where he had met Sir Daudi Cwa.
In 1941, William Nadiope enlisted to fight in WWII. He got exposure and in 1945 when the war was over he returned to Uganda and was employed at Kampala Town Council (today KCCA). Meanwhile, Wako was still king of Busoga.
However, the British convinced Wako to step down and Busoga Lukiiko elected Kadumbula Nadiope who was more educated, was tough and had fought on the side of the British during WWII. This was the first time the Kyabazingaship went to Bugabula County (Kamuli District). In 1952, the British re-introduced the three year rotational presidency of the Lukiiko. The Gombolola chiefs were to elect the Kyabazinga and Nadiope took the day when he was voted overwhelmingly. However in 1955, the British ejected Nadiope who they looked at as just a prince who had no managerial skills because he had turned the Lukiiko Hall into a maize-trading centre. They terminated the election of the Kyabazinga by the Gombolola chiefs and returned the election to the Lukiiko comprising the 11 royals.
What was the situation like after Uganda attained independence?
Before independence, Muloki became Kyabazinga after he defeated Nadiope in the elections for Kyabazingaship. In 1958, Muloki defeated Nadiope once again. But Nadiope got an outlet when the first general elections to the legislative council were introduced. Busoga had at that time been divided into two regions namely: Northern Busoga that included Bugabula, Bulamogi, and Busiki (Namutumba) and southern Busoga that included Jinja and Bugiri. In 1959 when Obote overthrew Ignatius Musaazi of the Uganda National Congress and formed the Uganda People’s Congress, Nadiope became his vice president. During the 1961 London Conference, it was agreed that all kingdoms in Uganda become federal states.
How did the Obote I regime handle the Busoga issue then?
On return from London, Nadiope started plotting to become Kyabazinga again. In 1962, district councils were ordered to hold their elections and UPC won overwhelmingly. Nadiope was not only the UPC vice president but also minister of internal affairs and chairman of UPC in Busoga. However, the Lukiiko, which was supposed to only transact the election of the speaker and his deputy, went into overdrive and elected a Kyabazinga (Nadiope) yet Muloki was still Kyabazinga. The Lukiiko also elected another six special elected persons, which amounted to a ‘palace coup.’ The opposition went to court, challenged the election of the new Kyabazinga (Nadiope) and the six specially-elected officials. The acting chief justice at the time a one Bennet, ruled that the Busoga Lukiiko had not been properly constituted.
Because Obote had seen weaknesses in Nadiope that included inefficiency, and being incapable of answering questions in Parliament he did not want him to remain the minister of internal affairs.
In 1963, Grace Ibingira, who was the secretary general of UPC, developed what was called the Busoga Validation Bill, which later became the Busoga Validation Act which created a precedence where Parliament rushed into the Busoga affairs and overruled the court ruling. In October 1963, Nadiope was elected first vice president of Uganda with Mutesa as president. What happened next is now history.
Why has the government failed to reign in the warring factions?
The government’s hands are tied, because according to the current Constitution of Uganda, Parliament cannot overturn a ruling passed by a competent court. That would tantamount to the overthrow of the rule of law and would be similar to what happened in 1963 when Parliament overturned the court ruling. The best the government can do is to consent to the court’s decision and announce the Kyabazinga.