By The Independent Team
Mayiga spoke with The Independent about what his new role as Katikkiro means both to him and the Kingdom and what the Baganda and Uganda may expect from his tenure.
You are one of the youngest katikkiro’s in recent history, is that an advantage or disadvantage?
You are at your best when you are still strong. So being relatively young is good because you can act as a bridge. You can relate to the young people, at the same time you can draw from the experience of older people, and I think that combination can produce very good results.
Why do you believe you were chosen ahead of everyone else who was interested?
That’s a question you should ask the Kabaka himself, he is the one who appointed me. I think every Katikkiro is named to contribute to the building of the institution of the Kabakaship.
With that, why did you accept? Why are you so passionate about the Buganda Kingdom?
I totally believe in the cultural heritage of Buganda and Uganda exists only because of the different groups that make it exist. Buganda Kingdom is about a thousand years; Uganda is only a hundred years so the nationalities that constitute Uganda are more authentic, strictly speaking, than Uganda itself.
Coming from Buganda, I believe we must strengthen the cultural aspirations of the people, you must uphold its heritage; you must preserve and protect it and somebody must do this job.
Why did I accept? Well, I’ve come to protect my heritage. I firmly believe that it is a big, big contribution to national stability and cohesion.
What do you hope to achieve, what do you hope will be your legacy?
I hope that I can be remembered in future as the katikkiro who inspired people of Buganda to work hard and to develop individually and at the institutional level. I hope I can be remembered as the Katikkiro who protected the heritage of the Kingdom, starting with the King, and all the organs that constitute the Kingdom.
I hope I can be remembered as the Katikkiro who helped forge more genuine unity within the people of Buganda and between the people of Buganda and other Ugandans.
What do you think the Katikkiro’s role is in these modern times when you represent one quarter of the population?
The role of Buganda’s Prime Minister is first of all to protect the King, so I am here to struggle for the integrity of the Kabaka. To protect and preserve the cultural heritage of Buganda which is headed by the Kabaka, he is the custodian of that heritage.
My next task is to help the people of Buganda fight poverty because the most humiliating thing that the Kingdom suffers is poverty. Not denial of the federal system of government, or denial of returning properties. Those we need but the most humiliating thing is the poverty.
That’s where I’m going to concentrate my energies. The well being of the people is the task that the Kabaka expects the Prime Minister to execute.
So how do you think you will differ from past Prime Ministers?
I am just going to supplement what they started, probably I’ll initiate new projects, but the work of a katikkiro is a continuous job, it’s a process. You cannot compartmentalise in a strict sense what each one did, you just keep going on.
What I’ll do is try to mobilise people for development at the individual level and the institutional level. The people should first and foremost have what to eat, and something to earn, then the institution itself, the Kingdom, should have its own projects, that will help provide employment and answer the daily needs of the people.
Innovation was one of the things you outlined in your policy framework, so can we expect innovative tackling of problems rather than the traditional routes?
I don’t have to come up with new projects, as if we don’t have projects going on. We just have to carry on with what was planned and modify here and there.
I want to bring on board young people, people of different categories; corporate, all these people, the young people in the villages. I don’t want it to be an exercise for town dwellers. I think we’ve put too much emphasis on Kampala and the urban areas around the capital. I want the young people to feel that this is their job, this is their task.
You have spoken about preserving culture and morals, why is that important?
You can never appreciate things you do not know or understand. I want to make it something of pride to be seen participating in kingdom affairs. Once that happens, it’s going to be their job to protect that heritage. I wrote a book, Buganda Ku Ntiiko, and one of the reasons why I wrote that is to propagate these values to everyone who can read so that they can understand what Buganda is yearning for. When we say ‘ebyaffe’ what do we mean?
It has been said your appointment shows that Buganda is trying a new approach when dealing with the central government, a more definitive approach, and your speech which was quite fiery, seems to confirm this. So what would you say your planned approach is?
(Laughs heartily) First of all, I am a very civil person, I believe in respecting people irrespective of their positions in the society. I respect the leaders in central government. I will defend the interests of the Kingdom in a clear and loud voice but I’m not going to provoke anyone, I’m not going to disparage anyone in public, or even in private; I don’t think it’s necessary.
What is important is to put the correct message across. So we don’t have an agenda as such, we are only interested in preserving and promoting what we believe in and to defend it where necessary. I don’t think my appointment was meant to tell the central government ‘look, we brought you someone who is a firebrand’ or things like that, I’m not that kind of person.
I am a very passionate person but there is no way you are going to have discourse with others by being animated or even dramatic. Nobody is interested in the ping pong; somebody in the central government comes out with a big word against us, and we open our mouth the next day with a big word against them, of what use is that?
I just want to say ‘look, you owe us some billions of shillings, please pay us’. The people of Buganda, over 90% want a federal system of government, everyone is moving in that direction, including Kenya. 65% of Ugandans told Justice Benjamin Odoki ‘we want a federal system of government.’ So my friends, how about us having a federal system of government, what do you lose?
What Buganda needs will be attained at the right time. Buganda is not a commodity; it has no ‘sell by’ date. You do what you have to do at the right time; you don’t have to rush. It’s inevitable that what the people want prevails, that’s what history teaches us.
So we don’t want to be bloodshot eyed for people to know that we are damn serious, or to wear very haggard faces because we are so committed to these causes. No, no, no, we have to live a civilized life, talk nicely to the other side, and I think we can make progress that way.
Having said that, what is your stance on federalism?
Federalism means one thing: sharing power. It gives you a chance to handle your internal affairs without undue interference from the centre. I don’t know why the president, or a minister or anybody else should want to get involved in the cultural heritage of Buganda.
The central government should deal with defense, foreign affairs, economic policy and general policies related to the governance of the country but then the little agendas should be handled at the regional level. Every country that has embraced it has always developed faster; Malaysia, Ethiopia, Nigeria, even South Africa may call it provincialism but basically it’s about sharing power.
It is said that you want to put empowering the Kingdom financially over achieving ‘federo’?
The integrity of the Kabaka is a continuous thing that doesn’t have to wait for a federal system of government. Things like the tombs, reorganising administration within Bulange and other Kingdom institutions, those need urgent and immediate attention and that’s what I intend to do.
We have been seeking a federal system of government since 1991! Inspiring people for development or even at the institutional level is going to help young people. So it is very important.
Where do you see Buganda Kingdom going forward?
The people of Buganda are going to be more united; they are going to rally around their king more fervently. I think they are going to worry about their welfare, economic and social. I think they are going to be very proud of their heritage, their culture, their history, and the people of Buganda are going to love working with the rest of Uganda.