Art, Culture, Books and Travel
Uganda: 19 interesting things about the King of the Baganda Tribe “Kabaka”
Like many great people, there are always interesting things about them that make them human like the rest of us mortals. Even Kabaka Ronald Muwenda Mutebi, who celebrated his 19th coronation anniversary yesterday in Busiro County, and recently, made 57 years. We talked to a couple of people who have watched the Kabaka blossom, and they shared a few interesting things about the monarch.
1. Belongs to the Nkima (monkey clan): Kabaka Ronald Mutebi belongs to the Nkima (monkey) clan. In Buganda, kings take on the clan of their mothers. His children, however, are princes and princesses, and they take on the Balangira clan.
2. Loves movies: The Kabaka is said to also be a keen and ardent lover of movies, whether it is simply watching from the high comforts of the palace or a cinema.
3. Body guards (Bambowa): The king of Buganda moves with a security detail composed of Baganda UPDF soldiers. There are, however, other guards who move even closer to him and dress in the traditional garb of bark cloth and kanzus as compared to the rest, who wear the militaristic green fatigues. The guards move around in four-wheel drive cars with the plates, “Royal Guards” plastered on the back and front.
4. Loves Oliver Mtukudzi: Music has a way of tearing into the soul of even the hardest hearts; mention any historical strong man, whether it is Napoleon or Hitler, and they all had at least a specific type of music they liked. And Kabaka Ronald Mutebi is a keen lover of music. He has a large collection of many musicians. He especially likes African music and one of his favourite musicians is Zimbabwean World Music star, Oliver Mtukudzi.
5. Nnabagereka attended coronation: Kabaka Ronald Mutebi is married to Sylvia Nagginda and the two have a daughter, Katrina Ssangalyambogo. They got married in August 1998 at St Paul’s Cathedral, Namirembe. Photos from the coronation at Nnagalabi, Buddo, in 1993, show the Nnabagereka in attendance, a full five years before their marriage.
6. Palaces: The kingdom of Buganda runs at least five palaces which are the official residences of the Kabaka. Although the palaces in Mengo, Banda and Kireka have been the most commonly talked about, there is the Bamunanika palace in Bulememeezi, Luweero District, Nkoni Palace in Buddu, Masaka, and, Lukunyu palace in Rakai District, which has been earmarked to become a cultural tourism site. As a local tabloid once quipped, a king does not reign from one spot.
7. Mobilised for NRA: During the 1981-1985 rebellion, the Kabaka was introduced to the National Resistance Movement (NRA) leadership by current presidential adviser, John Nagenda. The result was that the young heir-to-the-throne moved through parts of Buganda, under the guard of NRA soldiers, meeting influential Baganda in various parishes, asking them to support the rebellion, say in provision of food items.
8. Loves goat meat? And if the words that Kabaka of Buganda said at a past celebration of his birthday are anything to go by literally, then we can rest assured that a fine healthy piece of goat meat would warrant a place on his best dish. The king is quoted as saying that his teeth are still strong and that he can still enjoy a meal of goat meat.
9. Celebrity birthday celebrations: Ask yourself for a moment how many public figures, regardless of whether they are leaders or plain simple celebrities, have their birthdays as public knowledge, which are then celebrated with pomp. The President’s birthday is not known for instance, and little interest has been taken in those of other such figures who are constantly in public lime light. The Kabaka is ,however, not like those with April 13, in nearly all recent years, marked with a partyful celebration of his birthday.
10. Owns a building in Katwe: The Kabaka owns a building in Katwe, next to the Anglican Church. The building is called Muganzirwazza Commercial Complex.
11. He has walked to school on foot: Kabaka Mutebi stayed with a county chief in Buwekula after Mubende, and actually, that is where he started his primary school. He would walk to school on foot, yes, without shoes, and the only privilege he enjoyed was an armed guard. He was living the life of an ordinary Muganda. His father wanted to prepare him, to understand how the people he was going to lead live, so that he is not out of touch with reality.
12. Long wait for potential heir: For 18 years after he was crowned as king, Kabaka Ronald Mutebi did not have a son who was eligible to succeed him to the throne. His older son is not born of a Muganda woman, hence disqualifying him. This was until the beginning of this year when the kingdom announced the birth of Prince Richard Ssemakokiro, born to a woman of the nsenene (grasshopper) clan.
13. He wept in public: If you have read stories of past kings and other such rulers, you know that they have not exactly always been very friendly or warm fellows. They kept up public appearances of the mean, tough-skinned almost ultra-human being that their subjects had to worship. But when fire brought the mausoleum where his forefathers’ remains are buried crumbling down like into a pile of ash, Kabaka Ronald Muwenda Mutebi broke down in public, in full view of watching cameras. With a white handkerchief, he wiped his red teary eyes.
14. Attended Budo Junior School: Apart from another school in west Buganda, Budo Junior School is the other only Ugandan school that Kabaka Ronald Mutebi attended.
15. Children: The Kabaka has five children, namely princes Jjunju Suuna and Richard Semakokiro, and, princesses, Joan Nassolo, Victoria Nkinzi and Katrina Ssangalyambogo.