KYABAZINGA DAY: A Day to Recount the History of Busoga and Relevance of the Kyabazingaship

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His Royal Highness Gabula William Wilberfore Kadhumbula Nadiope IV
His Royal Highness Gabula William Wilberfore Kadhumbula Nadiope IV

It’s all about cheers, jubilations, merry making and celebrations at Namutumba district headquarters as the Kyabazinga arrives in the jovial mood. It is hard to believe that indeed poverty exists in this region today as all Busoga people are celebrating the arrival of our beloved Kyabazinga on the great Kyabazinga day celebrations. Everyone is singing the great Busoga anthem; “Tulibankabi innho yenga twesimye inho…….” (We’re the most blessed and we’re happy and proud to be Basoga).

The people from all walks of life in Busoga, either the peasants or the political thieves (read class), the Royals and the subjects; the Busoga ministers (Abebitibwa) and the Katukiro, The prime minister of the Kingdom, Dr. Joseph Muvawala and others were in celebratory moods and many thanks for the organization before I forget.

To the many people here, it’s all about one issue; The Kyabazinga; His Royal Highness Gabula William Wilberfore Kadhumbula Nadiope IV. As he strolled through the Namutumba Township to the celebration grounds we need to dig into the understanding of the Kyabazingaship and perhaps have a snippet in the history of the kingdom. Before we enter into the historical part, I heard names like “Maino ga Ngwoina, Kisegese ekitalibwa Nsolo, Empologoma ya’Busoga, Isebantu, Afunvughe Latta” and many others were names mentioned in colors. These were touching names indeed culturally educational as I try my best to trace the meaning of all the names.

Since 11th February 1939, Busoga started to celebrate a new beginning. This was and is both cultural and a political leader who considered the amalgamation of the 11 chiefdoms which make up Busoga as a whole.  Busoga’s past and present depicts her future so much as a federal kingdom in Uganda. Based on the history of kingdoms in the interlucastine region Eastern Africa, her organization is similar to many as far as in the political, social and economic organization.

What must be noted from the beginning is that, Busoga and the Basoga people existed just as the migration and settlement of the Bantu people from central Africa but the Kyabazingaship started in 1939. I hope you all remember the whole migration story.

Currently, the federal kingdom is composed of 11 chiefdoms. These are Bugabula BB led by His Royal Highness Gabula William Wilberfore Kadhumbula Nadiope IV; Bulamogi led by Zibondo Columbus Wambuzi; Kigulu led by Ngobi Izimba Gologolo; Luuka led by Tabingwa Willington Nabwana; and Bukooli led by Wakooli.

Also, Bukono is led by Nkono; Butembe led by Ntembe Yasin Waguma; Bugweri led by Menya Kakaire Fred; Busiki led by Kisiki Yekosofato Kawanguzi; Bunya led by Luba; and finally Bunyole led by Nanhumba John Ntale.

His Royal Highness Gabula William Wilberfore Kadhumbula Nadiope IV sounding the royal drums
His Royal Highness Gabula William Wilberfore Kadhumbula Nadiope IV sounding the royal drums

The current Kyabazinga His Royal Highness Gabula William Wilberfore Kadhumbula Nadiope IV is the fifth Kyabazinga of Busoga. He hails from the Royal family of Bugabula BB where his great grandfather, The Late His Royal Highness Gabula Wilberfore Kadhumbula Nadiope II was the 2nd Kyabazinga of Busoga after the first His Royal Highness Ezikiel Waako Tenywa who hailed from Bulamogi.

Hitherto to his election as the Kyabazinga of Busoga, there were social and legal controversies after the death of Kyabazinga HRH Waako Muloki. Between September 2008 — 2012, there has been a leadership gap as the search for the new Kyabazinga was going on. Many princes aspired to become Kyabazinga and indeed division, hatred and anger still loams large in Busoga. But like what as Basoga people believe that “Okwisania na’maani or unity is strength”; this alone has propelled Busoga to greater heights that today we live in hope. A lot has been discussed over this but the truth manifests that Busoga as a kingdom won and we have the Kyabazinga.

With the same understanding Busoga as per the central government is composed of 10 districts. These are Kamuli, Iganga, Jinja, Mayuge, Buyende, Kaliro, Namutumba, Luuka, Namayingo, and Bugiri.

How about the history of Busoga and her Kyabazinga:

At the end of 15th century, a peculiar but cultural institution called Busoga for the Basoga. After the Bantu migration and settlement in East, central and southern Africa led to formation of many kingdoms as we hinted above. This further puts the fact that the arrival of the ‎‎Baisengobi clan, from Bunyoro Kitara Kingdom tells a great Busoga story of formation and leadership.

It’s no wonder that, the Omukama Solomon Gafabusa of Bunyoro presided over the coronation of His Royal Highness Gabula William Wilberfore Kadhumbula Nadiope IV in 2014 as the Kyabazinga of Busoga. That’s the great connection Busoga has with Bunyoro in the history of kingdom formation in Uganda.

The true legend contends that Prince Mukama Namutukula from the royal ‎family (Babiito) is said to have left Bunyoro around the beginning of the 16th century and as part of Bunyoro Kitara’s expansionist policy.  He trekked eastwards across ‎‎Lake Kyoga with his wife Nawudo, a handful of servants, arms and a dog, and settled at Iyingo which is in the northern part of Busoga in ‎‎Buyende District today.‎

‎The prince and his wife gave birth to several ‎princes and princess of whom only five boys survived. When Mukama left for Bunyoro, ‎‎he allocated his sons as overseers of the areas he had conquered as a leader. Wakoli, the first-born was given to oversee Bukooli, ‎‎Zibondo (the 2nd born was to administer Bulamogi, prince Ngobi for Kigulu (the 3rd), ‎‎Tabingwa was given Luuka (the 4th and a celebrated warrior), while the youngest son Kitimbo was to ‎settle in Bugabula with the support of his elder brothers.

The tradition continued as they passed on and their children took over the leadership up to day. One may ask as to why some other chiefdoms were not part of that history. The answer is that the first five chiefdoms with time continued to subdivide while others simply had their own leadership outside the Baise Ngobi clan. It is also understood that some come from different clans but are historical royal families in Busoga.

At the arrival of colonialism in the early years of the 19th century; the cultural and social organization was in existence in Busoga. The colonialists persuaded ‎the rulers of Busoga into some form of federation. This federation resulted into a ‎regional Busoga council called Busoga Lukiiko which presently seats at Bugembe.‎

Notably, before 1906, although it was often called a ‘kingdom’, it was debatable whether ‎Busoga could really be classified as such. Unlike its neighbor, Buganda, ‎Busoga did not have a central ‘all-powerful’ figurehead (King or Queen) until 1906. In order to properly organize the kingdom’s principalities or chiefdoms, the colonialists embarked on grooming Yosia Nadiope, the then ‎‎Gabula of Bugabula BB to become the first permanent resident ruler of the formed ‎‎Busoga federation. Unfortunately, Nadiope passed on in ‎‎1913. The cause of his death was malaria. In the following year, 1914, Zibondo Ezekiel Tenywa Wako of Bulamogi was completing his ‎studies at Kings College Budo where Yosia had been too. With the British support together with his background as a Prince and his educational background; he became the only suitable candidate for the top post in Busoga.

After his education, the Busoga Lukiiko resolved in 1919 to elect Ezekiel ‎Tenywa Wako as president of Busoga under the Governor’s office. Negotiations started over his title between 1919 and 1920. He was first referred to the “Isebantu”. Later in 1925 another proposal of the “Kyabazinga name” was adopted and Tenywa became a member of Uganda Kings ‎Council, which consisted then him, The Kyabazinga of Busoga, Kabaka of Buganda, the ‎‎Omukama of Bunyoro, Omukama of Tooro and ‎‎The Omugabe of Ankole.‎ after continued longer discussions for about five years, he was refered to as the Isebantu Kyabazinga Owekitibwa Ezekiel Tenywa Wako.

Finally, on 11th February 1939, The Late First Kyabazinga Isebantu Ezekiel Tenywa Wako, who was also the late father of the last ‎‎Isebantu Kyabazinga wa Busoga, His Royal Highness Henry Wako Muloki, the Zibondo ‎of Bulamogi was installed as the first Isebantu Kyabazinga wa Busoga. He held the Kyabazinga title ‎ until 1949 when he retired due to old age.

At his retirement; the ‎‎ Lukiiko had expanded to include people other than the hereditary ‎rulers. These members of the Busoga Lukiiko were elected representatives – two ‎from each of the then 55 Sub-counties in Busoga.‎

The ‎Busoga Lukiiko also resolved then that the Isebantu Kyabazinga wa Busoga shall ‎always be elected among the five lineages of Baise Ngobi (Ababiito) hereditary ‎rulers – traditionally believed to have been the five sons of Omukama of Bunyoro. These are Zibondo of Bulamogi, ‎ ‎Gabula of Bugabula, ‎ ‎Ngobi of Kigulu,‎ ‎Tabingwa of Luuka,‎ ‎Ngobi of Kigulu‎.

This method of election was used for the subsequent elections of the Isebantu ‎Kyabazinga wa Busoga, since 1949 when Kyabazinga William ‎Wilberforce Nadiope Kadhumbula of Bugabula was elected Isebantu Kyabazinga ‎wa Busoga for two terms of three years each. He was followed by Kyabazinga Henry ‎Wako Muloki who also served for two terms.‎

In 1966, the Kyabazinga was dethroned and indeed the kingdoms were banned by the then government of former late president of Uganda, Dr. Apollo Milton Obote.

Following the formulation of the 1995 constitution and the political turmoils and guelira wars in Uganda (from 1970s to 1986) the government through the constitution restored monarchies in Uganda. This is clearly stated in Article 246(1) of the constitution. On February 11, ‎‎1996, His Royal Highness Henry Wako Muloki was reinstated as the Kyabazinga Isebantu of Busoga.

Since his re-installation, the Kyabazinga worked tirelessly for the good and unification of Busoga. And among his achievements include special programs initiated for girl-child education, for the youth and for the elderly and the disadvantaged. He also emerged as a unifying factor for the Basoga and the people who live in and out of Busoga. He helped nurturing the current Kyabazinga today and indeed the most loved.

His Royal Highness Henry Wako Muloki was a strong pillar to Busoga until, the 1st of September 2008, when he succumbed to esophageal cancer at the Mulago National Referral Hospital at the age of 87.

With the rich history and an embordiment of an institution of Busoga and Obwa Kyabazinga led by Maino ga Ngwoina His Royal Highness Gabula William Wilberfore Kadhumbula Nadiope IV thrives on the unity of Busoga as her strength; empowering and agitating for the youth to work hard; focused on education and environmental protection; the present Kyabazinga leads Busoga into the noble cause of prosperity and indeed economic development.

As we celebrate this day, may we remember this day for the unity and working together like termites; “Abasoga Nseete”. Kibumba abakume nhi Kyabazinga Afunvughe.

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