The question of Buganda in contemporary Ugandan politics

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Joe Oloka O


The Journal of Contemporary African Studies, Volume 15, Issue 2, p.173-189 (1997)



Buganda Kingdom, Kabaka, politics, President, Sir Edward Mutesa


<p style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family: lucida sans unicode,lucida grande,sans-serif;">My first twinge of foreboding had come at midnight on 9 October, 1962, as I watched Milton <span data-scayt_word="Obote" data-scaytid="116">Obote</span> raise the flag of independence. My anxiety had no precise form or cause. It was more the sense of an unfamiliar shift of emphasis, a gap between what was fitting and what was not.<br />Sir Edward <span data-scayt_word="Mutesa" data-scaytid="117">Mutesa</span> II, 1968.</span></span></p><p style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family: lucida sans unicode,lucida grande,sans-serif;">No dead man has any right to rule over the living directly through his own ghost or indirectly through heirs &hellip;Justice, love of common men, rule by representatives were the ultimate values treasured most by <span data-scayt_word="Obote" data-scaytid="118">Obote</span>. Hence Milton and Sir Edward could not get along at all.<br /><span data-scayt_word="Naphtali" data-scaytid="119">Naphtali</span> <span data-scayt_word="Akena" data-scaytid="120">Akena</span> <span data-scayt_word="Adoko" data-scaytid="121">Adoko</span>, 1969.</span></span></p><p style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family: lucida sans unicode,lucida grande,sans-serif;">I have been emphasizing to them &nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;that it would be better if they confined their activities to culture without trying to get involved in politics or administration.<br />Some have listened but others have not.<br /><span data-scayt_word="Yoweri" data-scaytid="122">Yoweri</span> <span data-scayt_word="Kaguta" data-scaytid="123">Kaguta</span> <span data-scayt_word="Museveni" data-scaytid="124">Museveni</span>, 1993.</span></span></p><p style="text-align: justify;"><strong><span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family: lucida sans unicode,lucida grande,sans-serif;">Introduction</span></span></strong></p><p style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family: lucida sans unicode,lucida grande,sans-serif;">Few subjects in recent Ugandan history have attracted such varied, <span data-scayt_word="conflictual" data-scaytid="125">conflictual</span> and deep emotions as the question of <span data-scayt_word="Buganda" data-scaytid="127">Buganda</span>. At the beginning of the decade, save for the lone voices emanating from the nondescript Conservative Party (<span data-scayt_word="CP" data-scaytid="129">CP</span>), the rather incongruous ranting of a visiting American professor, and the strident calls of <span data-scayt_word="Makerere" data-scaytid="130">Makerere</span> University don, Apollo <span data-scayt_word="Nsibambi" data-scaytid="131">Nsibambi</span>, to respect&nbsp; &lsquo;culture&rsquo; and the support federalism, 1 little else was heard about the issue. 2 Then in a flurry of activity culminating in the coronation of Prince Ronald <span data-scayt_word="Muwenda" data-scaytid="132">Muwenda</span> <span data-scayt_word="Mutebi" data-scaytid="133">Mutebi</span> as <span data-scayt_word="36th" data-scaytid="135">36th</span> <span data-scayt_word="Kabaka" data-scaytid="136">Kabaka</span> (King) in the middle of 1993, the question of <span data-scayt_word="Buganda" data-scaytid="128">Buganda</span> dramatically returned to <span data-scayt_word="centre-scene" data-scaytid="138">centre-scene</span> in Uganda. It has not left the stage since and is likely to become even more intricate and <span data-scayt_word="conflictual" data-scaytid="126">conflictual</span> before it does. Indeed, Sir Edward <span data-scayt_word="Mutesa’s" data-scaytid="139">Mutesa&rsquo;s</span> concluding words in his autobiography written as <span data-scayt_word="Kabaka" data-scaytid="137">Kabaka</span> in exile were poignant: &ldquo;In the end I shall return to the land of my fathers and to my people &ldquo;.3 The <span data-scayt_word="Kabaka’s" data-scaytid="141">Kabaka&rsquo;s</span> return&mdash; in the form of <span data-scayt_word="Mutesa’s" data-scaytid="140">Mutesa&rsquo;s</span> son and designated heir, <span data-scayt_word="Mutebi" data-scaytid="134">Mutebi</span>&mdash; is having a far greater impact than either <span data-scayt_word="Mutesa" data-scaytid="142">Mutesa</span> or former President Milton <span data-scayt_word="Obote" data-scaytid="143">Obote</span> could ever have imagined.&nbsp; At the same time, the reincarnation of <span data-scayt_word="Obuganda" data-scaytid="144">Obuganda</span> 4 raises numerous questions about the extent to which Uganda can avoid another crisis over the issue. &nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;</span></span><br />&nbsp;</p>