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OWEYEGHA AFUNADUULA: Busoga; Kyabazingaship is a political,  not cultural matter

It is true. When Apollo Milton Obote abolished Kingdoms he did not abolish cultures. Cultures in former kingdom areas and the territory of Busoga, and even in non-Kingdom areas, continued to manifest like before, although those aspects of cultures that interacted with Kings were constrained. The reason why cultures continued as if nothing had happened is that there was clear demarcation between the religious, the cultural and the political. So there was religious leadership, cultural leadership, and political leadership before Obote and the semi-Kingdom of Busoga.

In Busoga religious leadership was by Budhagaali, who was the equivalent of Archbishop of the Church of Uganda. He had religious leaders at the level of Bishops throughout Busoga. Every clan tended to have its Bishop. Cultural leaders, who were clan leaders, never interfered with religious leadership.

So when Apollo Milton Obote abolished Kyabazingaship, the people of Busoga were united for many years by clan leaders and religious leaders. But when President Tibuhaburwa Museveni, returned Kyabazingaship without the political arm, and baptised it a cultural institution, which was never its role, but the role of clan leaders, confusion started to creep into Busoga.

For one thing, the Kyabazinga started to feel that he had jurisidiction over the cultural and religious aspects of the organisational structure of Busoga. The two were subordinated to Kyabazinga, yet when Kyabazingaship was created by the colonialists, using the hereditary chiefs, to replace the Presidency of Busoga, which was political, they were independent of each other and of Kyabazingaship. The hereditary chiefdoms were independent of the religious and cultural leaderships too.

When the issue of Bujagali dam arose in the late 1990s, the Kyabazinga was used by the Central Government to destroy Bujagali Falls. The Kyabazinga said that if Bujagali falls were erased to erect a dam for electricity, it would have no negative effect on the religious and cultural perspectives of Busoga. That stance was dangerous to Busoga because the religious and the cultural of Busoga converged at Bujagali Falls. Already, cultural tourism was developing very fast, and bringing in a lot of money to the then Municipal Council of Jinja.

Besides, the conflicts in Busoga do not really involve the religious and the cultural, but the political, ever since a cultural Kyabazingaship was created by the 1995 Constitution.

The coming in of Kyabazinga Kadhumbula Gabula Nadiope IV was conflictual, involving two heavyweight politicians from Busoga – Rebecca Kadaga (of Bugabula) and Kirunda Kivejinja (of Bugweri) on the side of Gabula Nadiope IV. Although Wako Wambuzi of Bulamogi was excluded from Kyabazingaship, and even paid a visit to the Kyabazinga at his non-cultural Budhumbula home, he never accepted that he was not the rightful Kyabazinga. He went to Court, which was a political move, to determine the rightful Kyabazinga.

Usually a Kyabazinga is elected by the Hereditary Chiefs, which is a political, not a cultural act, ever since the institution was created in 1935. The court ruled in favour of Nadiope 1V.

Courts have become theatres of political contests, where some political players who have failed seek redress away from electors. Those who have failed to be elected always look to court for justice. That is where Wako Wambuzi also went and lost. He never sought religious and cultural interventions because he knew the matter was a political one to be solved politically in the Court.

One thing is true. Kyabazingaship was innovated politically, not culturally nor religiously. The colonialists played a critical role in its innovation. It can, therefore, only be sustained politically. And the Centre will always be involved in its tranquility, conflicts, solutions and sustenance. It had a political beginning, therefore it will always have a political end. The cultural and religious have no role in its manifestation.

For God and My Country.

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