This coming Saturday Kabaka of Buganda Fredrick Ronald Muwenda Mutebi II will mark 28 years on the throne as Kabaka of Buganda ever since his inauguration coronation in 1993.
The event took place at Nagalabi Buddo, the coronation site of Buganda located in Wakiso District.
Since then coronation anniversary events have been rotational, sometimes marked in Lubiri Mengo palace or in one of 18 counties of Buganda across the kingdom.
The last coronation anniversary took place at Lubiri Mengo in July last year scientifically amidst restrictions of Covid-19 pandemic. Like it was last year, this year’s event comes at a time when the country is battling the global Covid-19 pandemic which restricts the gathering of clouds.
According to organizers attendance will be restricted to an invitation and only 20 guests have been invited excluding security and Kabaka’s people.
This year the Kababaka chose to celebrate the day at Nkoni palace in Nkoni village, Kingo sub-county Lwengo district which is part of Buddu County.
According to Jude Muleke , the Kabaka’s chief in Buddu, one of Buganda’s counties, this Palace was selected because of its historical significance to the kingdom. Nkoni is among many places Kabaka has in Buganda and it was gifted to his father Kabaka Muteesa I by people from Buddu County then in 1955 when Muteesa was coming from exile.
“Among other significances, Nkoni palace is a gift of Kabaka’s father that his people gave him in 1955 when he was coming from exile therefore he will be celebrating at his father’s home,”
Nkoni palace occupies 10 acres of land and this land was bought by Baganda living in Buddu in 1955 to construct a palace as a gift to be presented to Kabaka Muteesa who was in exile after the Buganda crisis of 1953.
The Kabaka crisis was political and constitutional in Uganda’s protectorate under the leadership of the British between 1953-1955.
The Kabaka Muteesa II then pushed for Buganda secession from Uganda and was afterward deposed and exiled by the British government governor Andrew Cohen. Widespread dissatisfaction with this action forced the British government to reverse their action resulting in the restoration of Mutesa as specified in the Buganda agreement of 1955 and this among others shaped Uganda’s independence.
On his return from exile where he had spent two years, the people of Buddu gifted him with Nkoni palace.
According to Muleke , the construction of the palace was mobilized by 10 coffee farmers in Buddu then and they included Zelibaberi Mutasaga , Yokana Mukasa , Haji Musa Magezi , Hajji Mukasa , Mr Walubiri , Mr Aron Tebajjanga , Tefiro Ssembuzi, and Kagogo all from Buddu region .
“When Kabaka came back from exile the coffee farmers through their capacities presented Nkoni place as a gift which he accepted and this cements Buddu county relationship with coffee as their major cash crop,” Mr Muleke said
He said it was then roofed by white iron sheets but as time goes by the structure has been rehabilitated to a modern palace and the newly refurbished structure will be unveiled to Kabaka at his 28th coronation as a gift as it was the case to his father in 1955.
On 22 March 2003, 33 people led by former Masaka chairperson Joseph Kasozi were selected to take care of Nkoni palace and they have been doing the job. He said recently one of Buganda well-wishers Mr Robert Asiimwe who is not even a Muganda but loves kabaka decided to tarmac 2-kilometer road from Masaka –Mbarara high connecting to the palace at a cost of shs 270 million which he has fully paid.
Muleke notes that the preparations are in advanced stages and Buddu County is ready for the celebrations of 28th Kabaka’s coronation.
Despite inviting only 20 guests, we shall observe all Covid-19 guidelines issued by the Ministry of Health such social distancing, washing hands with soap, sanitizing, wearing masks, and measuring the body temperature of all guests before they can access the venue,” he said
He said cultural functions like the Kabaka sounding the Mujaguzo drums will also be performed because they are very important aspects of Buganda culture.
However, activities that can’t be carried out without contravening social distancing guidelines like carrying the Kabaka shoulder high (Okukongojja) will not be performed.
“There are other important aspects like chief from one county handing over Kabaka to another chief (OKUTIKULA EGGUGU) that we are not yet sure whether they will be performed but we are waiting for Mengo’s guidance,” he said
Buddu is one of Buganda counties and lies on the Northwest shore of Lake Victoria in the central region.
In 2010 Buddu County was divided into four districts of Bukomansimbi, Kalungu, Lwengo and Masaka. Buddu comprises 29 sub-counties and it has had 39 saza chiefs (pokino) and Mr Jude Muleke is 39th chief. Mr Muleke was appointed a saza chief on November 1st 2019 at the age of 39 years making him the first youngest pokino Buddu has ever had.
What usually happens at the coronation anniversary?
Members of the Mbogo clan carry Buganda King, Ronald Muwenda Mutebi II ((Okukongojja), Kabaka sounding the Mujaguzo drums and chief from one county handing over Kabaka to another chief (OKUTIKULA EGGUGU)