The Toilets in the Higher institutions of learning in the country of Buganda are a danger to the health of these communities:

By Vicky Wandawa, John Semakula, Jackie Nalubwama, Jacquiline Nakandi, Cissy Apiso, David Lukiiza, Maureen Nakatudde


Added 23rd May 2019


Haruna Muwanga, a first-year diploma student at the faculty of arts and social sciences, says pipes in the toilets leak, so the floor is always wet and the toilet bowls are broken. “Sometimes you fail to get where to squat,” he says

Toilets 703x422

Old and broken pipes at Mary Stuart Hall at Makerere University


KAMPALA- Who is responsible for overseeing sanitation at institutions of higher learning? 

Last week on Thursday morning, Makerere University students of Michael Hall took out placards and demonstrated over the appalling conditions of toilets.

According to the guild president, Papa Were Salim, dozens of students staying in Michael Hall gathered at the main building at around 10:00am. Were said the students vowed not to leave until the university administration addressed them on the toilet crisis.

Saturday Vision has learnt that since this semester started, Block D and Block C of Mitchel Hall have had no functioning toilets. Students say for about five months, they have been using toilets in the neighbouring Blocks A and B. As a result, they have suffered long queues.

Were said it took the intervention of guild officials and the dean of students to calm the students.

“Later, students leaders met with the dean (of students, Cyriaco Kabagambe), after which a letter was issued in which the university committed itself to find funds immediately to resume refurbishing the lavatories,” he said.

According to the guild president, Kabagambe told students that the university had earmarked sh1.3b to refurbish the toilets and this money was expected to come from the students’ fees this semester. But that the poor inflow of tuition fees did not raise enough money quickly.

Saturday Vision learnt that at the time the university started refurbishing the toilets during last semester’s recess, some toilets had no doors and students were using temporary curtains.

“The refurbishing has resumed today, Thursday,” Were said. “I have even received communication from all the affected halls of residence that the construction has resumed.”

According to the guild president, the affected halls of residence are Mitchel, Nsibirwa, and Lumumba. Journalism@Muk, a students’ website that runs news updates about events in Makerere University reported early this week that the poor sanitation at the university had been complicated by a water crisis that had left the few functioning toilets without water for flushing.

Kabagambe acknowledged the problem.

“What happened on Thursday was just a reminder to the university administration about the few toilet facilities in the halls of residence.

Students have been complaining for some time. We have had a challenge of hosting the World University Netball games, which delayed the renovation process. We have now resumed and promise to complete the renovations by November,” he said.


 ome students at ary tuart all dispose of pads on this trees branches near their hallSome students at Mary Stuart Hall dispose of pads on this tree’s branches near their hall

Makerere problem

The toilet crisis is not limited to Mitchel Hall. At Mary Stuart Hall, an unpleasant smell welcomes you on the ground floor, with stagnant and smelly water. Flies are hovering around the hall.

“The situation is not good here because of the broken sewage pipes and students no longer care to pour water as required,” a female student said. “Can you imagine I have been waiting here in the queue for the last 10 minutes to enter the toilets, but none of those people inside is coming out. What if I had diarrhoea?”

The situation is worse when it comes to the disposal of used sanitary pads that are scattered everywhere around the hall, including on the tree branches. Students said the incinerator, where they used to deposit the pads, is dysfunctional.

Sawuya Namuwaya, a first-year law student and a resident of Mary Stuart, told Saturday Vision that the poor toilet facilities have made life very hard.

“The situation is worse in the evening,” she said. “Usually, in the morning, the toilets are clean because the cleaners do their work. But when it gets to the evening, things become bad. Some students do not flush; others just urinate on the floors.” Namuwaya said it gets worse when the taps get dry.

“For example, we spent the previous week (a week leading to the end of September) with no water,” she says.

“Some students had to return home for a while until the water returned. Those who had nowhere to go defecated in the already full toilets, others on the floor. The weak-hearted ran to the nearby hostels outside the university to ease themselves.” Saturday Vision visited universities around Kampala to compare the toilet situation.

 he few toilets of itchel all are brokenThe few toilets of Mitchel Hall are broken


Makerere University Business School (MUBS), even after a toilet cleaner has finished his work, you will still be hit by a pungent smell when you enter the washrooms. But despite the odour, about four female students were found standing by the mirrors, applying make-up while engrossed in a conversation about the worth of the outfits they wore.

“This dress cost only sh10,000,” one of them said as she held up the hem of her dress.

Another got out of one of the toilets to wash her hands. When asked if the toilet she just used was clean, she said: “There is no water, try the next one.” And then hurried away.
 toilet floors are wet and faultyMUBS toilet floors are wet and faulty

The handles for flushing were broken and the bowls stained with a dark coating. The sinks were leaking and had pockets of water below them. The floor was wet and there was no soap or toilet tissue.

The MUBS spokesperson, Simon Peter Odoki, downplayed the problem.

“The university prioritises sanitation,” he said, “I am sure the lavatories are in good condition.

It is possible that due to the big population, soap may run out in during the day, but it does not mean that the sanitation is poor.”


Saturday Vision arrived at Nkumba University at 4:00pm and found the floor in the toilets dirty. The toilets at the classroom blocks are cleaned only once a day, in the morning, but there was no soap or tissue.

There are also few toilets inside the students’ hostels, such as in Nnabagereka Hostel.

Martha, a law student, said recently, the toilets inside one of the classroom blocks near the law school and the SBA block caved in and nearly killed a university administrator.

“Now we are using the staff toilets at the SBA block, but we fear that even these toilets could collapse any time,” she said.

One of the cleaners told Saturday Vision that he had complained to the administration about the status of the toilets even before the collapse, but nothing was done.


At Kampala International University (KIU), some of the toilet facilities have water, but no soap. There were also three toilets on campus that needed serious repair.

The toilets had no symbols showing whether they were for men or women. Each floor has toilets, but some of them were dilapidated and needed urgent attention. There was also no soap for washing hands.

Kyambogo University

Haruna Muwanga, a first-year diploma student at the faculty of arts and social sciences, says pipes in the toilets leak, so the floor is always wet and the toilet bowls are broken.

“Sometimes you fail to get where to squat,” he says. Muwanga adds that there are four toilets for men at the faculty which are few compared to the “more than 500” students that use them.

Female students residing in the halls at the university also said their toilets are filthy.

Olivia Nalule, a freshman at the faculty of arts and social sciences, said many toilets are dirty and some have broken handles, which means they cannot flush.

Saturday Vision saw a man in a grey Kaunda suit visiting a block of toilets below the department of civil and building engineering which Nalule had said were out of use. Upon visiting the same block of toilets, it was a shock to find weeds on the wall and toilet bowls stuffed with rubbish in polythene bags. The toilets do not have cisterns, which is proof that they are out of use; but this did not seem to stop some people from using them.

Along the path after this block of toilets is another block that is out of use, but not sealed off.

However, Innocent Niwaha, a second-year student of education, says the new TTE (Technical

Teacher Education) building and CTF (Central Teaching Facility) have clean toilets and liquid soap. Grace Lubaale, the chairperson of the teaching staff, said there is a problem with toilet facilities and it is due to the incompetence within the administration.

“The university administration has failed to plan well as far as toilets are concerned, saying their priorities are elsewhere,” he said.

The guild president, German Amanya, told Saturday Vision that most of the old lavatories are in bad shape.

“There is need to revamp the whole lavatory system which was constructed for 5,000 students.

When Kyambogo became a university and its population increased to 30,000 students, nothing changed in toilet numbers,” Amanya says.

He says he has engaged the administration, but he is also aware that the university’s budget is limited.

“I am not the first guild president to advocate for the revamping of the lavatories.

All my predecessors tried, but nothing changed because of the budget limitations,” he says.

The university vice-chancellor, Prof. Eli Katunguka, said they have been in talks with the Government over fixing the poor sanitation.

“We want the Government to help us overhaul the sewage system because the pipes that were used in the 1940s and 1950s were quite small and many of them have rotten away. We are going to do the overhaul in three phases. We have finished phase one at the western end of the university and connected all the buildings to the new line, which empties into the lagoon,” he said. “In addition, we made sure that all the new buildings have enough lavatories for both female and male students. We are also planning to budget for more modern toilets and not pit-latrines next year.”

  lavatories are cleanUCU lavatories are clean



At Uganda Christian University (UCU) in Mukono, students are provided with not only toilet paper but also liquid soap and water to wash their hands after visiting the toilets.

The toilet paper is found at the entrance of the toilet facility at Nkoyooyo Hall. This is the university’s main hall and it is usually busy during the day as it accommodates a large number of students, making the good toilet facility critical.

A few metres away from Nkoyooyo Hall is a water tap that provides clean drinking water which is accessible by every member of the community.

The university has got a number of other toilets spread across its large compound.

They are clean, well kept and attended to by full-time staff.

The university also has special bins in the halls where used pads are dumped before they are taken to the incinerator.

Victoria University

At Victoria University in Kampala, toilets are good, smell fresh, with running water and a fine flushing system.

There is neither bad smell nor flies. There is a rota for cleaners, indicating a schedule of three times a day and students had no complaints.


At Cavendish in Nsambya, the toilets are sparkling clean, but few. Sometimes men use the women’s side and vice-versa.

During our visit, our reporter was advised to use the men’s side because the section for the women was busy.

One of the cleaners said the washrooms are cleaned after every five minutes.

NCHE, KCCA respond

The director of public health at Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA), Daniel Okello, said he was not aware of the poor sanitation in public universities. Okello, whose docket supervises sanitation in the city, said universities should have clean lavatories for students. But he did not say whether his team would intervene.

Yossa Kazimoto, a public health expert, explained that wherever toilets are inadequate for any large population, there is a possibility of misusing them.

“This could result in the spreading of a number of diseases, such as diarrhoea, typhoid, dysentery, and worms,” he said.

Kazimoto said one stance of a pit-latrine should accommodate 30 people, while for a flush toilet, one is adequate for only 25 people.

This means that with 40,000 students, Makerere University needs over 1,300 stores of pit-latrines and 1,600 stores of flush toilets. Most of the universities do not even have half the required ratios.

Kazimoto noted that inadequate toilets could result in open defecation which would lead to contamination of water and food, resulting in a number of water-borne diseases.

Experts fear that any disease outbreak at any of the universities could cause serious havoc in the city because students freely interact with the city populace. It would also disappoint parents who pay a lot of money for their children to study in a conducive environment.

When asked, the spokesperson of education ministry, Aggrey Kibenge, said any public place such as universities, must have clean lavatories.



“But if there is a problem of lavatories in universities, it is a local management problem and you should put to task the individual university administration to explain the cause,” Kibenge said.

He noted that universities are semi-autonomous because they get their money directly from the Government and that the ministry does not interfere in non-policy issues.

The National Council for Higher Education (NCHE), which oversees standards at universities, said sanitation is part of the conducive learning environment they are charged with ensuring. However, the spokesperson, Saul Waigolo, said they consider sanitation before allowing universities to start operating. But after that, the council may not easily know what is happening inside the halls of residence.

Waigolo urged universities to ensure that their lavatories are clean and enough not only to cater for the student numbers but also providing a conducive learning environment.

“NCHE is aware of the inadequate funding from the Government to cater for the lavatories as student numbers keep increasing. The problem is not only in universities. But each concerned administration should find appropriate solutions.

“In the end, toilets at universities remain the issue of the respective administrations. What is needed is to keep the administrations in check in case they negate on their responsibilities,” Waigolo said.







The financial Governor, Tumusiime Mutebile faces a revolt of his staff in the Bank of Uganda:


Central bank governor, Mr Emmanuel Tum

Central bank governor, Mr Emmanuel Tumusiime-Mutebile 

By Eriasa Mukiibi Sserunjogi


Central Bank governor Emmanuel Tumusiime-Mutebile is facing revolt from a group of Bank of Uganda (BoU) staff.
They have petitioned several authorities calling for his exit.
Whereas the immediate source of trouble is a recent staff reshuffle that Mr Tumusiime-Mutebile made within BoU, unnamed workers of BoU have pointed to what they call deeper problems regarding the management of the Central Bank.
On February 8, just a day after Mr Tumusiime-Mutebile announced the reshuffle within BoU, the group of workers petitioned the Board of BoU, the Inspector General of Government (IGG) and the parliamentary committee on Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises (Cosase).
The petition reads: “The above changes were done outside the approved BoU HR policy and are influenced by a clique of people who claim to be working for State House to “clean up” the institution. Such irregularities have been happening for some time now and have caused a lot of demotivation and demoralisation of staff based on tribal and sectarian grounds. Staff productivity is at an all-time low and staff are leaving (sic) under fear and uncertainty.”
The petitioners further charged that the governor “is no longer in touch with the day-to-day activities of the bank and depends on a dubious clique to make such irregular, discriminatory and bizarre decisions since he does not know most of the staff and also does not consult the respective executive directors.”

Battle with Bagyenda
“It is high time that the governor be relieved of his duties before he takes the bank down the drain where it is clearly headed,” the petition says.
Mr Tumusiime-Mutebile, who is serving an unprecedented fourth five-year term as governor of BoU, was first appointed in 2001 and reappointed in 2006, 2011, and 2016.
The calls for his exit coming with only three years left on his current term points to a possible deepening of infighting at a place from where very little information has ordinarily filtered through to the public in recent years.
The rubble-rousing reshuffle last month saw Mr Tumusiime-Mutebile moving around a number of senior staff, bringing in a few from outside the bank and, most notably, ordering Ms Justine Bagyenda, the executive director of banks supervision, to retire “with immediate effect”.
Ms Bagyenda, who clocks BoU’s mandatory retirement age of 60 in July, was on leave when the changes were made.
On February 19, she wrote back to the governor rejecting his orders for her to hand over office.
She said she would be back in office after her annual leave expired on February 25.
Ms Bagyenda, according to Mr Tumusiime-Mutebile’s directive, was to be replaced by Dr Tumubweine Twinemanzi, who according to his profile has no prior experience in banking.
A son of former State minister of Privatisation Ephraim Manzi Tumubweine, Dr Twinemanzi has been working as director of industry affairs and content (economic affairs) at Uganda Communications Commission (UCC).
Reacting to the development, Ms Bagyenda wrote: “You will recall, governor, that according to my terms of employment at the Bank of Uganda, I am a permanent and pensionable employee and my retirement date is July 30, 2018 – a date on which I will attain the BoU mandatory retirement age of 60 years. I, therefore, undertake to hand over the office of the executive director-supervision by my retirement age.”

Petition to Parliament
“In the meantime, by copy of this memo, I expect EDA [executive director-administration] to respect the bank policy on the retirement of the bank’s employees, who are on permanent and pensionable terms as he implements governor’s directive stated in the memo under reference.”
What was apparent in Ms Bagyenda’s letter is the thinking that the governor had not followed the rules while suspending her, something the writers of the petition referred to earlier also accused Mr Tumusiime-Mutebile of.
The petition to the IGG, Parliament and the BoU Board leveled more accusations against Mr Tumusiime-Mutebile, including the charge that he appointed directors to two departments – medical and procurement – that happen to have the existing directors. He was also accused of demoting Ms Angela Kasirye from deputy director to assistant director “without any justification”.
The petition adds: “BoU management gave soft landing of resignation instead of termination to the caucus leader Mrs Winnie Rumanzi after an investigation into staff academic papers found she stopped in senior four yet had risen to a senior officer position using forged degree papers.”
The petitioners further charge that in Mr Tumusiime-Mutebile’s changes, six new staff from outside BoU were appointed without doing interviews “despite the memo [announcing the changes] referring to the changes as staff rotation”.
The other accusation the petitioners raise is that the changes included five positions that don’t exist on the approved BoU structure.
The positions, the petition says, are for executive director of petroleum development fund; director of medical administration; director of financial markets development coordination; director advisor IT BAUD; and procurement assurance manager at director level.
The petitioners argued that Mr Tumusiime-Mutebile had “rushed” to make the staff movements “to take advantage of the nonexistence of the board that is yet to be inaugurated.”
Ms Charity Mugumya, the BOU spokesperson, who said was in a meeting when we contacted her by telephone, said she would respond to our questions regarding to this story by email, but we were not able to achieve it by press time.






Mrs Beti Kamya now a Minister of  the NRM Government

Wassibwewo akalulu k’ekikungo ku kyapa mu ngalo - Beti Kamya

By Musasi wa Bukedde


Added 11th May 2017


MINISITA wa Kampala Beti Kamya alaze akabi akali mu nkola ya ‘Kyapa mu ngalo” eyaleeteddwa ekitongole kya Buganda Land Board (BLB) n’agamba nti bwe kiba kyetaagisa wateekebwewo akalulu k’ekikungo Abaganda beesalirewo enkola gye baagala ku ttaka lyabwe.

Kamya yagambye nti, Mmengo nga tennaba kuleeta nkola eno, yandibadde esooka okusomesa bantu n’ebalaga ettaka lye boogerako lye baagala okugabako liizi ey’emyaka 49.

Yalambuludde ebyafaayo by’ettaka mu Buganda n’agamba nti mu ndagaano ya 1900, Ssekabaka Chwa yaweebwa mayiro 350 bwe yakisa omukono abaana be ne bagabana ettaka era mutabani we omukulu George Mawanda n’atwalako ekitundu ekisinga obunene.

Edward Muteesa n’atwalako, kyokka Muteesa bwe yazaama, abaana be ne bagabana ettaka ne Kabaka Ronald Muwenda Mutebi n’atwalako.

Kamya yagambye nti, nga bamaze okugaba ettaka mu baana okuva ku Chwa okutuuka ku Kabaka Mutebi, ettaka liba terikyawera mayiro 350 libeera ttono ddala n’agattako nti, Mmengo esaanye okulaga ettaka lye boogerako erinaagabwako liizi.

“Kituufu waliwo ettaka lya Kabaka era waddembe okuligabako liizi, okulitunda oba okugabirako omuntu kyokka bwe kituuka ku ttaka lya Buganda, Abaganda balina okuwulirizibwa.” Kamya bwe yagambye.

Yagambye nti waliwo ettaka eddala Gavumenti lye yaddizza Mmengo okuli mayiro 8 ery’Amasaza, yiika 45 ez’Amagombolola, ettaka lya Bannamasole ow’e Kanyanya n’e Makindye ne Mayiro 9,000 ezitakyawera olw’Amasaza agaakutulwa ku Buganda.

Kamya yagambye nti, Mmengo bw’eba eyogera ku ttaka ly’Abaganda, lirina kugenda mu Lukiiko ne liteesebwako so si kulwanjulira bwanjulizi byasaliddwaawo. Abaganda bwe baba tebamatidde bituukiddwaako mu Lukiiko kuba olukiiko lulondebwa Kabaka, wateekebwewo akalulu ak’ekikungo.

Yagaseeko nti kikyamu Kabaka ne Katikkiro okusalawo ku ttaka ly’Abaganda kuba tebalirinaako buyinza.

“Ettaka ly’Abaganda busika bwaffe Omuzungu yali abutuggyeeko ne bukomawo omuli mayiro 9,000, ery’Amasaza, ery’Amagombolola busika bwaffe abaagabana baagabana 8,000 era abasinga bali e Mmengo bajjajjabwe baagabana eryasigala 9,000 ly’abo abataagabana.” Kamya bwe yategeezezza.

Yagaseeko nti, Katikkiro Charles Peter Mayiga munnamateeka era akimanyi bulungi nti ettaka lya liizi ligwa akatale buli lunaku oluyitawo omuguzi bw’amanya ebbanga erisigaddeyo nga ttono takuwa ssente ate n’ettaka lya liizi toyinza kulisikiza mwanawo naye tebakinnyonnyola bantu.

“Nze njagala bannyinnyonnyole ttaka ki kwe bagaba ebyapa.


In Uganda of today the Military Inspector of Police, General Kaihura, applauds police action of caning African people like cows:

The President of Uganda cannot and will nver sack this man. This is the man who has kept him in power in his lonely days when all his generals have deserted him. He has turned the police the way he wanted and thus has been given a lot  of money his predicessors were not getting.

Check Naguru hill at Police Headquarters and see for yourself the brand new landruisers those officers are driving.They are now working for the regime.
He cannot sack him. How else will this lame duck President of Uganda survive?

The Credible Map of the State of Buganda

                   The Buganda State Tomb shrine as it was before it was burnt out

    Inside the Tombs of the three Kings of Buganda which were completely burnt to the ground 2010



A stuffed leopard that was hunted by one of former Kings of Buganda

                                                The splendour inside the Tombs

                        The very important ceremonial drums during the burial ceremony

                           One of the settee King Muteesa enjoyed sitting in to relax.


One of the assignments of the 21st century was to turn the world into one village using technological advancement, especially in media, trade and transport.

But just 14 years into a century, the world seems to be disintegrating at a faster and worrying rate. The 7.5 million people of Catalonia want a referendum to secede from Spain. Scotland has just voted on secession from United Kingdom, and the 1.8 million people of Northern Ireland may be next.

And some 2,000 lives have so far been lost in Ukraine, where a mainly Russian-speaking militia is battling for independence. Although currently at war with herself, the mainly-black, Christian South Sudan broke away from the mainly-Arab, Muslim-dominated Sudan three years ago, to become an independent country.

Ethnicity and theology are ripping the Middle East apart, as some communities either seek to overthrow the established order there or carve out territories of their own. Each religious sect has raised an army of its own. The Kurds took advantage of the American invasion of Iraq and carved out their autonomous territory. I think Kurds will not settle until they have liberated areas in Turkey and Syria occupied by their kinsmen.

Shia and Sunni Muslims will continue fighting until countries like Syria, Lebanon and Iraq are sub-divided. Just next door in Democratic Republic of Congo, the Tutsis, near the Ugandan and Rwandan borders, think of themselves as a distinct community deserving of independence from the large Congo. I have a feeling their desire to carve out an independent country will one day materialise.

In one of my recent articles, calling for the disbanding of Uganda, I argued that such a move would even reduce the temptation to steal public resources. Part of the reason the Islamic State is fighting is to create a Caliphate that will be ruled by Sharia law. Of course, because of skewed media coverage, many people now think Sharia law means beheadings and amputations, which is far from the truth.

And I think demonizing Sharia law and attempts by the USA to preach against it is what has partly fuelled terrorism and won ISIS, and similar groups, a lot of following. Of course some people will point to the marginalisation of Sunni Arabs by the Iraqi government.

There is no way ISIS would have swept across Iraq without support from the local population. The Americans now struggling to put out the fire are responsible because they dismembered the political configuration in that area. This war in the Middle East will be a subject of another article.

Today’s subject is about the new world order. Rather than becoming one nation or global village, we are breaking up, carving out territories based on our ideology or ethnicity.

This is what is happening in Ukraine. Already Crimea has abandoned Ukraine and joined Russia. Before we get to the South Sudan versus Khartoum, Catalonia versus Spain, Scotland versus UK, Eastern Ukraine versus Ukraine, Shia versus Sunni, we need to have a genuine discussion as a country on these issues.

It will be pretence for the rest of the country to accept it as normal to have most police and military commanders coming from one corner of this territory. And even in that corner, the majority are from one clan, if I can call it that. I don’t think it is pleasing for the rest of us to accept to be servants of this one group, or family.

One of my saddest moments was the day the Kabaka of Buganda went to State House, Entebbe. Buganda officials continue visiting Entebbe as though we have been colonised again.My own view, and you don’t have to support it, is that the 15 nations that made up this republic called Uganda must be the ones meeting in Kampala to chart a way forward.

It is these fifteen that met in London and surrendered their sovereignty. And the threat to secede has not been coming from Buganda alone. There was a time DP President Norbert Mao spoke of a Nile Republic, meaning a separate country for the people of northern Uganda.

Self-determination is what motivated our grandparents to rise against colonialists. In terms of service delivery, I think the colonial agents were far better than the current regime. The colonialists built Mulago hospital and Uganda Railways, brought electricity, piped water and a functional road network. But still, our grandparents clamoured and agitated for independence.

They never envisaged a situation where some group from somewhere would grab the country’s resources, preside over its plunder, and demand that we show it gratitude each time it throws something at us. Our generation may fail to rise up, but these injustices are a recipe for future confrontation.

Who knew that an ethnic war could be waged in Europe in this 21st century? The solution doesn’t lie in acquisition of military hardware, but in equitable sharing of power and resources and establishment of honest federal states. 

SUNDAY, 25 MAY 2014 

In part IV of these series, President Museveni addresses Resistance Councillors (RCs) from Buganda region on what he believed Uganda’s largest ethnic group gained from the 1995 Constitution.


He  made the speech on September 16, 1995 at Mpigi district headquarters. Below is an abridged version of the speech:

The National Resistance Movement has been like a political doctor trying to solve the problems of Uganda. In order to treat a disease, however, you must first of all diagnose the illness. Uganda has been going through a political crisis since 1962 when we attained independence.

Although we normally speak of 1966 as the year in which the crisis in Uganda started, that year was actually the boiling point of the crisis which had started in 1962.

Social and economic underdevelopment

In my view, between 1962 and 1966 the crisis was characterised by two problems. There was the problem of sectarianism, with divisions according to tribe and religion. Those of you who are old enough know the problems of Buganda vis-a-viz the north of Uganda, and also with some other parts of Uganda; you know the problems of religion – the DP trying to use the Catholic religion; and the UPC trying to use the Protestant religion to gain

political power. You should know those problems very well – if you don’t, then you are not serious. The second problem was social and economic underdevelopment, a problem which is not always properly understood in many parts of Africa. Many people in Africa do not know that the structure of our society is very different from the structure of European societies.

To give an example: in Europe, there are no longer people like my father, Mzee Kaguta. Who is Mr Kaguta, and how does he live? First of all, my father managed to learn to read the alphabet through the church, and he can only read the Bible with a lot of difficulty. However, he is slightly better than many other people in the village who cannot read or write at all.

These people who cannot read or write; who live on small plots of land; who do not produce fully for the money economy, but mainly produce what they eat and are only marginally connected with the money economy: these are the majority in our country. In political science, we call them peasants, although we have no appropriate direct translation in our local languages.

Sometimes we call them abalimi in Luganda, meaning farmers; but that is not very accurate because Mr Kaguta and I are both farmers, although our farming methods are very different. The peasants constitute 92 per cent of the population of Uganda. In Europe, peasants lived there about 300 years ago; but that social class no longer exists.

In the Europe of today, there are basically two social classes. There are big businessmen, like our Mulwanas and Sembules here. The second class is the skilled working class, who are 46 per cent of the population and two per cent are the upper class, the aristocrats.

Between 1962 and 1966, therefore, the second characteristic of the political crisis in Uganda was the fact that our society was still at a pre-industrial stage. Our country, and others in Africa, are still heavily reliant on manual labour, whereas in Europe they use brain and machine power. That is a very big difference indeed.

This problem has existed since colonial times and it continued up to independence. However, none of our leaders ever addressed it.

Two new problems in 1966:

When the crisis deepened in 1966, two additional problems were introduced. The first of the two new problems was the disenfranchisement of the population: the vote was removed from the people and Ugandans were ruled by the gun.

The second new problem was the over-centralisation of power: all power was removed from all other levels and brought to the central government. Therefore, by 1967, the political crisis of Uganda now had four elements to it.

Therefore, before we come to the question of Buganda – Buganda efunye ki mu Constitution? Baatuwa byooya bya nswa.... meaning: “What has Buganda got out of the new Constitution? We were supplied with air ...” as some people in Buganda have been saying. I thought I should first state for you the original problems of the country to find out whether or not they have been properly addressed.

Money has no tribe!

Right from its inception, the NRM had an answer to each one of these problems. Our programme was specifically designed to answer them. As you know, we do not believe in divisions along sectarian lines. This is because the world has now changed.

Countries which are ahead of us in development depend on industrial production for their livelihood, while we are still largely a subsistence economy dependent on a few crops and a few domestic animals. However much you grow potatoes, you cannot become as rich as if you had a factory.

To take an example, British American Tobacco (U) Ltd gives us 40 billion shillings in taxes. All the taxes from our beloved Mpigi district taxpayers will this year amount to only four billion shillings. Therefore, it will take you 10 years to collect the amount of money BAT pays as tax to the Treasury in one year! As for Moroto district, they only collect three million shillings per annum.

You calculate for yourselves how many years it would take them to collect up to the level of BAT!

Therefore, when you realise that a modern economy must depend on industries rather than on a few goats, chicken and potatoes, what does this mean? It means that you must have a large market. Since the NRM wants to transform the socio-economic base of our country, you can see why we have always been against sectarianism.

If you are sectarian, you are dividing up the market for your goods. Money has no tribe! You cannot have a modern society organised on a sectarian basis. In order, therefore, to develop in a modern way, you need as big a market as possible. The bigger the market, the better. Sectarianism, therefore, impedes our aspiration of building a big market. That is why we fight it.

I want Mr Kaguta to be the last uneducated person in our family. Even if we, in our family, continue keeping cattle, I want us to keep them using modern methods. We would like the peasantry to be transformed into a productive middle class. How shall we do this? There are two ways: the first is to create an atmosphere in which it is easy to do business.

The government and its worker should not get in the way of Mr Kaguta if he wants to trade and transform his socio-economic status. The second instrument is education. From next year, we shall start a programme of universal, compulsory primary education. That is the NRM’s answer to the second problem of social underdevelopment.

Restoring the vote

On the third problem of disenfranchisement, you already know what we have done. When we came into government in 1986, we found that all the district councils were nominated by the minister of local government. We said: “No, everybody must be directly, or indirectly, elected by the people.”

In 1989 we expanded the NRC through elections, and in 1994 we amended the Constitution to ensure that we had elected delegates to debate and pass a new Constitution. Previously, the Constitution had said that the Army Council and the existing NRC should write the Constitution.

However, we decided that the people should have the power to elect their own representatives. By so doing, we removed one of the pillars of Obote’s dictatorship, which had been to abolish voting.

Devolution of power

The other pillar of Obote’s dictatorship was the over-centralisation of power. Through the Decentralisation Statute, the NRM took power from the centre to the rural areas. Even before the new Constitution was completed, the NRM had already broken the two pillars of Obote’s 1966 dictatorship, that is, disenfranchising the people and over-centralising power.

One of the consequences of this dictatorship was the abolition of traditional rulers, who were not removed through a popular or democratic process. Therefore, even before the Constituent Assembly, the NRM had already destroyed all the pillars and effects of the crisis which had boiled over in 1966.

When the CA came, it was just to discuss some of the things we had already done. Therefore, when I hear some people in Buganda saying that NRM gave them byooya bya nswa (that the NRM “supplied air” to the Baganda), I don’t know what to them is the real thing.

Could they tell us what they regard as the real thing (enswa, the white ant), and what they regard as “air supply” (ebyooya, the wings of the white ant). If the Kabaka is sitting on his throne, the Namulondo, is that the real thing, or is that air?

What has Buganda gained?

The Kabaka is the Namunswa, the king of all the ants! So how can you say that the NRM has “supplied Buganda with air”, or with byooya bya nswa? When we remove power from the minister of local government and bring it back to the people, either to Mpigi or to Mengo, is that real or is it air?

Had you ever seen an RC5 chairman, the people’s elected representative, during the time of Obote? Is that air? Therefore, the debate over whether power should be at the regional or district level proves that the NRM has already done its duty.

Having seen the foregoing, may I now sum up by saying the following: First of all, the CA has confirmed what the NRC had already done, which is that the areas of Uganda which want traditional rulers are free to have them.

Secondly, all the powers, apart from those dealing with defence, immigration, foreign affairs and the national currency, have been devolved down to the local level. What the CA did was to apportion this power saying: “This portion is for the district, and this portion is for the sub-county. The remaining portion may be put at the regional level.”

It seems that some people wanted all the power to be put at the regional level – but the CA did not support that arrangement. The CA delegates wanted to be sure that people in the rural areas really had power at their level. The CA also wanted to make sure that Buganda did not stick out from the rest of the country, as it had done in the 1960s.

As your proverb says: Enkoko enjeru teyekweeka kamunye, meaning that a white chicken sticks out from the rest of the brood and is, therefore, vulnerable to attack by kites. Some people said that the NRM had betrayed Buganda, and that the devolution of power to the district level had “wiped Buganda, as an entity, off the map”.

Power was, first of all, devolved to the lower levels, and secondly,  it was stipulated that districts which so wish could unite for certain purposes at the regional level. I went to the CA and told them that even though the federalists had been given the key to the fridge so that they could open it and get themselves a drink of soda, it looked as though the process of opening the fridge was too much of a strain for them.

They wanted us to open the door for them; get out the soda for them; put it on a tray; and open it for them so that they could drink it. Owing to my friendship with the traditionalists, I agreed to all those demands. I had a tough battle with the CA delegates trying to convince them that we should do all this for the federalists  (traditionalists).

Therefore, a provision was put into the Constitution that  although the rest of Uganda had been given keys to their fridges, and they had accepted them, for the Baganda we had got the soda out of their fridge and served it to them.

All they had to do was to drink it! It is now up to the elected district councils to decide what powers they want to take to the regional tier, that is, how much of their soda they would like to pour out to the Mengo regional tier. The people who are going to decide this are all elected by you, the councillors – they are not nominated by government.

People who are going around saying that Buganda got byooya bya nswa out of the new Constitution are not interested in developing Buganda – they are interested in something else. As far as the NRM is concerned, and as far as, me, Museveni, is concerned, we are no longer going to listen to these types of people.

Such people demoralise us, the workers. Although we are workers (strugglists), our morale needs to be boosted by remuneration – there is no worker who is not remunerated. How can people say that we are supplying Ugandans with air when we have shed our blood; when we have wasted all our youth trying to solve the problems of this country?

These problems were, in the first instance, sometimes created by the very people who are saying such things. The political crisis of Uganda started when I was in senior two, and I have spent my life trying to solve problems created by other people – and then you hear somebody saying: “This is byooya bya nswa.”

We are not at all pleased with this kind of behaviour. Yet, when you ask those people who are saying such things: “What did you do to fight against the dictatorships of Obote, Amin and Okello?”

The answer is that they did absolutely nothing, except insulting people who have wasted their lives trying to solve the problems which had been created in our country. In my view, Buganda has got everything that it needed in order to correct all the wrongs of 1966 but, of course, with modern adjustments.

Some of the other problems can be solved administratively. For instance, the issue of the municipality of Mengo. The government has powers to create this municipality and give it to the Kingdom of Buganda, with compensating adjustments between the borders of Mukono, Mpigi and Kampala districts.

When the regional tier becomes operational, if Mengo maintains a harmonious relationship with the central government, the central government can always support them with additional funds because it will always have more money than local governments. This is because the central government taxes the consumption of all Ugandans, which is where much of the tax revenue comes from.

Therefore, if the Mengo tier does not create conflict with the central government, certainly it will get resources because we need implementers for the country – we don’t have enough, reliable implementers yet. In my view, it is important that when you come to elect representatives for the Mengo tier, you should choose people who will not create conflict between Mengo and friends of Buganda, like myself.

Do not isolate Buganda

If I may go back to 1979, when we were fighting Idi Amin, we held the Moshi Unity Conference to choose a leader for Uganda after Amin was overthrown. We chose Professor Yusuf Lule and the three people who were most involved in putting his name forward were: President Nyerere of Tanzania, who had given us the largest contingent of soldiers for the war against Amin; the late Bishop Festo Kivengere; and myself.

When we got back to Uganda after the overthrow of Amin, however, the Baganda started claiming Lule as their own”, calling him Lule waffe!, meaning “Our Lule”. During this period, the late Sam Sebagereka invited me to Kayunga, in Mukono district, to celebrate his return from exile.

During the function, I took the opportunity to warn the people who were claiming Lule as their own and driving us, the people who had chosen him, away from him. Robert Ssebunya, who is here today, and who was a deputy minister of Information during that government, is my witness.

I told the people at Kayunga that they had no idea how Lule had emerged as President of Uganda, but since the Baganda were claiming him as their own, we would leave him to them because we did not want to be engaged in an unseemly tug-of-war over him.

That is exactly what we eventually did – we left Lule alone with his Baganda. Therefore, when you are electing representatives to Mengo, I would advise that you to choose people who will

not alienate Buganda from its friends.

If you persist in sending friends of Buganda away, they will surely go away eventually, but Buganda will have lost the contribution those very friends would have made towards the development of your area.

Therefore, those Baganda who are abusing us, the people who have worked very hard to reinstate the institution of the Kabaka, are going to create a huge chasm between Mengo and the central government.

There is another campaign by those same people: they are saying that Museveni has taken everything to Ankole - riches, jobs, everything. These are people who want to create enmity between the Banyankore and the rest of the people of Uganda. When we came into power, we united all the people of the country from the west, from Buganda, Busoga, Bugisu and from the rest of the country.

We had some problems with some people from Lango and Acholi, who did not immediately join our movement. This  job  we did, of uniting all these people, has given us strength and enabled us to maintain peace for these 10 years. Since independence, there has never been a government in Uganda which has lasted 10 consecutive years: ours is the first one. What has helped this government last this long is the unity of the different people.

Those who want to divide the people are seeking to create enmities amongst the people. Who gains anything in such a situation, except the opportunists?

In Buganda, there is still the problem of leaders who misguide the people and cause them to concentrate on issues which are not essential to their lives. Issues like federo, and other issues pertaining to the Buganda kingdom, are used to mislead the people, who do not fully understand them. In Luganda, you call this okuguumaaza, in Runyankore we call it okuhuzya.

This is pre-occupying somebody, through diversion, in order to damage his real interests. To tell people that all the wealth is being taken to the west is to misguide them. If you want to measure the level of development in Buganda compared to Ankole, you will realise that Buganda is more developed.

Take the example of the tarmac roads in Buganda: Kampala-Gayaza road, Kampala-Mubende road, Kampala-Luweero-Gulu road, Kampala-Busunju road, etc. Those who claim that Ankole is more developed should go there and calculate the number of kilometres of tarmac roads in Ankole and compare them with Buganda.

There should be no argument about this because the roads are there and they can be measured! The central part of Uganda is the source of electricity and telecommunications: it has the airports and running water – this is all part of the infrastructure.

This is in order because a country is like the human body. When you bathe, you normally start with the head and eventually bathe the whole body. Due to historical circumstances, Buganda became the head of Uganda. It is, therefore, in order that elements of the infrastructure should radiate from Kampala. The problem is that some members of the Buganda leadership do not conceive of this as an asset.

The other important factor is that Kampala has the biggest single market in Uganda. There are many consumers – the one million people who live in Kampala and its outskirts, and who do not grow their own food, provide a large market.

This is very important because, for example, farmers in Rwakitura get only 200 shillings from a litre of their milk, whereas the farmer near Kampala earns 500 shillings per litre in normal times.

During times of scarcity, the price goes up to 1,000 shillings. This is why your leaders should not misguide you by emphasising issues like federo, to the exclusion of development. Federo is no good on its own: it will not help starving people.

Too many politicians...

Fortunately, when we were still students in the 1960s, we started a progressive movement with people like Eriya Kategaya and it formed the nucleus of the National Resistance Movement. As evidenced bythe CA elections, we thoroughly defeated the old politics of people like Tiberondwa. Those leaders had destroyed Ankole.

Their removal has created room for tremendous development in that area. There is no more sectarianism and no more religious divides: the only talk there is talk of development. The problem with Buganda is that you still have leaders who practise the old divisive politics and they are misleading you.

The fact that Buganda is lagging behind can best be seen in an aerial view: from Kyankwanzi, to Bukomero, to Busunju, the whole area is bush, save for a small farm at Bukomero, and Mulwana’s farm at Busunju. The banana plantations are a miserable yellowish colour until you get to Mzee Kisekka’s farm. From Kisekka’s farm, the next big farm is Nsimbe Estates.

That kind of development is like a badly-washed human body with water trickling only on some parts of the skin. The word for it is enkulukuse in Luganda, (entanani in Runyankore) and that is the pattern of development in this area.

The first job I did as a young man in 1967 was to teach my people to rise up and work for profit, rather than just for subsistence. Buganda now needs grassroots community leaders, not just politicians. We have too many politicians and too few community leaders. When I started community work, I was a student at university.

I was only 22 years old and I was nowhere near parliament or power; but I realised that my people were badly off and I decided to educate them. My involvement in politics began with community leadership, and not in trying to gain power for the sake of power. The present leaders of Uganda should do the same.

When I commence my visits to the counties in Buganda, I will teach the people the means of how to raise their incomes (enyingiza), and how to plan (embalirira). There is a word in Luganda called okulembeka, which means trapping of rainwater after a downpour. What plans do you have to kulembeka at this tarmac road passing here? How will you trap money from this tarmac road?

There should be no poverty here with the tarmac road so near, unless there is something else missing, i.e. leadership. I will talk about these things in detail at each county on how

to engage in the politics of development, and not the politics of okuguumaaza.

I would like to end with two or three points. First of all, politicians want to involve our Kabaka and other traditional leaders in politics. We condemn this idea because the Kabaka should be above politics. There is a saying in Runyankore which goes as follows: Karasha: ngaboimurasha.

It means that if you throw stones at someone, he will throw those stones back at you. The Kabaka should not involve himself in the partisan politics of stone-throwing! The politicians should be the ones to engage in political competition. I appeal to the Baganda not to involve the Kabaka in political controversies which should be left to people who can be dispensed with.

UPC-DP unholy alliance

The second point concerns the UPC-DP alliance. This is very good because it proves what some of us have always said: that the DP is no different from the UPC, but that it has never had the chance to be in power and make the mistakes the UPC made.

When we talk of UPC and DP, however, do not confuse the ordinary membership with the leaders. It has always been the leaders of these parties who have caused the problems. As you know, when the NRM went to the bush, we inherited the membership of all these parties. The NRM of the bush was made of members of the DP, UPC, UPM end CP who were fed up of the actions of their leaders.

All these people joined us and supported us in the bush, after their leaders had proved incapable of solving Uganda’s problems. This UPC-DP alliance is, therefore, not a new thing, and it is good that all the bad people should gather on a winnower (orugari), because then it becomes easy to throw all of them out.

In 1985 they gathered on the rugari and we removed them using armed force: now you have to use the vote to throw them out, since they have congregated on the rugari of opportunism.

Land issues

Someone mentioned that tenants (basenze) were worried because their position had not been clarified. This fear is unfounded. The issue of mailo land was addressed in the following ways:

1. The new Constitution has given security of tenure to the musenze. He cannot be evicted by anybody and he will not pay busuulu;

2. Meanwhile, the mailo landowner will retain his ownership in the form of a freehold title to the land;

3. Within two years, the new Parliament will pass a new law resolving this matter once and for all. The law will regulate the relationship between the landlord and the musenze. The Constitution provides that this law will provide for the acquisition of registrable [interest] in the land by the occupant.

Therefore, a Constitutional basis has been laid to resolve this matter. All this is contained in Article 237 of the new Constitution. My own view is that this paralysis on land in Buganda should be removed once and for all.

This paralysis should be resolved in the following way: provided a musenze has stayed on a kibanja for a long time, say a period of up to 20 years, he should be assisted with a government loan to kwegula, (payoff the landlord) so that he can get a land title. The landlord will thus be able to get capital from the sale of his land.

This will trigger tremendous development in the Buganda area because the musenze and the landlord will have become empowered – the one by acquiring legal tenure to the land he occupies, and the other by acquiring capital from the sale of that land.


To answer the original question of “What has Buganda gained from this new Constitution?”, I will conclude with four points.

  • First of all, the Kabaka is now on his throne, surrounded by clan leaders and all the people who matter to the institution.
  • Secondly, power has been removed from the centre and is now at the district level to be shared between the districts and the third tier.
  • Thirdly, when we realised that the Baganda were unwilling, or unable, to open the door of the fridge to get for themselves the soda we had provided, We opened the fridge for them, got out the soda and put it at Mengo for them. That is the third tier of government which was put in place for Buganda.
  • Finally, the people of Buganda, like the rest of the people of Uganda, have been enfranchised and their destiny is now in their hands through the exercise of regular elections, using the secret ballot.

So everything is on the table and there is no longer any debt owed by the National Resistance Movement to the people of Uganda. We have given you the key to self-governance, that is, the power to change your leaders through a secret ballot vote held at regular intervals.

MPs reject Museveni directive on cancellation of wetland titles in the State of Buganda: 

Environment minister Ephraim Kamuntu (R) and Director for Environmental Affairs Paul Mafabi display

before MPs a map showing some wetland titles which are up for cancellation.


By Yasiin Mugerwa

Posted  Wednesday, February 25   2015 

PARLIAMENT. Lawmakers yesterday rejected President Museveni’s orders on the reclamation of wetlands, citing “politics” in the planned cancellation of more than 17,000 title deeds issued to investors and organisations in major urban areas across the country.
The new government position on wetlands ran into trouble after Water and Environment minister Ephraim Kamuntu presented a cadastral map, showing some 17,450 wetland titles in Kampala, Wakiso and Mukono districts which are up for cancellation. 
“These titles in wetlands were issued by the government. There is no law to regulate the wetlands and the minister is just talking politics,” said Mr Eddie Kwizera, the chairperson Parliamentary Forum on Climate Change. 
“We want to protect the environment but Cabinet must work within the law. The President was ill-advised on the matter of wetlands; the problem is selective application of the decisions and any attempts to cancel the title deeds which were legally issued will be ridiculous,” Mr Kwizera, who is also the Bufumbira County East MP, added.

‘Stick to the law’
“The government must gazette wetlands, including those without titles, and the planned reclamation must follow the law.”
The new directive comes at a time when wetlands around Kampala have been heavily encroached on by developers, some of whom are believed to enjoy connections with powerful officials in government. 
The minister, who faced a torrid time in the committee, maintained that “all actions are within the context of the law” and that the Attorney General had cleared the planned cancellation. He explained that the President’s directive will only affect people with titles in wetlands on public land and that the affected parties will be compensated. 
“Where is the evidence of holding the land in trust if you cannot even justify why you issued land titles in wetlands?” asked Mr Jacob Oboth Oboth (West Budama South). 
However, the minister said slow implementation of the law cannot be interpreted as a lack of commitment to protect wetlands in the country.
Parliament has been debating this matter for the last four years without a solution. The lawmakers warned that any attempts to cancel the titles will end up in the courts of law. 
The two sector ministers (Prof Kamuntu and Ms Flavia Munaaba), in a joint statement, said the cancellation of wetland titles is being coordinated by the Inter-Ministerial Policy Committee on Environment. No time frame has been given within which the action is scheduled.
Although the minister promised action against those who issued the titles in wetlands, officials from the ministry, National Environmental Management Authority (Nema) and National Forestry Authority (NFA) did not say who issued the titles. Preliminary indications are that approximately 7,500 land titles in Kampala, 9,000 in Wakiso and about 950 in Mukono will be affected. 
However, the minister explained that before cancellation, the committee will cautiously evaluate all the affected titles on a case by case basis, taking into account economic considerations, character, ecological functions and tourism potential. Titles on mailo land will not be cancelled but the use will be regulated. 
Prof Kamuntu said: “We are focusing on only wetlands on public land and compensation will be critically analysed by the technical committee.” He said the costs involved will be drawn after sorting out the title deeds.
The lawmakers were yesterday meeting ministry, Nema and NFA officials to discuss the proposed cancellation of the titles.

Likely danger. Experts have warned that if degradation of wetlands is not checked, the country is headed for an ecological disaster that may lead to shortages of clean water and an increase in flooding. 
Impact. Wetlands accounted for 13 per cent of Uganda’s total land area but with encroachment and degradation, it could now be 11 per cent.
Govt plan. Preliminary indications are that approximately 7,500 land titles in Kampala, 9,000 in Wakiso District and about 950 in Mukono will be cancelled.

A wild Leopard terrorises Entebbe village near the International Airport of Entebbe, Uganda:


Posted  Sunday, May 17   2015 



Residents of Lunyo village in Entebbe District are living in fear after a wild animal suspected to be a leopard attacked three homes on separate incidents at night and ate pigs.

Mr Vincent Masaba Wamuwaya, one of the owners of the piggeries in the village, said he lost more than eight pigs to the wild animal. He said at least 20 pigs have so far been lost to the beast in the area since last week.

“In the beginning, we thought it was a wild dog but we confirmed last night. I saw the leopard with three young ones. I shouted but no one came to my rescue. It killed more than eight pigs as its young ones were sucking blood from the dead animals,” said Mr Wamuwaya.

He called for government intervention, saying if the leopard finishes their animals, it might turn to their children, who fetch water at the nearby sources.

“I am calling on the government because we have been complaining to Uganda Wildlife Education Centre (UWEC) officials since last week but nothing has been done,” he added.

UWEC speaks out
UWEC spokesperson Belinda Atim said they had been tracking the animals since last week and said a team would be visiting the affected firms to set a leopard trap.

“We have instituted a team of six UWEC officers from animal department to be on the ground as one way of making the locals safe and even capture the animal.

We have done some research about the situation at Lunyo village and we found it is not a leopard which is eating the pigs but it is an animal of dog origin or cat origin. People should not be worried,” said Ms Atim.

“It beats my understanding when Uganda Wildlife Education Centre (UWEC) officials tell us it was a wild animal from a cat family or dog family but not a leopard,” Wamuwaya said.

Ms Atim said the situation is too big for UWEC to handle and their boss has written to Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) asking for game rangers to beef up the UWEC team on the ground.

“At UWEC, we do not have guns and we always include UWA whenever we have such situations,” she added.

Some more tales from King Mutesa II’s palace 1950s: 

A view of Kampala Road, Kampala, Buganda, back in the 1950s where the writer preferred to

do most of her shopping.


By Babara Kimenye

Posted  Saturday, October 3   2015

In Summary

Thrilled. Young and beautiful British-born Barbara Kimenye arrived at Port Bell by ferry from Bukoba, Tanzania, to start a whole new life after her marriage had fallen apart. It is a life that would see her mix with ordinary Baganda and bring her close to their king. In the third part of our serialisation of her unpublished book,Tales from Mutesa’s Palace, she writes about the fun and drowsy side of Mengo township. The first part was published in Saturday Monitor last week

In Kampala, Uganda:

Eddie and his wife had informed my mother of Daudi’s birth by cable, and as she was able to fly out to Uganda on the Sunday, two days after he was born I was back at work on the Monday. It wasn’t easy, and I probably could not have managed it had not strangers as well as neighbours been good about stopping to offer lifts in their cars to and from town.

Sometimes, these journeys were touched with embarrassment because a car would pull up beside me as I walked along, the driver would laconically mutter “Rubaga?” or, if I were on the way to town, ‘Kampala?’, and not say another word till he dropped me where I wanted to go: In the prolonged silence, I would be wondering whether or not I had boarded a taxi, and start worrying about the size of the possible fare. There never was anything to pay, but I never got used to this impersonal generosity which was widespread.

Neighbours whom we hardly knew would present us with cabbages or mangoes if they had more than enough for their own requirements. It was simply the custom to share with others whatever they had to spare.

Lengthy greetings
Another custom was the stringing out of greetings to unbelievable lengths, beginning with the parties wishing each other good morning or evening, dependent on the time of day, then exchanging enquiries about the well-being of individual members of both families. Replies received a satisfied or sympathetic “Eeh!” before the next polite question was put. Too bad if you happened to be in a hurry. In Buganda, good manners ruled, OK?
In the city, or on Mengo’s busy main street, while it was acceptable to shorten greetings by lumping the whole family together, such behaviour was considered uncouth in the suburbs and rural areas. Everybody encountered on track or lane was expected to go through the full ritual, although, to be fair, there was nothing in the book to say that you should not carry on walking.

This was part of the overall leisurely pace of life in Buganda during the late 1950s. It had to be something of acute interest or excitement to stir anybody into a run. And a crowd ran regularly at the time of poll tax collection, in the days when women were exempt from paying it, to laugh and jeer at the men dressed as women, whose disguise had failed to save them from the Kabaka’s government askaris intent on weeding out tax defaulters.

The Kabaka’s palace administrative buildilng, Bulange Mengo today. Its design was chosen by Kabaka Mutesa. COURTESY PHOTO

These dejected creatures exposing boney or muscular legs beneath ill-fitting skirts, and with scarves on their heads, never stood a chance of passing for women. Their feet gave them away, especially when squeezed into high-heeled shoes.

As they shuffled miserably up the road to the Omukulu we Kibuga’s court, roped together with other more conventional tax defaulters, they provided crude entertainment for a mob, and usually there was some wag prancing alongside, the file of prisoners, pretending to extol the beauty of the most bizarre of the men masquerading as a woman.

Asians top trade
Gradually, Joyce and I took to doing most of our shopping in Mengo, because we soon realised that it was much cheaper than shopping in Kampala. Our part was lined with Asian-owned shops selling everything from groceries to dress materials, and most of them stayed open from six in the morning till late at night.

Kamulu’s bar, fronting the Toplife nightclub, also sold groceries and never seemed to close at all. Kamulu and his brother, Uganda-born Asians like most Mengo shopkeepers, were always there, no matter how early or late the hour, as though they had no need of sleep. And because the bar was always in operation, shopping at Kamulu’s for anything as simple as a loaf of bread often turned into a congenial hour of a beer-drinking with a few other customers.

Almost directly opposite Kamulu’s was a plastered mud-and-wattle squat building with a large Pepsi-Cola logo painted on its tin roof; another Asian owned shop, but a tiny one with just enough room inside for dusty wall-shelves and a counter under which a few hens and chickens lived behind netting.

The owners were a little thin man and his fairly overblown wife whose plaited hair always looked sickeningly greasy. Early one morning, when I was dashing to Kamulu’s for milk, the owner opened for business by pushing back the two halves of the door which shut off the shop from the road, and I saw his wife rising languidly in her nightie from behind the counter. If, as seems likely, the two of them slept on those tiny premises alongside the chickens, the sight rather put paid to the idea that all Ugandan Asians were stinking rich.

Our market was not large and apart from the butchers who had covered stalls on the edge of a piece of ground where they slaughtered cattle and where vultures congregated, the vendors sat on the ground with their goods arranged in small neat piles in front of them. Beyond bunches of matooke, the staple food of much of Uganda, tomatoes, onions, cabbage, pineapples and sugarcane, there wasn’t much choice.

Enough to get by
Still, when times were hard, you could buy enough fresh food to prepare a meal for four people at a cost of about fifty cents, the equivalent of the old British sixpence. And you could always buy fish, dried or fresh, as well as cooked over charcoal.

Fresh tilapia was our usual choice because it was cheap, but I can never forget the special taste of Nile perch grilled over charcoal from that market. Even now, having been a vegetarian for nearly 20 years, I know I could never resist a plateful placed in front of me. I’ve eaten grilled fish all over the world, but never come across anything so wonderfully tasty as the Nile perch from Mengo market.

Now and again, there was entertainment in our market. Mostly, it was a flute-player with marionettes flopping about to his music on a revolving wooden disc. Occasionally, however, when he thought there were no askaris around, he would turn up with his wife to give a live show. He was reputed to have once been a court musician, and she a court dancer.

Entertaining couple
They were a poverty-stricken couple: he in a shabby trilby hat, worn jacket and threadbare trousers; she in a dirty old suka tied at the hips with a piece of rag. Their act comprised him playing a drum while his wife danced. Only it didn’t stop there. Inevitably, the couple would be egged on by lewd members of the crowd with promises of more than the usual few cents they could normally expect provided they performed the sex act. And they did. Right there, in the middle of the market.

My mother, at Mengo market to buy a tomatoes, and accompanied by the children, once came home in a state of shock. Attracted by the drumming, she had allowed the boys to join the spectators while she bartered for the tomatoes, and rejoined them just as he was lowering his pants, and his wife spreading herself out on the ground.

I could only thank God that Miss Daly hadn’t been in the vicinity. I bet she would have expired on the spot. I never came near to seeing the pair in action, although I did catch a glimpse of the dancer, scuttling awkwardly down Sir Albert Cook road, trying to pull up his trousers, and pursued by a couple of askaris.

Backing onto the Sir Albert Cook road, and majestically facing the Kabaka’s palace, or Lubiri, on the opposite hill, was the New Bulange, a surprisingly elegant building. The cream stucco walls, green tiled roof, and long windows were completely at odds with the rest of Mengo which was a mixture of mud and wattle dwellings and concrete monstrosities.

The design of the New Bulange had been chosen by His Highness and was said to follow the lines of a famous English country house. It was, in any event, a beautiful place, and the terraced gardens, landscaped by the late Peter Greensmith, the man responsible for making East Africa famous for its garden cities, were exquisite.By contrast, the Old Bulange, which the new one was destined to replace, was a tin-roofed shack in the grounds of the Kabaka’s palace.

When I first came to Buganda, the Old Bulange still housed the Lukiiko, or Buganda parliament, and I was there in the crowd when Michael Kintu received the Ddamula, the staff of office of the Katikkiro (prime minister of the Kabaka’s government), at the time the Kabaka formed his first government since returning from exile.

The ceremony was a riot of drums, and took place mainly outside the palace gates, near the site of the sacred flame. The most notable feature, to me at any rate, was the presence of Lugard’s drum.

This not very large drum had a base encased in copper, and twisted copper loops and bells encircled the top skin. The story is that it was presented to Lugard after he helped the Baganda vanquish their historic enemy Bunyoro, and that he in turn presented it to the British Museum.

But the drum became homesick and the museum throbbed to the sound of its misery every night, so it was packed off home. Like many Kiganda tales, this one should probably be taken with a pinch of salt, but I like it.

Women were not supposed to set eyes on this drum but Queen Elizabeth, the queen mother of Britain was allowed to inspect it at close quarters during her Ugandan visit shortly before independence.

When the Kabaka formally opened the New Bulange, and Lukiiko members took their seats in the well-upholstered chamber, the Old Bulange became a storehouse for Kabaka’s government archives.

The New Bulange was everybody’s pride and joy. In common with the greater part of the palace grounds, the general public was allowed access to the New Bulange gardens. There was a great deal of traffic and it wasn’t entirely at a business level. Altogether the New Bulange attracted hundreds of local tourists. They arrived by the busload.