New Vision (Kampala)

3 October 2007

Uganda: Rwenzururu Kingdom Has Never Existed

opinion

Kampala — I wish to respond to Charles Mumbere's comments at his press conference, which were published in The New Vision of September 27 under the headline, "We are not asking for a kingdom, but its recognition."

The Kajura committee analysed facts, views and opinions from different groups of stakeholders with a view of coming up with an informed position on the issue of a cultural kingdom called Obusinga bwa Rwenzururu. The committee stated that it did not find any evidence to back the claim of the existence of a region called Rwenzururu nor a group of people called Banyarwenzururu.

The committee observed that there had never existed a culturally accepted and legally recognised indigenous institution and its leadership in the Rwenzori. The committee was of the view that the people in the region be free to remain under their tribal and cultural identities.

However, the committee recommended that in view of the expressed wishes and aspirations of a few of the Bakonzo in the region to have a cultural institution, the Government should accede to their request in accordance with Article 246(1) of the Constitution.

Myself and others opposed to the establishment of a Rwenzururu kingdom applauded the Kajura committee, in particular for its concurrence with our long held stand that the Bakonzo had never had an independent entity called the Rwenzururu Kingdom as claimed by Mumbere's group.

However, aware that society is dynamic, and in view of the persistent demand by a sizeable number of Bakonzo for a cultural institution, and conscious that the continued acrimonious impasse in the society caused by agitators of Obusinga continue to create a situation of uncertainty at the expense of sustainable peace and meaningful development, we in principle agreed to respect the recommendation of the committee on establishment of a cultural institution. It is for purposes of restoring sanity among the Bakonzo that some of us, reluctantly, undertook to respect the recommendations.

What Mumbere and other kingdom agitators should be asking for, instead of making intriguing and provocative statements, is the formulation of a structural and legal framework for establishment of the kingdom, and sensitisation of the people about its leadership. The legal framework should also provide guidelines for the kingdom's operations as well as sanctions for violations of set standards.

It is important to establish desirable standards and to abide by them so as not to infringe on the rights and freedoms of those opposed to the institution. The opponents should be able to practice their unique customs, norms and traditions uninterrupted.

There is no punishment big enough to pay for the crimes the Rwenzururu militants committed against the people of Kasese over the last 40 years of rebellion. Let them live with the guilt for the rest of their lives in front of their victims.

Mumbere should tone down on the excitement of becoming a king and resist from accusing the Government for the underdevelopment in the region. There is no evidence to show that he can do better considering his fruitless 25-year tenure abroad. He will soon find out that words do not create wealth, but peace and tranquillity do.

Mumbere and supporters should not misconstrue our change of heart towards their agitation as acceptance of defeat. We have the ability to successfully challenge their claim, but the energies and time would rather be expended on more constructive issues for our own good and that of our children.

A cultural institution is not among the priorities of Kasese.

A reflection on the scriptures in 1 Samuel 8:1-22 may be a good message to the kingdom agitators. They have the liberty to choose who they will worship.

For me and my family, our king is the Almighty God.

The writer is a Mukonzo

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