When Kabaka Ronald Muwenda Mutebi II visited Bukoto South MP Mathias Nsubuga Birekeraawo's home in Manja, Lwengo district, last October, many thought he was congratulating the MP on his electoral victory.
The Kabaka's visit was a last-minute fixture on the cultural monarch's tour of Buddu county, ahead of the Youth Day celebrations at Masaka Liberation square on October 20. The organisers had arranged for the Kabaka to have lunch at the Garden Courts hotel in Masaka, only to be informed a day to the event that he would instead have lunch at Nsubuga's home.
Nsubuga is reported to have learnt of the development from Buganda's minister of state for Youth and Employment, Noah Kiyimba, but couldn't fathom why the Kabaka was visiting. Prince David Kintu Wasajja, who rarely travels with his brother, was this time part of the entourage. Unknown to the host, the prince's eye was firmly fixed on his daughter, Marion Elizabeth Nankya Nsubuga.
"I started hearing rumours three days after the Kabaka's visit but I didn't take them seriously," Nsubuga told The Observer.
Two weeks later, the prince formally wrote to Nsubuga, through Nankya's Ssenga (paternal aunt) in accordance with Buganda's culture, requesting for a formal visit (kukyala), the first step towards a Kiganda traditional marriage.
"I was extremely excited, but I still couldn't believe it until the prince and his entourage finally made it here [on November 18]," Nsubuga said.
"It's an honour and a blessing to us [the family] because Prince Wasajja is not an ordinary prince, but one who can even ascend to the throne. So, it's not just about marrying off my daughter but a service to my kingdom," he added.
Prince Wasajja's formal introduction (okwanjula) is scheduled for December 22 at Nsubuga's newly acquired posh house at Nalumunye, near Mutundwe hill, in Kampala. Although the MP had planned to hold the function in his Bukoto South constituency, kingdom officials convinced him to relocate the venue to Kampala for security reasons.
A source privy to the preparations told us that the kingdom was concerned that the central government may not look favourably on the wedding as Wassajja would be marrying the daughter of an opposition leader. However, Nsubuga insisted that the main concern was for the royal family having to travel over 150km to Manja during a festive season, known for many cases of road accidents.
While this is bad news for Nsubuga's constituents, who were gearing up for the function, the Katikkiro is understood to have prevailed over the MP by explaining that kwanjula is a private, not a public event. However, 600 guests have been invited. The Kabaka, according to cultural norms, will not attend this function.
"Government will be represented by the Vice President [Edward Kiwanuka Ssekandi]. I have also invited the Speaker of Parliament, judges and MPs, among other government officials," Nsubuga revealed.
The invitation list also has a host of DP and other opposition leaders, as well as some friends and business partners. Dispensing with common procedure, the royal wedding will take place at Lubaga cathedral on April 27, 2013, as Nsubuga is catholic while the royal family comes from an Anglican lineage. Just like the Kabaka did when he got married, the Wassajjas will hold their reception at Mengo palace.
It is a year of big rewards for Nsubuga, who won a court case challenging the election of former Bukoto South MP, Hajji Muyanja Mbabaali, and went on to win the by-election. His elder daughter, Josephine Nalwoga Nsubuga, recently introduced her French fiancé and their wedding is due on March 30, 2013 in London, three weeks before the royal wedding.