Fights among Baganda clans over management of cultural properties have forced the Katikkiro of Buganda, Charles Peter Mayiga, to issue directives that may end the clan heads' control over properties clans traditionally own.
The directive comes in the wake of a fierce brawl that has pitted the Nte (Cow) clan head (Katongole) Sam Mugatta Miwanda against a section of his clansmen over a prime plot of land at Katwe, on the outskirts of Kampala.
The land was given to the Nte clan on September 23, 1927 by the late Kabaka Daudi Chwa, to establish workshops for the clan's cultural activities. In Buganda culture, Nte clansmen are blacksmiths, traditionally responsible for fabricating the Kabaka's spears and other traditional weaponry.
The land, previously measuring seven acres, has reduced to about 1.5 acres, with some chunks now sold off. There are reports that the remaining part of the land has been sold off, and more than 2,000 mechanics, smiths and kiosk operators settled on it have been given three months to vacate, according to a letter from Lubwama, Kaweesa and Company advocates on behalf of the Katongole.
However, the katikkiro has halted the eviction and instructed the Buganda Attorney General, Daudi Kisitu Mpanga, to work out modalities for securing cultural properties.
"The clans lack a legal personality to manage their properties and in so many cases when someone is installed as a clan head, they take over the management of the clan's properties. I have now asked the Attorney General to help the clans to establish boards of trustees to manage their respective properties as opposed to the current system," Mayiga told The Observer in a recent interview.
The Katongole has been collecting at least Shs 10m every month from the land at Katwe and a section of his clansmen are now telling tenants to stop paying the fees. This group has set up a splinter committee named Ekika ky'Ente Property committee headed by businessman Gordon Wavammunno to manage the property.
"Every time there is a change in the clan leadership we have had a portion of this land lost, and if we don't act fast, we shall end up with nothing. We have what it takes to manage this property, and if it means getting a new Katongole, we shall replace him," said Gonzaga Mitimbo Kagumba, a member of the Buganda Lukiiko, and the property committee.
This group has now directed tenants on the land to make their monthly remittances to their acting treasurer Alice Nabaweesi Byangwa, who claims to have letters of administration over the land.
Mayiga, however, says that any clan head changes should be handled through the Kisekwa (cultural) court.