It was jubilation and celebration in Kibaale, Buyanja at Kikangaara Hill, Buyanja Secondary School as the launch of year-long commemoration events to mark 100 years of Omukama Cwa II Kabalega’s Legacy was held. The colourful event was attended by central government officials, foreign dignitaries, cultural leaders, religious leaders, royals, security forces representatives, local government leaders, academic scholars, representatives of civil society organisations, students, and members of the public.
The event that was held on the 06th of April, 2023 marks the start of a series of events and activities that will climax on the 05th of April, 2024.
Kikangaara Hill where the event was organised is a historical site in the life of Omukama Cwa II Kabalega as this was where he was crowned King of Bunyoro-Kitara and proceeded to ascend the throne in 1869 at the age of 16 as the 23rd Omukama from the Babiito Dynasty following the death of his father, Omukama Kamurasi Kyebambe IV.
In a message from the President of Uganda, H.E Yoweri Kaguta Museveni delivered by Hon. Col. Tom Butime, the president described Omukama Kabalega as an icon of unity and development in the great lakes region, and expressed pleasure that such an event to honour the achievements of Omukama Cwa II Kabalega was organised, noting that it is acknowledgement and appreciation of the efforts early African leaders played in organising the African people into kingdoms, and chiefdoms, uniting scores of clans under one administration in order to work together, rather than against each other, among other Omukama Kabalega’s other personal outstanding achievements of fighting to protect the independence of his people from colonialism, and inspiring other African leaders to pursue the same course.
In the same message, he also confirmed the Government of Uganda’s decision to rename Kabaale International Airport currently under construction in Hoima to Kabalega International Airport. He also noted that the Oil and Gas Industrial Park currently under construction is to be named Kabalega Industrial Park.
These are very significant infrastructure developments on-going in the oil-rich Bunyoro sub-region that Omukama Cwa II Kabalega ruled and where he registered unprecedented development and social transformation before the disruption by the colonial war.
Hon. Col. Tom Butime who also doubles as the Minister of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities also hinted on plans by the Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities to build a monument of Omukama Kabalega and Kabaka Mwanga at Kangai, in present day Dokolo District, the place where the two was captured.
Some of the members in the audience that attended the event.
In a scholarly presentation about Omukama Kabalega made by Prof. Mwambutsya Ndebesa, a History Scholar at Makerere University, he underscored the courageous, patriotic, and great nationalistic mind that Omukama Kabalega portrayed, and the visionary leadership where he used soft power to rule, introducing great social reforms such as appointing common people to key positions for the first time in the history of his kingdom, enabling him to build an all inclusive society where all citizens had a chance to participate in nation-building.
Prof. Mwambutsya underscored the causes Omukama Kabalega fought for as freedom and integrity, equality, unity, honor, and protection of human rights of his people by resisting colonialism, and discouraging slave trade in Bunyoro-Kitara, encouraging other friendly neighbouring monarchies to do the same, and instead promoting trade in commodities such as Salt, Cattle, Iron works, Food/Agricultural products, Bark Cloth, Ivory, among other commodities, which greatly boosted both local and foreign trade at such an early time.
Prof. Mwambutsya noted that the people of Bunyoro-Kitara and Ugandans at large have a huge debt to pay to Omukama Kabalega by promoting unity amongst themselves, embracing Pan-Africanism and nationalism, learning to sacrifice, and working together for the common good of society.
He also called on all to be open to change that is positive, without compromising their values, and to learn from Omukama Kabalega by promote meritocracy in public service rather than sectarianism which cripples service delivery.
In his speech, Owek. Andrew Byakutaga Atenyi the Prime Minister (Omuhikirwa) of Bunyoro-Kitara Kingdom noted that what made Omukama Kabalega a hero and endeared him to his people in both the good times, and times of adversity was that he refused to betray his people on several occasions when external forces advanced their interest for him to surrender the sovereignty of Bunyoro-Kitara, and additionally, his ability to unite people of different tribes from far and wide into Bunyoro-Kitara as a precolonial nation, enabling them to all participate in nation building equitably based on merit.
In a message from the Kabaka (king) of Buganda – H.M Ronald Muwenda Mutebi II delivered by Prof. Twaha Kawasi the 1st Deputy Prime Minister of the Buganda Kingdom who represented the Kingdom, the Kabaka noted that it was an honor to pay tribute to such a great leader who fought to protect his people and kingdom, and called on the people of Bunyoro-Kitara and Buganda to work together for the common good.
Kabalega Foundation is a Not-for-Profit Non-governmental Organisation incorporated in Uganda as a Company limited by guarantee (Reg. No. 80020002140688), and registered as a Charity Organisation NGO Reg. No. INDR152224158NB