We are a Cultural Trust / Foundation registered under the laws of Uganda. REG No: 80020002140688 by the Royal House of Babiito to preserve and promote the legacy of Omukama Chwa II Kabalega (June 18, 1853 – April 6, 1923), the ruler / Omukama of Bunyoro-Kitara Kingdom from 1870 to 1899, and a celebrated hero national and Africa-wide hero who fought gallantly to preserve the Independence of his people against colonialism.
Born to Omukama Kamurasi Mirundi Rukanama rwa Kanembe KYEBAMBE IV of Bunyoro-Kitara, and Kanyange Nyamutahingurwa Omunyonzakati Abwooli in 1853, a wife gotten by Omukama Kyebambe as a bounty from their Military escapades in parts of present-day Democratic Republic of Congo, Kabalega ascended the throne in 1869 at the age of 16 as the 23rd Omukama from the Babiito Dynasty following the death of his father.
At the peak of his reign, Omukama controlled vast areas of the East African region, covering parts of present-day Uganda, Eastern Democratic Republic of Uganda, Rwanda, and northern Tanzania as he sought to restore the once-mighty Bunyoro Kitara Empire
Some of the major areas of focus that Omukama Kabalega focused on during his reign as the sought to restore the once-mighty Bunyoro Kitara Empire were as listed below:
- Health and Sanitation; With lots of ground-breaking global health and medical innovation credited to Bunyoro-Kitara Kingdom during his reign. According to R.W Felkin (a medical missionary), in 1879 Kabalega’s Bunyoro in Kahura, Uganda was the only place in the world where the Caesarean section was performed to save both mother and baby. In other areas, the mother’s life was sacrificed for the child. Further, during Kabalega’s reign, Bunyoro discovered a cure for sleeping sickness, and Bunyoro’s citizens used to be immunised against endemic syphilis.
- Environmental Conservation: Omukama Kabalega during his reign sought to preserve and protect the environment, and to date, vast of planted forest cover in the present-day Bunyoro Kingdom are credited to his name, having been planted during his reign. Some of these include the Royal Mile in Budongo Forest, parts of Bugoma Forest, among others.
- Social-Economic Development: Omukama Kabalega, during his reign, sought to rebuild the once-mighty Bunyoro Kitara Empire and drove the kingdom through economic recovery and unto great heights of economic development and activity, establishing Bunyoro as an in-land trade centre and a food basket that connected the north African route to the southern, western and East African coastal routes for trade of salt, agricultural produce, ivory, iron-works, among other products.
- Social Equity & Empowerment: Omukama Kabalega sought to redefine the social structures in his kingdom by empowering the formally sidelined segments of his kingdom subjects for an all-inclusive development agenda. This he did through intermarriage from all clans of Bunyoro, something that was not exactly in line with royal norms of the time requiring inter-marriage from only within the royal clan. He also sought to admit the commoner social class into ranks of mainstream Kingdom management and administration, something uncommon in his predecessor reigns, something that set him apart as a pro-people and all-inclusive leader.
- Education & Life Skills Development. Omukama Kabalega sought to promote education; then informal education through artisanry, trade and life skills development among his subjects and this is considered one of the factors that enabled quick economic recovery in the kingdom during the time of his reign.
It is on the basic of the aforementioned key areas of Omukama Kabalega’s reign that Kabalega Foundation works to preserve and promote his legacy of through our programmes focused on civic advocacy and engagement, cultural research and development, environment protection, education and life skills development, health and sanitation, as well as community social-economic empowerment.
In the fight for the independence of his kingdom and people, after 9 years of formidable resistance, On April 9, 1899, Kabalega was shot by the British Colonialists and mercenary collaborators, who captured him in Lango, along with Kabaka Mwanga II of Buganda who had been deposed by the British and had become allied to Kabelega. Kabalega was exiled to Seychelles for 24 years; his counterpart Mwanga would later die in 1903 two years after exile aged 35 years.
To replace him, the colonialist government appointed his son Yosia Kitahimbwa as king but had little power as the kingdom was administered nearly directly by the colonial government.
In 1923, Kabalega was granted permission to return to Bunyoro but died in Jinja on April 6, 1923, shortly before reaching the borders of the kingdom.
Omukama Kabalega remains an inspirational figure for Ugandans and Africans at large, and many still revere him as the greatest king Bunyoro has ever had, a national and African icon, and a hero.
In 1972, President Idi Amin renamed Murchison Falls, located within Murchison Falls National Park, Kabalega Falls after Omukama Kabalega. On June 8, 2009, Kabalega was declared a national hero of Uganda by President Yoweri Museveni as an icon of national independence. In 2010, the Most Honourable Order of Omukama Chwa II Kabalega was founded by Bunyoro-Kitara Kingdom in honour of Omukama Kabalega.
However, with his people greatly decimated by the war fighting to defend their kingdom, and the subsequent marginalisation with repressive policies for resistance against the colonial government, Bunyoro region remains with alot of need for intervention and support as the region works to recover and regain its past glory, and it’s for this reason Kabalega Foundation was set up to aid and support the process of recovery through our afore-mentioned programmes.