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A rough guide to the country's kingdoms

[Uganda] President Yoweri Museveni. IRIN
Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni.
Ugandan police have used excessive force during clashes with rioting supporters of a local monarch in which at least 10 people died, according to a human rights watchdog.

The clashes erupted on 10 September in the capital, Kampala, sparked off by a planned visit by King Ronald Muwenda Mutebi of Buganda kingdom to the central district of Kayunga on 12 September.

Kayunga is part of Buganda kingdom, but a minority community in the area is opposed to the trip. Kingdom officials say the central government is trying to thwart the visit.

"The available evidence raises serious concerns that police used excessive force in confronting demonstrators," Georgette Gagnon, Africa director at Human Rights Watch (HRW), said in a statement. "A thorough investigation is needed to find out who is responsible."

Riots continued across the city and in several neighbouring districts on 11 September, with local media reporting five more people gunned down by the police. The Ugandan police deny the allegations.

The government has also suspended four Luganda language FM stations on the grounds that they were instigating violence.

Kabaka Ronald Muwenda Mutebi II 200909111343050828
Photo: Buganda Post
Kabaka Ronald Muwenda Mutebi II
Kings without clout

Before the British colonized it in the 19th century, Uganda comprised several kingdoms - most of which eventually lost their political clout. In 1967, kingdoms were abolished by President Milton Obote. In 1993, President Yoweri Museveni restored them, but as cultural institutions.

The main kingdoms include:

Uganda's largest and most politically powerful kingdom, Buganda is located in the central region along the shores of Lake Victoria. Kampala is also home to Mengo, the seat of the Kabaka (king). 

The Baganda are the largest ethnic community in Uganda, with an estimated five million people.

During the colonial era, Buganda became the most influential kingdom in Uganda when the British rewarded it for its collaboration by giving it territories that belonged to the western kingdom of Bunyoro.

Many Baganda have, for several years, unsuccessfully lobbied the government to introduce a federal form of government that would give some autonomy to the regions.

The current kabaka is Ronald Muwenda Mutebi II.

The kingdom of Bunyoro, with about 700,000 people, is in western Uganda along the shores of Lake Albert. It casts itself as the oldest East African kingdom, and is ruled by an Omukama.

Historically one of the most militarily powerful kingdoms, Bunyoro opposed colonization and paid for it with the loss of some territory.

Much of the oil recently discovered in Uganda is in this region.

The current Omukama is Solomon Gafabusa Iguru 1, the 27th king of Bunyoro.

Traditionally, the Acholi people of northern Uganda were organized in groups of clans presided over by a Rwot, or paramount chief.

Two decades of war in the north between the government and Lord's Resistance Army rebels, however, forced about two million Acholi to abandon their homes and seek refuge in camps.

Currently, the kingdom is using traditional Acholi justice systems - such as mato oput, where the offender confesses his crime and is absolved - to try to build peace and reconciliation.

The current Rwot is David Acana Onen II.

On the eastern shores of Lake Victoria where the source of the River Nile is located, Busoga is one of the country's oldest kingdoms. Ruled by a Kyabazinga, the kingdom has about two million subjects.

A succession struggle followed the death in 2008 of the previous Kyabazinga, Henry Wako Muloki. In June, Prince Edward Columbus Wambuzi installed himself as the new Kyabazinga, but opposition remains.

Also in western Uganda, the Toro kingdom - with about 800,000 subjects - was formerly part of Bunyoro; its leader is also called the Omukama.

The kingdom has close ties with Libyan leader Muammar Ghaddafi, who was made defender of the Toro kingdom in 2001. The current Omukama of Toro is Oyo Nyimba Kabamba Iguru Rukidi IV, who became the world's youngest monarch at the age of three in 1995.

Located in southwestern Uganda and traditionally ruled by an Omugabe, the Banyankore people (also known as the Banyankole) are divided into two groups with a total population of 2.3 million - the minority, mainly pastoralist Bahima, and the mainly agriculturalist Bairu.

Although it is one of Uganda's oldest kingdoms, Nkore (also known as Ankole) has not had its title returned, so its leader, John Barigye, is officially regarded only as a prince.

Several other kingdoms and chiefdoms are officially recognized by the government, including the union of Alur chiefdoms, the Iteso paramount chieftancy, the paramount chieftaincy of Lango and the Padhola state.


This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions

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