By Joe Nam
He has taken the national stage by storm since joining Parliament in 2017. He now threatens to overthrow the status quo and usher in a new era in Uganda’s politics. Only one thing could stand in his way, an ancient curse in Buganda that decrees ” Woe to any ( Muganda ) man who tries to rise above the Kabaka of Buganda. ” In formal protocol, only the President of Uganda is above the Kabaka ( King ) of Buganda.
A certain Benedicto Kiwanuka, a leader of the Democratic Party dared it in 1961 when he was elected Chief Minister of Uganda. It ended a year later in humiliating defeat. Buganda Kingdom made sure Kiwanuka was put in his place The Kingdom then helped install Milton Obote, a non Muganda, as the first Prime Minister of Independent Uganda. Kiwanuka died violently 10 years later and lies in unmarked grave to this day.
Nearly 10 years later, the curse struck again, even in the absence of a reigning Kabaka. Two Baganda men, Yusuf Lule and Godfrey Binaisa had ascended the Presidency in Uganda in 1979 . Each had their tenure in office cut short suddenly by events beyond their control after only a few months in office.
Robert Kyagulanyi now rides a wave of popularity and looks set for a landslide election victory. What would possibly thwart a Kyagulanyi Presidency ? We assess
Factors in Favour
Demographics is in favour of Kyagulanyi. He is wildy popular with the youth country wide. These are the majority in the voter register and all factors remaining constant, most of them will vote him. This is mainly due to perceived marginalization by the government, restricted opportunities for self advancement for youth and a youthful affinity to Mr Kyagulanyi whom they view to be in the same league as themselves.
Then there is the block vote of about 4.4 million votes from Central region. Over 90 percent of these are expected to vote Bobi Wine. Mr Kyagulanyi is also competing well in vote share in other regions of the country.
When you add on the tacit endorsement by the Catholic Church in Uganda, all seems set for a landslide elections victory for Mr Robert Kyagulanyi. But wait.
For long, the idea of a national leader from Central Region has been considered anathema.
by most Ugandans. This is due to a number of reasons the main ones being perceived deficiency in forthrightness, perceived lack of patriotism with most Baganda reportedly paying but a secondary allegiance to the Ugandan State – the first and primary allegiance being to the Kabaka of Buganda.
Mr Kyagulanyi for instance, as a member of the Mbogo Clan in Buganda is a subject of the Kabaka who as tradition requires should prostrate flat before the Kabaka at any meeting of the two.
Culturally, Mr Kyagulanyi’s first allegiance is to the King of Buganda and not to the Ugandan State. This certainly will present a protocol complication, should Mr Kyagulanyi ascend the Presidency.
Woe to Kyagulanyi if he prostates before the Kabaka. Over 30 Million Ugandans will equate this to treason. And woe to Kyagulanyi if he doesn’t, because that would be cultural treason to the Kabaka of Buganda -The Ssabasajja ( First among men ).
It is hard for Mr Kyagulanyi to be a loyal subject of the Kabaka and President of Uganda at the same time.
Also, Uganda has since 1986 operated a military industrial complex model-like administration in Uganda with the military taking precedence over everything else, to the extent of even having permanent seats for the military, in the House of Parliament – which in the world is unique to Uganda only.
To put it bluntly, it is almost impossible to govern Uganda without the backing of the Military as a power centre and Mr Kyagulanyi does not have any real allies in Uganda’s military.
To compound matters, People Power now regularised into National Unity Platform NUP is a a populist ‘spur of the moment’ kind nd of Organisation led by a charismatic leader without any grounding in ideology, neither grooming in government nor statescraft.
NUP is obsessed with ‘ Removing the Dictator’ but speaks nothing of what happens afterwards when the ‘dictator ‘ is removed.
NUP has also antagonized potential allies, the older Political Parties like the Democratic Party DP, by encouraging mass defection from DP. This leaves NUP exposed to isolation, in the event of a future coalition government – which is very likely after Museveni exit.
Baganda as Agitators Mostly
Out of over 55 ethnic groups in Uganda, only two are inherently difficult to govern. The Baganda and the Acholi. These have fought every government in Uganda since colonial times and yet are said to be unable to govern the country themselves by failing to present to the country an acceptable national leader commanding broad consensus.
The current NUP tempest may infact be viewed as a Buganda revolt of modern times against a governing authority.
Despite all the advantages of being pioneers in enlightenment, education, commerce and even political activism in the country, getting to lead Uganda has mysteriously eluded the Muganda man.
In this regard, some commentators look at Mr Kyagulanyi as a mere agitator helping to usher in the next government and leader.
Will Robert Kyagulanyi finally break the ‘ ancient Buganda Curse’ and get to lead Uganda? The country will soon know the answer.