Another Group Seeks to Secede from Bunyoro-Kitara Kingdom

A group of Banyoro under their Umbrella Mubende-Bunyoro Committee has petitioned the Omukama of Bunyoro-Kitara Solomon Gafabusa Iguru demanding to secede from his Kingdom. Mubende Bunyoro Committee is a pressure group comprising Banyoro nationalists established in 1918 to fight for the return of Omukama Kabalega from exile and the return of Bugangaizi and Buyaga counties from the Buganda Kingdom.   

In their January 6, 2023 petition signed by the chairperson, Joseph Serumaga Kazairwe, the group wants Bugangaizi and Buyaga counties to become independent cultural institutions. The two counties covering Kagadi, Kakumiro, and Kibaale districts are under the administrative units in the Bunyoro-Kitara Kingdom.      

The petitioners note that much as they shed blood to reclaim Bugangaizi and Buyaga counties from Buganda, most of the land in the two counties has remained in the hands of absentee Baganda landlords yet Bunyoro Kitara Kingdom has remained silent on the matter. They believe that a separate cultural institution will be better placed to fight for the people who have been neglected by Bunyoro Kitara cultural institution.

Kazairwe says that when the Mubende-Bunyoro Committee sued the British government for atrocities committed against the Banyoro, they were asked to present supporting documents from the Bunyoro-Kitara Kingdom. He claims that the Kingdom officials have frustrated their efforts to pursue the case.

According to Kazairwe, the current administration of Bunyoro Kitara Kingdom has also failed to protect cultural sites such as the burial grounds of different kings including Omukama Duhaga, Omukama Kitehibwa, Kyabambe, and Nyabongo among other sites in Bugangaizi and Buyaga, which have since been turned into farmlands.

Livingston Bakumira, the senior mobilizer of the group is optimistic that once they form an independent cultural institution, they will have direct links with the central government and have the ability to resolve the land ownership question and the injustices inflicted on them during colonial rule.   

Bakumira explains that Bunyoro Kitara Kingdom has totally ignored and marginalized the Banyoro in Buyaga and Bugangaizi counties, saying that currently there is no single member of Mubende Bunyoro Committee in the Kingdom parliament despite their historical importance to the Kingdom. According to him, they have for long demanded the Kingdom Administration establishes a palace for Omukama Iguru in their area but the Kingdom officials have kept a deaf ear.

Bunyoro-Kitara Kingdom Prime Minister Andrew Byakutaaga acknowledged receipt of the petition, saying his office will dialogue with the groups. The petition is copied to Flora Kiconco, the Head of the Legal Department at State House, the Minister of Gender Labour and Social Development, the Minister of State for Bunyoro affairs, and the Okwiri of Bunyoro Kitara Kingdom, among others.

The petition comes at a time when the Bagungu from Buliisa district have equally stepped up preparations for their secession from the Bunyoro Kitara Kingdom to form the Bugungu cultural institution (Obutebengwa) purportedly to preserve the Bagungu culture.

The Bagungu community that lives on the northeastern shores of Lake Albert along the Rift Valley is making arrangements for the installation of their cultural leader, a thing that has triggered a misunderstanding with Bunyoro kingdom officials. The community, which speaks the Lugungu language has been pushing for their own kingdom claiming that they have a different cultural heritage from Bunyoro.     

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