Omukama of Bunyoro

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The current Omukama Solomon Iguru I

Omukama of Bunyoro is the title given to rulers of the East African kingdom of Bunyoro-Kitara. The kingdom lasted as an independent state from the 16th to the 19th century. The Omukama of Bunyoro remains an important figure in Ugandan politics, especially among the Banyoro people of whom he is the titular head. He is closely related to the Omukama of Toro Kingdom.

The Royal Palace, called Karuziika Palace, is located in Hoima. The current Omukama is Solomon Iguru I and his wife is the Queen or Omugo Margaret Karunga.

As a cultural head, the King is assisted by his Principal Private Secretary, a Cabinet of 21 Ministers and a Orukurato (Parliament).

Constitutional Recognition[edit]

In 1962, Great Britain granted independence to Uganda, but in February 1966, Prime Minister Milton Obote suspended the constitution and seized power, abolishing all of the traditional kingdoms—including Bunyoro—in 1967. The Omukama (King) of Bunyoro-Kitara Kingdom was restituted by Statute No. 8 of 1993, enacted by the Parliament of Uganda after the monarchy had been abolished for many years. Unlike the pre-1967 Omukama, who was both titular head and a political figure of the government of Bunyoro, the Omukama today is a cultural leader above partisan politics, although the King remains the titular head of the Bunyoro regional government (Section 246 of the Constitution of the Republic of Uganda):

Pursuant to Chapter Sixteen of the Constitution of the Republic of Uganda, 1995.,[1]

Sc 246. Institution of traditional or cultural leaders.

(1) Subject to the provisions of this Constitution, the institution of traditional leader or cultural leader may exist in any area of Uganda in accordance with the culture, customs and traditions or wishes and aspirations of the people to whom it applies.

(2) In any community, where the issue of traditional or cultural leader has not been resolved, the issue shall be resolved by the community concerned using a method prescribed by Parliament.

(3) The following provisions shall apply in relation to traditional leaders or cultural leaders—

(a) the institution of traditional leader or a cultural leader shall be a corporation sole with perpetual succession and with capacity to sue and be sued and to hold assets or properties in trust for itself and the people concerned;
(b) nothing in paragraph (a) shall be taken to prohibit a traditional leader or cultural leader from holding any asset or property acquired in a personal capacity;
(c) a traditional leader or cultural leader shall enjoy such privileges and benefits as may be conferred by the Government and local government or as that leader may be entitled to under culture, custom and tradition;
(d) subject to paragraph (c) of this clause, no person shall be compelled to pay allegiance or contribute to the cost of maintaining a traditional leader or cultural leader;
(e) a person shall not, while remaining a traditional leader or cultural leader, join or participate in partisan politics;
(f) a traditional leader or cultural leader shall not have or exercise any administrative, legislative or executive powers of Government or local government.

(4) The allegiance and privileges accorded to a traditional leader or a cultural leader by virtue of that office shall not be regarded as a discriminatory practice prohibited under article 21 of this Constitution; but any custom, practice, usage or tradition relating to a traditional leader or cultural leader which detracts from the rights of any person as guaranteed by this Constitution, shall be taken to be prohibited under that article.

(5) For the avoidance of doubt, the institution of traditional leader or cultural leader existing immediately before the coming into force of this Constitution shall be taken to exist in accordance with the provisions of this Constitution.

(6) For the purposes of this article, “traditional leader or cultural leader” means a king or similar traditional leader or cultural leader by whatever name called, who derives allegiance from the fact of birth or descent in accordance with the customs, traditions, usage or consent of the people led by that traditional or cultural leader.

History of the Omukama of Bunyoro-Kitara dynasties[edit]

Royal Traditions[edit]

Every year an "Empago" ceremony is held celebrating the King and the Kingdom. The celebration is held at the Royal Palace and all the Banyoro people are invited to join. During this ceremony the King also beats the Royal Drums as a sign of his power and as a mean of signaling the people. The celebration contains singing, dancing, music and much other.

The Batembuzi Dynasty[edit]

The first kings were of the Batembuzi dynasty. Batembuzi means harbingers or pioneers. The batembuzi and their reign are not well documented, and are surrounded by a lot of myth and oral legend. There is very little concurrence, among scholars, regarding the Batembuzi time period in history, even the names and successive order of individual kings. It is believed that their reign dates back to the height of Africa's Bronze Age. The number of individual batembuzi reigns, as given by different scholars, ranges from nine to twenty one.

The Bachwezi Dynasty[edit]

The Bachwezi are credited with the founding of the ancient empire of Kitara; which included areas of present day central, western, and southern Uganda; northern Tanzania, western Kenya, and eastern Congo. Very little is documented about them. Their entire reign was shrouded in mystery, so much so that they were accorded the status of demi gods and worshipped by various clans. Many traditional gods in Toro, Bunyoro and Buganda have typical kichwezi (adjective) names like Ndahura, Mulindwa, Wamara, Kagoro, etc.

The bachwezi dynasty must have been very short, as supported by only three names of kings documented by historian. The bachwezi kings were Ndahura, Mulindwa and Wamara; in this order. In addition to founding the empire of Kitara, the bachwezi are further credited with the introduction of the unique, long horned ankole cattle, coffee growing, iron smelting, and the first semblance of organized and centralized government, under the king. If one considers the history of coffee growing and its beverages plus iron smelting, these people are likely to have come from the Horn of Africa in areas of Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Somalia.

No one knows what happened to the Bachwezi. About their disappearance, there is no shortage of colorful legend. One legend claims that they migrated westward and disappeared into Lake Mwitanzige (Albert). Another legend has them disappearing into lake Wamala, which bears the name of the last king of the dynasty. There is a popular belief among scholars that they simply got assimilated into the indigenous populace, and are, today, one of the clans in Bunyoro and Toro Kingdom, as well as the tribal groups like the bahima of Ankole and the batutsi of Rwanda. The bahima and batutsi have the elegant, tall build and light complexion of some of the bachwezi, and are traditionally herders of the long horned Ankole cattle.

The Babiito Dynasty[edit]

The Bachwezi dynasty was followed by the Babiito dynasty of the current Omukama of Bunyoro-Kitara. Any attempt to pinpoint the dates of this, or any other dynasty before it, is pure conjecture; as there were no written records at the time. Modern day historians place the beginning of the Babiito dynasty at around the time of the invasion of Bunyoro by the Luo from the North. The first mubiito (singular) king was Isingoma Mpuga Rukidi I, whose reign is placed around the 14th century. Todate, there have been a total of 27 Babiito kings of Bunyoro-Kitara.

Source: The official Bunyoro-Kitara Kingdom website

List of Bunyoro Omukamas (Babiito Dynasty)[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Constitution of Uganda, 1995. Chapter 16 starts at page 115. http://www.usig.org/countryinfo/laws/Uganda/CONSTITUTION%20OF%20THE%20REPUBLIC%20OF%20UGANDA%201995.pdf
  2. ^ Bunyoro