Muteesa I of Buganda

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Ssekabaka Muteesa I Mukaabya Walugembe Kayiira
Kabaka of Buganda
Mutesa I.jpg
Mutesa I
Reign1856 – 1884
PredecessorSuuna II of Buganda
SuccessorMwanga II of Buganda
Mulago Hill, Kampala, Uganda
Died1884 (aged 47)
Kasubi Nabulagala, Kampala, Uganda
SpouseHe married at least 85 wives
HouseAbalasangeye dynasty
FatherSuuna II of Buganda
MotherAbakyala Muganzirwazzaza

Muteesa I Mukaabya Walugembe Kayiira (1837 – 1884) was the 30th Kabaka of the Kingdom of Buganda, from 1856 until 1884.

Claim to the throne[edit]

He was born at the Batandabezaala Palace, at Mulago, in 1837. He was the son of Kabaka Ssuuna II Kalema Kasinjo, Kabaka of Buganda, who reigned between 1832 and 1856. His mother was Nabakyala Muganzirwazza, the Namasole, one of the 148 recorded wives of his father. He ascended the throne upon the death of his father in October 1856.

According to historian MSM Kiwanuka, Muteesa was "an insignificant obscure prince"[1], compared to his brothers Prince Kajumba and Prince Kiyimba. Kajumba was his father's preferred heir, as Suuna frequently pointed out to his chiefs the heroic qualities of the prince. However, the chiefs, led by the Katikkiro Kayiira felt that Kajumba would be difficult to control. Muteesa, an unpopular choice, was chosen ahead of his brothers.

The country groaned and rumbled that Kayiira’s choice of Mukaabya, a young and weakling prince, was a deliberate manoeuvre to enable him to become the real ruler of the land.

-MSM Kiwanuka.[2]

He was crowned at Nabulagala. He established his capital, first on Banda Hill. Later he abandoned that palace and established capitals at Nakatema, Nabbingo, Kabojja, and finally at Kasubi, Nabulagala.[3] The capital at Kabojja got its name due to the numerous executions carried out while the king was resident there, as the name echoes something as deadly as a snake bite.[4]

Following his ascension to the throne, Muteesa, with the help of Kayiira, had his rival princes imprisoned on Kisimi Island. Some notable chiefs hatched a plot to overthrow the new king and replace him with Prince Kiyimba. However, the plot was unfoiled and the conspirators, along with Prince Kiyimba and Prince Kajumba, were executed.

Married life[edit]

Muteesa I Mukaabya Walugembe Kayiira is reported to have married 87 wives.[5]


He is reported to have fathered 98 children, including:

A detailed list of all of Muteesa I's issue is contained at the following reference:[6]

His reign[edit]

Arab and Muslim traders from Zanzibar had been visiting Buganda since the 1840s to trade firearms, gunpowder, salt, and cloth in exchange for ivory and slaves. During Kabaka Muteesa I's reign, these contacts continued.

At the same time, contact was made with European visitors for the first time in 1862 when John Speke and James Augustus Grant arrived. Their positive accounts attracted more visitors and Henry Morton Stanley arrived in 1875.[7]:151

The Roman Catholics arrived in 1879, in the person of Simon Lourdel Monpel, popularly known as Pere Mapeera, and Brother Amans, of the White Fathers.

All three visitor groups were made to believe that Kabaka Muteesa I preferred their religion over the others. They thus wrote favorable reviews back home to their respective governments, encouraging trade and friendly relations. As a result, Buganda, and Uganda were not colonized but were offered status of a protectorate. Some people regard him as the most important of the kings of Buganda because of his vision and diplomatic skills, while others are more critical and believe he welcomed British Imperial influence that ultimately undermined Buganda's sovereignty .[8]

The final years[edit]

He died at Kasubi Nabulagala on 9 October 1884 at the age of 47, and was buried on 18 October 1884 at Kasubi, the first Kabaka to be buried there.[9] In 2007, Muteesa I Royal University was opened in his name, in recognition of his contribution to the education of the people of Buganda and Uganda. The first chancellor of the university was Kabaka Ronald Muwenda Mutebi II, the current reigning Buganda monarch. In June 2016, Julia Sebutinde was installed as chancellor of the University, replacing Kabaka Mutebi II, who installed her and then became The Visitor of the University. Kabaka Mutebi being Chancellor was making it hard for Regulatory Authorities of the Ugandan Universities system to hold the institution accountable on some issues since being King of the largest ethnic group in the country makes him some one who is sacred. to [10]

Quotes about Muteesa I[edit]

Under his rule Buganda was never seriously threatened, either with civil war or conquest. She became more powerful and more civilised. He allowed the missionaries to teach that it was possible to owe a higher allegiance than to their King, and while he lived their lives were safe. He had the strengths and subtlety to balance the Catholics, Protestants, Muslims and pagans, so that he controlled them all, just as he kept in touch with the rest of the world, but managed not to be swamped by it. If he turned inward at the end it was but a mild taste of what was to come.

  • Kabaka Mutesa II, Desecration of My Kingdom (1967)

Succession table[edit]

Preceded by
Suuna II Kalema
King of Buganda
1856 – 1884
Succeeded by
Mwanga II Basammula Ekkere

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Kiwanuka, MM Semakula, Muteesa of Uganda. Kampala: East African Literature Bureau, 1967, pp. 6-9.
  2. ^ Kiwanuka, MM Semakula, 1967.
  3. ^ "The Palaces of Kabaka Muteesa I". Uganda Travel Guide. Retrieved 5 October 2014.
  4. ^ Kiwanuka, MM Semakula, 1967
  5. ^ "The Wives of Kabaka Muteesa I". Retrieved 5 October 2014.
  6. ^ "The Abalasangeye Dynasty". Retrieved 5 October 2014.
  7. ^ Stanley, H.M., 1899, Through the Dark Continent, London: G. Newnes, ISBN 0486256677
  8. ^ "Biography of Muteesa I of Buganda". Retrieved 5 October 2014.
  9. ^ "Kabaka Muteesa I Is Buried At Kasubi, Nabulagala". Retrieved 5 October 2014.
  10. ^ Kulanyi, Shiffa (17 June 2016). "Justice Sebutinde Installed As Muteesa University Chancellor". Daily Monitor. Kampala. Retrieved 1 August 2016.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]