By Michael Woira
Uganda People’s Congress Government led by President Milton Obote abolished kingdoms in Uganda on September 17, 1967. These included Ankole, Buganda, Bunyoro and Busoga.
The pigeonhole constitution, cut short the powers of the president and bestowed executive powers on the Prime Minister. The greatest slap to Buganda and other monarchies in Uganda, would, however be the adoption of the 1967 Republican Constitution that ultimately eliminated kingdoms. But when the National Resistance Army took over power in 1986, President Museveni resolved to return the traditional sites taken over by the government in 1966 and 1967 back to their respective kingdoms and reinstate traditional leaders.
Many Kingdoms lost properties worth millions including buildings, palaces and land to the government during the period when kingdoms were illegal. The restoration of traditional leaders was done and Government has been returning properties of different kingdoms.
Busoga which is one of the established Kingdoms in Uganda is a traditional Bantu kingdom and one of four constitutional monarchies in Uganda. It is a cultural institution headed by a king, the Isebantu Kyabazinga who rules over the kingdom with support from his Lukiiko, Clan Heads, and a Cabinet. The institution which promotes popular participation and unity among the people of the region (Basoga) through mobililisation of the about 5 million people for different development programs.
Busoga comprises of 11 chiefdoms of Bugabula, Kigulu, Luuka, Butembe, Bulamogi, Bunha, Bunhole, Bukooli, Busiki, Bugweri and Bukono headed by hereditary chiefs/ princes.
These are found in districts like: Namayingo Kamuli, Kaliro, Namutumba Iganga, Bugiri, Buyende, Bugiri, Mayuge, Jinja, and Luuka. Each district is headed by an elected chairperson or an LCV, and municipalities are headed by elected mayors. Jinja is the industrial and economic hub of Busoga and hosts many of the regional offices of government and other organizations including the official Palace of the Kyabazinga. In the recent fact finding and assessment exercise by a team from Uganda Media Centre accompanied by various media houses visited Busoga and other neighboring districts.
In Busoga, the team paid a courtesy visit to the Busoga Kingdom where they met with the Minister for Kyabazinga Affairs; Owek Babirye Yudaya Kigenyi who highlighted a number of projects undertaken by Government in ObwaKyabazingabwa Busoga.
There have been regional development projects whose implications and scope vary in accordance with the definition of a region, and how the region and its boundaries are perceived internally and externally. A 2018 report by the Uganda Bureau of Statistics ranked Busoga region as one of the regions with the highest poverty prevalence in the country and government has come up with a number of projects to deal with some of the major problems hindering development in the region.
Owek Yudaya Babirye showed the visiting team Igenge Palace which was bombed by Iddi Amin’s government in the 1960s and is currently being renovated by the NRM Government and awaits handle over. Igenge Palace, the king’s official residence seats on 27 acres of land at the highest summit of Jinja district overlooking the town, the River Nile, the Nile Bridge and other key physical features.
The Minister for Kyabazinga Affairs said the kingdom anticipates that Government will hand over the palace by the end of the year. The Ministry of Works and Transport is renovating and will hands over the palace to the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social development which is charged with cultural affairs. The Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development will then hand over the palace to the kingdom.
This palace is 90% complete with a well-constructed perimeter wall, the floor of the complex has been laid with marble tiles as well finished with modern accessories fit for royalty. All other civil and utility works such as Wiring of the premises is complete and electricity poles, together with a transformer, are already on the ground. The complex also has small structures i.e. staff quarters and reception buildings for the guests that are nearly complete. There are some snags on the roofing and safety issues being resolved by MoWT that are expected to be done soon.
Owek.Yudaya Babirye Kigenyi also mentioned that in the area of education, Government is constructing Busoga Institute of Technology funded by the Government of Sharjah – United Arab Emirates. education sector. This project which is a under tripartite under the Ministry of Education and Sports of Uganda, Shalja Government and Busoga Kingdom was started in February 2019 and it was meant to be complete in 12 months but a revised finishing time frame to October 2020 was agreed upon between Government and Roko Construction Company.
About this institute, in 2018, a delegation that comprised of officials from the United Arab Emirates Chamber of Commerce led by Mr. Abdullah Sultan Alowais the chairman met the president and discussed several strategic areas of investment in Uganda. The President then decided that a skilling institute be constructed in Busoga region. Busoga Kingdom donated fifty acres of land near Igenge Kyabazinga Royal Palace for the construction of this international standards institute.
This extremely specialized institute was designed to have a capacity of 200 students but the engineers on sight say that it can be stretched to 400 students because of the available number of facilities on site. The facility will have boys and girls dormitories.
The institute is open to all Ugandans and international students who will be interested in the various high level skills training expertise offered by the best professionals at the institute. The institute will hold five Areas of engineering training including textile, plumbing, electrical, carpentry, welding and metal works. They will admit students from S4 and S6.
According to Danison Blas the Roko Construction Project Manager, the work is 75% complete and should be fully accomplished by the end of 2020.
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