Barigye’s death re-ignites demand for Ankole kingdom

Written by Sadab Kitatta Kaaya
Sunday, 23 October 2011 23:20

Mbarara– News of the death of Ankole Crown Prince John Patrick Barigye Ntare VI did not only come with grief for Ankole loyalists, but also fresh vigour for the demand of the restoration of the Obugabe bwa Ankole (Ankole kingdom) after it emerged that many of the kingdom’s treasures, like the royal tombs at Nkokonjeru hill in Mbarara district, had for long been neglected and encroachers had taken part of the land.

A small piece remains of this once vast chunk of land that had been reserved for the royal burial grounds (egashani).

“It is so confusing; we’re hearing so many rumours that the land was sold, and I think we must investigate this,” Humphrey Kategaya, the general secretary of Nkole Cultural Trust, told The Observer October 20.

Until Prince Barigye’s death on October 15, these realities had not surfaced. Following a resolution by the Nkole Cultural Trust that their “king” be accorded a royal send-off, a team was sent to the royal burial grounds, but found that the place needed a rapid facelift before yesterday’s funeral.

“Lots of things have not been moving right, and have to be corrected to save the image of the kingdom,” said Ham Henry Baara, an elder, and member of the Trust. Funds were immediately raised to rehabilitate the dilapidated egashani, while a section of the kingdom’s loyalists engaged settlers on the land in talks to remove the fencing material that they had used to demarcate their plots, to create space for the huge crowd that was expected to turn up for Prince Barigye’s burial.

“They must vacate that land because they acquired it illegally. We shall embark on the process of evicting them immediately after the Omugabe’s burial,” Baara told The Observer.

He said because of government’s continued resistance to the restoration of Ankole kingdom, many of the kingdom’s treasures lie in ruins. He cited the once magnificent royal palace at Kamukuzi, which has remained unattended to for years. The Kamukuzi palace was taken over by the central government following the 1967 abolition of tradition institutions, and has since been used to accommodate junior staff of Mbarara district headquarters.

It stands tall amidst shrubs and potato gardens, and has evidently gone without a coat of paint for several decades.

“So many people want to have this kingdom restored, but the President [Yoweri Museveni] has not accepted yet.
“He is the only one who knows why, among all the other kingdoms, only Ankole is not recognised,” Kategaya said.

“We have written a fresh petition to the President to have our kingdom restored. We want to go and humbly ask him to restore our kingdom.
“The natives of Ankole still cherish their kingdom, like the Baganda, Batooro and Banyoro, among other groups.”

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