Empires are built by blood and iron, not ballot papers

Written by Michael Mubangizi
Sunday, 23 October 2011 23:17
‘Empires are built by blood and iron, not ballot papers’

His coronation may have been nullified by government in 1993, but that appears not to have stopped some people from actually referring to the late Ankole Prince John Patrick Barigye as their king and treating him as such.

These people include Gen David Tinyefuza, the coordinator of Intelligence Services; Omukama Solomon Gafabusa Iguru of Bunyoro and chairperson of the Uganda Cultural Leaders Forum; and William Katatumba, the prime minister of Ankole kingdom. Speaking at Barigye’s funeral service at St Paul’s Cathedral Namirembe on Friday, the three officials said that even without the official recognition by government, they regarded Barigye as Ankole’s king.

But the most surprising of these could be Gen Tinyefuza, who had since the annulled 1993 coronation of Barigye, been silent about his support for the Obugabe. Addressing mourners, Tinyefuza, who also called for mutual respect amongst people who love and abhor traditional institutions, said people perceived Barigye in different ways.

“To some, he was their king; to others, he was a prince; while to others, he was just Mr Barigye. But the common denominator is that he was a good man to all of us,” he said, before he concluded his eulogy with a prayer for eternal life for Barigye, “our king”.

Katatumba also addressed Barigye as “His Royal Highness the Omugabe”.

Bunyoro’s king, Omukama Iguru, who did not attend because his wife had just given birth, said in a message delivered by a kingdom official, that the Uganda Culture Leaders Forum recognized Barigye as a king.

“Although government never recognized him, the Forum and all the kings and cultural leaders recognized him and treated him as such,” Iguru said. He pledged the Forum’s support to and recognition of Barigye’s heir.

Blood and iron

Tinyefuza defended previous kings, who were perceived as cruel and oppressive to their subjects, saying the times in the bygone eras dictated that the kings act brutally.

“I don’t want to be apologetic on this. Democracies don’t build empires. Which empire was built by ballot papers? People who build empires use hot iron and spill blood,” the UPDF general said, adding that democrats only “come to administer what has been created”.

Tinyefuza, who spoke highly of kings, said there is no government the world over that has performed better than what kings had done. “Nobody has added anything to what kings created. Those were great men. What they created is what we are just tinkering with.”

“The greatest revolutionaries have been princes and kings,” he said, citing leaders like Otto von Bismark, the German prince who played a key role in the unification of Germany.


Nevertheless, like Katatumba, Tinyefuza hailed President Yoweri Museveni for the government’s support to Barigye while he was still alive, including paying for his medical treatment and shouldering the bulk of the funeral expenses.

“He has always been there whenever John needed help,” said Tinyefuza.

They, however, all pointed out the contradiction, since President Museveni also refused to recognize Ankole kingdom and enthrone Barigye as king.
“This [seemed] like a contradiction. We always wondered why he helped him, but never gave him what he wanted most,” Tinyefuza said.

On November 20, 1993, Prince Barigye was installed as Omugabe, but government moved swiftly to annul his coronation. Katatumba tried to defend Museveni, saying he was in a difficult situation because of dissenting voices in Ankole that opposed Barigye’s coronation.

“President Museveni acted as a parent. There are a few vocal Banyankore who would have caused havoc if he hadn’t listened,” the kingdom’s prime minister said.

However, when he asked the congregation to clap for President Museveni in appreciation of his support to the late prince, only a handful did. Most people murmured in apparent disapproval.

New era in Ankole

Katatumba and Tinyefuza, however, believe Barigye’s passing could pave a new era for the kingdom. “Maybe it’s a pointer to the government to be more gracious and compassionate to his children; it could also allow Banyankole to heal. Must we remain polarized?” Tinyefuza asked.

Katatumba added: “We hope his death will open a new chapter. His death has already showed that there is great solidarity among the Banyankore, apart from those who are known to hate the kingdom.”

On the late Barigye’s inadequacies, including his widely publicized bitter and embarrassing court battle in which he sought divorce from his second wife, Tinyefuza appealed for understanding and urged the public, especially the media, not to be judgmental. He said Barigye was human and did what anyone might do.

“He wasn’t the first person to try to seek divorce. Some of you might even try to divorce tomorrow,” he told the congregation. “Matters of flesh and blood are very serious. No one should judge the other, because none of us is above them. We only live by the grace of God.”

Speaker after speaker spoke highly of Barigye, citing his kindness, humour, gentleness and humility, despite his royalty. “We shall miss his humour and zeal for life,” said his sister, Princess Rosemary Kirungi.

Godfrey Tumusiime, who spoke on behalf of the deceased’s friends, said Barigye “exuded calmness and tranquility, even in the most trying moments.”
Alexander Barigye, one of his sons, said his father was always positive about life. “He acted as a father and a friend to us; he always cracked jokes with us.”

Barigye’s first wife, Mary Kanyarutokye, also spoke of him as a patient man. She said shortly after they had met and started dating, she left for London to study law. Barigye, she said, was patient: “I will wait for you to fulfill your dream,” she quotes him as having said.

Upon completion of the three-year degree course, they wed on August 8, 1970, “in this very place where his casket is lying,” she said. Their marriage, however, only lasted for 14 years. Without giving details, Kanyarutokye asked for forgiveness “for any challenges we were unable to resolve while John lived”.

The funeral service was attended by, among others, officials and royals from Buganda, Bunyoro, Toro and Busoga kingdoms, and the Lango cultural foundation.

Barigye’s casket was draped in Ankole kingdom regalia, inscribed with the emblem and royal drums (bagyendanwa). He was laid to rest at Nkokonjeru, Mbarara municipality yesterday.


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