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The History of Busoga Kingdom

Saturday, January 24th, 2015

BUSOGA is one of the five renowned constitutionally ancient kingdoms in Uganda. The Kingdom is organised politically, socially and economically just like its sister interacastrian kingdoms.

Geographically Busoga is locared in the eastern part of Uganda covering upto twelve districts which include, Mayuge, Kaliro, Jinja, Iganga, Buyende, Namutumba, Bugiiri, Kamuli, Namayingo Kaliro Luuka and Busiki.
Locally Busoga means “Land of the Soga” with its capital as Bugembe, near Uganda’s second-largest city Jinja. Jinja is the driving pivot for industrial and economic activities of Busoga.

Busoga is bordered on the North by Lake Kyoga, on the west by the Victoria Nile (separating it from Buganda), on the south by Lake Victoria (separating it from Tanzania and Kenya) and on the east by the Mpologoma River which separates it from other tribal groups (Bugwere Adhola, Bugisu). and It also includes several islands in Lake Victoria, such as Buvuma Island.

The title given to Busoga king is Isebantu Kyabazinga. And William Kadhumbula Gabula Nadiope IV is the current king on the throne, and grandson to former vice president of Uganda and also former Kyabazinga of Busoga Kingdom Wilberforce Kadhumbula Nadiope,.

The Prime Minister ‘Katukiro’ of Busoga Kingdom is Rt. Hon. Joseph Muvawala. The Prime minister is the head of the Kingdom’s Government and official spokesperson for the Kyabazinga and the Kingdom public relation.

The kingdom has had three Kyabazingas who have presided over of Busoga since 1939: Ezekiel Tenywa Wako, Yosia Nadiope and William Wilberforce Nadiope Kadhumbula. Kadhumbula is remembered for having added a British practice in the fight against smallpox locally known as kawumpuli. The Soga people were required to publicly supply rat tails for counting to prove that they had killed the rats. Kadhumbula’s opposition brought him into conflict with the British and was exiled to Bunyoro. He is also remembered for having led the Basoga into the Second World War.

In Uganda’s history Kadhumbula played an important role in Uganda’s independence struggle and he was also the first vice-president of independent Uganda as well as chairman of the Uganda People’s Congress (UPC). To his people Kadhumbula built infrastructure such as roads connecting busoga to other areas, hospitals to improve health and instilled love for agriculture into the hearts of Basoga.

In 1995, the government restored monarchies in Uganda through Article 246(1) of the constitution of Uganda. This led to the reinstating of Henry Wako Muloki on 11th/ February 1996 as Kyabazinga Isebantu of Busoga. He later died of esophageal cancer 1st September 2008 at age 87.

Muloki’s agenda included the three point programs which included programs for youth, the elderly, and the poor and the education of girls.

After Muloki’s death, Royal Chiefs of Busoga first elected Muloki’s son Edward Columbus Wambuzi, , as new Kyabazinga of Busoga and the election was contested due to lack of quorum (at least eight chiefs) and thus electing later Gabula Nadiope IV with ten out of eleven chiefs and was crowned on 13 September 2014.

It is believed that Busoga’s written history began with the arrival of Royal Geographical Society explorer John Hanning Speke arrived at Ripon Falls near Jinja, where the Victoria Nile flows from Lake Victoria and begins its descent to Egypt On 28th of July 1862. Since Speke’s took him around the southern end of Lake Victoria, he approached Busoga from the west. Having reached his goal (the source of the Nile), he turned northward and followed the river downstream without exploring Busoga. He records, however, being told that Usoga (Swahili for Busoga) was an island (it is bordered on all four sides by water)

During the 19th century, Europeans who travelled through southern Busoga; Speke, James Grant, Gerald Portal, Frederick Lugard, J. R. Macdonald and Bishop Tucket all noted that Busoga had enough food and was densely populated. However, between 1898–99 and 1900–01 the first cases of sleeping sickness were reported.

In 1906, orders were issued by the Imperial British East African Company to evacuate people from. Despite attempts to fight the epidemic, it continued until 1910. As a result, most of the densely populated parts of Busoga (with an original population of over 200,000) were depopulated within ten years.

“Lubas Palace at Bukaleba and the European fruit mission collapsed, and survivors were relocated to other parts of Busoga. Southern Busoga, about one-third of the kingdom’s area, was depopulated by 1910. During the 1920s and 1930s, some evacuees who survived the epidemic began to return to their original land. In 1940 a new outbreak appeared in the area, and only in 1956 did resettlement begin again.” Source Busoga website

In 1898–1900, 1907, 1908, 1917, 1918 and 1944. Famines also struck parts of northeastern Busoga and later Populations in these areas shrank since many people were killed by the famines, and survivors moved to other areas for safety.

Economic mussle
During the pre-colonial era, people left other traditional lands and number of clans and chiefdom were decimated by famine and epidemics, as people migrated to Busoga with the traditions and cultures of other lands.

From 1920 to the 1970s, Jinja (Busoga’s capital) gained economic importance due to cotton production and the completion of the Uganda Railway and the Owen Falls Dam. The Busoga became an agri-industrial centro with factories, cottage industries and a well-developed infrastructure. People from rural Busoga came to work in the factories and in domestic work. Among the newcomers were Asian families. Services such as piped water, electricity, roads, hospitals and schools were improved to serve the growing population.

Farmers grew cash and food crops such as cotton, coffee, bananas, potatoes, cassava, fruits and vegetables. The standard of living improved; the kingdom’s revenue increased, enabling it to build more infrastructure. Subsistence farming diminished, with the population turning to economic production demanded by the Europeans

In 1962, Busoga was one of the most prosperous regions in Uganda. Jinja only had upto 75% Uganda’s industries due to the effect of Owen Falls Dam.

Political set up
It is believed that by the 16th century, the Baisengobi clan from Bunyoro gained power. Mukama Namutukula and his wife Nawudo of the royal Babiito family of Bunyoro are said to have left Bunyoro during the 16th century as part of the kingdom’s expansion policy. They moved with their dog east across Lake Kyoga with a few servants armed and settled at Iyingo in northern Busoga in the present-day Kamuli District.

Mukama enjoyed hunting, metal working and blacksmithing there by making hoes, iron utensils and spears.

Of Mukama managed to raise five boys, and when he was returning to Bunyoro he gave them land to oversee. His firstborn, Wakoli, received Bukooli, Zibondo received Bulamogi, Ngobi Kigulu, Tabingwa Luuka, and the youngest son, Kitimbo, received Bugabula. These areas later became cultural centers and administrativepoints in Busoga.

When Mukama failed to return, his sons regarded themselves as the legitimate rulers of their respective areas. They presided over their dominions, employing governing methods and cultural rituals similar to those in Bunyoro. This political and cultural arrangement in Busoga continued until the late 19th century, when the colonialists persuaded its rulers to organize a federation. The federation was governed by a Lukiiko.

Busoga became a kingdom in 1906 when only that it had no central ruler. The king was installed with the help of the British. In Busoga some of the chiefs were appointed by the Kabaka of Buganda and given authority to rule land in Busoga.

Others belonged to landowning families in Busoga who were self-appointed rulers of large areas. The British united the chiefs in the Lukiiko and appointed Semei Kakungulu, a Muganda from Buganda, as its president (and Busoga’s first leader).

The colonial rulers were grooming Bugabulan ruler Yosia Nadiope by giving him first class education at Kings College Budo, in 1906 as the first permanent ruler of the Busoga Federation. However, in 1913 Nadiope died of malaria. In 1919, the chiefs of Busoga resolved in the Lukiiko to elect Wako president of Busoga.

In 1918-19, the title of Isebantu Kyabazinga was created and Wako who was the president of the lukiko took the throne. He received a salary of ₤550 and was permitted to collect taxes in Butembe county in compensation for his lost role in the chiefdom of Bulamogi. In 1925 Wako was recognized as a member of the Uganda Kings Council, consisting of the Kyabazinga of Busoga, the Kabaka of Buganda, the Omukamas of Bunyoro and Toro and the Omugabe of Ankole.

On 11 February 1939 Owekitibwa Ezekerial Tenywa Wako, father to Kyabazinga of Busoga Henry Wako Muloki and the Zibondo of Bulamogi, was installed officially as the first Kyabazinga of Busoga until 1949 when he decided to retire. The Busoga Lukiiko resolved that the Kyabazinga should be elected from the five lineages of Baise Ngobi (Ababiito), hereditary rulers traditionally believed to have been the five sons of the Omukama of Bunyoro who migrated to Busoga from Bunyoro.

This method of election was used for subsequent elections, beginning in 1949 when Owekitibwa Chief William Wilberforce Nadiope Kadhumbula of Bugabula was elected. He served for two terms of three years each, followed by Henry Wako Muloki (who also served two terms). In 1957, the title Inhebantu of Busoga was introduced for the wife of the Kyabazinga (or Isebantu).

When monarchies were abolished in 1966 by Obote, the Kyabazinga was dethroned. But in 1972 Idi Amin expelled the Asians from Uganda and here Jinja suffered socially and economically because most business participants were asian traders. In 1995, the government restored monarchies in Uganda. On 11 February, Henry Wako Muloki was reinstated as Kyabazinga according to Kisogan tradition.

Political structure The Busoga Royal Council is composed of the 11 traditional leaders of Busoga: the heads of the five royal families and the six tribal chiefs.

Busoga Kingdom Royal Council

  1. Title Principality (or chiefdom) Head
  2. Zibondo Bulamogi G. W. Napeera
  3. Gabula Bugabula William Nadiope
  4. Ngobi Kigulu Izimba Gologolo
  5. Tabingwa Luuka W. Tabingwa Nabwana
  6. Nkono Bukono C. J. Mutyaba Nkono
  7. Wakooli Bukooli David Muluuya Kawunye
  8. Ntembe Butembe Badru Waguma
  9. Menha Bugweri Kakaire Fred Menya
  10. Kisiki Busiki Yekosofato Kawanguzi
  11. Luba Bunha Juma Munulo
  12. Nanhumba Bunhole John Ntale Nahnumba

Attractions and historic sites

Kagulu Rock
This was the first settlement area for the Bunyoro Basoga, led by Mukama. Although Kagulu’s cultural influence is widespread, its visible landmark is Kagulu Rock. The rock is between two roads which fork at its foot, leading to Gwaya and Iyingo. The rock has a clear view of almost all Busoga, with steps making it easier for visitors to reach the top. Kagulu Rock has been for a long time a major adventure and tourist attraction in Eastern Uganda. Previously, it had caught the curious eyes of the foreign NGO workers in the area, but with the advent of the local initiative to promote the site, Kagulu Rock is now a big attraction to all.

Budhumbula shrine and palace

Two kilometers from Kamuli on the Kamuli-Jinja road, the site includes a shrine and the residence of former Kyabazinga William Wilberforce Kadhumbula Nadiope (who died in 1976). The marble-covered shrine contains the graves of other members of the royal family, including Nadiope’s father and mother (Yosia Nadiope and Nasikombi).

Other graves in the shrine are those of his son, former Uganda government minister Wilson Nadiope (who died in 1991), and his mother, Yuliya Babirye Nadiope (who died in 2004). The main palace residence is a legacy of the British colonial government, which donated it in 1914.

Source of the Nile
The source of the Nile, the world’s second-longest river, at Lake Victoria was discovered by John Speke and is an internationally known attraction.

Bujagali Falls
This former waterfall was submerged in November 2011 by the Bujagali Dam

Lake Victoria
Southern Busoga is bordered by Lake Victoria, whose coastline runs from Jinja east to the Kenyan border.