I know there are a few Ugandans like Ms. Phionah Kesaasi who will call me all sorts of names and unfairly accuse me of trying to incite the public with ‘genocidal outcomes’ after they have read this article.
When I constructively criticized NRM’s extreme version (shock therapy) of structural adjustment program and stressed that it would hurt the majority of Ugandans, many in the NRM government and secretariat labeled me a saboteur bent on discrediting the NRM government. My views were ignored and I was ostracized. After more than twenty years the program has been abandoned in disgrace when the failures as manifested for example in the diseases of poverty could no longer be hidden in cooked statistics of economic growth, per capita income and macroeconomic stability. The World Bank, IMF and subsequently the government apologized but too much damage had already been done. Some of the individuals who criticized me have apologized while others have just avoided me.
Now I am going to write on yet another ‘hot potato’ subject – the subtle processes being methodically conducted to create a new Mpororo kingdom or district that may combine Ntungamo and Rukungiri districts and possibly other neighboring areas. Hopefully Ugandans and their friends will reflect carefully on the message contained in this article and act accordingly.
The old short-lived Mpororo kingdom was founded in mid-1600s by Kahaya a Mushambo from the Tutsi ruling house of Rwanda. It disintegrated in less than one hundred years because of internal feuds. The kingdom covered northern Rwanda and parts of southwest Uganda. The part in Uganda was taken over by Bahinda ruling clan of Bahima in Ankole and former Bahororo people became commoners or Bairu (slaves). Mpororo kingdom disappeared from Uganda maps. Some Bahororo returned to Rwanda where prospects were better than under Bahinda rulers. Others moved to Rujumbura in Rukungiri district where they sought refuge. But Bahororo, dispersed as they were, never lost their identity (because men do not marry women from outside of their Nilotic ethnic group) and harbored the desire to re-establish the former kingdom at an appropriate time.
During negotiations for Uganda’s independence Bahororo in Ankole demanded the restoration of Mpororo as a district. They did not succeed but they did not give up either. Now that the Uganda government is led by Bahororo under President Yoweri Museveni, the idea has resurfaced (in part because Ankole kingdom has not been restored) in different forms including the incorporation of cultural institutions in Uganda’s 1995 Constitution. Since then, programs on Mpororo kingdom have appeared in Uganda media and the name Mpororo kingdom has reappeared on Uganda maps.
I have written many times before advising that Rujumbura was never part of the former short-lived Mpororo kingdom. Bahororo came to Rujumbura after Mpororo had long disintegrated. Here is what Paul Ngorogoza (the late Secretary General of Kigezi district) wrote on this matter. “The dynasty of the Bashambo began with Kahaya, who was a Mushambo and king of Mpororo… About 1750 he [Kahaya] arrived in Rujumbura while he was travelling with one of his sons, Kirenzi, and he found that the country [Rujumbura] was attractive. He told his son, ‘when the Bahinda drive you from Mpororo, come and settle in Rujumbura’’’ (Paul Ngorogoza 1998).
Indeed after they were chased away, Bahororo sought refuge and arrived in Rujumbura around 1800. The point being stressed here is that Rujumbura was never part of former short-lived Mpororo kingdom. Bahororo with military experience, a standing army and subsequent support from Arab slave hunters who brought with them European weapons crushed resistance from indigenous communities and imposed Bahororo rule on them including naming all indigenous peoples Bahororo (which has created confusion between Batutsi/Bahororo from Rwanda and Bahororo/indigenous peoples) until Uganda became a colony at the start of the twentieth century.
Now that Batutsi/Bahororo from former Ankole district and Rujumbura in Rukungiri district are in power in Uganda, they are trying to carve a new Mpororo kingdom or district out of Ntungamo and Rukungiri districts and possibly other neighboring areas.
The leadership at national level in administration and politics is dominated by Bahororo and/or sympathizers who implicitly speak favorably about a new Mpororo kingdom. At Rukungiri district level Batutsi/Bahororo leaders have carefully handpicked Bairu surrogates greedy for money and status and other pro-Mpororo sympathizers now occupying key positions at the political and administrative levels that are silently selling the idea of Mpororo kingdom or district. Those who oppose the idea are being harassed, marginalized and dispossessed in many subtle ways including selective arrest and imprisonment for various crimes.
The forced incorporation of Kagunga sub-county into Rukungiri municipality where many Bairu people live and who still remember the brutal rule of Bahororo (some elements are still in force) are unwilling to endorse the idea of Mpororo kingdom or district. These Bairu peasants now within Rukungiri municipality are going to lose their land because they will not manage to pay new taxes and meet high municipal standards. Their land will likely be acquired by those willing to accept the idea of Mpororo kingdom or district.
This article has been written principally to inform Ugandans and the rest of humanity that dissenting Bairu in Rujumbura are being silenced and sidelined by dictatorial methods disguised as representative democracy which will be used again (as was done to force the creation of Rukungiri municipality using district representatives) to declare Rujumbura part of a new Mpororo kingdom or district at a time suitable to Bahororo now in power in Uganda.