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UGANDA: Focus on Bakiga migration

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CHANGE OF GUARDS – The Bakiga is one of the tribes of Uganda found in the South
Western region bordering with Rwanda and DRC. 
In Rwanda, among the ethnic Hutu there exits one subgroup called Bakiga
that is in the northern highlands that border with Uganda.  The other Hutu subgroup that is found in
Rwanda’s southern region are called Abanyanduga.  The Bakiga of Uganda immigrated from the present-day
northern Rwanda’s highland region of Ruhengeri and Byumba.
They lived in an ancient state of Bumbogo under their king,
Mbogo.  Their Mbogo State was invaded by
a Tutsi King, Kirima who defeated their own Mbogo.  One of Mbogo’s sons called Kakiga fled with
the royal drum northwards and settled around Kagarama forest in present day
Kabale district.  Mbogo’s son to read Kakiga and not Bakiga.  The new Tutsi reign in
the northern Rwanda highlands was kept reminded that Kakiga would return.  Indeed, Kakiga’s plans of returning was
halted by Bunyoro’s invasion of the state of Bumbogo around 1700AD among other
reasons.  Kakiga opted to stay in present
day Kabale thus the origin of the Bakiga of Uganda. You easterners may not know the silent scheming by Bakiga for land until when they cross the Nile and they will. 
Through interaction, the Bakiga who settled in present day
Kabale gradually developed a Kiga dialect that borrows Kinyarwanda, Kinyankole,
Kihaya and Kihororo words.  However,
Kakiga made a declaration that his sons and daughters should never marry
foreigners.  During the 20th Century, present
day Kabale had been incorporated into the Rwandan colonial state under the
Germans.  Upon the death of Rwanda
Kingdom’s King Rwabugiri, in1895 his Queen Muhumuza fled the kingdom to the
Kiga highlands of present day Kigezi and founded the Nyabingi cult.
In 1908, the British colonialists who were administering
what was later to become Uganda, set foot in the German territory of
Kabale.  At a meeting in Brussels, an
Anglo-German agreement was signed on May 14, 1910 in which the boundary between
British and German territories were modified. 
Consequently, the two colonial powers signed an Anglo-German Protocol in
1911 at Kamwezi.  This protocol placed
the present-day Ugandan territories of Kisoro and Kabale under the British in
Uganda thus the Bakiga and Bafumbira tribes.
Around the same time, the fugitives Rwandan Queen Muhimuza
declared a rebellion against colonists but was captured the same year and
imprisoned in Luzira Prison where she died decades later.   After the end of the First World War, Rwanda
came under the administration of the Belgians. 
Around 1927-28, the anti-colonial resistance was spearheaded by Queen
Muhumuza’s son, the radical Prince Ndungutse Semaraso around Byumba in Rwanda
who claimed to be a Mwami (King).  This
rebellion together with famine forced many more Banyarwanda Bakiga to flee to
the British Uganda.  By 1930, this new
set of refugees settled in and around Kabale while others settled in areas of
Ndorwa and Rukiga.
The surge in population in Kigezi had put a lot of pressure
on the land.  This population pressure
prompted two Bakiga elders, Ngorogoza and Mpambara to approach the colonial
administration with a proposal of relocating some Bakiga to areas outside
Kabale.  The proposal was approved and in
February 1946 the two leaders went into Kanungu and Rukungiri to locate
suitable areas for resettlement of Bakiga.
In June 1946 the first group of Bakiga from Kabale were
resettled in Rujumbura county, Kinkinzi and Kambuga in Rukungiri under the
Voluntary Resettlement Scheme. By 1948, 30,000 Bakiga had been moves into an
area that came to be known as North Kigezi with a total of 789 people settled
in the area of Kihihi.  However, the
exercise was slowed down by a malaria outbreak of malaria.  After the new settlers proved to be a source
of cheap labour for the colonialists, more land was parcelled out for them from
Kigezi and Queen Elizabeth Game Reserves.
In other areas, in July 1946 the same Bakiga leaders approached
the King of Ankole for land to resettle Bakiga from Kabale.  With the King’s approval Bakiga were
resettled in some areas of Rwampara, Sheema, Kashari, Rubaya and Rubindi.  During the same year, the colonial administration
appointed one Mukiga elder, Ngorogoza as Secretary General of Kigezi district
A few years later the Bakiga in Ankole had filled the areas
they had been given in Ankole.  They had
spilled to other areas of Ankole like Isingiro, Maramagambo forest and
In 1955 Ngorogoza was appointed chief Judge of Kigezi
district.  In June 1955 he led a
delegation to the King of Tooro with a request for land for the Bakiga.  The King of Tooro accepted and Bakiga were
ferried to Kibale (present day Kamwenge district).  It is worthy noting that the number of Bakiga
migrants to Tooro increased between 1959 and 1969 to coincide with events in
Rwanda that led to the influx of refugees from Rwanda.  By 1975, approximately 80,000 Bakiga had
migrated from Kigezi to Tooro.
At the time of leaving Kabale, their leader, Ngorogoza gave
them the wise counsel thus;
     “I would, in
writing this, like to remind settlers that even if they become rich and change
their mother tongue, they should remember the proverb; ‘even the hot water
eventually cools.’  They must never
forget the good customs and characteristics of the Bakiga, nor forget their
language; and they must fill in their bones that they are Bakiga, remembering
where they used to live.”
In April 1971 then President Iddi Amin while commissioning
the Paratrooper Dropping Zone in Kisoro, proposed resettlement of some Bakiga
to Karamoja region.
In the 1940s and late 1960s, some more Bakiga were settled
around Kagadi in Bunyoro.  In Tooro, the
Bakiga population gradually dominated the traditional area around Bigodi that
had been given to them in 1955.  The
settled in many other areas of Tooro and with time their population became
dominant.  They eventually took control
of the political and economic life of the region.  However, in 1992 the then Minister of
Internal Affairs, Col. Butime spearheaded a scheme to evict the Bakiga who had
encroached on Kibale Forest land.  The
highly controversial issue politically cost Butime to this date.  Museveni resettled the evictees on a 15sq km
government land in Kagadi, Kibale district in Bunyoro.  Each family was given 12 acres of land and
cash to start a new life.   While the
population of Bakiga in Kibale stood at 11% in 1991, it surged to 32% within a
very short period.  The settlers had been
inviting their kinsmen from Kabale and other areas to come and share the 12
acres as they plotted to acquire more land the same way as had been the case in
The fresh resettlement of Bakiga in Bunyoro coincided with
Museveni’s scheme of targeting Buganda’s land. 
Under the 1900 Buganda Agreement, the British colonialists had helped
Buganda Kingdom to annex Bunyoro’s counties of Buyaga and Bugangaizi popularly
known as the Lost Counties.  With 3,000
Sq. Miles gazetted as game and forest reserves, huge chunks of land were
allotted to Baganda royals and chiefs popularity knows as Absentee
Landlords.  The new Bakiga settlers in
Kibale illegally occupied both government forest reserves and land belonging to
these absentees.  Museveni came up with a
scheme of buying off absentee landlords so that the land reverts to ‘indigenous
 In 2006, Museveni
appointed a Commission of Inquiry into Bunyoro’s Land issues headed by Ruth
Mukama.  During the same year, the King
of Bunyoro granted Bakiga stay in Bunyoro by awarding them a Certificate of
Recognition of Bakiga who had massively migrated to Bunyoro under the
government programme to decongest their native districts of Kabale, Rukungiri
and Kanungu. Soon after, like had been the case in Tooro and North Kigezi, the
Bakiga in Kibale district became dominant in economic and political terms.  The Bunyoro protested and in 2009, the
Bunyoro Kingdom parliament asked government to evict Bakiga immigrants from
forest reserves and to halt the Bakiga influx into Bunyoro.  Museveni unconstitutionally ordered the
Bakiga off the elective positions.  In
particular, he stopped a Mukiga, Karwemera who had democratically won the LC V Chairmanship
in favour of the Munyoro looser, Namyaka. 
However, since then the influence of the Bakiga in Bunyoro has
Apart from government led resettlement programmes for the
Bakiga in North Kigezi, Ankole, Tooro and Bunyoro, the Bakiga have initiated
their own immigration schemes into other areas. 
They moved and settled in areas of Kooki (Rakai), Buwekula (Kasambya, Kasanda),  Kyankwanzi and Kiboga where their dominant
demographics are reflected by the presence of Members of Parliament like, Hon.
Oshabe, and Hon. Kamusiime.  In Mpigi and
Wakiso, the Bakiga influx dates to the early 1990s when they came as charcoal
burners.  It is by coincidence that the
Timber business in Kampala is dominated by the Bakiga.  In Kasese district, the large number of
resident Bakiga is attributed to their 1960s cheap labour for the Kilembe  and Hima mines.
Unlike the Balalo whose migration to newfound lands has been
characterized by outright resistance from indigenous communities, the Bakiga
influx is smooth.  They use both
diplomacy and financial muscle to acquire land before indigenous communities realize
that they are being politically and economically outnumbered by the
newcomers.  Their worldwide connectivity
both within Uganda and abroad is always at hand to provide all the necessary
back up in as far as land acquisition is concerned.  It in this regard that the Bakiga under their
associations -/diaspora bases International Community of Banyakigezi – Ug
Chapter (ICOBA) and the Banyakigezi Rwenzori Association supported by the
leadership of Kigezi region hosted Tooro”s King Oyo on a two days tour of
Kabale where they asked him for more land and his blessing for intermarriage between the Bakiga and Batooro
The Bakiga land scarcity and migration has been used as a
cover for other communities like the Bafumbira and Banyarwanda to settle in
different parts of the country.  In this
regard, in 1995 Tooro experienced  a
surge in Bakiga migrants that  coincided
with the 1994 Rwanda Genocide that saw millions of Banyarwanda Hutu flee to
neighbouring countries.  It’s not a
coincidence that Banyarwanda Hutu linked to the 1994 genocide have repeatedly
been captured from these Bakiga newfound lands when they have successfully
settled.  No wonder, the Banyarwanda Hutu
of northern Rwanda are Bakiga. 

—— AUTO – GENERATED; Published (Halifax Canada Time AST) on: August 27, 2019 at 12:52PM

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