At the beginning of the 20th century Buganda kingdom was powerful and well organized society. It had a superior military and political strength. The Baganda were united under their Kabaka. They had a very rich culture and never wanted to federate with other communities in Uganda. Being the biggest tribe and centrally located in present day Uganda, much civilization started from Buganda before it spread to other societies.
During the struggle for independence and post independence politics, the Baganda took central stage. Though it is generally believed that Uganda got its independence on a silver plate, the Baganda shed blood. Their Kabaka (king) was exiled and humiliated, his subjects mistreated but their determination was not deterred. Though Buganda had advocated its own independence, it later wholeheartedly gave in to a united Uganda.
No doubt the Baganda are the most accommodating people in Uganda. Shortly after independence, the alliance between the pro-Buganda party (KY) and the UPC saw the Kabaka become the first non executive President of Uganda. Milton Obote became the Executive Prime Minister. The alliance was genuine and Uganda was set on a road to political stability and economic prosperity.
However, like was the case with Museveni following the overthrow of Iddi Amin, Grace Ibingira an ambitious lawyer and Secretary General of the UPC wanted to become President of Uganda. He planned to dislodge Obote from the leadership of the UPC Ibingira had just won the elections for the hotly contested post of UPC Secretary General against Obote’s choice of Kakonge. It was clear that the UPC party had been split along the pro-Obote and pro-Ibingira factions. To achieve his ambition Ibingira sought the support of Buganda by selling the idea to the Kabaka.
A military coup plot was hatched that involved the then Army Commander Brig Shaban Opolot who had close relationship with Buganda through marriage. The coup plot was unearthed and Ibingira together with four cabinet Ministers were arrested. Kabaka Mutesa sought military assistance from the UK and Ethiopia. The Buganda Lukiko (parliament) passed a resolution calling for the central government to vacate Buganda soil. Through the Kabaka’s chiefs, Baganda masses were mobilised for rebellion around the Lubiri (palace).
The central government under Milton Obote reacted by declaring a state of emergency over Buganda region. The Uganda Army under Col Iddi Amin was sent to quell the rebellion around the Lubiri. After a day long battle between the Uganda Army and the Kabaka’s guards and masses, the rebels were overpowered and the Kabaka fled into exile.
The Army Commander Brig Shaban Opolot was relieved of his office and replaced by Col Iddi Amin who had been the Deputy Army Commander. The 1962 constitution was suspended ending Buganda’s federal status and much cherished monarchical rule. Milton Obote assumed the executive presidency powers. The Kabaka was later to meet his death in exile over suspected poisoning that was attributed to the then President Milton Obote. Hatred for Obote by the Baganda traces its origin from this period.
When Iddi Amin overthrew Milton Obote in 1971, the Baganda overwhelmingly embraced the new regime of Iddi Amin. Its for the same reasons that the anti-Amin struggle never took root among the Baganda. Even when the invading groups from Tanzania were pushing against Iddi Amin, caution was exercised not to bring Obote to the fore in order not to hurt the Baganda. The two post Amin presidents Prof. Lule and Binaisa were both Baganda including Paul Muwanga the powerful Chairman of the Military Commission. During the 1980 general elections that were won by the UPC under Milton Obote, the Baganda overwhelmingly supported the Democratic Party (DP).
After these disputed elections, its the Baganda that led the armed groups to fight the UPC government. Both Prof Lule and Andrew Kayira initiated the armed rebellion against the Obote government and enjoyed undisputed support in Buganda. It is this support that Museveni opportunistically jumped in to exploit by forming alliances with both groups before suffocating them. He was later to emerge as the sole leader of the bush war.
During the bush war, when the going got tougher, Museveni hoodwinked the Baganda with promises of restoring the Kingdom in return for their support to dislodge their traditional enemy Milton Obote. It is in the same efforts that Prince Mutebi was smuggled to the bush to reassure the Baganda fighters before the final push on Kampala where Baganda leaders(DP) and fighters (UFM and FEDEMO) had joined hands with the Okello junta.
After taking over power, in early the 90s a symbolic monarch was restored by a military council resolution and not the NRC. Since then there has been occasional collision between Museveni and Buganda. However, Museveni has tamed the Kabaka not to be confrontational. His only discomfort is the office of the Katikiro (Prime Minister) and the Lukiko (parliament) for which he has always reasoned that they should be elected.
He has publicly declared that Buganda kingdom harbours enemies of his government and that the kingdom was receiving funding from foreign sources to fight his government. However, of late relations between Buganda and Museveni seem to be improving. This can be attributed to the Kabaka firmly presiding over his Lukiko and Prime Ministers. More so, the current calmness is precipitated by fear that a continued confrontational approach towards Buganda could be exploited by exiled Gen. Tinyefuza to win Buganda’s support in his bid to dislodge Museveni from power.
Kabaka Mutebi knows very well that Museveni can’t hesitate to attack him militarily as was the case in the 1966 against his father. But more so, he knows that unlike his father King Mutesa, Kabaka Mutebi can’t afford to escape from a Museveni orchestrated military onslaught. If anything, in case of a serious misunderstanding, Kabaka Mutebi would only be held hostage since he is always surrounded and kept watch by Museveni’s elite security forces on pretext of providing him personal security.
INFORMATION IS POWER.