Any history of Busoga, which excludes the simultaneous analysis of the contributions of two men whose times coincided, Semeyi Kakungulu and Daudi Kintu Mutekanga, is unlikely to be useful and a distortion of the truth. Unfortunately, most history of Busoga has been written by people who were immigrants to Busoga, and whose interest was, or has been, to put their group at the centre of Busoga’s historical dynamics.
Kakungulu concentrated on opening Busoga up to British colonial rule. Mutekanga concentrated on human development and social change through education and production. Therefore, the most evident concealment of the truth about the history of Busoga by history writers has been propagated by excluding Daudi Kintu Mutekanga whose ancestral home was in Kananage, Kamuli Busoga from written history.
While they mention the colonial role of Semeyi Kakungulu they feel more comfortable leaving Daudi Kintu Mutekanga from the History of Busoga.
When history writers write they write as if Busoga suddenly emerged some three hundred years ago and formed into an organized state only with the coming of the white man. which ends up presenting an unnatural history of the land.
Apparently, Busoga is the natural home of Lake Victoria. And the source of the world’s longest river – the Nile, which is even mentioned in the Bible (Genesis, 41:1; Exodus, 1:22; 7:20; Isaiah, 23:10; Amos, 8:8} is in Jinja, Busoga.
Environmentally-speaking where there is abundant water and confluence of rivers a human civilization develops. How can we talk of ancient civilizations of Egypt at the other end of River Nile, China, Babylon and India, for example, and we ignore the real possibility of an ancient civilization of Busoga, more ancient than all the other frequently mentioned ancient civilizations of Man, Homo sapiens?
Being shaped like a basin, Busoga has been a receptacle of many migrations of people from elsewhere. It was also a receptacle of migratory big game (Lion, cheater, buffalo, Zebra and elephant, until the 1930s, when the exploitative Caucasians destroyed her gam. Today there is nothing left. Yet before people and Game co-existed.
When history is written by foreigners it is likely to be distorted to serve their interests and exclude the owners of a land or a country as if they are intruders or aberrations of the reality. That has been the case with Busoga whose history has been written by immigrants, from especially Bukedi’s Bugwere, Gogonya area, who are now either Bulamogi or Bakono.
We must not accept the conspiracy that Busoga started three years ago and that there were no indigenous Basoga, just because immigrants want to put themselves at the centre of the area’s history.
That would be like saying Egypt had no indigenous black Nubians with an ancient history, characterized by huge pyramids, which were the tombs of their Kings, when Arabs arrived and intermarried with the indigenes. There were indigenous Basoga. Some were mainland-based, and others were island based, with the islands scarred on Lake Victoria.
Indeed, some Clans of Busoga had some of their members migrate to the mainland from the Busoga part of Buvuma Island. My own Clan, Mulawa Clan, is a good example, with unique names un common on the mainland and in Buganda.
Anthropologists should research more, and archaeologists should delve into the fossil record more to unearth the true anthropological and archaeological record of Busoga.
We now know Busoga is very rich in Gold, and is said to excel in this mineral in the whole of the Central African region. However, we don’t know whether the strategy of the current rulers to Bantustanize into small, unviable units called districts is related to the abundance of gold and other minerals, or just to power acquisition, extension and retention by the Centre through divide and rule.
However, it is unlikely these days that Centre can do anything without prompting or connection with foreign powers. If this is it, then Bantustanised, resources-rich Busoga is in serious trouble.
This article is about two men who lived and worked in Busoga during the early times of colonization of the area by the white man: Semeyi Kakungulu and Daudi Kintu Mutekanga. Both had multi-tasking skills, which they used for different reasons to change Busoga and prepare it for an uncertain future.
Semei Kakungulu (1869 – 24 November 1928)
Semeyi Kakungulu was a colonial agent recruited from Koki by the colonialists to bring Busoga firmly under their rule. He was a militarist, administrator, and apparently a lover of trees. Busoga remembers him for planting Mvule tree along the main road and through the areas, and mango trees in selected areas, and Cassia trees on every country, subcounty and parish, not far from their headquarters.
I grew up in the 1950s seeing the trees that Kakungulu presided over their planting. By the time I left the country in 1972, the illegal felling of the trees was peaking up. By the time I came back to Uganda in 1991 after nearly 20 years of absence, virtually all the mvule trees, mango trees and Cassia trees had been felled for timber and charcoal.
Now we can only remember the role Semeyi Kakungulu played, as President of the Parliament of Busoga (Lukiiko) and Chief Administrator, on behalf of the colonialists, in destroying the Igaga hegemony at Nnenda Hill, in Busambira, Kigulu; bringing all the chiefdoms of Busoga under colonial rule; transferring the Parliament of Busoga from Nnenda Hill to Butaleja, in present day Mayuge; building the headquarters of the then District of Busoga at Bugembe; and presiding over the introduction of sugarcane, cotton and coffee in Busoga.
A lot has been written about Semei Kakungulu in books by the colonialists and Africans. His name appears in many academic papers and theses. was a statesman in the emerging colonial state of the Protectorate of Uganda.
One text on Semei Kakungulu published online by Cambridge.University Press on 13 May 2014 records that this colonial agent enjoyed at least nine lives immediately before, during and after the imposition of British colonial rule in the Uganda Protectorate. He was elephant hunter in Busoga.
Elephants used to migrate from elsewhere in the protectorate to the swamps of Busoga during the dry season. Kakungulu was allowed by his masters to hunt along with them and separately. He was a guerilla leader par excellence, a Ganda Chief, border warlord, British ally in military campaigns, especially in Bunyoro, native tax collector, colonial client-king, President of Busoga Parliament (Lukiiko)and leader of the anti-medicine Bamalaki and Abayudaya separatist sects.
He established his Abayudaya (Jews) community in the Protectorate in 1917. He also studied and meditated on the Old Testament of the Bible, adopted the observance of all Moses’ commandments, including circumcision. He decreed that all his followers observe the commandments. without fail.
He was a dictatorial statesman. He, therefore, had an extraordinary career: many things in one person. The colonialists did not interfere with his many lives so long as he served their aims in the Protectorate in general and Busoga in particular. He played no visible developmental and social transformational role in Busoga.
His ultimate goal was to establish British colonial hegemony over all Busoga and ensure that chiefs subordinate themselves to colonial rule, the people produced crops and paid taxes to the evolving British Protectorate and obeyed the colonial laws.
Perhaps today we can compare President Tibuhaburwa Museveni to Semei Kakungulu. He comes close to Semei Kakungulu in serving the interests of expanded Anglo-American axis. Like the British colonialists did towards Kakungulu, the Anglo-American Axis has left the President of Uganda to do anything he wants, including ruling like a monarch, so long it serves their interests.
He can even abuse them without fear of reprisals. They will comment on his poor human rights record as bad, but stick by him, so long as their interests in the East and Central African region are well served in a reciprocal give and take manner. Like Semi Kakungulu, the role of President Tibuhaburwa in Busoga is more to prepare the region for recolonization, reconquest, reoccupation, redomination and exploitation by external political and economic forces.
It is under his rule that Busoga has sunk more deeply in the abyss of poverty, illiteracy and ignorance, almost close to what the situation was when Kakungulu was President of Busoga Lukiiko. For President Tibuhaburwa Museveni, the focus, as he articulated in his philosophy of development, `is “Development (infrastructure) first, Nature and environment next and people (social development) las.”
In this he is similar to the colonialists who put economic development first to serve their interests and Kakungulu who served their interests. He has erected laws to tame Basoga and other Ugandans in what he considers “the right direction”, yet it is a direction of recolonization, reconquest, reoccupation, redomination and re-exploitation.
Daudi Kintu Mutekanga
Kintu Mutekanga was the son of Igaga of the Musubo clan and the red small bird totem. He was sent by his father, Igaga, to work in Chief Gabula’s courtyard. While there, he acquired knowledge of the art of governance and administration. He was a trader who dealt in simple agricultural implements, clothes, beads, tobacco and also bought cattle from Bukedi through barter trade.
The trade also involved exchange of goats’ hides and skins with hoes from European and Indian traders which he then sold in Buganda. In 1927, he acquired Naminage estate near Kamuli from the Indian proprietor, Nanji Kalidas Mehta. This was aimed at expanding his farming activities and also preparing for retirement.
By the time he became a muluka (parish chief), he had become wealthy, a factor which exposed him as a potential leader. In 1906, Mutekanga became a sub-county chief of Gombolola Mutuba I Nabiwigulu, Kamuli. It was during this time that he got baptised and was named “Daudi” (David) at Kamuli Church.
Following the departure of Kasibante from Buganda as Katikiiro (Prime Minister) to Nadiope, Mutekanga was appointed Katikiro in 1911. Two years later, Nadiope died and was succeeded by his three-year-old son, William Wilberforce Bwamiki Kadhumbula.
At the same time, Mutekanga was appointed by the Saza (county) Lukiiko (Council) to act as Kadhumbula’s regent from January 9, 1913, a position he held until January 20, 1933. Mutekanga constructed a number of buildings at Balawoli, Kidera, Naminage and Kamuli, which he let out to Asians shopkeepers.
Mutekanga bought land from Prince Badru Kakungulu in Kibuli, which was subsequently developed by one of his sons and a grandson. In addition, he owned lorries and a car with which he conducted a transport business. As if this was not enough for him, Mutekanga also owned canoes for fishing and ferrying people across the River Nile to and from the Buganda shores.
Mutekanga’s story is a lesson in diversifying sources of incomes. But we also learn a lot from him in terms of administrative development. He emerged to be one of Busoga’s great administrators. In this capacity he was one of tHe earliest administrative pillars of colonial Busoga who toiled to see that Busoga College, Mwiri became the pivot of education in then District of Busoga.
He lived in times where education was not something society was keen about yet he carried the gospel of the book and ink. He is remembered by generations of Basoga as an icon in matters of education in Basoga. He was a man of action, not words. He spearheaded the construction of Kamuli High School, which developed and was transferred to Mwiri Hill as Busoga College, Mwiri.
“Mutekanga valued education and apart from the infrastructural contribution, he ensured that all his children went to school,” says Professor David Bakibinga, the former Deputy Vice-chancellor of Makerere University and one of the recipients of Mutekanga’s legacy when it comes to educational lineage.
Apparently, Mutekanga was an early convert to Christianity and throughout his life he was a God-fearing man. His love for religion spurred him to construct Naminage and Kamuli (Bukwenge) churches, according to David Justin Bakibinga.
Mutekanga is also associated with early struggles to make the peasants, especially in Bugabula chiefdom, healthy in their own environment. In the early 1920s Bugabula was rat-infested and highly prone to plague. Mutekanga played a critical role in fighting the plague which was then called Kawumpuli.
He worked closely with the white health officers, mobilising the people to construct proper stores and rat-proof buildings at each Gombolola (subcounty) headquarters. According to David Justin Bakibinga, this supplemented granary built on poles which Mutekanga recommended that they were not more than three feet high.
Mutekanga also battled the problems of venereal diseases, which were causing blindness and adultery. “Heavy sanctions were imposed to curb the disease,” Bakibinga states. Not only this. Mutekanga was involved in fighting jiggers in different parts of Busoga.
Mutekanga mobilised people at local levels to help combat health epidemics in Busoga. Bakibinga records that it was Mutekanga who implemented the construction of the maternity home at Kamuli in 1921.
The colonial administration later closed the maternity home in 1925, claiming it was not effectively utilised due to the small number of patients. Mutekanga’s initiative was aimed at improving maternal healthcare, which is still relevantnt today as one of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals. (MDGs.)
Mutekanga loved seeing roads in Bugabula chiefdom passable. “Mutekanga’s campaign to maintain roads was so persistent that the roads around Kamuli had progressed from “rocky” in 1921 to “excellent” in 1929 based on the assessment of the colonial administration,” writes Bakibinga.
“Every Monday, the roads, particularly the one leading to the council (lukiiko) house, were swept. Trees were also planted at the road sides. The roads between Kamuli and Kakindu and from Ndolwa to Namasagali were renovated so that they could be used by lorries to transport cotton”, adds Bakibinga.
Mutekanga was multidimensional in his efforts to transform Busoga. He implemented the colonial government campaign to grow cotton, which increased the income of farmers. The period of 1918-1927 was noted for its lack of food and famine. Writes Bakibinga, “There was a big campaign by the colonial administration urging people to plant and conserve food.
People were urged to construct granaries in their homesteads to preserve food,” Mutekanga implemented the construction of rain-proofed granaries at each Gombolola (sub-county) headquarters to provide relief supplies in the event of subsequent famines”
According to Bakibinga, Mutekanga fought for the health, wealth and welfare of the Basoga with projects such as the campaign to grow rice as a supplement to cotton, millet, maize and banana plantain (matooke). Each Gombolola (subcounty) was also encouraged to cultivate an acre each of Musambya trees to be used to construct public buildings.
Mutekanga was overly disciplinarian in his administration. He ensured that GGombolola chiefs did not abuse their authority, especially in relation to the imposition of fines. “He insisted that such cases be handled by the sub-county court.
He also dealt with issues of absenteeism by Gombolola and Bwesengeze chiefs from the Ssaza Lukiiko (county council). In cases of disobedience or insubordination, which were referred to the Ssaza Lukiiko or district officer, as the case required, the chiefs would be reprimanded, fined or dismissed,” Bakibinga states.
Above all, Mutekanga was very committed to Kyabazinga. Sir William Wilberforce Nadiope was the Kyabazinga of Busoga at the time of Uganda’s political independence and the first Vice-president of Uganda (1963-1966) while Sir Edward Mutesa II was the President. Before he became Chief of Bugabula, Mutekanga became Nadiope’s regent.
He took care of the personal, administrative and political affairs of the young chief and served as chief of Bugabula county for 20 years. “By looking after Nadiope’s personal property, Mutekanga was, in legal parlance, a trustee for the young chief”, writes David Justin Bakibinga.
As the regent, for Kadhumbula Nadiope, he had to take full responsibility of bringing him up in chiefly manner, and also to ensure that he was adequately educated. He sent Nadiope for his education to Kamuli High School, then to Mengo High School. In 1924 he sent him, ttogether with his elder sons, to England to study at the Loughborough College in Leicestershire.
Nadiope returned to Bugabula in 1929 and worked under the supervision of Mutekanga as chief until 1933 when Mutekanga retired from the British colonial service. He later became Kyabazinga of Busoga, but he did not reign for long before he left for Burma to fight on the side of Great Britain during Second World War. When he came back, Wako Zibondo had maneuvered so that his son, Wako Muloki became Kyabazinga.
But at the end of the 1940s he became Nadiope became Kyabazinga again, only to be replaced by Wako Muloki again throughout the 1950s. Towards independence of Uganda, Nadiope became Kyabazinga again. He reigned until 1966 when Apollo Milton Obote abolished Kingdoms and the semi-kingdom of Busoga.
Daudi Kintu Mutekanga was posthumously awarded the Sir William Wilberforce Gabula Kadhumbula Nadiope IV Medal by the Kyabazinga Wa Busoga in the Busoga Roll of Honours for his contributions to the development, transformation and progress of Busoga in education, health, agriculture, religion, administration and transport.
In summary, two men played critical rolls in the development, transformation of Busoga: Semei Kakungulu and Daudi Kintu Mutekanga. However, if they rose from the dead they would find Busoga having taken a completely different trajectory from what they wanted it to be Busoga is no long the bastion of coffee and cotton growing.
Once a giant in education Busoga is now a shadow of its past. Healthwise, Busoga is still bothered by rats (although plague is a thing of the past), malaria-causing mosquitoes, tsetse flies, jiggers, and worms.
Environmentally speaking, Busoga is no long home to diversity of wildlife, including birds and big game such as lions, elephants, buffaloes, zebras, leopards, cheaters and eland. Most of Busoga’s once diverse tree species, such as mvule tree, are an insignificant component of the biocultural landscape the two men left behind.
The river Nile has been greatly abused with big dams such Owen Falls dam, Bujagali dam, Isimba dam and Owen Falls Extension dam. Once a promising tourist destination, Busoga can long boast of meaningful tourist attraction without the natural elements I have mentioned.
The area has become the cradle of financial poverty, next only to Karamoja. However, in terms of natural resources mineral wealth, Busoga is next to none in Uganda and the Great Lakes region. It is now known that its gold wealth superseded that of Democratic Republic of Congo.
Unfortunately, there is so much intellectual poverty in the area, that foreigners are likely to strategize to exploit the gold at the expense of Basoga. Already, unscrupulous foreigners have been buying land from peasants that are sitting on gold reserves, so that they either steal the gold or seek compensation for the land in case government begins mining the gold.
The Writer Is a Ugandan Scientist And Environmentalist
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