Banyoro clash over Kabaleega tomb honour, Babiito insist it is their burial ground

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Mr Yolamu Nsamba, the Vice Chairman of Bunyoro Kitara Kingdom's Royal Commission.

Bunyoro Kitara Kingdom’s ruling clan ‘Babiito’ have rejected a call to stop burying their selected dear ones at the royal tomb of Omukama Cwa II Kabaleega remembered globally for leading the second most protracted rebellion against the European colonialists in Africa.

Brig Gen David Kaboyo of the Uganda People’s Defense Forces (UPDF) has been buried there a week ago, with the Babiito ignoring a call sounded by Mr Yolamu Nsamba, the Vice Chairperson for the kingdom’s Royal Commission while speaking at the first official commemoration of Omukama (King) Kabaleega’s death on April 6, 2021 at Mparo Royal Tomb in Hoima City.

In his speech, Mr Nsamba expressed dismay over the growing number of Babito clan members being buried at Mparo Royal Tomb contrary to the culture of Bunyoro in relation to the burial of kings. He noted that even the burial of Kabaleega’s son – Omukama Sir Tito Winyi at Mparo Royal Tomb was a mistake.

Mr Nsamba called upon the Prime Minister of Bunyoro Kitara Kingdom, Andrew Kirungi Byakutaaga to take immediate action and prevail over the Babiito.

“Don’t they have homes? We should not do what our grandparents never did, Premier! You should immediately discourage this habit of the Babiito burying their people here”, said Mr Nsamba who sounded anguished.

Audio: Nsamba on royal tomb site (Runyoro/Rutooro)
Bunyoro Kitara kingdom vice chairman for Royal Commission, Yolamu Nsamba, takes guests around Mparo Royal Tomb site in East Division, Hoima City.

In an interview with Kazi-njema News, the Chief Prince (Okwiri) who is the head of the ruling clan, Mr Fred Mugenyi Rucunya, started by defending the burial of Brig Gen Kaboyo, held on April 18, 2021, in attendance of dozens of senior military officers including Maj Gen Diiba Ssentongo who officially represented the UPDF.

“He is a Mubiito from Tooro who had requested to be buried in Hoima. By virtue of his rank in the army and his clan, we decided to lay his body at Mparo gasani”, said Mr Rucunya.

The General was interred in full respect of the military burial norms with 11 gun salutes.

The Chief Prince continues to defend the burial of other ruling clan members at Mparo gasani (royal tomb) as long as they wish so adding that it is their entitlement as grandchildren of Kabaleega.

“Nobody can stop us from burying there, be it a Mukwonga or a Mucwezi. However, it is his opinion to think that nobody else should be buried at Mparo gasani; which could also be okay”, said Mr Rucunya.

Asked whether some pronounced non-Babiito Banyoro can as well be buried there, he said ‘yes’ but official perdition can only be granted by the Chief Prince himself (Ruchunya).

Prince Rucunya continues to argue that most of their [Babiito] family land has been mistaken for kingdom land leaving the grandchildren of Kabaleega in misery.

Audio: Rucunya on royal tomb site (Runyoro/Rutooro)
Some tombs of non-kings at Mparo Royal Tomb in East Division, Hoima City.

Mr Dovico Batwale, the Executive Director for Bunyoro Kitara Reparations Agency (Bukitarepa), says continued burial of non-kings at the gasani is a clear sign that the Babiito are not willing to protect the Banyoro interests and their culture but rather determined to operate like a political set-up.

He also thinks it will negatively affect the touristic value of the site and love that memories retain for King Kabaleega.

“They are degrading the glory of Omukama Kabaleega by doing that. The Babiito have played a big role to destroy Bunyoro culture after the fall of Kabaleega”, he said.

Audio: Batwale on royal tomb site (Runyoro/Rutooro)

About 10 tombs of non-kings are sighted alongside those of the kings; Sir Tito Winyi and his father Cwa II Kabaleega.

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