Hoima airport to be renamed Kabaleega as Museveni rejects proposal to name it after him

MPs on Trade and Industry Committee pose for a group photo with employees of SBI at Hoima (Kabaleega) International Airport in Kabaale Village, Kabaale Sub-county, Hoima District. (Image: File)

President Yoweri Museveni on Monday rejected a proposal to have the Hoima based international airport to be named in his honour.

This was after Works and Transport State Minister, Lt (Rtd) Fred Byamukama, presented four potential names for the $309m Uganda’s second largest inland gateway to the world that is nearing completion.

The minister, who is also the Bugangaizi West Member of Parliament in Kakumiro district, Bunyoro region, said he and his team resolved three names including YK Museveni international airport, Kabaleega international airport, Kabaale international airport and Hoima international airport.

He reported that the names were arrived at after reportedly conducting a local survey in Hoima district.

During the meeting chaired by Vice President (Rtd) Maj Jessica Alupo, a vote was taken and almost all ministers including Rebecca Kadaga, Jim Muhwezi, Tom Butime and Edward Katumba Wamala among others voted in favour of naming the airport after Museveni

However, Minister Persis Namuganza, the State Minister for Lands, Housing and Urban Development, objected to the suggestion insisting that Kabaleega is the best choice given the courage with which Omukama (King) Kabaleega of Bunyoro Kitara Kingdom resisted British colonialism among other things that made him heroic.

She said Kabaleega’s brand of fighting against can globally be leveraged upon to easily sell Uganda and the airport among tourists seeking to visit the country.

The minister stated that naming the airport after Museveni would seem as though Museveni was trying to establish a cult of personality similar to the African leaders of the 20th century who named national monuments and institutions after themselves like Mobutu Sese Seko of the then Zaire and now the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Ms Namuganza warned on political sensitivities asserting that naming it YK Museveni would incite anti-Museveni sentiments among the Banyoro, who until now remain nostalgic about their Omukama Kabaleega.

Prime Minister cum Kakumiro district woman Member of Parliament in Bunyoro region, Ms Robinah Nabbanja, abstained from the debate.

Finance Planning and Economic Development Minister who is also the Member of Parliament, for Buyanja County in Kibaale district also in Bunyoro, Mr Matia Kasaija had suggested that they postpone the decision on which name to give the airport so as to first consult President Museveni for his view.

As a result, President Museveni agreed with Ms Namuganza’s concerns and rejected the proposal explaining that in African culture, it is inappropriate to name buildings and institutions after living people.

He also acknowledged that he would be perceived as a selfish and greedy leader who seeks to be gloried while still alive.

Ultimately, it was decided that the Hoima airport project, which is projected to be completed next financial year, would be named Omukama Kabaleega international airport.

The name is supposed to be gazetted with the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) which regulates the aviation industry globally.

Besides the international airport, it was also agreed that the industrial park that the government is constructing at Kabaale village in Kabaale sub-county, Hoima district, should be named after Omukama Kabaleega.


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