By Robert Asketill
Today we continue with the real historical events in the nation of Buganda from war diaries concerning the king and his position in politics. But behind it all, is the power of the European missionaries and a little quote from one of the Protestants. In his letter home, he shows how the kingdom was being led into hostile divisions. “The cause of this unfortunate division of two professedly Christian parties is not far to seek. Picture a small body of men at work in the centre of gross heathenism, seeking to lead the people to knowledge of the true God and his Son Jesus Christ. Just as they are beginning to gain influence over the people, another party of men appears on the scene, of a different nationality and teaching a different creed and bearing in their hands large presents with which to ingratiate themselves with the king, chiefs and people.” So we can see Kabaka Mwanga had found himself being pulled left, right and centre and now in the position we described in our last part.
There was nothing Mwanga could do and while he contemplated taking refuge at the Catholic Mission, for Father Lourdel was his friend, the Kawuta warned him that the Christians might ambush him there. Meanwhile, Mukasa arrived at the main gate with three of his body-guards, including his son, and told the king: ‘Sekabwa keweyolera’, meaning: ‘I told you so’. He then told him to turn his eyes to Rubaga Hill which was covered with the rebel forces and with these last words Mukasa deserted his master and fled towards Old Kampala hill. None of the old chiefs supported Mwanga. Zimbe wrote: “All the king’s Bakungu (kingdom officials) from the Batongole to the Saza Chiefs such as Namutwe, Muwemba, Masiki, the Abasunna, the county chiefs and the Prime minister were like women in this war. With their hands inside their clothes, saying ‘we told him so’, that these young men would be a danger even to himself. Mukajanga who used to support the king and burn the Christians and all the other executioners who killed the Christians, boasting that they were brave, all just ran to Kampala Hill with the prime minister. Other old chiefs scattered on other hills such as Makerere.”
Mwanga, however, decided to fight and fired a few shots but instantly one of his boys was dead only a few feet away and he decided to flee, first towards the lake to Kome Island and then to Sukuma in Tanganyika. Mwanga’s survival on that day was due to his once favourite chief, Nyonyintono. It was he who refused to let his men pursue the king and they stopped at Kibuye, a mile away from Mengo. The important preoccupation of the victorious converts was to settle the question of chieftainship, but before this was done, the rebels debated what to do with Mukasa and by a unanimous decision they dismissed him from the premiership. Even when he appealed to them to allow him a few days in which to gather his belongings, they refused. He was therefore forced into retirement at Kasubi where his master, Mutesa, was buried.
After the dismissal of Mukasa all the important offices were at the disposal of the rebels. The new king, Kiweewa was a nominee of the rebel chiefs and he retained his position at their pleasure. As the rebels had arrogated all the powers to themselves, the bargaining and the distribution of the chieftainships were made without reference to the King. In fact the kingship was part of the bargain. Kiweewa, though not a believer in any of the three religions, inclined towards Islam. So in the distribution of offices the kingship was regarded by the Christians as a prize for the Moslems. The premiership went to Henry Nyonyintono who was a most popular leader. In addition he became the Sekiboobo, thereby perpetuating a precedent set when Mutesa, in his last days and in order to satisfy the aggrandizing spirit of Mukasa, had added a county chieftainship to the premiership. Nyonyintono’s becoming prime minister, as well as Sekiboobo, generated much controversy between the Moslems and Christians. But the latter insisted that even the previous prime minister was Sekiboobo as well.
Then the Moslems took the Kimbugwe which at that time was almost as important an office as the premiership. It went to Ali Bukuku who had been the Mumyuka of the Ggwanika (deputy treasurer). One of the important county chieftainships was the Mukwenda to which the Christians nominated Apollo Kaggwa. But there was already dissatisfaction in the Christian groups with the distribution of offices and Apollo refused the Mukwenda saying: “I shall be content with the Ggwanika Kitongole (the Treasury) which was given to me by Mwanga.” The real reason behind this refusal was, in the words of a contemporary, Kaggwa’s burning envy for not having been nominated to the premiership. But at that time, he was not very popular even with the Christians. His fellow Protestants, Zimbe says, took him aside and appealed to him to accept the Mukwenda. He, however, agreed to do so only on condition that his brother Samuel Mukasa succeeded him in the Ggwanika, with the warning: “I shall not vacate this office. After all I am in charge of the armoury.”