Yoweri Museveni has ruled Uganda for more years than all his predecessors put together.
Despite his earlier rhetoric that Africa’s problem was leaders who clung to power, Museveni now prides in longevity as a source of experience and wisdom.
This man, who started his political journey in the 1960s, has had strategic determination, tactics and sheer luck as can be exemplified by his several narrow escapes from Idi Amin’s efficient intelligence system.
However, it is possible that Museveni’s long reign just may have been foretold by prophets/seers (abahanuuzi/abarangi) in western Uganda and parts of northern Tanzania centuries ago.
Some pseudo-historians lump the various prophecies together and attribute them to the famous Tanzanian, Kakara-ka-Shagama, who had prophesied the disappearance of Bacwezi and establishment of the three kingdoms of Nkore, Buganda and Bunyoro, among his several exploits.
Three seers stand out as regards the personality of Museveni and his times: Kibooga, Rucumita and Kahaibaare. The trio lived at different times and in different places.
Their prophecies, often tallied with bits from others, talked of a man of the Basiita clan who would fight many wars, rule for long and use the symbol of thumb-up (mutinzi) at a time when population would be very high, people would be travelling in air like birds and sleeping in ‘stone’/’soil’ houses as their high-population livestock lives in loneliness, and the third type of governance would be in vogue.
Kibooga is said to have coined the concept obwebembezi as the third governance model (our current democratic/republican dispensation), following the Bacwezi (demigod) rule and monarchy (obugabe/obukama bw’empungurirano). For many ethnicities in the Great Lakes region, the thumb-up (mutinzi) is a sign of insult, ridicule and even curse.
But Kibooga (queen mother of King Ntare V) had this to say around 1875: “Obunaku obwo, okuteerana za mutinzi, abato n’abakuru baryaba nibakyeeta kirungi. Mutinzi nibagiteera na mukama waabo”. (In those days, both the young and old will be treating the exchange of thumb-ups as good. They will even be aiming the thumb-up at their ruler.)
The thumb-up is a symbol of vitality and victory used by Museveni’s NRM. Kibooga said these would be times of too many, too rapid changes, and those changes would be the source of the world’s demise.
These would be times of dominance by the culture of abateetonderwa (foreigners), where the order of things would be upside-down; people would be marrying their siblings (incest and homosexuality); and commoners would be talking any rubbish in the faces of those in authority with no shame or guilt.
In Kibooga’s words,“Ensi yoona eryaba ecwekire ey’ebinyampo; owaanyampa kitarikumwitsa nshoni, kureka nibakyeta kirungi. Omukazi aryaba naagambira iba ati: ‘Irirayo nyampe!’” (The whole world will be under the influence of bad gas/fart; whoever farts will feel no shame but, rather, everyone will say it’s good. Women will be telling their husbands: ‘Give way, for I want to fart!)
Rucumita talked of the future ‘Obwebembezi bw’ebihera mwenda’ (the democracy of odd-number nine) that would precede great changes into a new dispensation of the masters/owners of the world (bakama b’ensi). Rucumita said these things when he was summoned by a pretender to the throne, Kahitsi, following the death of King Ntare V. Rukirana-Omugomi Kahitsi wanted Rucumita’s wisdom to show him who would be the right prince to inherit the throne, but Rucumita’s brave prophecies upset him.
Rucumita warned of the whole world becoming commercialized and de-cultured. This was after he saw a girl with two pieces of cloth on her shoulders – one red, the other white – and a handbag. Bewildered people asked him what he meant by the word ‘obushuubuzi’ (commerce), which he explained to their amazement.
Rucumita told Kahitsi without a wink that he would lose the throne; and by so doing he would be the first in a line of other monarchies that would be overthrown.
The one who overthrows the monarchs and their thrones (Milton Obote?) would rule them together as one country, using one common language [English].
Said Rucumita: “In those days, people will be more numerous than locusts, but unfortunately they will be killing one another, lacking humanness and sympathy. Adults will cease to be adults and children be no more children. The world will be too difficult for its rulers to understand.”
Asked how long the one who overthrows kingdoms would last on the throne, Rucumita said although that man would have used the army to abolish kingdoms, young boys who would have hidden from his wrath in a calves’ house (ekihongore) would come out with a lot of force and knowledge and overthrow him forever (obutareeba nyima) and rule.
Many interpret this as Museveni and his colleagues hiding in the bushes to organize and overthrow Obote forever (since Obote had earlier managed to return to power). These young fighters, the prophecy continued, would install the ninth ruler. Museveni’s – perhaps by coincidence – is Uganda’s ninth regime, following Ben Kiwanuka, Edward Mutesa II, Milton Obote, Idi Amin, Yusuf Lule, Godfrey Binaisa, Paul Muwanga, and Tito Okello. (Even if one were to exclude Kiwanuka, the ‘second’ Obote would make up for the eighth.)
Kahaibaare, talking in the 18th century, said the ninth ruler would fall with his royal drum. Although Kahaibaare narrated the personality of all the nine kings starting with his brother King Macwa, and truly the ninth one, Sir Charles Gasyonga II was overthrown and his royal drum Bagyendanwa taken in 1967, he gave further clarity about the future.
Kahaibaare talked of a small fiery black bull (akanumi Rwozi enshaarizi) that would come from the east, unite many countries into one, but also teach them mutual hatred and lead them to daily blood-letting and weeping. Asked what would happen after akanumi Rwozi’s rule, he said: “Bakama baayo baryagabwa baagyehikiire” (The country’s masters will have arrived to save it).
However, some interpreters think that Museveni’s (ninth democratic) rule could end with the demise of the entire obwebembezi (electoral democracy), just as Charles Gasyonga II’s rule went down with royal drum Bagyendanwa. And why the masters in plural, not singular? This could be a pointer to the united front (of the red flag and white flag) that brought Museveni to power.
Who after Museveni?
So, going by this legend, what is likely to follow after Musevni’s long rule?
Some people, such as Dr Kizza Besigye, are already talking of ‘Museveni’s presidential monarchy’. Of course it remains to be seen whether Uganda can have peace under such a scheme. Even if Museveni put his extended family and son in strategic state and societal positions, a ‘Museveni dynasty’ looks more of a chimera than a likelihood.
He being the ninth ruler, Museveni cannot be the one that brings in a new dispensation, replacing the old one of commerce and militarism that he has thrived under. And what would make a monarchy a new genre of governance?
It is obvious that by crafting the so-called ‘Museveni-Mbabazi rivalry’, excuse has been achieved for Museveni to do early campaigns, confuse the opposition and have extraordinary advantage in the 2016 elections. The man can’t be leaving the sweet seat this soon!
There is no chance that the said coming masters of the world can be the Bahinda royal clan of Ankole which has failed to have its monarchy restored. And even if Ankole kingdom was restored, what much would it contribute towards Uganda’s unity and prosperity, let alone stability in the whole world (ensi yoona)?
Meanwhile, two Europeans published an interesting prophecy about Uganda and the world in The New Vision of November 14, 1992, one that could throw some light on what may happen after Museveni, the longest-serving Ugandan leader.
These seers, calling themselves born-again Christians, said they had had a vision during a fellowship in their country, Austria, that Uganda was a blessed country being the birthplace and residence of a great man who lives west of the Nile river.
“During our local fellowship, we had a vision about your country. We did not know even in which part of Africa Uganda was. According to the vision Uganda is a blessed country. God is in Uganda. The Lord is doing his final work here in Uganda. Here in Uganda exists a man who is heading this work, who is Elijah, Moses and heir to David’s throne.
Also the covenant box is supposed to be in Uganda. Ugandans are to be a special race of God, God’s chosen people,” read part of their letter. Though they had spent months in Uganda searching for the enigmatic man, after entering through Kenya, they declared that theirs was not a joking matter and that they had not saved their money for nothing.
Could such a man be in the extended family of Museveni, to make a Museveni ‘presidential monarchy’ or dynasty possible?
Your guess is as good as mine!
The author is a journalist.