Many times, the Busoga sub-region appears in the press for the wrong reasons.
High levels of poverty largely blamed on sugar cartels that disenfranchise farmers and even higher cases of teenage pregnancy that are sometimes above the national and East African average. But over the weekend, the focus was on the royal wedding.
Globally, people love weddings and more so if it involves royals or very famous people. Television stations left no stones unturned in broadcasting the event live. Many people on social media claimed to have spent the day glued to their TV sets to capture every aspect of the ceremony.
Jovia Mutesi, the queen consort, had done a great job of ensuring there wasn’t much known about her before the wedding. There were no previous social media posts of her past circulating everywhere. No groupies claiming, she is their bestie. At least I didn’t see them. Not even her kwanjula photos.
The first images we saw were of her farewell ceremony on the day of the wedding. Kudos to her and the team. For the past nine years of William Gabula Nadiope IV as the Kyabazinga of Busoga, it has been hard to tell what the kingdom is doing from an outsider’s perspective.
He seemed to be largely holed up in his palaces, appearing once in a while at events before disappearing from the public view. We even heard at one stage that he had been appointed an ambassador by the central government. And when his prime minister announced the wedding date and unveiled the future queen consort, everything seemed to be going awry.
A corporate bank issued a famous letter that they have no money to contribute, followed by an audio allegedly of a woman he married in a small island country in Europe. But the kingdom didn’t panic.
They stayed on course with their strategy, only issuing a statement when some lawyers had written about the existence of another marriage albeit without any iota of evidence.
Undeterred by such baseless allegations, organizations and even individuals continued to line up to the prime minister’s office to donate and wish the king and his future wife happy nuptials. That confidence that people had in their king even when many allegations were flying on social media and even in some newspapers is something Busoga kingdom must build on.
Kingdoms today don’t have the mandate to fight poverty and provide social services to their people. That is the sole responsibility of the central government, which enjoys absolute authority yet the people demand social services from the kingdoms — at least the kingdoms that have legitimacy.
It is not possible for these legitimate kingdoms to sit back and tell the people who are desperate that their social contract is with the central government. They actually know that, but they have learnt to manage their expectations. So, for Kyabazinga to continue enjoying his legitimacy, he must do something.
The wedding has shown him what is possible. If people can contribute billions to a wedding, they can contribute to kingdom programs hat alleviate people’s problems. The organizing committee of the wedding already know this and I saw that they committed themselves to do something in the first 100 days of this wedding.
It is good that they don’t lose momentum but they should also be thinking long-term. You can’t significantly reduce teenage pregnancy in 100 days. They also committed themselves to ensuring the people of Busoga participate in the Parish Development Model. Good stuff.
But they should avoid portraying themselves as an extension of the central government or ruling party. They wouldn’t want to be blamed for its excesses. At one stage during the wedding, it looked like a political party event. Towing an independent line would ensure that they don’t alienate the Kyabazinga’s subjects that belong to other political parties.
They should work with all people across the political divide. For many reasons, they can look west to Buganda which manages to deliver social services to its people without the resources from the government till. If corporate bodies see value in the work of Busoga kingdom, they will partner with it just like they collaborate with Buganda.
The Kyabazinga already has a team that he can rely on and he shouldn’t allow them to go into hibernation mode after the 100 days they talked about. It will also be important to put administrative structures in place that are watertight to safeguard the interest of the kingdom.
Since the Nnaabagereka of Buganda was Inhebantu Mutesi’s witness in church, she now has a direct line she can use to learn how she can create an office that can address some of the challenges children and young women in Busoga face today. Just like her husband, she already has the will of the people.
The writer is a communication and visibility consultant