By Andrew Irumba
Kasese: A row has erupted between Tooro and Rwenzuru Kingdoms following allegations that Kabarole and Ntoroko districts are part of Obusinga bwa Rwenzururu.
This revelation was made in a letter by Tooro Kingdom Attorney General Titus Bitebekezi to Mumbere’s lawyers, which protested the mentioning of Kabarole and Ntoroko as part of Rwenzururu Kingdom in an affidavit sworn by King Charles Wesley Mumbere at high court. On June 12, Mumbere through his lawyers, Caleb Alaka, Evans Ochieng, Eron Kiiza and Ladislaus Rwakafuuzi submitted an affidavit to the International Crimes Division of High Court to support his application for the temporary relaxation of his bail condition to allow him time to mourn his mother, Christine Biira Mukirania. The Queen Mother died on June 11th, 2019 at Kilembe Mines Hospital in Kasese District. In his affidavit, Mumbere listed Kabarole and Ntoroko districts as part of his kingdom. “I’m an adult male Ugandan of sound mind, the King of Rwenzuru kingdom covering the areas of Kasese, Ntoroko, Kabarole, and Bundibugyo districts in Uganda herein and conversant with and have knowledge of the issues herein; and I depose this affidavit in that capacity,” reads part of Mumbere’s affidavit.
Despite the fact that court has already granted Mumbere permission to travel to his kingdom to mourn his mother, the Tooro Kingdom Attorney General, Titus Bitebekezi has written to Mumbere’s lawyers protesting the inclusion of Ntoroko and Kabarole districts as part of Rwenzururu Kingdom. In a June 14th letter, Bitebekezi, who says he is acting on behalf of King Oyo Nyimba Kabamba Iguru Rukidi IV of Tooro, notes that the claim is provocative, highly inflammatory and has caused concern in various quarters among the people of Tooro. “On behalf of his Majesty Rukira Basaija Omukama of Tooro Kingdom, Omukama’s government and the people of Tooro, I’m writing to protest the content of the said affidavit and draw your attention to the possible disruptive nature of such statements and claims,” reads part of Bitebekezi letter. Bitebekezi concludes his letter by asking Mumbere’s lawyers to formally withdraw the content and also write to clarify the possible intent of the statement. However, Mumbere’s lawyer, Eron Kiiza says that Tooro Kingdom officials could have misinterpreted the meaning of the statement. He explains that by including Kabarole and Tooro in the application, they meant that there are some Bakonjo who stay in these two districts and are definitely Mumbere’s subjects no matter their geographical location. Kiiza adds that the mention of the two districts doesn’t in any way mean that Mumbere claims them as part of his kingdom or intends to annex them.
On whether he will write back to Tooro Kingdom to clarify the matter, Kiiza says the issue is ‘too small’ to call for this. The relations between the two cultural entities have been hostile since 2009 when Rwenzururu was recognized as a separate kingdom effectively breaking away from Tooro. A year later, Charles Wesley Mumbere Iremangoma was installed as the Rwenzururu King fulfilling the desire of his father Isaaya Mukirania and a group of Bamba and Bakonzo leaders to rebel against Tooro Kingdom who started rebelling against Tooro Kingdom in 1962. Mukirania died in 1966 and the young Mumbere as his heir. Tooro has never officially welcomed Mumbere’s kingship or kingdom and clashes have often erupted between the two kingdoms. Mumbere has in the past claimed royalties from resources, which include Katwe Salt Lake, Kilembe Mines, Hima cement factory and the Queen Elizabeth national park all in Kasese district, which are also claimed by Tooro, something that has sparked off tension between the two sides.