What A Shame! King Oyo, Queen Mother Best Kemigisa Snub Princess Elizabeth Bagaaya’s Legacy Celebrations

What A Shame! King Oyo, Queen Mother Best Kemigisa Snub Princess Elizabeth Bagaaya’s Legacy Celebrations

By Andrew Irumba

Kampala: Yesterday Saturday evening, hundreds of guests gathered at St. Paul’s Cathedral Namirembe for a thanksgiving service to celebrate the life and legacy of Her Royal Highness Princess Elizabeth Akiiki Bagaaya of Tooro Kingdom.

Present were Tooro Royals, family and friends, and Her Royal Highness Sylvia Nagginda Luswata, the Nnaabagereka of Buganda Kingdom who was the guest of honor.

Other notable royals from Buganda Kingdom include Prince Kassim Nakibinge and Princess Agnes Nabaloga, among others.


After the service, the guests proceeded to Serena Hotel Kampala for a banquet dinner. The momentous occasion was intended to joyfully celebrate the birthday and legacy of Princess Bagaya as a pioneer, icon and legend in Tooro Kingdom as well as Uganda’s history.

According to Tooro kingdom, Princess Bagaya’s life and legacy is characterized by smartness, curiosity, humility, integrity, diligence, diplomacy, philanthropy, hard work and commitment to serve her country and the entire community.


However, the absence of the reigning Tooro Kingdom King, Oyo Nyimba Kabamba Iguru Rukidi 1V and queen Best Kemigisa on the event left tongues wagging and whispers circulating among the guests wondering why the two Kingdom heads would miss such a an important occasion of their very own, who has done everything possible in her power to protect Tooro and its people.

For starters, Elizabeth is not only an elder brother to King Oyo’s father, but was the Batebe (head of female Royal clan members) during the reign of her young brother, King David Mathew Olimi Kaboyo Rukidi 111, who is Oyo’s father. Infact, Bagaya and former preme minister John Sanyu Katuramu (Give and Take) played a key role to install Oyo as king as the age of 3 when his father did in 1995. Bagaya performed all the traditional requirements as Batebe then to install Oyo. Elizabeth and David Mathew not only shared same father,but also same mother. Their mother Omugo Kezia gave birth to only 6 children, Elizabeth being the first born. Out of 6,only 2 are alive today, Elizabeth and Mabel Komuntale. Therefore, attending to his Aunt’s last event on earth was a must for Oyo,if he thinks like the real Batooro.

For Queen Best, her husband was very close to her brother, Mathew Kaboyo, not attending her function was really extremely inhumane and shows a bigger crax of the matter in the kingdom.


Putting their absence aside, the two did not even send a representative to convey a message, something that only deepened the mystery, leaving Princess Bagaya and her guests to ponder the significance of their absence on the occasion and its impact on Tooro Kingdom leadership.

“Can you imagine,Obusinga Bwa Rwenzururu, Buganda kingdom, Bunyoro, Busoga etc all wished Bagaaya well and sent messages of encouragement, but her own blood son and his mother couldn’t even send at least a representative!” one of the Batooro cried in the background at Serena.

It’s worth noting that Princess Bagaya has been very instrumental in Tooro Kingdom leadership after she was selected as one of the guardians of his young nephew and now King Oyo Rukidi IV when he was crowned aged only 3 in 1995 after the untimely death of his father, King Olimi Kaboyo.

Since King Oyo was very young, at three years, he could not make any decisions for his vast Kingdom so he had to appoint regents and guardians who included Princess Bagaaya(his Auntie and God mother) who along side others were in charge of grooming and overseeing his growth into the role of a king.

The other guardians include Best Kemigisa (his mother), Buganda King Kabaka Ronald Mutebi and the Queen Sylvia Nagginda., late Libyan leader, Muamar Gaddafi and President Museveni.

Indeed, considering the aforementioned circumstances, both Best Kemigisa and her son, King Oyo, possessed ample reasons to attend this occasion or send a representative to at least express gratitude to Princess Bagaya for her invaluable contributions to the King and Tooro Kingdom as a whole. However, the interpretation of their absence and the implications therein, we shall leave that to you as reader….

Back To The Momentous Occasion.

The presence of Her Royal Highness Sylvia Nagginda, the Nnaabagereka of Buganda and other royal officials added a regal aura to the magnificent occasion symbolizing the unity and solidarity between the two kingdoms and their relations over the years.

During the event, several high profile guests commended Princess Bagaya for her legacy and her role in promoting Uganda’s traditional heritage internationally.

Notably among the special messages to Princess Bagaaya was from President Museveni who described her as a living witness to Uganda’s Colonial and post-independence history. 

”Through determination and discipline, she managed to challenge the traditional injustices and prejudices against women. She is an icon of women empowerment and emancipation. We also celebrate her historical contributions towards Uganda’s liberation struggle against bad leadership. She became an active member of UPM and challenged old practices performed by the previous governments UPC and DP which were mainly sectarian,” President Museveni said in his message which was delivered by Peace Mutuuzo, the Women legislator for Bunyangabu District who also doubles as the Minister of State for Gender and Culture.

”After capturing power in 1986 I appointed her as Uganda’s ambassador to the United States of America. She used her position as an ambassador to clarify the NRM stand on National and Global issues. Therefore I thank the Mighty God for blessing princess Bagaya with a long and impactful life”, President Message added in his message.

Another message from her only surviving sister Princess Mabel Komuntale who has now lived in UK for over 25 years was delivered by our very own C.E.O and Chief Spy, Andrew Irumba Katusabe.

In her message, Princess Komuntale, commended President Museveni and Buganda Kingdom Queen for being close friends and standing with her sister over the years.

”I would like to take the opportunity to express our gratitude to His Excellency Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, the President of Republic of Uganda for being a friend to Elizabeth and First Lady, Janet Museveni and Family members for their friendship to my sister. I would like to extend my gratitude to Her Royal Highness Nabagereka of Buganda Kingdom for her contribution towards Bagaya’s care especially at the time when her healthy was of great concern” she said in her message. 

Meanwhile, Irumba also used the same occasion to express his gratitude for Princess Komuntale for entrusting him with the message on such an important occasion despite not being a member of the royal family and having his own grievances with the current Tooro kingdom leadership.

”I was extremely honored and humbled when the only surviving sister of Princess Bagaya from Omugo Kezia, Princess Mabel Komuntale chose me, not only to represent her, but also read her speech and Poem on her behalf! This is a rare privilege in the Tooro royal setting” Irumba said.

”But why did she do that? My late father Augustine Irumba was the closest friend to their young brother,the late King David Mathew Olimi Kaboyo 111, to the extent that even, in 1980, when he wanted to run into exile, it’s my father with others who organized his escape route, and my father gave him shs100k (at that time shs100k was a lot of money), which enabled him escape those multiple gunshot holes through the walls of the Palace, which late Gaddafi later repaired” he added. 

Here Is What You Didn’t Know About Princess Elizabeth Bagaya Akiiki

Princess Elizabeth Christabel Edith Bagaya Akiiki is a royal princess (Omubiitokati) of Tooro Kingdom, Uganda. She has been termed Africa’s princess and Uganda’s most prominent woman due to her many accomplishments being;

  • Princess of Tooro Kingdom/Omubiitokati, daughter of King(Omukama) Rukidi III
  • Princess Royal/Chief Princess – Batebe /Rubuga to her late brother King (Omukama) Patrick Kaboyo Olimi III, installed with the king during coronation – head of all princesses, guides them and King on royal culture
  • First Uganda Female Lawyer
  • First Uganda Female Minister – Foreign affairs
  • First East african woman to be admitted in the english bar
  • First African to model on the Harper Bazaar magazine
  • Third african student to be admitted at the University of Cambridge
  • Only black student at Sheborne girls school England during her time
  • Uganda’s amabassador to USA, Germany, Vatican, Nigeria
  • Actress
  • Uganda’s President’s advisor on Culture

She was born in 1936 to late king (Omukama) George Rukidi III (died 1965) and his favourite wife Lady Kezia (died 1998).

Princess Bagaya was schooled in Kyebambe girls’ secondary school, Gayaza High school, Uganda, and later joined the Sherborne grils in England where she was the only black student. Princess Bagaaya joined Girton College, Cambridge becoming the third African woman to be admitted to the University of Cambridge in its history. She graduated from Cambridge with a law degree in 1962 and in 1965 became a barrister-at-law, becoming the first woman from East Africa to be admitted to the English bar. She became the first female lawyer in Uganda.

Her father died in 1965 and her brother King (Omukama) Patrick Mathew Kaboyo Olimi III was crowned King. Princess Bagaya was installed Batebe by his brother. Batebe loosely means Princess royal and her role is being an advisor to the king. She and her other brother Prince Stephen Karamagi were beside their brother as he was crowned. Princess Elizabeth Bagaya was also selected as one of the guardians of his young nephew King Oyo Rukidi IV when he was crowned aged only 3 in 1995.

In 1981 she married the Aviation engineer and Co-Pilot Prince Wilberfoce Nyabongo, sadly in 1986 he died aged just 32 in a plane crash.

Princess Bagaya had a short but international career as a model. After the abolition of traditional Kingdoms by Prime minister Milton Obote she was invited by Princess Margaret to model in a commonwealth fashion show. Later Jacqueline Kennedy invited her to move to New york and her career as a model was a breakthrough. She was featured in magazines that included the British Vogue, Queen Magazine, American Vogue, Look, LIFE and Ebony magazines. She was the first black to appear on the cover of a top fashion magazine, Harper’s Bazaar. She became so famous that women started rocking her famous hairstyle called princess Elizabeth Bagaya Hairdo. She also featured as an actress on the film Sheena.

In 1971 Idi Amin overthrew Milton Obote and Princess Bagaya came back. Bagaya was named ambassador in July 1971, and soon, Amin elevated her to Minister of Foreign Affairs, making her the first woman in Uganda to hold a ministerial post. As Uganda’s foreign affairs minister, Bagaya led a delegation to the 29th session of the United Nations General Assembly. As the elected chairperson of the Organisation of African Unity, she highlighted fair trade among other issues that were necessary for Africa to achieve economic independence and alleviate poverty.

Idi Amin astonished by her beauty, asked her to marry him. Upon her refusal shortly afterwards, the princess was fired from her prestigious job and thrown into jail on dubious charges but later was released immeaditely leaving through Kenya to London.

After the overthrow of Idi Amin, Museveni appointed princess Bagaya as Uganda’s ambassador to the US between 1986 and 1988. Following a period of service as Uganda’s Ambassador to Germany and the Vatican, Elizabeth accepted an appointment as Uganda’s High Commissioner to Nigeria. She has been the presidential advisor on culture to President Yoweri Museveni.

She has been focused on charity in her tooro Kingdom and running traditional affairs of the kingdom. She is, today, one of the key players in the kingdom reconstruction activities of The Batebe of Toro Foundation, to which she devotes most of her time. She has authored her autobiography “Elizabeth of Toro: The Odyssey of an African Princess”, published by Simon and Shuster.

Here at Spy we don’t know why King Oyo wouldn’t want to support such an Aunt with illustrative career that the whole world can stop, pose for a minute, stare at and admire! What type of coffee does King Oyo sniff on so we don’t brew it in Tooro?

Take A Look At Some Of The Pictorial Moments We Captured For You

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