The Abalasangeye dynasty
Monarchism in Uganda is a very instrumental reality that has for so long time bound the people together, giving them an identity based on tribe and culture. Buganda was, and still is one of the largest Kingdoms existing in Uganda right from the ancient times. It was founded by Kato Kintu Kakulukuku who led a migration and conquests around the period between 1200 AD and 1400 AD, thus establishing the Abalasangeye dynasty.
Kato Kintu Kakulukuku is said to be the first Kabaka of Buganda who after migrating from the Nile, instituted the Abalasangeye dynasty and it is believed that with him came thirteen clans out of the 52 recognized clans in Buganda.
During his conquests, Kato Kintu Kakulukuku attacked and killed Bemba, the despotic ruler of Muwaana who had become unfriendly to his subjects. Because of this heroic act, Kisutu, the lawful ruler of Muwaana on his own accord, surrendered his throne “Ssemagulu” to Kintu as a sign of gratitude. It is from here that Buganda was established and the name came from the common ancestor, Buganda Ntege Walusimbi.
The Baganda just like many other tribes in Uganda are divided into kinfolks which are referred to as clans. From these, it is very much prohibited for members to inter-marry as they look at each other as relatives.
The clans that formed up the Abalasangeye dynasty include: Ekkobe (Liana fruit), Mbwa (Dog), Mpeewo (Oribi antelope), Mpologoma (Lion), Namuŋoona (Pied crow), Ngo (Leopard), Ŋonge (Otter), Njovu (Elephant), Nkejje (Sprat), Nkima (Vervet monkey), Ntalaganya (Blue duiker), Nvubu (Hippopotamus), and Nvuma(Pearl).
The clans above were not the first in Buganda. The indigenous clans were six, referred to as Nansangwa to mean “the ancient or oldest”. These had no king but rather belonged to the lineage of the Bakiranze Kiva Bulaya who are supposed to have ruled Buganda between 400AD and 1300 AD. Some of them include the Lugave (Pangolin) and Ngeye (Colobus monkey) clans.
In 1350 AD, Kabaka Kimera Walusembe also migrated into Buganda and with him came 11 clans which among others included the Nseenene (Grasshopper) and Mbogo (Buffalo). After the Kimera migration, there came over 20 other clans, the major one being the Abalangira and Babiito; who are the descendants of male royalty from Buganda and Bunyoro respectively.
The clans of Buganda reflect the four waves of immigration into Buganda that saw it get established as a kingdom of its own. It should be noted that Buganda was originally part of the grand Bunyoro Kitara empire and like Ankole and Busoga, it broke away thus becoming autonomous under its rulers –Bakabaka.
Buganda has since had 36 Kabakas who rule using a system of succession. In the days of old, the government of Buganda was highly centralized with the Kabaka having absolute powers. However, with the coming of colonialists, the kings lost these powers. The biggest blow to Buganda’s kingship was when Dr. Apollo Milton Obote, Uganda’s first Prime Minister, abolished all kingdoms in 1966.
It was later in 1993 during President Yoweri Museveni’s regime that kingdoms were reinstated, with Ronald Muwenda Mutebi being crowned as the Kabaka. Despite the setback caused by Obote’s abolition, Buganda, unlike some other kingdoms, was quick to get back on its feet and re-established itself to become Uganda’s strongest monarchy.
It is therefore not so surprising that Buganda now enjoys a percentage of semi-autonomy from the rest of the country. Buganda did not acquire this status in just one year but rather; it took a series of generations, migrations and conquests, in order to build a kingdom that has been able to stand the test of time. Like the Buganda anthem puts it “Ekitiibwa kya Buganda kyava dda” to mean “Buganda’s glory dates back in time”, it has truly been upheld.
By Enid Keren Nabumati