The Kingdoms of Uganda: The Buganda Kingdom (Part 1)

The Kingdom of Buganda is an East African monarchy situated in the center of present-day Uganda, next to Lake Victoria, and was founded in the mid-14th century.

The kingdom is made up of a political union of 52 officially recognized clans of the Baganda people. The clans, important socio-political units of the kingdom, each have their own emblem (e.g., antelope, anteater, etc.) and common ancestry. However, all clans share a common language—Luganda. Before the start of the 14th century, the clans were semi-autonomous, and battle was a common way of determining authority among these socio-political units. However, in the mid-14th century, a man named Kato Kintu (commonly referred to as Kintu) unified the clans and formed what is now recognized as the present-day Buganda Kingdom.

Kintu crowned himself the first Kabaka (King) and introduced a centralized system of governance of the kingdom that is in place even today. This includes the Bakatikkiro (Prime Ministers), the Akakiiko Akafuzi (Cabinet) and the Lukiiko (Parliament). Kintu made the position of Kabaka hereditary and decreed all royal princes equal, which meant that any male child of a certain age from among the King’s wives could become Kabaka. Since the King could not marry from his own clan, this meant that any other clan could produce the next Kabaka, and this subsequently encouraged clan loyalty to the throne. By the early 18th century, the Kingdom had built a strong army and a fleet of war canoes and expanded its territories across the region.

The Kingdom functioned independently until it became a British protectorate and eventually a part of Uganda (Swahili for ‘Land of the Ganda’) in 1900 and 1962 respectively. The remains of the previous 35 Kabakas are found at the Kasubi Tombs, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, located in Kampala, Uganda. Currently, the Kingdom is ruled by the 36th Kabaka, Ronald Muwenda Mutebi II.

By Edel Were

(Image: CRW Flags)

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