Abwooli Rujumba Omurungi W’Abasambu, the new media, its traditional counterpart and some town commentators have for the past few weeks gone lurid with commentary—some of it bordering on the profane and the deprave, about a King’s unforeseen appearance before a Parliamentary committee. His Majesty Solomon Iguru I astounded everyone—even his own subjects, when he took the painful decision of casting away all protocol and paraphernalia of royalty to historically present the case of his people.
Leaders the world and history over are and have been charged with the defense of their peoples’ aspirations. This—in my unintelligent and challengeable opinion, is the essence and end of leadership. In antiquity, it used to be achieved through sparks and brimstone—but thank chivalry and civilization; it indeed can now be achieved at a trifling price. Thus before anyone has attached on his collar the esteemed epaulets of great leadership, he must first excel in this. This was what King Iguru did.
The context within which Bunyoro presents her claims and petitions ought to be understood and not misunderstood. For one to lay claim to that understanding, they must first of all appreciate the complicated architecture of Nyoro history. I fear deficiency in it is guiding the misrepresentation of her claims. I will hazard a summary. The British at the turn of the 19th century visited colonialism upon a peaceful kingdom—or as some say, empire called Bunyoro—Kitara.
Before that, it had—like most African states, seen and enjoyed relative flourish at least by the standards of the time. Industry and trade were booming especially in iron implements, new methods of agriculture and livestock- keeping made the kingdom the food basket of the interlacustrine. So much were the crafts of statehood and soldiering revolutionalized that the kingdom grew in territory and strength as did her priceless tangible and intangible cultural heritage.
When then came the British, such a social- politico- economic structure and organization presented the most potent challenge and could not be allowed to stand. What made matters worse—akin to flying a red rug in the face of an incensed bull, was her insulting refusal to collaborate with the crown. It then became the latter’s absorbing desire to employ his horned talents at manipulation, misinformation and weaponry to waste, sack and pillage her.
This project took a decade to complete—thanks to the supreme adaptability and heroism of Kabaleega. But resistance came at a supreme price. Historians Doyle, Nyakatuura, Mrs. Fisher, Father Crazzolara and K. W belabor to imagine and document the horror in frightful parodies. In an epic show of man’s inhumanity to fellow man—out of the estimated 3 million Banyoro that the British found in early 1890s, only 200,000 survived their devices!
Livestock was lost in the scorched earth operations. Mothers and virgins were raped alike; deliberate policies conveniently put in place to arrest both reproduction and the education of Nyoro children; tracts and counties of culturally sensitive land were parceled away at the mere stroke of a pen; chiefs publicly flogged; a king exiled for 24 years! Their suffering defies writerly depiction. A case for compensation of 4 Trillion Pounds from the crown pends.
It is upon the above that the Banyoro are petitioning government to portion them just 12.5 % of the proceeds. Not at all do they intimate that this is to recompense their historical atrocious experience. No—that is being catered for by both the pending suit and a tendency inherent in them to forgive. They say that given the fact that the oil is mined from their sacred ancestral soils some of which they may ultimately lose or have already lost and also given the fact that gas emissions out of our mining ambitions shall be singly breathed by their children, it is only most equitable that such a potion be given.