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Uganda: Controversy Over King of Buganda's Child Out of Wedlock

On Tuesday January 17, 2012 the Buganda kingdom in Uganda announced the birth of a second son of their King (Kabaka), Ronald Muwenda Mutebi II.

The officials captured the attention of Ugandans even more when they revealed that the child was born in July last year. The announcement which has sparked controversy and mixed reactions only referred to the mother of the child by her clan name ‘Nseenene’ (grasshopper).

The boy’s name is Richard Ssemakookiro. The King already had a son, Prince Jjunju Ssuuna Kiweewa. The new child is the fifth born. The controversy arose because the King duly wed in church in 1999 to Slyvia Nagginda, the Nabagereka (the Queen) of Buganda.

The Kabaka of Buganda Ronald Muwenda Mutebi with new born prince. Photo source: the official Buganda Kingdom website.

Ugandans took to social media to react to the news, some pointing to the obvious adultery while others arguing that the King has right to do whatever he wants. One sarcastic tweet in Luganda made rounds about Kabaka not using condoms:

@StoneAtwine: Ekyebeyi kya beyi, Kabaka tayambala condomu.

What is pricey is pricey. (You can't really bargain over quality). – Kabaka can’t wear a condom.

King on the sexual network?

There’s a popular advertisement currently running in Uganda. The advertisement tells people to “Get off the Sexual Network” (having more than one partner) to reduce the risk of getting HIV. So when the news of the King's son from another woman broke many tweeps like @pmagelah said it was evident that the King is on the sexual network:

@pmagelah: the flip side of #Buganda's new prince is that Someone is on the SEXUAL NETWORK and worse still hasn't used protection

Although Uganda is considered a model for Africa in the fight against HIV and AIDS, the disease has had immense consequences in the country. The government and civil society are desperately looking for new ways to put across HIV prevention messages. Public figures such as the King of Buganda are important part of the struggle against the disease.

Showing the deep-rooted and widespread acceptance of polygamy in Uganda, @pkahill says the King can get whatever woman he wants in his Kingdom:

@pkahill: The Kabaka of buganda, he is above all other things except God. He is the king, he can have what ever woman he wants it #buganda #swaziland

Discussing the subject on Facebook, Richard Kavuma asks:

TO DECLARE OR NOT TO DECLARE?
So, the palace of Buganda has announced that the Kabaka fathered a child outside wedlock. I am wondering what is more interesting: Is it the fact that it happened? Or is it the fact that the palace announced it? We have heard of presidents in East African countries who have this or that mistress or children but officially this is either never discussed or it is denied. Still, it is intriguing why Mengo announced this one. Was it a damage-managing exercise?

Who is to blame? @EdrisKisambira says it is the elite Baganda women (women from the Buganda Kingdom):

@EdrisKisambira: Seriously why the fuss about the #Kabaka? Its elite Baganda women who are kicking up a storm where there shouldn't be any @tragicanon u also

Other tweets touched on the uncomfortable position Queen Nagginda finds herself in. Nagginda and the King have one daughter together and four other children are for the Kabaka. Many arguments condemning the King center around the fact that the King married in church and that having a child out out of wedlock shows that he was breaking marriage vows. This indicates conflict between what is culturally practiced and what is religiously accepted in Uganda.

@Asinja advises the Queen:

@Asinja: When u marry a king u don't take the good things alone but even the negative ones, the royal lineage had to be saved

Another tweep says:

@jmwebaze: @primagaba @mugumya who cares abt the mama, the kingdom has a prince! LOL

Patience Akumu wonders how the Queen is supposed to feel:

I wonder how the Nnaabagereka is supposed to feel. She is the wife after all. But he ups and has a son with another woman. Once again our value comes down to our child bearing abilities (Or is it son-bearing abilities?). Onc.e again culture communicates to women that they can be ‘demoted’ if they do not meet their man's every whim. I have a lot of respect for Nagginda (a very proactive Queen). But what is she supposed to do in such a situation? What is she supposed to tell the thousands of girl children who look up to her after this ‘announcement'?

@serugo thinks the King's new born is not an important issue. He does not want the news to distract Ugandans from discussing the state of economy and the country:

@serugo: Buganda “crown prince” yet another red herring? Focus people! It's 26 years since the 10-point programme became NRM's 10 plagues.

Mugumya wonders why the identity of the mother has not been revealed. In the beginning of his post he notes that the announcement was made on the Internet:

1. The announcement was made on a website and not on radio or with the sounding of drums. This is significant because I believe it’s designed to show that the old kingdom is now a modern entity.

Although the Buganda Kingdom wants to show that it is a modern entity, its treatment of women is old-fashioned:

The Kingdom PR machine is definitely positioning the kingdom as a modern entity but its treatment of women is still appalling. I know many people will be silent on this issue, fearful of angering their Baganda friends. But this needs to be said. The kingdom might be now modern but its treatment of women is still as old, as old-fashioned and as terrible and abhorring and as despicable as during the days of stone age.

Now don’t tell me about culture when you are using the internet to make an announcement so important to the future of the Kingdom. The Kingdom needs to go with the times but currently they have no regard for the mother of the young Prince, she gets no recognition other than that she comes from the Nsenene clan. She has no face, no name. She’s just an object of desire for the King. and that makes my stomach turn.

  • https://www.facebook.com/omuzinyi.omulungi?ref=tn_tnmn Augandan Maverick

    This is the epitome of the soft bigotry of male chauvinism that still lingers on in African societies. Leaders are reflections of such symptoms. It goes on all around us and we hold our noses and go on with our lives, so to speak!
    It’s the same shenanigan that went on with Henry the 8th and resulted in the Church of England!
    The exception here is Mutebi and his royalist handlers are no longer that powerful.
    Like development, our cultures are still at a different stage.
    Hopefully some day royal daughters will be able to inherit the throne just like their male siblings and put thus chauvinism nonsense behind us!

  • Pingback: Uganda in 2012: 50 Years of Independence and Africa’s Youngest MP · Global Voices

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