The appointment of youthful Charles Peter Mayiga as Katikiro of Buganda elated so many Baganda. And when he took up his job, he came up with the idea of Ettoffaali, generating a lot of revenue for the kingdom, in the process improving the financial status of Buganda whose previous main source of income was through the Buganda Land Board (BLB).
With the Ettoffaali money which was collected from both Baganda and willing non Baganda across Uganda and abroad, the kingdom, among other projects, completed the construction of Masengere Building, a perimeter wall around the Kasubi tombs and rehabilitating a number of Buganda traditional sites like the old palaces. Mayiga became even more popular; he even managed to strike a deal with President Yoweri Museveni, wresting from the state over 300 land titles belonging to the kingdom under what is commonly known as ‘Ebyaffe’.
However, despite all the achievements registered during Mayiga’s tenure, some people were offended and they accused the flamboyant Katikiro of ‘exploiting the poor Baganda and misappropriating the proceeds of Etofali.
One of those unhappy with Mayiga’s ways was outspoken Muslim cleric Sheikh Nuhu Muzaata Batte, who blamed him for ‘collecting money from poor Butambala residents yet they cannot even afford improving their welfare’.
The other altercation Mayiga has had to face is with the ‘original Nkobazambogo’, a grouping of youthful Baganda student activists to which he once belonged. According to the ‘original Nkobazambogo’, Mayiga was is not respecting the core values of their association, otherwise known by the acronym Bankosa, which only pays allegiance to the Kabaka, Ronald Muwenda Mutebi II and the kingdom.
According to the group, Katikiro Mayiga wants to ‘dilute’ the original association (Bankosa) “through the formation of his own new brand of Nkobazamboga with members loyal to him instead of Kabaka, they charge.”
William Wasswa Ndigeza Kigonya, a teacher of History and Christian Religious studies, and one of the members of Nkobazambogo, said the original Bankosa was the brainchild of Makerere students who were being sidelined in the university politics “due to lack of solidarity among themselves.”
In 1991 Nkobazambogo students association was formed, with the name derived from a legendary buffalo which had fallen into a pit and could only be rescued using a tether made out of its own skin. The point was made; Baganda students could only find an alternative out of political limbo through unity and solidarity.
In 2007, when Prince James Wassajja was a student at Makerere University, members of Bankosa met him and together they deliberated on how best they can involve in the Mengo government.
This arose from the need to have constant flow of information between the Mengo leadership and the youth.
With the help of Prince James Wassajja they made their way to the Mengo political establishment, taking up the unofficial role of protecting the Kabaka and the kingdom. They took up the assignment with gusto, with the most outstanding incidence witnessed after the 2011 general election, which involved the former Buganda state minister for youth, Mathias Mpuuga, who was elected to the national parliament.
At the time MP Mpuuga worked closely with Bankosa leader Elijah Kyobe, and even recommended some of them to the Buganda Lukiiko to represent Bankosa. Those recommended are still members of the Lukiiko.
“We in Nkobazambogo are like members of a presidential guard unit who cannot trust each other while on duty. The public is now wondering why the youth who claim to be protecting the King are conflicting with the Katikiro yet he is appointed by the Kabaka together with his ministers,” one of them said.
Another activist, Ronald Lumunye, the chairperson of Buganda Youth Council [BYC] and BYC lawyer for Kyadondo County said: “In a secret meeting which was for Nkobazambogo leaders the Katikiro instructed the youth minister to come up with a new revived Nkobazambogo with new guidelines.”
According to Mr Lumunye, the ‘new Nkobazambogo’ under Katikiro Mayiga has a different line of focus and hidden interests which are not clear since the old Bankosa is still on track.
The climax of this conflict has led to protests against the Katikiro resulting in arrests of those perceived to be against him. The most recent indicators of fallout were on Saturday October 22, when a group of youth who had invitation cards to attend the Nkobazambogo cultural gala at Janam School Bombo in Luweero, were arrested and detained overnight at Bombo police.
These included Dr Abdul Wagaba Musiita, chairman of KIU western campus Bushenyi; Joseph Njuki Musaazi, chairman of Rubaga; Ritah Nabaweesi, Treasurer UMCAT; Timothy Ssemanda of Buganda Royal; Hussein Kato Katumba of Salaf SS Namung’oona; Ibra Wasswa Ssemanda of Rubaga and James Frank Kasibante of UMCAT.
“Our colleagues who came in the next day carried with them the invitation cards and the police granted us a bond. We are meant to be cleared on November 4,” one of those arrested, said.
He added that after clearing with police they will proceed to Bugerere for the youth celebrations.
Efforts to talk to Katikiro Mayiga about this article were, by press time, futile.