A map showing Jinja in Uganda and parts of Western Kenya

In a move that is likely to raise eyebrows in Ugandan corridors of power and also rekindle stories about the Migingo Islands, two men who claim that a large chunk of Eastern Uganda belonged to the ancestral kingdom to which they belong, the Abaluhya Kingdom, have moved to court in Kenya, claiming the people from the said area should be allowed to determine their future.

In their plaint, Kenyan ‘secessionists’ Mathew Okwanda Mwilitsa and Alex Misigo Matisa, want court to first grant the secession of Kenya’s Western province, a move they want to be followed by a referendum for the people in eastern Uganda to declare their allegiance to the Abaluhya Kingdom.

Mwilitsa and Matisa have sued Uganda, Kenya and the United Kingdom, the latter which they accuse of destabilizing the Abaluhya Kingdom, then under King Wanga Mumia. The Abaluhya of Kenya are closely related to the Babukusu Gisu of Uganda, and usually exchange visits, some arranged by the ‘kingdom’.

Previously it was the Kenyan and Ugandan governments that engaged in territorial disputes at official level but now sources say this new twist involving the two individual ‘secessionists’ might lead to suspicions between the countries and complicate the already ongoing negotiations, primarily over Migingo Islands.

By press time it was not possible to get comment over the matter from the Ugandan side.

It should be recalled that in the mid 1970s, then Ugandan President Idi Amin declared the western part of Kenya as belonging to Uganda. The ensuing tension led then Kenyan President Jomo Kenyatta to deploy heavily at the border between the two countries, prompting General Amin to back off the claim for fear of an outbreak of war.