The Basoga are culturally diverse people that have absorbed many surrounding cultures over the last five centuries, and it is probably because of this that popular participation and unity are the central tenets of the Kingdom.
Busoga’s written history begins in 1862 when Royal Geographical Society explorer John Hanning Speke, on a quest to seek out the source of the Nile, stumbled upon Ripon Falls in modern day Jinja. Excited by his discovery, Speke did not stay to explore Busoga, but chose instead to follow the Victoria Nile downstream and northwards. He however recorded that the Arabs called this land Usoga.
Busoga has never really been a formal monarchy and although it is called a Kingdom, it is debatable whether this classification is accurate because indeed Busoga has, for most of its existence been an organisation of semi-autonomous chiefdoms. At the turn of the 16th century, coinciding with the Luo / Nilotic Bito invasion of the Empire of Kitara in Bunyoro, a new clan of rulers of the Abaise Ngobi clan gained power in Busoga. It is told that Mukama Namutukula, a prince of the royal Babiito family in Bunyoro travelled east with his wife Nawudo and settled in present-day Kamuli, between Lakes Kyoga and Victoria. For many years Prince Mukama ruled Busoga as a Chief, and when it was time for him to return home to Bunyoro, he bequeathed regions to each of his 5 sons, to rule in his stead. The 5 Babiito princes, now Busoga Chief’s introduced many of the governing methods and even some cultural rituals of the Bunyoro, and continued to pass down their leadership to their sons until the arrival of the British colonialists who had other plans for Busoga.
Following the successful naming of Uganda as a protectorate in 1894, the British sought to unite the Basoga chiefs under one ruler, into a federation similar to that of the Buganda Kingdom. Consequently, they brought all the chiefs together into a Royal Council called the Lukiiko (parliament), and placed their pawn, a Muganda called Semei Kakungulu as the first leader of the Lukiiko, neglecting to refer to him as a King.
The Lukiiko was short lived, mostly because indigenous Basoga were not happy that they were under the dominion of a Muganda foreigner. In addition, the Basoga did not agree with chiefs being admitted to the Lukiiko just because they were from powerful landowning families, or even worse, because the Kabaka of Buganda appointed them. In the end, Kakungulu resigned in 1913 and the Basoga began to agitate for a King of their own. In 1919, the British created the title of Isebantu Kyabazinga wa Busoga, loosely translated to mean “father of all people who brings them together’.
Chief Ezekeriel Tenywa Wako, the Zibondo of Bulamogi was named the first Kyabazinga of Busoga in 1939 and he joined the Kabaka of Buganda, the Omukama’s of Bunyoro and Toro, and the Omugabe of Ankole on the Uganda Kings Council. During his reign Busoga’s Lukiiko expanded to include elected representatives over and above the hereditary rulers. On the retirement of Kyabazinga Wako in 1949, the Busoga Lukiiko resolved that henceforth, the Isebantu Kyabazinga of Busoga would be elected from the five lineages of the Babiito Princes that Mukama left in charge of Busoga.
Like all of Uganda’s Kings, the Kyabazinga was dethroned in 1966 following the abolition of traditional Kingdoms by President Obote, and then re-instated in 1993 by President Museveni. Today, the Busoga Royal Council or Lukiiko is composed of the 11 traditional leaders of Busoga: the princes of the five royal families and six tribal chiefs. The current and fourth Kyabazinga of Busoga is William Kadhumbula Gabula Nadiope IV who was unanimously elected and crowned in 2014, for a five-year renewable term.
What You Need To Know
Location And Getting There
The Busoga Kingdom consists 10 districts; Kamuli, Iganga, Bugiri, Mayuge, Jinja, Luuka, Kaliro, Buyende, Namutumba, and Busiki districts in Eastern Uganda. The kingdom has its headquaters in Bugembe, in its main city Jinja. Jinja is 80kms from Kampala with a drive time of 2hours.
Climate And When To Visit
The Eastern region experiences temperate, tropical climate with temperatures averaging 23°C. The warmest month on average is January and the coolest, June.