Rev. Canon Eng. James M.N. Zikusooka
Globe Consortium International Ltd
P.O. Box 24323
Tel: +256 772 788899
September 4, 2008
Your WorshipThe Mayor
Jinja Municipal Council
Re: Proposal to Re-name Scindia Road as Shaban Nkutu Memorial Road
I wish to formally recommend to Jinja Municipal Council, the re-naming of Scindia Road or one of its adjoining roads (such as Allidina Visram Road) after the Late Hon. Shaban Kirunda Nkutu, M.P., who was one of the greatest sons of Jinja, Busoga and Uganda in the years following independence. I wish to support my proposal with a summary of the late Minister's achievements in the service of Uganda.
I served as Permanent Secretary Secretary and Engineer-in-Chief of the Ministry of Works, Housing and Communications during the period 1967-71 when Hon. Shaban Nkutu, then M.P. for Busoga South East (covering Bugweri County, most of Iganga District, part of Mayuge District and the whole of Bugiri District) was Cabinet Minister in charge of that portfolio. My late Minister initiated, planned, obtained funds for, oversaw the execution, completion, upgrade and/or maintenance of hundreds of infrastructure projects across Uganda, including, but not limited to the few I have highlighted below:
· Pakwach Bridge (West Nile)
· Entebbe International Airport
· Soroti Flying School
· International Conference Centre and Nile Hotel (now Serena)
· The dual carriage-way from Jinja to Kakira
· Iganga-Tirinyi Road
· The Pakwach-Arua Highway
· The Ntungamo-Kabale Highway
· Most of the feeder roads in the coffee-cotton-matooke areas of Butembe and Bugabula
· The Arua-Koboko Road (West Nile)
· Kampala's Crested Towers building
· Bugolobi Flats in Kampala
· Kampala's Wandegeya Flats
· Kampala's Bukoto Flats
· Over a dozen Post Offices across the country
· East African Airways
· Uganda Transport Corporation
· Peoples Transport Company
· East African Railways and Harbours
· The Jinja pier (enabling cargo from Lake Victoria to be transferred to rail and road)
· Secured funds for the upgrade of the Kampala-Mukono highway
· And many, many roads across Uganda, which I cannot comprehensively list here.
Most of Uganda's post-colonial modern infrastructure was put in place during the time Shaban Nkutu served as Minister of Works, Housing and Communications. He represented Busoga South East in Parliament from 1962-1971 and was one of the few people from Busoga who was actively involved in leading Uganda to independence in 1962. Between 1962 and 1966, he served as Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister (Economic Affairs), Deputy Minister of Works, Deputy Minister of Education and UPC Chief Whip in Parliament.
During his one-year tenure as Minister of Health in 1966, the Late Hon. Shaban Nkutu oversaw the completion of construction and successful opening of 21 modern district hospitals, covering all major regions of Uganda, giving most Ugandans their first proper access to proper medical facilities.
Earlier, as Deputy Minister of Education, he created access to educational scholarships for many Ugandans, especially Muslims, who had been discriminated against during the colonial period. He was one of the first Muslims in Uganda to achieve a modern secular education and was a great source of pride and honour to Muslims as the second Muslim ever to serve in the country's Cabinet after independence.
After the 1971 coup, Shaban lived and did business in Jinja town. He was violently murdered by Amin's army at Gadaffi Barracks on January 11, 1973, following his broad daylight abduction from his business premises at Scindia Road. He had committed no crime and certainly, nothing can justify his extra-judicial killing.
It is memorable that dozens of Jinja's citizens - civilians - put up a brave fight for his life at Scindia Road as the soldiers and intelligence agents attempted to put him in the boot of a car. His abduction succeeded only after heavy gunfire was used by the security personnel to scatter the crowd. Amin's soldiers ended his life that very night. The army and State Research Bureau agents dumped his body in the River Nile. It later disappeared from Jinja Hospital Mortuary in the hands of the police and he was secretly buried on an unknown date, in an unknown place (later discovered to be Mailo Mbiri Cemetery) without the knowledge of his family as "an unknown person."
Shaban's family lived painfully with the trauma of not having buried him for 32 years until the incredible events of chance and good fortune that led to the discovery and reburial of his remains 3 years ago. The reburial of Shaban's remains was of national significance because it was possibly the only opportunity for something near to "closure" for the families of the many victims of murder by Amin's regime, most of whom just "disappeared" and were secretly buried.
The Late Hon. Shaban Nkutu lived a lawful and peaceful life, serving Ugandans initially as a teacher in Bwala, Masaka, and then as a national leader who scored the many high profile achievements I have listed above. Uganda would be a much better place today if the work he began had been continued. His murder by Idi Amin will forever remind us all of the terrible nightmare of human rights violations that occurred in the 1970s.
Ugandans should treasure the memory of this independence nationalist and hard-working public servant, who endeavoured to put limited national resources to the service of all parts of the country as well as East Africa. He was committed to the development of Jinja, Busoga and Uganda and he was killed in Jinja. It is in this spirit that I urge you to re-name in his memory, Scindia Road, where he was last seen alive on that tragic day in January 1973. I propose that the road be called "Shaban Nkutu Memorial Road."
Rev. Canon James M.N. Zikusooka
Former Permanent Secretary/ Engineer-In-Chief
Ministry of Works, Housing and Communications
BODY OF MURDERED FORMER CABINET MINISTER SHABAN KIRUNDA NKUTU DISCOVERED 32 YEARS AFTER HIS MURDER AND SECRET BURIAL BY IDI AMIN; BURIAL AT HIS HOME IN BUSESA SET FOR FEBRUARY 12, 2005
The body of a former Minister of Works, Housing, Transport and Communications and Member of Parliament for Busoga South East, the Late Hon. Shaban Kirunda Nkutu, has been discovered, exhumed and identified by his family, 32 years after his violent murder and secret burial by the government of Idi Amin. He was one of several former ministers of the Obote I government murdered by Amin between September 1972 and January 1973.
Nkutu will now be buried by his family on Saturday, February 12, 2005 at the family home at Busesa, Bugweri County, Iganga District, located 13 kilometres from Iganga town on the main Iganga-Tororo highway.
The location of his secret grave at the Masese "Mailo Mbiri" cemetery on the eastern outskirts of Jinja town was discovered following an extraordinary chance encounter in Semuto, Luwero district, between a member of Nkutu's extended family and one of the grave-diggers who were secretly ordered to bury the murdered former minister by the Amin regime.
The Late Hon. Shaban Kirunda Nkutu (November 15, 1930-January 11, 1973) served Uganda as a Member of Parliament for Busoga South East (which was comprised of the present day Bugweri County, Kigulu County, part of Bunya County and the whole of Bugiri District) from independence in 1962 to January 1971.
During this period, he also served as Parliamentary Secretary for Economic Affairs in the Office of The Prime Minister (1962-63), Deputy Minister of Education (1963-64), Deputy Minister of Works (1964-66), Government Chief Whip in Parliament (1964-66), Minister of Health (1966-67) and Minister of Works, Housing, Transport and Communications (1967-71). He was also the National Chairman of the Uganda Peoples Congress (1968-73).
Shaban Nkutu, who had gone into private business after the 1971 Idi Amin coup, was abducted by the Amin army, police and the State Research Bureau in broad daylight at his Scindia Road offices in Jinja in the presence of dozens of witnesses, including his nephew, one Twaha Magala and his driver, one Abdul Muloyiva, on January 11, 1973.
Magala and Muloyiva sounded a call for help and successfully struggled with the State Research operatives as they attempted to put him into their car. A crowd gathered in support and the State Research officers withdrew, after firing their guns into the air to disperse his rescuers.
Nkutu retreated to his office, locked himself in and made phone calls to senior government authorities as well as family members. While there, the police arrived (in the company of the army and the State Research Bureau operatives) and said they had received a report about an attempt to abduct him and that he was required at the police station to make a statement.
He was driven to Jinja Central Police Station. His nephew and driver accompanied him there. On arrival, they found an army contingent led by a Lieutenant who said Nkutu's safety "cannot be guaranteed at this police station and he should be handed over to us for safe custody at Gadaffi Barracks."
Magala and Muloyiva again insisted on accompanying him to the barracks where they were all taken to the office of the Garrison Commander. They were separated from him and that was the last time he was seen alive by any member of his family. The nephew and driver were released later that evening. When they returned to the barracks in the morning to enquire about Shaban Nkutu, they were told he had been released the evening of the day before. Nkutu was never seen alive again.
It is believed that he was murdered on the night of January 11, 1973 at the Gadaffi Barracks. He was aged 42. The act of his murder was a violent, criminal, extra-judicial killing by the then government of Uganda, led by Idi Amin.
Nkutu's nephew, Twaha Magala, then aged about 20, and who is still alive, testifies that he sought assistance and information the following morning from a contact at the Jinja Central Police Station. He was told that Nkutu had already been murdered at the barracks and dumped in the River Nile at a place known as the "Source of the Nile." He was told the body had failed to sink or flow downstream and that it had already been retrieved and recognized by civilians.
Magala proceeded to the Source of the Nile where he found a crowd had formed and police were already present. He recognized Shaban Nkutu, who was lying dead on the riverbank. In fear for his own life, he fled the scene and rushed to the family home at Busesa, Iganga to inform other family members. On arriving in Jinja their attempts to locate the body led them to learn that the body had been taken to the Jinja Hospital Mortuary by the police, from where it had "disappeared" on orders of the government.
In his book "A State of Blood," former Secretary to the Cabinet, Henry Kyemba, who was then Minister of Health, says Nkutu's body was taken away from the mortuary by the Amin government and buried secretly in a mass grave at the Masese cemetery, popularly known as "Mailo Mbiri." This is the same information known and believed by the family and the people of Busoga for the last 32 years. However nobody could prove it or identify the location of the grave.
The family of the Late Shaban Nkutu has been deeply wounded and aggrieved by the violent and illegal killing of the family head and his secret burial at an unknown location, for the past 32 years.
Subsequent to his murder, the then First Lady, Mama Mariamu Amin, a niece of Shaban Nkutu, and her brother Wanume Kibedi, then Minister of Foreign Affairs, both fled the country and went into exile.
How Shaban Nkutu's Burial Location Was Identified
In December 2003, a nephew of The Late Nkutu, one Abu Kakaire, of Nakibembe village, Bugweri County, where Nkutu was born, made coincidental contact with one Ibrahim Sengendo, 51, a peasant farmer resident in Kakola Village, Mijinja, in Semuto, Luwero. They met at the tomato farm of one Stephen Opio, at Nakitende village, Semuto, where Sengendo had gone to borrow a tomato herbicide sprayer from his friend Opio.
Kakaire, who had earlier unsuccessfully attempted tomato trade in Kampala, had ended up as a casual labourer in Luwero and had been hired by Opio to spray his tomatoes when he came into contact with Sengendo. During their conversation, Sengendo, on learning that Kakaire was from Iganga district, teased him about what why a Musoga from Iganga would come all the way to Luwero only to be a tomato sprayer. An offended Kakaire told Sengendo that while he held a humble station in life, he came from a prominent family in Busoga that had produced cabinet ministers in every government since independence.
He named Wanume Kibedi (Minister of Foreign Affairs in the Amin regime), John Luwuliza Kirunda (Minister of Internal Affairs in the Obote II regime), Kirunda Kivejinja (then Minister for the Presidency in the Museveni government) and Shaban Nkutu (Minister of Works, Housing, Transport and Communications under the first Obote government. Kibedi, Luwuliza and Kivejinja are all nephews of Shaban Nkutu.
When he named Shaban Nkutu as a relative, Sengendo, doubting whether Kakaire was truly a member of that family, asked Kakaire "where is your uncle Shaban Nkutu nowadays?" Kakaire replied that Nkutu had been murdered by Amin in the seventies. Sengendo asked him if he knew where Nkutu had been buried. Kakaire replied that Amin had buried Nkutu at a secret location and that the family had been wounded by not having buried him for over 30 years. Sengendo challenged Kakaire to prove further that he was truly a member of Nkutu's family, following which he could reveal details of Shaban Nkutu's burial location.
Kakaire lacked financial capacity to return to Iganga but eventually left Semuto for Busoga, returning to Semuto in early October 2004 with three of Nkutu's sons, Mr Eriyasa Nyende, Mr Suleiman Kiyuba and Mr Awali Magoola, to whom Sengendo revealed that he was a retired long-service grave-digger, formerly employed by Jinja Municipal Council at the Masese "Mailo Mbiri" Cemetery (1972-87).
Sengendo, who was fearful of revealing anything for fear of his safety, advised Nkutu's sons that he could only give more information about Nkutu's body with the consent of his former Headman at the cemetery, one Experito Kalema, 68, a resident of Nakabango, Kamuli Road, Jinja District, who is also retired. A visit was immediately made by family members to Kalema at his Jinja home.
Kalema, who served at the cemetery from 1966-93, was very scared of testifying because "I was ordered by the government never to talk about the burial of that minister if I was to remain alive." It took a lot to convince him that since the Museveni government had not had a hand in Nkutu's death it would not kill him for revealing the burial location. Both witnesses were also afraid that the family might unfairly accuse them of involvement in the murder.
Following strong assurances to the contrary, Sengendo and Kalema testified that in January 1973, on a date they cannot remember, they and five colleagues (Wilson Lukenge, Michael Serwadda, Joseph Matovu, James Ntalo and Kiviri Ssesavu - all are now deceased except Lukenge) were picked up from the cemetery about 10am by four armed policemen in a police Landrover vehicle and taken to the Jinja Hospital Mortuary, where they were shown the body of an adult male, which had been separated from a heap of other bodies.
They say the body was bloated with water and decomposing and had clearly been retrieved from water submersion. They were ordered by the police to ignore the heap of other bodies in the mortuary and to rush this singular body to the cemetery for immediate burial under the record of "an unknown person." However they were covertly informed by mortuary staff that the body, which they did not recognize, was that of a former minister called Shaban Nkutu, who had "disappeared" a few days earlier in Jinja.
The witnesses recall clearly that the body was severely bloated by water and the skin was peeling off it in many places. They were unable to establish the possible cause of death by looking at the body, given that they were at gunpoint and under pressure to bury him immediately. But they do recall the colour of the shirt the deceased was wearing as yellow. They testify that he was wearing underwear without trousers.
When they asked why they were being escorted by police at gunpoint and why they were being ordered not to bury the several other dead bodies heaped in the mortuary, they were told by the Mortuary Clerk and his attendant that this was a "special case" because Nkutu had been killed by Amin's government and that given the well known brutality of the government, any compromise of confidentiality concerning the handling of his body and burial could lead to their own deaths.
The Mortuary Clerk, whose name they do not recall, told them that no Death Certificate would be issued and that they should record Nkutu's burial in the Cemetery Book as that of "an unknown person."
The grave-diggers say they placed the body on a Jinja Municipality tipper truck and were escorted back to the cemetery by the four armed police in their Landrover. The police witnessed the burial and guarded the grave till 5pm. At 5pm, another contingent of four armed police came to the cemetery, relieved the earlier group and guarded the grave till morning. Groups of four armed police guarded the grave in day and night shifts for a fortnight.
Sengendo, who resided at the cemetery as the resident watchman, witnessed this unprecedented guarding of the grave day and night, while his colleagues witnessed it in the daytime. Nobody else was buried in the cemetery during this period.
The grave-diggers testified that they buried Shaban Nkutu in a grave containing five other "masikini" (commoners, or unclaimed dead persons from the mortuary) who had been buried four days earlier and that the body of Shaban Nkutu was the sixth and last, separated from the other five by a layer of soil.
The practice was to bury unclaimed persons in groups of six in six-foot graves, always covering the top person available with a thin layer of soil until they had accumulated a total of six people, after which the grave would be fully sealed off.
Nkutu's grave was the 7th in a line of several others which they named "Ekifo kyo mutawana" (the troubled place) because of the several persons they buried there who had been murdered by the state. Many of these were Acholi and Langi soldiers.
A month after the burial, the Council Foreman/ Parks Superintendent, whom they recall as one Haruna, (they describe him as hailing from the Kakwa ethnic community) came to the cemetery and ordered them to level the mound of soil on "that grave which police have been guarding day and night" and to plant passpallum grass over the grave. This was intended to obliterate any trace of the grave. They complied.
Sengendo and Kalema easily identified the line known as "Ekifo kyo mutawana" and grave number seven was easily identifiable. They advised that in case their memories were failing them, the family could also exhume grave number 6 but that they were sure they buried Nkutu at the top of grave number 7.
The third surviving grave-digger, Wilson Lukenge, also retired, was tracked down by the Nkutu family at his Bugerere home. He corroborated the testimony of Kalema and Sengendo.
The witnesses testify further that a few days or weeks after the funeral, President Amin's convoy arrived unannounced at the cemetery and the presidential helicopter landed soon after. Amin disembarked and asked for the cemetery supervisor. A frightened Kalema was asked to give the President the cemetery book for January. Amin read through the entries for the month and returned the book to Kalema without comment. He got into his vehicle and drove off.
The grave diggers assumed at the time that given the family pressure mounted on Amin by the Nkutu family, who were his in-laws, courtesy of the First Lady, Mama Mariamu, as well as by the exiled former President, Milton Obote, over Nkutu's disappearance, Amin had come to Masese to confirm that there was no evidence of Nkutu's body in the cemetery records. Amin then called a press conference in Jinja to announce that Shaban Nkutu had gone into exile "to join anti-government guerillas" and he promised a huge reward for his arrest or information leading to it.
On hearing of the grave-diggers' testimony, the family hired the services of Mr Sam Echaku, a former Director of the CID (in the early years of the Museveni administration) who manages a firm of private investigators. He assisted the deceased's sons, Mr Moses Menya Nkutu, Mr Farouk Kirunda Nkutu and Mr Conrad Kirunda Nkutu in interrogating the grave-diggers and recording their detailed statements. After an 8-hour interrogation, Mr Echaku concluded that these witnesses were credible and believable and issued a written report to the family to that effect.
Up to this point, the witnesses were still afraid that the Nkutu family would frame them for the murder. They repeatedly insisted that they buried Nkutu but knew nothing of how he had been killed.
The family immediately convened a meeting of about forty members, at which the three witnesses testified verbally and were thoroughly questioned about their story. The meeting unanimously concluded that while these witnesses knew nothing about Nkutu's murder, they were clearly telling the truth about his secret burial. Nkutu's nephew Twaha Magala, who was present, testified that Shaban Nkutu was, on the day he was last seen alive, wearing the yellow shirt referred to by the grave diggers.
After confirming that the witnesses had indeed been employed by Jinja Municipality at the Masese cemetery and after confirming that the said Haruna (who ordered the concealing of the grave) had indeed been employed there as Parks Superintendent, the family obtained advice from a lawyer, Mr Charles Odere, on how to obtain permission for exhumations. He advised that such authority is vested by the Public Health Act in the District Commissioner, whose powers are now located in the office of the Resident District Commissioner and the Chief Administrative Officer of Jinja District.
The family resolved as follows:
To confirm the location of the grave, with the assistance of the witnesses.
To exhume the remains and use modern medical science (DNA testing) to ascertain their identity as those of the Late Hon. Shaban Kirunda Nkutu. A Kampala-based pathologist, Prof Henry Wabinga, Head of Makerere University's Department of Pathology, was retained for this purpose, assisted by Dr Odida.
To give Nkutu an honourable burial as soon as possible.
To involve the government of Uganda in exhuming, identifying and re-burying the remains, via the input of Ministers Ruhakana Rugunda (Internal Affairs) and Kirunda Kivejinja (then Minister of the Presidency, now Deputy National Political Commissar) and President Yoweri Museveni.
The Exhumation and Identification of Nkutu's Remains
The Nkutu family is grateful to Prime Minister Apollo Nsibambi, Hon. Rugunda and Hon. Kivejinja for their advice and moral support and to the Resident District Commissioner of Jinja, Mr Mugisha Muhwezi, the Chief Administrative Officer, Mr Eustace Gakwandi, the Town Clerk and the Regional Police Commander as well as the Public Health Officer, Jinja, and the LC1 Chairman, Masese, who convened a quick meeting and immediately granted the family's request for written permission to exhume the remains of the twelve persons buried in graves 6 and 7 in the line known as "Ekifo kyo mutawana."
The exhumations were carried out by the family and pathologists Prof Henry Wabinga (Head of Department) and Dr Odida of Mulago Hospital/ Makerere University on November 27, 2004 in the presence of a 4-man police guard and officials of the Jinja local administration.
The highly compacted and clue-less state of the remains found in grave number 6 indicated a high probability that all six men had been dumped into that grave on the same day and none of them was Shaban Nkutu. The grave diggers had always insisted that they buried Nkutu in grave number 7.
While they buried the sixth person from each grave a foot from the surface, we found that both graves had sunk by six to seven feet due to decomposition of the deceased, softness of the already dug-up soil and soil and water erosion.
On opening up grave number 7, we found, about six feet deep, the remains of an adult male now concluded to be the Late Hon. Shaban Nkutu. As per earlier testimony, he was lying on top of five other deceased persons but not too heavily compacted with them (none of the deceased persons was buried in a coffin or body bag).
In the assessment of the pathologists and all who were present at the exhumations, the skull of this man showed cause of death to have been a gunshot wound to the right hand side of the forehead, with a small entry wound on the right and a large exit wound on the left hand side of the head.
While the other deceased persons had evidence of remains of trousers on their pelvic bones (zippers, hooks and cloth fragments), this particular person had only remains of underwear, which was about 80% intact on his pelvic bone. This is consistent with the earlier witness testimony to the effect that at the mortuary, they found him wearing underwear and a yellow shirt, with no trousers. There was no trace of the yellow shirt. It is assumed that the shirt may have been of cotton material, which is bio-degradable and can fully disintegrate. However the underwear, a pair of boxer shorts, contained some sort of synthetic material and had largely survived the 32 years of water and soil exposure.
The third clue was a bracelet found on the deceased's left arm. The bracelet, which can be described as circular black plastic strings with decorative twines at circumferential intervals, is known in Luganda as "entugga." Several adults who knew the Late Nkutu and were present at the exhumation testify that the Late Nkutu always wore this bracelet on his left arm. This is confirmed by several other close friends and relatives of the deceased.
Great effort was undertaken over an eight-hour period to retrieve the remains of each person in this grave separately from the other. Particular attention was focused on the man at the top of grave number seven - the gunshot victim.
The remains of the various deceased persons were packed separately and labeled and taken into the custody of the medical personnel. Bone samples of the person believed to be Shaban Nkutu were sent to a specialist laboratory in South Africa for DNA testing against blood samples from family members.
Unfortunately, after a two month wait, the family was advised that the bones were so old and degraded by the conditions of water and soil erosion that there was insufficient DNA still existent in them to support a conclusive DNA test.
After wide internal consultations, the family concluded that notwithstanding the absence of scientific evidence, the circumstantial evidence from the grave and the witness testimony of Ibrahim Sengendo, Experito Kalema and Twaha Magala combined is overwhelming proof that the deceased person exhumed from the top of grave number seven is indeed Shaban Nkutu.
The family will proceed to give the Late Hon. Shaban Nkutu a befitting funeral at his Busesa home on Saturday, February 12, 2005. We are grateful to have benefitted from the extraordinary chance encounter between Abu Kakaire and Ibrahim Sengendo and for the cooperation of Sengendo, Kalema and Lukenge. We also thank Prof Wabinga and Dr Odida for their support as pathologists.
We hope that the opportunity we are getting to achieve the closure of this painful matter, and the extensive details provided in this case, will be a contribution to the development of respect by governments for universal human rights.
Issued on behalf of the Nkutu family on January 27, 2005
Conrad K. Nkutu
The Monitor Newspaper and 93.3 KFM
Bugweri no longer at ease
By Dr Nkutu Kirunda
Dec 23, 2007 - 12:36:47 AM
THE storm of Bugweri is now settled, the National Resistance Movement (NRM) and Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) are each trying to read much into their fortunes. I was hesitant to comment on the elections and the outcome but cannot hold down my pen because of the many distortions that are peddled by opportunists who are not telling it straight.
For the start, there is no winner in all this, only losers because both Hon. Abdu Katuntu and 3rd deputy premier Kirunda Kivejinja belong to the same house and personal disagreements coupled with differences in a generational view of politics became fortified positions causing acrimony and violence fuelled by opportunists. This has left Bugweri divided and though, there are short term gains, eventually the loser is Bugweri. To understand Bugweri, you have to understand its history.
Bugweri is at the centre of the politics of Busoga. It is one of the eleven principalities that make up Busoga. It was founded by a Munyoro prince, Kakaire, son of Agutamba Nyamutukura; the Omukama of Bunyoro. He arrived in Bugweri in the late 14th century and established a breakaway dynasty called Menha, literally meaning breakaway from Bunyoro. The Menha dynasty provided eleven hereditary paramount kings till the advent of colonialism that abolished the chieftain in 1896.
The last king of Bugweri was Menha Munulo, who as a young impressionable boy was courted by the Arabs and converted to Islam, much to the dissatisfaction of his uncle and guardian, Muwaabe, the head of the Bugweri Supreme Council and brother to his late father. He was forced to abdicate the throne by the Supreme Council because as the king he could not spill blood and yet as Muslim, he had been circumcised.
Munuulo took on the Islamic name of Ibrahim and chose to rather abdicate the throne than renounce Islam. As a Muslim, he wanted to buried facing Mecca and not Bunyoro as the tradition demanded. This act of defiance of tradition and the fact that he chose Islam rather than his throne made him a hero in the eyes of many of his young subjects who also converted to Islam. This explains why Bugweri is largely Muslim. One of Muwaabe's sons; Salim Kiveiyindha also became a Muslim and established a Koran school in Bugweri.
When Captain Lugard recruited his conquering army that galvanised the colony, Uganda, the bulk of his army was Nubian from Sudan, who were also Muslim. This army revolted in the famous Sudanese mutiny in 1869 at Bukalebba, Busoga on the shores of Lake Victoria and beheaded two British officers including Captain Chivatt.
They assumed control of Lugard's tactical headquarters and established contact with Menha Munnulo, who incidentally was Muslim. On realising that Munnulo was in fact a prince and Muslim like themselves, they promised to make him the overall king of Busoga, something that excited the young prince. The Sudanese army accompanied him back to Bugweri and proclaimed him King of Busoga. The gains of course were short-lived because, Lugard's regiments from Buganda crushed the mutiny, and Munulo was captured, exiled to Kenya, where he met his death.
The burden of Bugweri was left with Muwaabe who reconstituted the Supreme Council and chose one of the young princes to work with the colonial government on behalf of Bugweri. That prince was Zirabamuzaale, father of Beatrice Zirabamuzaale, the woman MP of Iganga. He subsequently became Secretary General of Busoga and one of three first Africans in Legco along with Apollo Kaggwa of Buganda and Nyangabyanki of Bunyoro.
He used his position to promote education in Bugweri and along with Muwaabe, drew a master plan that encouraged outstanding children in Bugweri to take part in the politics of Uganda. As head of the royal clan, Muwaabe decreed that his successor as traditional head of Bugweri should not necessarily be his son, but the most outstanding son of Bugweri in the politics of Uganda. Muwaabe died in 1941 and the reins as head of Bugweri fell on Zirabamuzaale and not his son Salim Kiveiyindha, father of Kirunda Kivejinja.
The result of this political master plan produced Shaban Nkutu, cabinet minister in Obote 1, who converted the whole of Bugweri to the Uganda People's Congress (UPC) when he became National Chairman of UPC. When the UPC regime fell in 1971, Nkutu met his death at the hands of Idi Amin despite frantic efforts to save his life by Wanume Kibedi, another son of Bugweri, who was serving Amin as foreign minister.
With the return of electoral politics in 1980, Obote sought ways of reclaiming Busoga for UPC having burnt his hands there in his earlier administration. He knew that his starting point in Busoga was Bugweri and thought that he could use the nephews of Shaban Nkutu: Kirunda Luwuliza and Kirunda Kivejinja to do that job. But with Kivejinja, Obote had irreconcilable differences having expelled him from UPC in 1964. He decided to sojourn on with Luwuliza, as Secretary General of UPC, with unquestionable power in his government of 1980-85.
Kivejinja on other hand joined Yoweri Museveni and fronted the Uganda People's Movement (UPM) in the elections. He went along with Museveni to the bush to wage a war against the UPC government in 1981, much to the chagrin of members of this traditional house who supported UPC. In Bugweri, Kivejinja became public enemy number one and caused the house of Bugweri to split into those who supported Luwuliza Kirunda-UPC and Kivejinja-UPM/NRM who were the minority. His minority group was constantly harassed and scorned by the reckless UPC group, with Luwuliza's famous detention orders which he signed as Minister of Internal affairs.
Fortunes reversed with the collapse of the UPC regime and subsequent take over of the government by the NRM in 1986.Here, like all conquered people, the UPC group in Bugweri sought refuge in Kivejinja for protection. Only Luwuliza Kirunda went into exile. The rest like Elias Mulawa who had served in NASA and is the father of Abdu Katuntu, Shaban Tigabugwa, Bagwitte, Hajji Aswin Menyha, Dhakaba, Ndhote and others stayed around and reconciled with Kivejinja to bring the house of Bugweri together.
In my next article, I will show the social origins of political violence in Busoga and Bugweri, where differences in political opinions, pit brother against brother or son against mother. The classic case was of Kalikwani in Kaliro when the UPC regime fell in 1985; a brother beheaded a brother.
I will also show the origins of the current rivalry between Katuntu and Kivejinja and how it has been exploited by opportunists and projected as a fight between NRM and FDC. In Bugweri, Katuntu's mother will support Kivejinja while Kivejinja's brother will support Katuntu. This is the unenviable position of Bugweri, where most of the people are closely related by blood and political violence did not start with the 2006 elections.
Dr Kirunda is a member of the former ruling house of Bugweri, currently attending the Goldman School of Dental Medicine, Boston, MA, USA
Amin victim found in mass grave
The body of a former minister killed under the regime of Ugandan leader Idi Amin has been found after 32 years.
Shaban Kirunda Nkutu's son told the BBC News website that while he was saddened to be reminded of his father's death, finding the body would bring closure.
The body was found by the man who helped put him in a mass grave. He was identified from a gunshot wound and underwear and jewellery he was wearing.
It is estimated some 300,000 people died during Amin's reign of terror.
Nkutu was a minister under former President Milton Obote, who was overthrown by Amin in a coup, and the uncle of Amin's first wife.
His 1973 killing shocked Ugandans.
My mother exclaimed loudly when she saw [the bracelet]... he was never seen without it
His son, Conrad Nkutu, who was five when his father disappeared, said the last year had been a traumatic time for the family.
"I feel saddened by the resurrection of the details of his death. It's painful for the family, which has been deeply wounded by the secret burial," Conrad Nkutu told the BBC News website.
"But in spite of revisiting these events, we're relieved to find closure and have the chance to give him an honourable burial."
It was a chance encounter between a relative and the man ordered to dig his grave in a cemetery in Masese near Jinja that allowed the Nkutu family to find out how the authorities disposed of his body, after he was shot dead by police and dumped in the River Nile.
Amin reportedly threw the corpses of his victims to crocodiles
Conrad Nkutu said even after all these years the three gravediggers were terrified to tell their story.
But after reassurances, they explained how under armed guard they had collected Nkutu's corpse from a mortuary.
The corpse was clothed in a yellow shirt and underwear - but no trousers, which they thought unusual.
He was the last body to be buried in a mass grave, with five other men in trousers.
Grass was planted over the spot, which the men named "the troubled place".
At the exhumation in November, the yellow shirt had rotted, but the underwear was still visible and there was a black plastic bracelet - known as an entugga - on the left wrist.
"My mother exclaimed loudly when she saw it... he was never seen without it on," Mr Nkutu said.
Pathologists identified a gunshot wound to the skull, but after two months the family has been informed that DNA tests on the exhumed bones were inconclusive.
AMIN: MAIN EVENTS 1971: Amin seizes power in coup 1972: Expels Ugandan Asians 1976: Israel frees hostages in raid on Entebbe 1979: Amin ousted by Tanzanian troops and Ugandan exiles 2003: Dies in Saudi Arabia
"But because of the overwhelming circumstantial evidence, we are pretty sure it's our father," he said.
After Nkutu's disappearance, his niece and then first lady, Mama Mariamu, fled the country.
"My father was only one of seven former members of cabinet killed between 1972 and 1973," said Mr Nkutu, the managing director of Uganda's Monitor newspaper.
"I do feel aggrieved by the mass violation of human rights under Amin - who died a peaceful death and was able to preside over Uganda for eight whole years."
"But I think that what happened should strengthen the commitment for Ugandans and Africans to strive for better government and respect for human rights."
Amin murdered many thousands of real and perceived opponents during his rule, reportedly feasting on the bodies of some of his victims and throwing corpses to crocodiles.
In 1979 he fled to Libya, then Iraq, before finally settling in Saudi Arabia, where he stayed until his death two years ago.