June 20, 2013

Ankole Kingdom Property Rots away

The dilapidated Ankole kingdom palace in Kamukuzi Mbarara municipality
The dilapidated Ankole kingdom palace in Kamukuzi Mbarara municipality

Loyalists of the defunct Ankole Kingdom are bitter over the failure by government to protect the Kingdom properties. They claim that the Kingdom properties, which are meant to be a symbol of their cultural heritage are in ruins. Ankole Kingdom properties were taken over by government in 1967 after the Milton Obote, the then president abolished monarchs. Despite restoring cultural institutions in 1993, the NRM government blocked the restoration of Ankole Kingdom. As a result, its properties such as land, cultural sites, administration block and regalia remained under the care of Government.

Princess Rosemary Kirungyi, a member of the Ankole royal family says the King’s palace at Kamukuzi hill in Mbarara district has completely been vandalized. She explains that part of the palace has been turned into a garden while remaining land is occupied by telecommunication masts. Amon Kafureka, a neighbor to the dilapidated kingdom headquarters says that recently unidentified people started excavating murram from there. He says that the uncontrolled human activities in the area have led to the destruction offauna and Flora, which they used to enjoy at the hill.

Ankole Kingdom officials have unsuccessfully been pushing to have the Banyankole cultural heritage recognized as a historic tourist site by United Nation Educational, scientific and cultural organization-UNESCO. Justus Muhanguzi, the public relations officer Ankole cultural trust foundation, an organization agitating for the restoration of the kingdom accuses Mbarara District administration for authorizing institutions and individuals to carry out activities on the land.

David Lubuuka, the Mbarara Chief Administrative Officer says that the district is not involved in the management of the kingdom property. Princess Rosemary Kirungyi recently petitioned Kale Kayihura, the Inspector General of Police to intervene in the management of the Kingdom property. Poly Namaye, the Rwizi regional police spokesperson says that they have started investigating vandalism and illegal sale of kingdom properties.

The Ankole palace refered to as “Mugaba” was also used as official residence of the ‘Omugabe’.

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