“I was deported, divorced, have four kids in three women,” Tooro’s rival ‘King’ David Kijjanangoma told Red Pepper’s Ben Byarabaha in an exclusive interview.
After several calls from Andrew Irumba, the right hand man of Tooro’s Kingdom ‘claimant king’, David Kijjanangoma, I decided to the meet the prince on Martyrs day.
A five minute drive led me to Family Spot, a small hotel located in Najjera, 15 Kms off Kampala city. The driveway leading up to the hotel is one way, too tinny and cracked.
The Hotel was dead silent except for the intermittent creaks and moans. I gazed around and next was ‘the king’ I had set out to meet. I was ushered into the room and the interview kicked off.
RP: Who Is David George KIJJAnangoma? Tell us about yourself
KIJJA: I am a prince from Tooro Kingdom and a son to Prince Christopher Paul Kijjanangoma. I am a grandson to Sir George Rukidi III and great grandson of King Kyebambe Kasagama of Tooro. I am a mubiito just as the whole of my father’s lineage and I take blood from my mother’s clan as well, she’s a Mwitira.
RP: What’s Your Education Background?
KIJJA: I spent some of my childhood in Fort portal and went to Kabarole Primary School. I then left fort portal and came to Kampala to join secondary school at Kololo SSS and in 1990, I left Uganda and went to USA to study business communications in California State. I then finished my studies there and went to Texas where I also did a certificate in Legal studies and marketing.
RP: Working And Career
Then I started working. That was in 1995 and my first job was with American airlines, I did reservations. I worked there for two years and then worked with AT and T, a telecom company for three years. From then, I got a more permanent job with DHL global forwarding in Texas where I worked as an account analyst for international affairs.
On top of that I was in other community leadership roles like the Ugandan North American association, it’s called UNAA and its an organization that unites Ugandans who are in America. Even before starting to work there, I was the youngest publicity secretary of UNAA Dallas.
During that time, I had opportunity to host HE Yoweri Museveni when he visited Texas. This was in 1994 when he visited Texas to promote trade. My efforts were later appreciated, I was promoted to executive secretary and this was in 1996. I held the position for two years and in 1999, I became the vice president of UNAA for Dallas chapter and I held that position till 2004. From there I didn’t stand again but remained a member. I was one of the people who mobilized walk for Gulu because at that time there were problems in Gulu of the child soldiers and we were working with US senators.
I have also been an activist against domestic violence and when I came back to Uganda, I continued writing as a free lancer even for Red Pepper. At one time I recommended the IGP Kale Kayihura to be the man of the year because of fighting for children’s rights.
RP: When did you come back to Uganda?
KIJJA: I came back to Uganda in 2007 December.
RP: How did you leave America?
KIJJA: I was actually removed from there (deported) because of over staying. I over stayed my VISA.
RP: You came back to Uganda in 2007 but you have just come up? Why?
I have always loved my culture and heritage and kingdom’s wellbeing has always been one of my biggest concerns. Even before I left the country, Tooro was always at heart.
I was born when the monarchs had been abolished but when they reinstated the kingdoms in Uganda, I was not in Uganda but I had the hope that one day when I came back, I would enjoy the culture and for the mere fact that I was a royal and part of the Kingdom, but unfortunately, the kingdom I envisioned and the one that was from our fore fathers is not what I found when I returned. I realised things had gone wrong.
RP: What Had Gone Wrong?
We start with culture and heritage. The people of Tooro nolonger valued the kingdom because of the leadership in the kingdom. People had been isolated and sidelined to be part of their kingdom by the queen mother Best Kemigisa and her son, my cousin Oyo and other few people who were misguiding and mismanaging the institutions in the Kingdom of Tooro. When I came back, I started to hear about how residents were abused and how elders were being sidelined and isolated. Land was sold with no consultations.
RP: What prompted you to come up and claim Kingship of Tooro after all these years?
For someone to come up, save their kingdom, institutions, culture, kingdom properties, integrity, it was not only KIJJAnangoma’s ideas but Batooro ideas. We have had problems in this kingdom for many years and now it’s time to fight for a change.
RP: When you talk about Batooro ideas, what do you mean?
Because even Oyo is a mutooro and so is the queen mother
When I talk about Batooro ideas, what I mean is respecting our culture which has been abused by the selfishness of the queen mother and King Oyo. Yes I know they are Batooro but the things that they are doing do not identify them with batooro’s interests. They have sold land that belongs to the Batooro and by this I don’t mean individual people’s land but land that belongs to the kingdom. There is land that belongs to the queen mother and also and that belongs to the king, however, these people have gone ahead and sold kingdom land. They have taken over kingdom land and personalized it and this is not good. We realised that if we don’t do something, we will not have anything left for the kingdom of Tooro.
RP: How does king Oyo or the queen mother sell this land without consulting the government?
Actually, the queen mother makes decisions in Tooro kingdom. The prime minister has no say in Tooro issues and neither does the king. The prime minister cannot make any decision without consulting Kemigisa. If she says the prime minister or land board chairman should be fired, he will be fired. She created an image of a person who governs everything of Tooro kingdom and acts like she has the kingdom in her own hands.
RP: Isn’t there a descent procedure of handling these issues?
Actually I am not imposing anything on Tooro. My being among people who qualify to be king of Tooro, based on the constitution of Tooro and Ugandan constitution, and also basing on the lineage of succession of the kingdom. But when my grandfather sir George Rukidi wrote his will in 1950 and he was the first king of Tooro to write a will because no one had done it previously. He had four princes in the line of succession at that time. The princes were Patrick Kaboyo who is Oyo’s late father , my father Kijjanangoma who passed away, Jimmy Mugenyi, Steven Karamagi.
It stated that should any king be incompetent or die, then another prince was allowed to take over. Therefore Kaboyo became king not because he was put in the will and so I still believe even if Oyo took over from him, I also have rights to be king to the Tooro throne.
RP: Where are you basing all this?
KIJJA: I am basing everything on everything Oyo has done and is still doing.
RP: Is that Will you are talking about a legal document?
KIJJA: It is not only about what is in the Will but also the will of the people of Tooro.
RP: The will of the people may be an illegality?
KIJJA: Please not that the law goes with the constitution and the Kingdom constitution says that it’s the people’s choice to have a certain king or not as long as he is from the Babiito clan and also from the descendants of Kaboyo Olimi 1 . I have the rights to be the king of the people of Tooro.
RP: What does the constitution of Uganda say?
KIJJA: The constitution of Uganda says that kingship is based on what the people of a particular kingdom want and their say as long as that person is coming from the royal family. The constitution gives people the right to choose their own cultural leader or to choose not to have a leader at all. As of now, the majority of the people of Tooro have made their decision and have lost all faith in their current King.
RP: When you say the people of Tooro, what do you mean? Who are those people that can make you a king?
KIJJA: The people that can make me a king are the Babiito themselves. They have to choose a person that they feel is capable of leading them. Once the clan has done so, then they can involve the consent of the whole kingdom. If the majority of the people of Tooro agree on that person, then that person qualifies to be a cultural leader. This all starts with the Babiito.
RP: What does the Babiito got to do in order to make you a king?
KIJJA: The Babiito have to support me and secondly all the other clan heads of Tooro kingdom, elders of Tooro, and the minister of culture and gender and finally the president. They all denounced king Oyo because of incompetence and backed me as the leader they want.
RP: So has that petition been endorsed?
KIJJA: Yes it has been endorsed and has more than 500 signatures from the Babiito clan. Actually even Irumba has a copy. It was handed over to the clan council of Tooro Kingdom and they are making their resolutions. It was also given to Tooro elders and they have even invited me for a discussion though they also invited King Oyo. They are basing on that to make their resolutions as well.
RP: Have you gotten any kind of response from the president?
KIJJA: Yes I got response from the president. He is coming to talk to me at the end of this month as well as the Babiito clan members and the elders of Tooro. It is going to be the weekend of 26-28th this month of June. The place of visitation hasn’t been established yet but it is within Fort portal.
RP: Is he coming to your palace?
KIJJA: I am not aware if he is coming to my parents or if he is going to see me personally.
RP: Are you aware Museveni Is a guardian of King Oyo?
KIJJA: Yes I am aware of that. But I am sure he also knows the failures of King Oyo.
rp: Don’t you think that the failures of King Oyo could also be as a result of Museveni not guiding the King to the right direction since he is his guardian?
KIJJA: I am aware of that but remember King Oyo in his upbringing was isolated from all these guardians for example the Kabaka is one of the guardians, Museveni is one of them and other Batooro but they were eliminated and disrespected. They became disgruntled. He knows the problems of Tooro, not individual problem of Oyo or the queen mother Best. What he sees is not what happens there in Tooro. And he has been misinformed but now that we are meeting him, all these can be put to table. But all in all, the will to have a change belongs to the people of Tooro.
RP: How old are you?
I am 48 years old
RP: Aren’t you ashamed at your age to fight a young king?
KIJJA: I am actually not fighting Oyo, I am fighting to bring back sanity and togetherness in Tooro. No one can sit and let a child destroy everything you have worked for even if it is your own son.
RP; Who funds your activities?
KIJJA: My funding comes from the Batooro people who see value in what I am trying to do. Most Batooro had decided to ignore the rot in the kingdom but since I came in, they have come up to support me to make sure the kingdom is put in order.
RP: There are rumours that the KIJJAnangoma group is funded by Amama Mbabazi. That your spokesperson is a confessed Mbabazi supporter
KIJJA: I would like to make it clear that Mbabazi has actually been visiting Oyo at Buziga. He has not visited me . My camp is comprised of people who are supporters of different political parties. We are not brought together by politics but our goal is to restore our Kingdom and bring it back to its feet.
RP: So you are insinuating that Mbabazi is actually closer to Oyo?
KIJJA: What I know is Mbabazi has been a close friend of Oyo’s and was hosted by the Kingdom when he came to Fortportal in 2013 and last year. He even left money amounting to Shs30m.
RP: Your brother was shot dead because of Kingdom issues, what makes you want to take the same route?
KIJJA: My father was shot because of kingdom issues and some of the reasons am concerned about are the very things he was against. He also wanted to protect and revive the kingdom and its properties. We can’t all live in fear of death because of the past. My father’s death was not only caused by Katuramu.
RP: Have you visited Katuramu in prison?
KIJJA: Yes I have visited him several times and our families even reconciled
RP: Do you want him to come out of prison?
KIJJA: Yes of course, at one point, every person who has confessed and reconciled deserves another chance and opportunity in life. One thing that kills us is hatred; you can’t hate a person for 10-15 years. He did a crime but confessed and apologized. The family reconciled, he deserves forgiveness. Even a person who has been rehabilitated can come and add value. He has a lot to do if he came back. I truly believe he can be useful to Ugandan society.
RP: Basing on that background, can I conclude that Katuramu is financing your activities?
Actually he is not. First of all Katuramu has never had any problem with Oyo, that should be noted. He has never tried to interfere in our matters. Even in his radio we pay for our programmes. The first time I heard about that was from my aunt who is good at speculating especially ever since my brother was killed. She is still hurt but speculations don’t help us. But who hasn’t done that. Even Bagaya has ever killed! Killing doesn’t have to be murder. Thoughts towards people, jealousy, envy, backstabbing, betrayal etc kill. My brother was killed and I was hurt and had to go through counseling. No one should tell you that a neighbor loses a kid and you feel more pain than him
RP: You said you are being supported by the Babiito and Princess Bagaya is one?
KIJJA: Bagaya cannot make decisions for the kingdom but I have support from people like Karamagi. You have to understand that the kingdom is not only made up of the Babiito and therefore I have support from many other people who are not particularly Babiito.
RP: How are we prepared for the coronation?
KIJJA: I am organizing a launch for that day and on December23, we’re going to be in Tooro at the coronation.
RP: Have you been cleared by Government to hold coronation ceremonies?
KIJJA: Coronation I don’t need to be cleared by the government. On 23rd December, we shall have King Oyo Removed from the throne. Even if Oyo had a friendship with Gadaffi, the late Gadaffi did a lot but for the kingdom of Tooro, not individuals. Best found me in Tooro and she will leave me there.
RP: Are you looking at a situation where that function of yours maybe disorgnised or disrupted?
KIJJA: I don’t think so because I have freedom and have been allowed by the people.
RP: Are you married?
KJJA: I was married and divorced. I had two daughters in that marriage and other two kids. So I have four children.
RP: In case you are made king, the kingdom will need a queen, won’t you remarry?
KIJJA; There is a time for everything. I know when that time comes; Tooro kingdom will have a queen.
RP: When will that be?
KIJJA: I can’t tell you exactly when because that’s entirely God’s plan but once there is a coronation, then obviously there has to be queen. Maybe next year I can consider remarrying but I am sure not this year.
RP: Are you seeing someone now?
KIJJA: Of course I am seeing someone now and that is why I am sure I can always marry if I want.
RP: What’s her name?
KIJJA: That one I cannot disclose (laughs)
RP: We have seen reports in tabloids that you’re a womanizer, drunkard!!
KIJJA: Well, drinking I do but ofcourse not like they exaggerate. People write all they want to write but some of those things hold not even a grain of truth. What I know is that the people of Tooro believe in me and see better things in me that surpass these lies of me being a womanizer.
RP: What happened with your marriage?
KIJJA: Well, those are a bit private but she divorced me because she didn’t want to stay in Uganda and I was here. This is my home but wasn’t her home. She was Congolese but was born in Belgium. I came back to Uganda in 2007 and we divorced in 2013. Being divorced doesn’t mean I cannot handle matters of my kingdom. What matters is can I do the duties assigned to me as a king?
RP: What exactly happened to your relationship?
KIJJA: In fact when I was deported, she refused to come to Uganda. You know issues of deportation. Infact she is the one who divorced me.
RP: So where are the kids?
KIJJA: Two of the kids are here in Uganda while the other two are in the west.
RP: So you have four kids from two mothers?
KIJJA: No, they are from three women. The one I am seeing has one, the divorced one has two and the other one is from a previous relationship.
RP: Divorced, deported and you want to be a king?
KIJJA: Failures in family don’t have anything to do with kingship. Many people have failed at family level but succeed somewhere else. I think am among those.