Rwenzururu Kingdom Secrets Leak; Omusinga Is Retired ‘General’
The Bakonzo tribe and subjects of the Rwenzururu Kingdom right now find themselves victims of ‘persecution’ following last weekend’s attack on the palace and the July 5 2014 attacks that rocked the districts of Ntoroko, Bundibugyo and Kasese claiming the lives of close to 100 people.
Yesterday’s Deadly attacks saw over 50 royal guards were killed, 139 detained at Kasese Police Station and 14 police officers put out of action.
The July 2014 deadly attacks were a terrifying reminder of the Allied Democratic Forces rebel group that roamed the Rwenzori region until they were flushed out in the mid 2000s.
The days following the attacks, Rwenzururu Kingdom has been on the spot after Ugandan authorities linked the July 5 2014 attacks to the cultural institution.
RWENZURURU KINGDOM (OBUSINGA BWA RWENZURURU)
Rwenzururu Kingdom is located in the Rwenzori Mountain Region of the South Western part of Uganda and spans into the Democratic Republic of Congo among the Bakonzo /Banande, Bamba and Basumba people who dwell in the mountain region. ABanya Rwenzururu (The people of Rwenzururu) The term Banyarwenzururu refers to the people of Rwenzururu (Rwenzori Mountains). Banyarwenzururu also means the mountain covered with snow, which was mistakenly re-named by explorer H.M, Stanely as Ruwenzori – the Mountains of the Moon.
The Rwenzururu Kingdom is a monarchy of the inhabitants of and people descending from the Rwenzori Mountains. The Bakonzo/Banande, Bamba and Basumba are ethnic groups that originally lived and still live on and around the Rwenzururu Mountains. Currently, the Bakonzo alone are about 6,000,000 people with an estimated 1,000,000 on the Ugandan side of the Mountain and 5,000,000 on the Democratic Republic of Congo side and are more commonly known as Banande.
Both the Bakonzo and Banande belong to the Bayira community, a Bantu speaking people. On the Ugandan side the Bakonzo occupy the Rwenzururu Mountains cut across the District of Kasese, Kabarole and Bundibugyo. Those in Congo are found in North Kivu province with Butembo and Beni as their major towns. The Bamba who are sub-divided into Babwisi, Babutoku, Vonoma and Babila predominantly occupy the plains of Bundibugyo district.
His Majesty Charles Wesley Mumbere Iremangoma is the current Omusinga of Rwenzururu Kingdom.
WHO IS OMUSINGA MUMBERE
Charles Wesley Mumbere was born in 1953 to Isaya Mukirania Kibanzanga and Nyamukama Christine Mukirania.
He is married to Agnes Ithungu Asiimawe, the Naybaghole (Queen) of Rwenzururu Kingdom and together they have three children.
Omusinga Mumbere however has another child from a previous relationship.
He is a brother to Christopher Kibanzanga, the former Busongora south Member of Parliament.
In 1984, at age 30, he enrolled in business school, in the US two years after surrendering to then Apollo Milton Obote government.
He obtained political asylum in the United States in 1987, received nurse’s aide training, and began working in a nursing home near Washington, D.C.
MUMBERE’S LIFE IN EXILE
Mumbere arrived in the US in 1984 and attended a business school until his stipend was stopped amid political upheaval in Uganda that saw Apollo Milton Obote’s government overthrown.
In 1987, he gained political asylum, trained as a nurse’s aide and took a job in a suburban Washington nursing home to pay his bills.
In 1999, he moved to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania’s capital, where he worked for at least two health care facilities.
He was “very loyal, a very hard worker, a very private person,” said Johnna Marx, executive director of the Golden Living Center-Blue Ridge Mountain on the outskirts of Harrisburg.
During the nine years that Mumbere made his living in Harrisburg — bathing and dressing the sick and elderly, helping them eat, pushing their wheelchairs — he kept his background a secret.
HOW MUMBERE BECAME KING
Bakonzo and Bamba ethnic groups belonged to Tooro Kingdom and were regarded as batoro even though they had distinct cultural practices and spoke a different language.
Rwenzururu Kingdom was established in the 1962 as the result of a secessionist movement by the Bakonzo people in the mountainous region of western Uganda.
This revolt was led by Mumbere’s father, Isaya Mukirania Kibanzanga, who was recognized as the region’s king.
He was a member of Tooro Kingdom’s Rukurato (Parliament) as a single representative for both the Bakonzo and Bamba.
The pleas of the two ethnic groups to have more equality in the Kingdom fell on deaf ears and this forced Mukirania to declare a secessionist rebellion against Tooro Kingdom.
Mukirania’s forces operated in the Rwenzori mountains where Bakonzo and Bamba are known to reside and he was fully installed King of Rwenzururu on 29th /30th June, 1965.
Mukirania died on 2nd September, 1966while leading the secessionist group in the Rwenzori Mountains and Mumbere took over leadership of the Rwenzururu Movement.
Mumbere inherited the title at age 13 following the death of his father, and assumed the position of king at age 18.
He was crowned Second King of Rwenzururu on 19th October, 1966.
However, in 1982, Mumbere led the fighters down from the mountains to hand in their weapons after a deal with the then Milton Obote government.
Mumbere went to the United States in 1984 on a Uganda government scholarship, attending a business school until Uganda’s leadership changed and the stipend was stopped. He gained political asylum in 1987.
He kept his royal title secret during most of his 25 years in the United States.
However, there was a now peaceful effort by Bakonzo to have their Kingdom recognized by government.
In June 2005, President Museveni appointed a Ministerial Commission to look into the issue surrounding of Rwenzururu Kingdom and its recognition.
This committee was headed by Rt Hon. Henry Muganwa Kajura – Second Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Minister of Public Service.
It was observed that 90% of the Bakonzo in Kasese District support Obusinga, 100% of the Bakonzo in Bundibugyo do support Obusinga Bwa Rwenzururu and a good number of Bamba support the institution. The Report recommended the restoration of the OBusinga Bwa Rwenzururu with Charles Mumbere Irema-Ngoma as the King of the same.
In October 2009, Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni announced government’s recognition of Obusinga Bwa Rwenzururu much to the jubilation of the Bakonzo who felt that finally God had answered their prayer- that they be recognized.
“It is a great moment to know that finally the central government has understood the demands of the Bakonzo people, who have been seeking very hard for recognition of their identity,” Mumbere said at the time.
OMUSINGA MUMBERE, THE RETIRED ‘GENERAL’
Following the arrest of his Prime Minister Noah Nzaghaleon allegations he knew something about the July 5 attacks, Omusinga Mumbere clad in military attire addressed the media.
His reason for turning up in military gear was that he had received information that he too was lined up for arrest and did not want to be roughed as a ‘civilian’ but as a soldier since it is his profession.
David Bradford Nguru, the Personal Assistant to the Omusinga says the fact that he led the Rwenzururu Movement that took on a military outlook makes him a soldier.
He only retired from the Rwenzururu armed force in 1982 when he led fis forces from the mountains and surrendered to the Obote government.
He adds that even though Omusinga Mumbere is no longer in combat, he can still refer to himself as a soldier because it is his profession just like any retired teacher would refer to him/herself as a teacher.