Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Uganda News Bulletin: Protesters Killed After Burning of Tombs of Buganda Kings

Protesters killed at Uganda tombs

At least two protesters have been shot dead by Ugandan police after they tried to stop the president from visiting the site of a fire at a royal mausoleum.

The protesters booed President Yoweri Museveni and set up a barricade to stop him from reaching the tombs at Kasubi.

The fire destroyed the tombs - a Unesco heritage site built in the 19th Century for kings of the Buganda region.

Supporters of Mr Museveni and Buganda's King Ronald Mutebi have been at loggerheads since riots last year.

They fell out after the king - whose role is largely ceremonial - accused the government of blocking him from visiting a part of his kingdom.

At least 20 people died in riots linked with that incident.

And angry protesters and royal advisers have said they believe the tomb fire might have been arson.

Police say they are investigating what caused the blaze.

Buganda official Medard Ssegona Lubega described the fire as the "second biggest tragedy" in the kingdom's history.

"There are many men of our fallen kings lie in this house, which is now down to ashes," he told the BBC's Network Africa.

"It is something that we have built and kept and maintained for our children and grandchildren and many generations unborn."

Buganda is the largest of Uganda's four ancient kingdoms.

They were abolished in 1966 but reinstated by Mr Museveni's government in 1993.

However, he restored them only as cultural institutions with no political power.

Supporters of King Ronald believe he should have more power and influence than Mr Museveni allows.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2010/03/17 13:35:03 GMT

Buganda’s royal tombs in Kasubi burnt

Publication date: Tuesday, 16th March, 2010

The world famous Kasubi Tombs burning last night

By vision reporters

KASUBI Tombs were last night burnt by fire, whose origin was not immediately established. The Police Fire Brigade rushed to the scene but its efforts to put out the raging fire at the traditional burial grounds of Buganda kings were disrupted by a crowd.

Eyewitnesses said the fire started from behind the huts. The main hut was completely destroyed as the surging crowd wailed in disbelief, hampering further the Police efforts to stop the inferno from spreading.

The Police said they could not tell the extent of the damage to the world famous heritage site since they were unable to access it, but it was clear that the huts were reduced to ash.

Situated on a hill within Kampala, the site is an active religious place in Buganda Kingdom.

As a burial ground for four kings, it is a religious centre for the royal family, a place where the Kabaka and his representatives frequently carry out important rituals.

It is also an outstanding example of traditional Ganda architecture and an exceptional testimony of the living Ganda traditions.

For Uganda, the site represents an important symbol of its history and culture. The tombs were listed as a UNESCO world heritage site in 2001.

The Baganda date their political civilisation back to the 13th Century AD. Their first Kabaka was Kintu. He is said to have come with his wife Nambi, whose hand he won by performing heroic deeds at the command of her father Gulu.

The first Kabaka to be buried at Kasubi tombs was Muteesa I, the 35th king.

Buganda’s kings built their palaces on strategic hills to control the major roads to the palace and find easy ways to escape in case of an invasion or rebellion.

Each Kabaka was buried at a separate site in a royal shrine to house his jaw bone, which was believed to contain his spirit.

Muteesa 1 was born around 1835 and was crowned in 1856. He established his palace at Kasubi in 1882, as did his father, Kabaka Suuna 11.

His son Daudi Chwa succeeded him in 1897. Chwa died in 1939 and he was also buried at Kasubi Tombs with his two predecessors.

Chwa was succeeded by his son Edward Muteesa 11. When Uganda attained independence from the British on October 9, 1962, Muteesa II became the constitutional president of Uganda.

However, Apollo Milton Obote stormed his palaces in May 1966 and forced him into exile in England. He died in 1969 in London and his remains were brought back and buried at Kasubi in 1971.

It is not known how the tombs will be rebuilt following the fire last night.

The Police were alerted about the fire at 8:50pm. However, attempts by the fire brigade to reach the site were hampered by a riotous crowd.

“We could not access the scene because of the rioters, so we could not save the tombs,” Simon Musoke, the chief fire officer, explained. Musoke said three fire trucks were damaged and a fire fighter injured by the rioters.

Details about the cause of the fire and the extent of the damage were scanty. Last evening, at least two military mambas were seen heading to the site.

Reported by Caroline Batenga, Steven Candia and Raymond Baguma

Kasubi Tombs Burnt To The Ground, Day Of Mourning

Posted on 17 March 2010

March 16, 2010 will be a day to remember for all future generations of Buganda; it will be a day of mourning. The much revered Kasubi tombs were burnt to the ground by unknown arsonists around 8:30 PM. According to eyewitness reports, the grand structure which housed the remains of four Buganda kings (Bassekabaka) and other members of the royal family, was set alight by people who intended to finish it. Interestingly, the two NRM government fire trucks which responded to the fire, turned out not to have any water , making them useless. This, combined with the fact that Uganda government security men tried to disperse the crowd of Baganda who tried to bring water in buckets, has left many of Kabaka’s subjects bitter.

Four Kabakas (Bassekabaka) are buried at Kasubi tombs, namely:

1. Muteesa I (1835-1884)

2. Basamula Mwanga II (1867-1903)

3. Daudi Chwa II (1896-1939)

4. Fredrick Walugembe Muteesa II (1924-1969)

Although there is no word yet on who set the sacred Baganda royal cemetery to fire a vast majority of Baganda lay the blame squarely on Uganda’s president Yoweri Museveni. Many point out that Mr. Museveni has laid siege on Buganda since 2009, putting travelling restrictions on Kabaka Mutebi, shooting dead over 30 Baganda who protested when the Kabaka was stopped from visiting Kayunga (Bugerere), closing Radio Buganda and persecuting many of the Kabaka’s officials.

Fatal shooting sparks riots at Makerere

Publication date: Tuesday, 16th March, 2010

Makerere students perched on a Police patrol truck carrying an empty coffin on Sir Apollo Kaggwa Road yesterday during a march against the killing of two colleagues

By Francis Kagolo, Andante
Okanya and B. Asiimwe
New Vision

MAKERERE University students, mainly from Kenya, yesterday rioted after their two colleagues were shot dead at a hostel on the main campus.

The shooting on Monday night took place amid disagreements between supporters of a Kenyan guild presidential candidate, John Kamau, and the NRM candidate, John Teira.

Ignatius Nyongesa, 24, and Brian Amoga, 21, both Kenyans, died when a security guard shot them in the chest.

Amoga was in his first year studying law, while Nyongesa was a third-year student of commerce with only two months to complete his course.

The incident occurred at 10:30pm at God is Able Hostel, situated in Makerere Kikoni, just on the edge of the main university campus.

Eyewitnesses said Richard Hafasha, a private security guard, fired one bullet which passed through Nyongesa’s chest and hit Amoga who was behind him. The bullet also hit a Ugandan student, Amon Mugezi, and got lodged in his neck. Mugezi is a third-year law student.

The bodies lay in a pool of blood for about an hour until other students in the hostel mobilised funds and hired a car that took them to Mulago Hospital. By press time, Mugezi was still in critical condition at the hospital’s intensive care unit.

Before the tragic incident, the nine guild presidential contenders had campaigned at a rally at Nsibirwa Hall in the university’s main campus. When the rally ended at 7:00pm, the contestants walked through various hostels seeking votes.

John Teira, the NRM candidate, camped in God is Able Hostel with dozens of his campaigning agents. They spent hours in the hostel, witnesses said.

As the group prepared to leave, they were confronted in the compound by Nyongesa, who is believed to belong to the camp of John Kamau, one of the two Kenyans in the guild race.

He reportedly tried to hit Teira with a bench when the group rejected his calls to leave the hostel.

A brief commotion ensued, which, according to eyewitnesses, compelled the guard to fire the bullet that hit the three students.

After the shooting, the security guard surrendered himself at Old Kampala Police station. He was later transferred to Wandegeya Police Station as investigations continue, according to Police spokesperson Judith Nabakooba.

Residents at the hostel said although the guard was not a regular drunkard, he was “very violent and harsh to students”.

“He used to lock the gate at 9:00pm. Whenever you returned beyond that, he would not open. He would instead abuse and threaten to shoot you,” a student said.

She added that whenever lectures ended late, they were forced to climb the gate. The shooting sparked a demonstration, dominated mostly by Kenyan students. The students smashed the hostel’s glass windows and by mid-day the place, that was under tight guard, had been vacated.

Carrying placards that urged the Government to probe the killings, the students marched from Kikoni through Sir Apollo Kaggwa Road to the main campus.

Julius Caesar Tusingwire, the officer in charge of Makerere Police Station, had earlier convinced the demonstrators not to turn violent. However, after an hour, more students joined in and the march became rowdy.

The protesters tore books of fellow students who were reluctant to join the demonstration.

Reports said about 10 male students entered the faculty of social sciences and pulled down a woman’s trousers, threatening to rape her for not taking part in the protest. She cried inconsolably and vanished after pulling up her trousers.

The rioters also broke pay-phone booths in front of the same faculty and went off with dozens of air time cards. They attempted to enter the main administration building where the vice-chancellor sits but Tusingwire ordered his Police officers to keep them at bay.

They burnt some trunks near Nkrumah Hall from where they invaded the university main library and ordered its closure.

At around 10:00am, a group attacked the carpenters at Wandegeya Kubbiri roundabout and took off with a coffin, claiming they wanted to bury their colleagues in the university’s Freedom Square.

However, the Police overpowered them and took the coffin back. Running battles then ensued between the Police and the students, with the rioters pelting Police officers with stones. Anti-riot Police, however, came in later and fired teargas, dispersing the crowd.

At around midday, some regrouped on Sir Apollo Kaggwa Road and the marram road leading to Kikoni, the scene of the murder.

They blocked both roads with stones and tree branches, forcing drivers from Bwaise to go back as business around Kikoni came to a standstill. Bodaboda riders had to pay money to pass at the roadsblocks.

They blocked the road for about an hour, until the anti-riot Police came in and fired teargas. By press time, the situation was normalising, although offices at the university remained closed.

Anti-riot and regular Police constables stood alert in all corners of the campus while plain-clothes detectives monitored the hostels.

An anti-terrorism Police squad monitored Wandegeya and the university. Top Police officers camped at the university to calm down the students. They included the deputy Police director in charge of operations, Grace Turyagumanawe, political commissar Asan Kasingye and Kampala south Police chief Moses Kafeero.

Prof. Tickodri Togboa, the university deputy vice-chancellor, said they were considering disarming all guards at the hostels and start engaging the Police to ensure security.

John Nzuve, the education attaché to the Kenyan embassy, also visited the university.

He said the embassy would co-operate with the bereaved families to transport the bodies to Kenya for burial.

The incident happened barely a week after a Kenyan student at Kampala International University stabbed to death her lover, also from Kenya.

A bloody trail over the years

By Chris Kiwawulo
Uganda New Vision  

The Monday shooting brings to five the number of students killed in politically-related circumstances since 2000.

On February 4, 2001, Alex Adigaremo, 20, was shot dead at the university by unknown assailants, days to the presidential elections. The murder sparked off violent protests.

In April 2005, several students were injured when guild elections degenerated into a fight between the supporters of the main candidates Jet Tumwebaze (NRM) and Maurice Kibalya (DP), turned the race into a fight. Tumwebaze’s supporters rejected Kibalya’s win. Tumwebaze’s group was accused of having guns. The dean of students, John Ekudu, blamed external forces. The anti-riot Police quelled the chaos.

In November 2005, Ibrahim Ssengendo, a 23-year-old first-year student of computer science, was shot dead and many injured when students rioted at the university over increased fees.

On April 2, 2007, students fought at the university’s Freedom Square during a rally. Supporters of the FDC candidate, Remi Mugagga, fought those of DP candidate Susan Abbo. Several students were injured. The Police and the university electoral commission called off the rally.

On April 4, 2007, a rally at Nkrumah Hall turned rowdy when supporters of the four leading contestants for the guild race fought each other. They were Susan Abbo (DP), Remi Mugagga (FDC), Andrew Tayebwa (independent) and Violet Acumo (NRM). Student Michael Asila was beaten into coma for allegedly attempting to disrupt the rally.

Simon Omoit, a second-year student of social sciences, was gun-butted in the abdomen after he allegedly provoked PGB soldiers as President Museveni visited Makerere to address a rally in 2006. Omoit and others were said to have flashed the FDC V-sign and hurled insults at the soldiers. Omoit died a year after later at Mulago due to multiple organ failure.

Past guild presidents
Robert Okware 2009/10 (DP)
Robert Rutaro 2008/9 (NRM)
Susan Abbo 2007/8 (DP)
Gerald Karuhanga 2006/7 (FDC)
Maurice Kibalya 2005/6 (DP)
Ronnie Mukasa 2004/5 (DP)
Yusuf Kiranda 2003/4 (JEEMA)
Dennis Okema 2002/3 (UPC)
Mukasa Mbidde 2001/2 (DP)
Asuman Basaalirwa 2000/1 (JEEMA)

Government to help restore Kasubi tombs

Ugandan Media Centre

Government will assist in the restoration of the vandalized Buganda Kingdom tombs at Kasubi in Kampala. The structure that houses some tombs of Buganda’s Kings was set ablaze last night by yet unknown people.

The announcement was made by President Yoweri Museveni this afternoon during an impromptu visit to the site where he directed for immediate investigations into the cause of the fire to establish whether it was deliberate arson or an act of God. He expressed disappointed that the scene had been interfered with.

“I am suspicious but I don’t know whether it was a deliberate act or an accident. Unfortunately these people have interfered with the scene of the crime because we would have been able to ascertain if it was intended arson. Government will see how it can assist in undoing the damage caused”, the President confirmed

Present were Presidential Adviser, Mr. Robert Sebunya, Buganda Transport Minister Mr. Kabuuza Mukasa and Rubaga LC3 Chairperson, Pastor Peter Ssematimba.

No comments: