If Daudi Kintu Mutekanga and Semeyi Kakungulu rose from the dead today they would find the Busoga kingdom they laboured so had to make a centre of excellence in Uganda having taken a completely different trajectory from what they wanted it to be. Busoga is no long the bastion of coffee and cotton growing they had envisaged.
Once a giant in education Busoga is now a shadow of its past. Healthwise, Busoga is still bothered by rats (although plague is a thing of the past), malaria-causing mosquitoes, tsetse flies, jiggers, and worms.
Kintu Mutekanga was the son of Igaga of the Musubo clan and the red small bird totem. He was sent by his father, Igaga, to work in Chief Gabula’s courtyard. While there, he acquired knowledge of the art of governance and administration. He was a trader who dealt in simple agricultural implements, clothes, beads, tobacco and also bought cattle from Bukedi through barter trade.
The trade also involved exchange of goats’ hides and skins with hoes from European and Indian traders, which he then sold in Buganda. In 1927, he acquired Naminage estate near Kamuli from the Indian proprietor, Nanji Kalidas Mehta. This was aimed at expanding his farming activities and also preparing for retirement. By the time he became a muluka (parish chief), he had become wealthy, a factor which exposed him as a potential leader.
In 1906, Mutekanga became a subcounty chief of Gombolola Mutuba I Nabiwigulu, Kamuli. It was during this time that he was baptised and became known as “Daudi” (David) at Kamuli Church.
Following the departure of Kasibante from Buganda as Katikiiro (Prime Minister) to Nadiope, Mutekanga was appointed Katikiiro in 1911. Two years later, Nadiope died and was succeeded by his three-year-old son, William Wilberforce Bwamiki Kadhumbula. At the same time, Mutekanga was appointed by the Saza (county) Lukiiko (Council) to act as Kadhumbula’s regent from January 9, 1913, a position he held until January 20, 1933. Mutekanga constructed a number of buildings at Balawoli, Kidera, Naminage and Kamuli, which he let out to Asians shopkeepers.
Mutekanga bought land from Prince Badru Kakungulu in Kibuli, which was subsequently developed by one of his sons and a grandson. In addition, he owned lorries and a car with which he conducted a transport business. As if this was not enough for him, Mutekanga also owned canoes for fishing and ferrying people across the River Nile to and from the Buganda shores.
Mutekanga’s story is a lesson in diversifying sources of incomes. But we also learn a lot from him in terms of administrative development. He emerged to be one of Busoga’s great administrators. In this capacity he was one of the earliest administrative pillars of colonial Busoga who toiled to see that Busoga College, Mwiri, became the pivot of education in Busoga district. He lived in times when education was not something society was keen on, yet he carried the gospel of the book and ink.
He is remembered by generations of Basoga as an icon in matters of education in Basoga. He was a man of action, not words. He spearheaded the construction of Kamuli High School, which developed and was transferred to Mwiri Hill as Busoga College, Mwiri.
“Mutekanga valued education and apart from the infrastructural contribution, he ensured that all his children went to school,” says Prof David Bakibinga, the former Deputy Vice-chancellor of Makerere University and one of the recipients of Mutekanga’s legacy when it comes to educational lineage.
Apparently, Mutekanga was an early convert to Christianity and throughout his life he was a God-fearing man. His love for religion spurred him to construct Naminage and Kamuli (Bukwenge) churches, according to David Justin Bakibinga.
Mutekanga is also associated with early struggles to make the peasants, especially in Bugabula chiefdom, healthy in their own environment. In the early 1920s Bugabula was rat-infested and highly prone to plague. Mutekanga played a critical role in fighting the plague which was then called Kawumpuli. He worked closely with the white health officers, mobilising the people to construct proper stores and rat-proof buildings at each Gombolola (subcounty) headquarters.
According to David Justin Bakibinga, this supplemented granary built on poles which Mutekanga recommended that they were not more than three feet high.
Mutekanga also battled the problems of venereal diseases, which were causing blindness and adultery. “Heavy sanctions were imposed to curb the disease,” Bakibinga states. Not only this. Mutekanga was involved in fighting jiggers in different parts of Busoga.
Mutekanga mobilised people at local levels to help combat health epidemics in Busoga. Bakibinga records that it was Mutekanga who implemented the construction of the maternity home at Kamuli in 1921. The colonial administration later closed the maternity home in 1925, claiming it was not effectively utilised due to the small number of patients. Mutekanga’s initiative was aimed at improving maternal healthcare, which is still relevant today as one of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
Mutekanga loved seeing roads in Bugabula chiefdom passable. “Mutekanga’s campaign to maintain roads was so persistent that the roads around Kamuli had progressed from “rocky” in 1921 to “excellent” in 1929 based on the assessment of the colonial administration,” writes Bakibinga.
“Every Monday, the roads, particularly the one leading to the council (lukiiko) house, were swept. Trees were also planted on the road sides. The roads between Kamuli and Kakindu and from Ndolwa to Namasagali were renovated so that they could be used by lorries to transport cotton”, adds Bakibinga.
Mutekanga was multidimensional in his efforts to transform Busoga. He implemented the colonial government campaign to grow cotton, which increased the income for farmers. The period of 1918-1927 was noted for its lack of food and famine.
Writes Bakibinga, “There was a big campaign by the colonial administration urging people to plant and conserve food. People were urged to construct granaries in their homesteads to preserve food,” Mutekanga implemented the construction of rain-proofed granaries at each Gombolola (sub-county) headquarters to provide relief supplies in the event of subsequent famines”.
According to Bakibinga, Mutekanga fought for the health, wealth and welfare of the Basoga with projects such as the campaign to grow rice as a supplement to cotton, millet, maize and banana plantain (matooke). Each Gombolola (subcounty) was also encouraged to cultivate an acre each of Musambya trees to be used to construct public buildings.
Mutekanga was overly disciplinarian in his administration. He ensured that Gombolola chiefs did not abuse their authority, especially in relation to the imposition of fines.
“He insisted that such cases be handled by the subcounty court. He also dealt with issues of absenteeism by Gombolola and Bwesengeze chiefs from the Ssaza Lukiiko (county council). In cases of disobedience or insubordination, which were referred to the Ssaza Lukiiko or district officer, as the case required, the chiefs would be reprimanded, fined or dismissed,” Bakibinga states.
Above all, Mutekanga was very committed to Kyabazinga. Sir William Wilberforce Nadiope was the Kyabazinga of Busoga at the time of Uganda’s political independence and the first vice-president of Uganda (1963-1966) while Sir Edward Mutesa II was the president. Before he became chief of Bugabula, Mutekanga became Nadiope’s regent.
He took care of the personal, administrative and political affairs of the young chief and served as chief of Bugabula county for 20 years.
“By looking after Nadiope’s personal property, Mutekanga was, in legal parlance, a trustee for the young chief”, writes David Justin Bakibinga. As the regent, for Kadhumbula Nadiope, he had to take full responsibility of bringing him up in chiefly manner, and also to ensure that he was adequately educated. He sent Nadiope for his education to Kamuli High School, then to Mengo High School. In 1924 he sent him, together with his elder sons, to England to study at the Loughborough College in Leicestershire.
Nadiope returned to Bugabula in 1929 and worked under the supervision of Mutekanga as chief until 1933 when Mutekanga retired from the British colonial service. He later became Kyabazinga of Busoga, but he did not reign for long before he left for Burma to fight on the side of Great Britain during Second World War.
When he came back, Wako Zibondo had maneuvered so that his son, Wako Muloki became Kyabazinga. But at the end of the 1940s Nadiope became Kyabazinga again, only to be replaced by Wako Muloki again throughout the 1950s. Towards independence of Uganda, Nadiope became Kyabazinga again. He reigned until 1966 when Apollo Milton Obote abolished Kingdoms and the semi-kingdom of Busoga.
Daudi Kintu Mutekanga was posthumously awarded the Sir William Wilberforce Gabula Kadhumbula Nadiope IV Medal by the Kyabazinga wa Busoga in the Busoga Roll of Honours for his contributions to the development, transformation and progress of Busoga in education, health, agriculture, religion, administration and transport.
In summary, two men played critical rolls in the development, transformation of Busoga: Semeyi Kakungulu and Daudi Kintu Mutekanga.
Environmentally speaking, Busoga is no longer home to diversity of wildlife, including birds and big game such as lions, elephants, buffaloes, zebras, leopards, cheaters and eland. Most of Busoga’s once diverse tree species, such as mvule tree, are an insignificant component of the biocultural landscape the two men left behind.
River Nile has been greatly abused with big dams such Owen Falls dam, Bujagali dam, Isimba dam and Owen Falls Extension dam. Once a promising tourist destination, Busoga can longer boast of meaningful tourist attraction without the natural elements I have mentioned. The area has become the cradle of financial poverty, next only to Karamoja.
However, in terms of natural resources mineral wealth, Busoga is next to none in Uganda and the Great Lakes region. It is now known that its gold wealth superseded that of Democratic Republic of Congo.
Unfortunately, there is so much intellectual poverty in the area, that foreigners are likely to strategise to exploit the gold at the expense of Basoga.
Already, unscrupulous foreigners have been buying land from peasants that are sitting on gold reserves, so that they either steal the gold or seek compensation for the land in case government begins mining the gold.
- A Tell report / Opinion / By Prof Oweyegha-Afunaduula, a retired professor of political science and environment at Makerere University, Kampala, Uganda