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Kyabazinga coronation site faces encroachment



Construction. Houses that have been put up at the Kyabazinga coronation site at Mpumudde Hill. PHOTO BY DENIS EDEMA

Mpumudde Hill, a cultural and historical site widely regarded with reverence by elders and cultural leaders in Busoga sub-region, is where the current and former Kyabazingas were crowned.
It is also widely viewed by historians as the site where Omukama (king) Kabalega of Bunyoro breathed his last in 1923.
Located approximately four kilometres from Jinja Town, the hill overlooks Lake Victoria, Bugembe Cathedral and the Kyabazinga’s palace atop Igenge Hill.

Cognisant of the fact that coronation is crucial to kingship; it now appears more likely than ever that the future of this once revered hill hangs in balance. The site has been encroached on.
A recent visit to the site by Daily Monitor showed ongoing construction works as well as excavation of murram.
Unlike most tourism sites in the kingdom, Mpumudde Hill has no security personnel, giving the public unrestricted access.
Some residents have taken advantage of this to cultivate on its land.

Although the kingdom spokesperson, Mr Andrew Ntange, acknowledged that there are some encroachers on the historical site, he bemoaned a section of people in Busoga for their failure to value their heritage and culture.
“The kingdom under Kyabazinga William Nadiope Gabula IV has made it easy for people in Busoga to access any office regarding information about it but people have failed to utilise it,” Mr Ntange said during an interview recently.
“The kingdom has also instituted a team to verify the people who occupied this land. It is now the responsibility of the kingdom to ensure that it is conserved for future generations to know their origin,” he added.

Encroachers warned
Mr Ntange, who conceded that activities carried out around the hill have raised concern to the kingdom, warned that those who illegally acquired land on the hill would lose it.
“Houses around it are going to be demolished whether they (encroachers) like it or not,” he said.
On allegations that previous kingdom chiefs and administrators were behind the fracas of leasing and selling off kingdom property, Mr Ntange blamed what he referred to as ‘selfish individuals within the kingdom’ who think Busoga will not shine again.

“This is not about the past kingdom leadership; even in the current leadership, we have some individuals who are using their offices and positions to sell kingdom land. We shall use all means within the law to get back what belongs to Busoga kingdom,” he said.

The kingdom’s minister of tourism, Ms Hellen Namutamba, said the encroachment of the hill was tantamount to the annihilation of Basoga’s origin and culture.
“I think a lot of sensitisation about the hill needs to be done for the community to know about the importance of the hill. That is the hill, where Kyabazingaship begun, it is upon that hill that Omukama Kabalega rested that is why it bears the name, Mpumwiire meaning I have rested. It is this hill that binds the Basoga and Banyoro,” Ms Namutamba said.

She said the current leadership is working hard to solve the differences between leaders and the community regarding the site.
According to Mr David Kazungu, the chairperson of the Kamuli District Land Board, the encroachment shows signs of a weak kingdom.
“I do not see how people can encroach on say Bulange (the seat of Buganda Kingdom) or State House,” Mr Kazungu said.
Mr Julius Galisonga, a lawyer from Busoga, says the hill is not the first to be encroached on.

“If you recall, even Budo, where the Kabaka of Buganda was enthroned, was encroached on. It took a spirited effort to save it. For the Mpumuddde case, as a recognised cultural site, anyone purporting to acquire it does so at his or her own risk because there is a notice to all in form of common knowledge and history that this land is not saleable,” Mr Galisonga said.
“One cannot be a bona-fide purchaser for value without notice. As a kingdom, I know efforts will be made to reclaim the land because this is the very existence of the kingdom and the people of Busoga at stake,” he added.

Residents speak out
Mr Kenneth Kigongo, resident of Mpumudde, called for dialogue.
“All this greed is happening due to lack of sensitisation, disunity among the people of Busoga. This is one of the most treasured tourism sites, tracing the history of Busoga. It needs to be strongly protected from being misused,” Mr Kigongo said.
Mr Mathias Mutatyama, another resident, said many people in the region do not know the importance of the hill and cultural value.
“If this hill is not protected from encroachers, then people of Busoga will not have a story to tell the future generation. We need to own our culture by conserving it jealously,” he said.

History of Mpumudde hill
Omukama Kabalega of Bunyoro and Kabaka Mwanga of Buganda fought colonial occupation in the late 19th Century but the British captured them in 1899 in Dokolo. The two were then exiled to the Seychelles islands in the Indian Ocean where Mwanga died in 1903. Kabalega lived in captivity for a number of years and was later granted amnesty and permitted to go back home. On his way back to Bunyoro in 1923, he fell ill in Jinja due to fatigue from the long restless days and nights. On this fateful day, Kabalega and his servants went up Mpumudde Hill to rest before they would resume the trek. Unfortunately, Kabalega got weaker with each step and eventually decided to take a nap under a tree. This is when the hand of death struck – drawing the curtains to the life of a great warrior

Source: Daily Monitor


Breaking: Witness Radio and Partners to Launch Human Rights Monitoring, Documentation, and Advocacy Project Tomorrow.



By Witness Radio Team.

Witness Radio, in collaboration with Dan Church Aid (DCA) and the National Coalition for Human Rights Defenders (NCHRD), is set to launch the Monitoring, Documentation, and Advocacy for Human Rights in Uganda (MDA-HRU) project tomorrow, 22nd February 2024, at Kabalega Resort Hotel in Hoima District.

The project, funded by the European Union, aims to promote the protection and respect for human rights, and enable access to remedy where violations occur especially in the Mid-Western and Karamoja sub-regions where private sector actors are increasingly involved in land-based investments (LBIs) through improved documentation, and evidence-based advocacy.

The three-year project, which commenced in October 2023, focuses its activities in the Mid-Western sub-region, covering Bulisa, Hoima, Masindi, Kiryandongo, Kikuube, Kagadi, Kibale, and Mubende districts, and Karamoja sub-region, covering Moroto, Napak, Nakapiripirit, Amudat, Nabilatuk, Abim, Kaabong, Kotido, and Karenga districts.

The project targets individuals and groups at high risk of human rights violations, including Human Rights Defenders (HRDs) and Land and Environmental Defenders (LEDs). It also engages government duty bearers such as policymakers and implementers in relevant ministries and local governments, recognizing their crucial role in securing land and environmental rights. Additionally, the project involves officials from institutional duty bearers including the Uganda Human Rights Commission (UHRC), Equal Opportunities Commission, and courts, among others.

Representatives from the international community, faith leaders, and business actors are also included in the project’s scope, particularly those involved in land-based investments (LBIs) impacting the environment.

The project was initially launched in Moroto for the Karamoja region on the 19th of this month with the leadership of the National Coalition for Human Rights Defenders (NCHRD).

According to the project implementors,  the action is organized into four activity packages aimed at; enhancing the capacity and skills of Human Rights Defenders (HRDs) and Land and Environmental Defenders (LEDs) in monitoring, documentation, reporting (MDR), and protection, establishing and reinforcing reporting and documentation mechanisms for advocacy and demand for corporate and government accountability;  providing response and support to HRDs and marginalized communities; and lastly facilitating collaboration and multi-stakeholder engagements that link local and national issues to national and international frameworks and spaces.

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Kiryandongo leadership agree to partner with Witness Radio Uganda to end rampant forced land evictions in the district.



By Witness Radio team.

Kiryandongo district leaders have embraced Witness Radio’s collaboration with the Kiryandongo district aimed at ending the rampant violent and illegal land evictions that have significantly harmed the livelihoods of the local communities in the area.

The warm welcome was made at the dialogue organized by Witness Radio Uganda, Uganda’s leading land and environmental rights watchdog at the Kiryandongo district headquarters, intended to reflect on the plight of land and environmental rights defenders, local and indigenous communities and the role of responsible land-based investments in protecting people and the planet.

Speaking at the high-level dialogue, that was participated in by technical officers, policy implementers, religious leaders, leaders of project affected persons (PAPs), politicians, media, Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), and development partners that support land and environment rights as well as the Land Based Investments (LBIs) Companies in the Kiryandongo district, the leaders led by the District Local Council 5 Chairperson, Ms. Edith Aliguma Adyeri appreciated the efforts taken by Witness Radio organization to organize the dialogue meeting aimed at bringing together stakeholders to safeguard community land and environmental rights in order address the escalating vice of land grabbing in the area.

During the dialogue, participants shared harrowing accounts of the impacts of land evictions and environmental degradation, including tragic deaths, families torn asunder, young girls forced into marriage, a surge in teenage pregnancies, limited access to education, and significant environmental damage which have profoundly affected the lives of the local population in Kiryandongo.

Participants attending the dialogue.

In recent years, Kiryandongo district has been embroiled in violent land evictions orchestrated to accommodate multinational large-scale agriculture plantations and wealthy individuals leaving the poor marginalized.

According to various reports, including findings from Witness Radio’s 2020 research Land Grabs at a Gun Point, the forceful land acquisitions in Kiryandongo have significantly impacted the livelihoods of local communities. It is estimated that nearly 40,000 individuals have been displaced from their land to make room for land-based investments in the Kiryandongo district. However, leaders in the district also revealed in the dialogue that women and children are affected most.

The Kiryandongo Deputy Resident District Commissioner, Mr. Jonathan Akweteireho, emphasized that all offices within the Kiryandongo district are actively involved in addressing the prevalent land conflicts. He also extended a welcome to Witness Radio, acknowledging their collaborative efforts in tackling and resolving land and environmental issues in the district.

“Ladies and gentlemen, we all know that the land rights together with environmental rights have been violated in our district, but because we don’t know what our rights are, because we have not directly done what we could to safeguard our rights and now this is the time that Witness Radio has brought us together to safeguard our rights. I want to welcome you in Kiryandongo and be rest assured that we shall give you all the necessary support to help us manage these rampant cases,” Ms. Adyeri said in her remarks during the dialogue meeting.

The team leader at Witness Radio Uganda, Mr. Geoffrey Wokulira Ssebaggala expressed gratitude to the participants for their active involvement in the dialogue and revealed that Witness Radio’s objective is to find a holistic solution to the escalating land disputes in Kiryandongo district serving as an example to other districts.

“We are here to assist Kiryandongo district in attaining peace and stability because it stands as a hotspot for land grabbers in Uganda. Mismanagement of land conflicts in Uganda could potentially lead to a significant internal conflict. Everywhere you turn, voices are lamenting the loss of their land and property. Kiryandongo, abundant with ranches, suffers from a lack of a structured framework, which amplifies these land conflicts. The influx of wealthy investors further complicates the situation,” Mr. Ssebaggala disclosed.

Within the dialogue, Mr. Ssebaggala emphasized the need for the Kiryandongo district council to pass a by-law aimed at curbing land evictions as an initial step in addressing the prevalent land injustices.

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Kiryandongo authorities decry rising cases of land disputes



The LC5 chairperson of Kiryandongo, Ms Edith Aliguma Adyeri, has saidnland dispute has impacted on people’s lives, dignity and children’s education in the district.

Just like other parts of Uganda, conflicts over land in Kiryandongo arise when individuals – who often are blood relatives – compete for use of the same parcel of land or when members of the community lay claim over ownership of unutilised government land.

Ms Adyeri further said land and environmental rights affect people both directly and indirectly, “and we are not hearing it from afar. It is already together with us [here], it has already affected us!”

She was speaking at a meeting which sought to discuss alternative remedies to salvage the appalling land and environmental rights situation in Kiryandongo at the district headquarters on Thursday.

The one-day dialogue was aimed at reflecting on the plight of land and environmental rights defenders, local and indigenous communities and the role of responsible land-based investments in protecting people and the planet.

It was attended by private companies, members of civil society and local government officials and organised by Witness Radio – an advocate for land and environmental rights in Uganda – in partnership with Oxfam, and Kiryandongo District leadership.

“Some people have even died, families are broken up, and brothers are not seeing eye-to-eye because of land rights. Access to justice is equally becoming very difficult because when you hire one lawyer that
lawyer will talk to learned friends, and they agree. They leave you in suspense,” Ms Adyeri said.

According to her, some children have not accessed education because of land and environmental rights.

Mr Jonathan Akweteireho, the deputy Resident District Commissioner of Kiryandongo, said enlightened people especially should be sensitive to the historical injustice of this area.

“We can never handle the Bonyoro land question without thinking about that history. It will be an injustice to the incomers, to the government and to the leaders who don’t understand,” he said.

“We had 38 ranches here which on the guidance of these international organisations, especially the World Bank, the government restructured them, allowing people to settle there, they were never given titles and up to today, there are big problems in all those ranches,” he added.

Mr Jeff Wokulira Ssebaggala, the executive director of Witness Radio, said that a well-functional land sector supports land users or holders and investors, reduces inefficiencies and provides mechanisms to resolve land disputes.

Mr David Kyategeka, the secretary to the Kiryandongo District Land Board, said the issue of land rights is very clear but the major challenge has been sensitising the locals to know what rights he or she expects to enjoy out of this very important resource.


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