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Born under threat, walked barefoot to school: A look at Kabaka Mutebi’s childhood

Today, April 13, the Kingdom of Buganda is celebrating the 69th birthday of Kabaka Ronald Muwenda Metebi ii.

Young Ronald Muwenda Mutebi

On this occasion, we take a look back at the monarch's childhood from the strange circumstances of his birth, until his ascent to the throne.

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Born on this day in 1955, Mutebi found a less-than-ideal world: his father wallowing in exile in Europe, his kingdom without a ruler and in disarray.

Two years earlier on November 30 1953, King Mutesa II had been bundled on a British military plane and flown to London on the orders of Governor Andrew Cohen.

That was after the king refused to support the governor’s move to integrate Buganda into a larger East African federation. He wanted to retain Buganda's autonomy.

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In the autumn of 1954, Mutesa travelled from the UK to France for a holiday. There, he met Sarah Nalule, who had also travelled by train from Italy.

The two had been schoolmates at Buddo. King Mutesa had also earlier on married Nalule’s younger sister Damali Kisosonkole, where (Nalule) was in fact a matron at the wedding.

Meeting again in France, Nalule ended up pregnant with Mutebi. She and the king travelled back to London and stayed together for a while.

Mutesa told his friends at the time that he had a feeling he was to have a boy child. He even shopped blue clothes for the baby on the way. He also told his friends that he wanted this boy to be the next King although the Buganda Lukiiko always had the final say on the next king.

Mutesa later sent Nalule back to Kampala.

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In April 1955 when she was due, she wanted to give birth at Nakasero Hospital but kingdom officials warned her not to, because the hospital was under the control of the British colonialists who had severed ties with King Muteesa.

She was taken to Mulago Hospital instead, where she gave birth to Prince Ronald Muwenda Mutebi on April 13th.

King Mutesa did not get to see his son until he was 7 months old after Buganda Kingdom won a court case against Governor Cohen.

Childhood

Mutebi had an ordinary childhood living at the Bamunanika Palace with his mother. Often he came to the Mengo place as well.

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He went to Luwangula Primary School for his elementary education. It is reported that he used to walk to school every day although at times a kingdom official would ride him on a bicycle. He also walked barefoot to school.

The king supposedly wanted his son to have a true understanding of the people he was to rule over in the future.

Prince Mutebi however, had an armed guard at all times.

During holidays he had a British tutor who coached him in different subjects, mainly the English language.

From Luwangula, Mutebi studied briefly at Buddo Junior School and in 1965 he was taken to England where he resumed studies in Sussex.

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Only one year, later in 1966 he was joined by his father who had once again fled Uganda following the Kabaka Crisis.

Having left Uganda abruptly and unprepared, Mutesa struggled financially with no support from the British government. He passed away three years later in a flat that had been donated to him by friends. The king was buried by the British Military (where he had served) until his body was repatriated to Uganda in 1971 when Idi Amin took power.

Prince Mutebi after the burial went back to school in the UK and only came back briefly three years later for the burial of his mother who succumbed to throat cancer in 1974.

The return of Obote as President in 1980 meant that Mutebi could not come back home, and had to wait until he was overthrown by the ruling NRM government.

Mutebi was proclaimed King of Buganda On 31 July 1993 at Buddo upon the restoration of the Ugandan Kingdoms.

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Email: news@pulse.ug

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