After six months of fracas surrounding the election of the new Bugisu Cultural leader (Umukuuka), the cultural institution finally sat and elected the new leader; John Amram Wagabalile who will succeed Sir Bob Mushikori whose tenure expired on November 15.
Wagabyalile becomes the third Umukuuka after garnering 35 votes, defeating his two competitors; Gregory Gidagui Mafabi and Patrick Mazina Wamakuyu, who scored two and one votes respectively.
Delegates from 26 clans on Friday converged at the Inzu Ya Masaaba headquarters in Mbale to vote their leader who will lead the Bamasaba in the districts of Mbale, Manafwa, Bududa, Namisindwa, Sironko, Bulambuli and the Bamasaba Bugisu chapter in Kenya.
Unlike other tribes like Baganda, whose leadership is hereditary, in Bugisu the position is competitive and attained through polls with leader chosen from the over 50 clans which originate from the three sons of Masaaba, who is believed to be the first Mugisu.
These are Wanale majorly from Mbale district, Mubuya from Bududa, Manafwa and Namisindwa and Mwambu from Sironko district.
Since the restoration of the cultural institutions, Bugisu has been ruled by two leaders; Wilson Waasa Wamimbi originating from Wanale and Sir Bob Mushikori from the Mubuya.
Wagabyalile’s election confirms that Jude Mike Mudoma who was elected and sworn-in by a parallel faction led by the current Inzu Ya Masaaba Speaker, Nelson Wedaira is an ‘Impostor’
On August 8, a section of 49 clans led by the current Wedaira met at Bungokho-Mutoto and voted Mudoma as the new king following an expiry of the incumbent Mushikori on November 15.
33 out of 49 heads of different Bamasaba clans who participated in the polls approved Mudoma as the new Umukuka.
His election however was dismissed by the incumbent leadership who termed it unlawful.
After his swearing on Saturday November 21 where Mushikori and the entire incumbent management did not attend, Wepondi has on Tuesday this week declared Mudoma as an unlawful Umukuka.
“This is to notify the general public that the office of the Secretary General, Inzu Ya Masaaba which is charged with the Constitutional mandate under the Inzu Ya Masaaba Constitutional to (among others) oversee and supervise the election and installation of Uwelukoosi Umukuuka/Umukhukhu we Bamasaaba was not aware of and didn’t participate in the ceremony that took place on 21st day of November 2020 at Mbale Sports Club Bar puppoting to install Umukuuka III,” reads part of the statement.
“This is further to notify the General public that the purported installation of Umukuuka III was done illegally and by individuals who are not Officers of the Inzu Ya Masaaba,” the statement.
How the Feud Escalated
Following the misunderstandings between the incumbent Umukuka, Mushikori and his Speaker Wedaira in 2017, the Chiefdom was hit by a number of divisionism and power struggle, where different people followed the Umukuuka while others follow the Speaker.
This purported the Wedaira to declare an open war against his King to date and this partly explains why he has on several occasions together with his Deputy tried to organize the elections of the new leader.
Through his Lawyers, N. Mugoda Advocates on behalf of Geoffrey Wepondi, in August filled a Suit before the Mbale High Court, seeking for an adjournment in all the process of the election of the new leader to allow Court to hear an application that had earlier been by LCV Chairpersons from Bugisu region who were challenging the decision to exclude them from attending meetings for the election of the new Umukuka.
The Mbale High Court Resident Judge Jesse Byaruhanga on August 24, 2020, issued a restraint order against all activities in connection to the election of Umukukha III.
Prior to this, Police had foiled a number of Wedaira’s meetings that had been held at Malukhu in Mbale District in June, to search for the next Umukukha on grounds that they had flouted Covid-19 guidelines on public gathering.
Before this meeting, the Deputy Speaker of the institution Rose Nelima had also chaired another meeting on the same subject matter but in vain.