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Opinion: Mzee Kamuntu: Rev. Ssebalugga Wrong on President’s Age

By Mzee Yosam Kamuntu

On Friday 7th August, 2020, Daily Monitor published a misleading piece by Rev. John Ssebalugga Kalimi, an Anglican priest and a church historian about the age of President Museveni.

The article didn’t only misrepresent facts of the age of the President but alsodenigrated the Ankole culture.

The author writes as though the Church Missionary Society had been in Ankole for centuries at Museveni’s birth. 

According to the book, Widening Political Space in Ankole, Uganda; the role of Christianity, Ethinicityand Gender by A.M. Kangume, the first members of Church Missionary Society (CMS), Bishop Tucker, accompanied by his friend, Dr. Albert Cook, arrived in Ankole in 1899.

They were later joined by Reverend Herbert Clayton and Jamieson Willis in January, 1901.

The strategy and objective of the Church Missionary Society were to convert the Ankole aristocracy into Christianity (Anglicanism).

These included Omugabe(King) of Ankole, Kahaya, Prime Minister Mbaguta, County and Sub-county chiefs. Omugabe Kahayawelcomed the missionaries into his palace at Kamukuzi, embraced Christianity, so did his Prime Minister and the Chiefs.

However, Church Missionary Society faced competition from the White Fathers, whose strategy mainly focused on penetrating the hinterland of the Kingdom and converting masses of peasants. The White Fathers concentrated on building mission hospitals which attracted peasants to the religion.

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Between 1920 and 1945, Church Missionary Society intensified baptism of every willing Munyankoreirrespective of their age and whether they had completed catechism classes. A fact Rev. Ssebalugaavoids.

Mzee Amos Kaguta and Esteeri Kokudenka had been married traditionally before 1947, in the rich Banyankore culture.

To date, the Banyankore marriage process still remains perhaps the most intricate process in the interlacustrine region.

The marriage process includes several steps like okugamba obugyenyi, okwanjura, okujuga, okuhingira, okwaruka, okwarira, okwikarira etc, which you hardly find in other Bantu tribes of Uganda.

Rev. Ssebalugga alleges that Museveni could have been ekinyandaaro. No. Ekinyandaaro is someone born out of endaaro pregnancy.

This is a pregnancy conceived by a girl who hasn’t been given away in a marriage by her parents, conceiving while still in one’s father’s house.

This isn’t the case with Museveni. Esteeri Kokundeka had been given to Mzee Amos Kaguta in a traditional marriage.  

Lastly, Yoweri Museveni and late Brig. Eriya Kategayahad met in pre-primary school at Kyamate Primary School in 1952.

Their head girl was Mrs. Lydia Butagira (wife to former Uganda Ambassador to the UN, Francis Butagira). Museveni and Kategaya sat Primary Leaving Examination together in 1958, and joined Junior Secondary at Mbarara High School together in 1959.

In 1961, they joined Ntare School for secondary education and completed in 1966, later, joining University of Dar es salaam, in 1967 together.

Eriya Kategaya was born on 4th July, 1945 while Francis Butagira was born on 22nd November, 1942.

Usually, among the Banyankore, a man married someone younger than them. Therefore, Lydia Butagirawho was also Museveni’s classmate was born after 1942.

If you analyse the facts above critically and objectively, President Museveni was born around 1944.

Therefore, Rev. Ssebalugga’s article is very untrue, and leaves a lot of questions to the reader, regarding its motive and timing.

The writer is an Old Boy of Mbarara High Schooland Comes from Ankole

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