A somber mood hangs at Kariro Palace in Mbarara as people gather to mourn the death of Prince John Patrick Barigye, the Crown Prince of Ankole Kingdom.
There is a somber mood at Kariro Palace in Kashari county, Mbarara district as people gather to mourn the death of John Patrick Barigye, the crown prince of Ankole Kingdom.
Barigye died on Friday of kidney failure at Aga Khan Hospital in Nairobi Kenya months after he had undergone a kidney transplant at an Indian hospital. He was 71.
At Barigye's home in Kashari, mostly elderly people are gathered and talking in low tones. Some young men are busy clearing the bushes around the home of the man who was blocked from Ankole King.
Mbarara municipality mayor, Wilson Tumwine described the death of Prince Barigye as a big blow to the struggle for the recognition of Ankole kingdom.
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Edward Rushaija, the Ankole Elders Association Chairman told URN reporter in Kashari that people are in a state of confusion following the death of Prince Barigye. He says the Prince has died at a time when they are still pushing for the restoration and recognition of Ankole Kingdom. Rushaija says it is now going to take time for them to identify a heir among the deceased's children, who is acceptable to the people.
Rushaija however notes that Barigye has died a frustrated man after government blocked his efforts to have his kingdom restored.
Ezekiel Rukoza, an elderly man who worked in the palace as a body guard to Barigye's father, Omugabe Charles Gasyonga, described the death as unfortunate but added that the prince died a miserable man. Rukoza, who has been guarding Barigye's permanent seat in St John's Church Rutooma, says he did not fulfill his duties as a guard since the kingdom was never restored after Gasyonga's death.
Joan Katwetegyeke, hailing from Kabale district but living in Mbarara, says that the death of Prince Barigye has left a big gap in the kingdom, which needed his personal input.
Prince Barigye’s coronation as Omugabe of Ankole in November 1993 was cancelled by the government on grounds that the Obugabe was a polarizing institution in Ankole. Ankole, just like the other kingdoms of Bunyoro, Tooro, Buganda and Busoga, was abolished in 1967 by the Milton Obote government after passing the republican constitution. The other kingdoms were however restored in 1993.
Before his death, Prince John Barigye pushed hard for the return of the Ankole kingdom and at one point he was quoted as having said those opposed to the institution need not belong.
On 19th November 2009, a dozen cultural leaders including Prince Barigye, met in Masindi district and asked the government to recognize the traditional kingdom of Ankole all in vain.
The defunct kingdom had its headquarters in Mbarara and the district local government occupies some of the kingdom property.
Ankole covers the present day districts of Kiruhura, Mbarara, Isingiro, Ntungamo, Ibanda, Mitooma, Sheema, Buhweju, Bushenyi and Rubirizi.
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