Members of the Maragoli community living in Bunyoro are demanding recognition by Bunyoro Kitara Kingdom and central government. The Maragoli community now living in Kigumba in Kiryandongo district, Ntoma and other parts of Masindi district, are a Kenyan tribe that left their homeland in 1958.
According to the group leaders they were moved from Kenya after an agreement reached at between the colonial government then and Bunyoro Kitara Kingdom in 1957.
Eliakimu Adola, the group’s spokesperson says after living in Bunyoro for over 50 years they now feel they are a Ugandan tribe which should be recognized by the country’s constitution.
Because of lack of recognition Adola explains that the group feels marginalized as they continue to face hurdles accessing official documents, and missing out on some privileges like contesting for elective positions, securing scholarships and other benefits like it is with the nationals.
The community members argue that this marginalization explains why none of them has a high ranking political office or employment position in the country and their levels of education are so low.
Adola explains that even to secure official documents or enjoy some privileges, the Maragoli have to first hide under the cover of other tribes which are recognized in Uganda.
The Maragoli community official says majority of them were born in Uganda and have no hopes of returning to Kenya. He says with recognition they will be free to practice their culture and express themselves as Maragoli without fear.
The group started their move for recognition six years ago when one of their leaders sought to meet President Yoweri Museveni at state house but failed. Adoli told URN that efforts have also been made to meet the Bunyoro kingdom officials to back their demand.
He adds that they are seeking another meeting with the president over the matter.
Bunyoro Kitara kingdom is among the most metropolitan kingdoms in Uganda with over 60 ethnic communities. But asked why of all these tribes the Maragoli are the ones seeking recognition, Adola claims the conditions under which these other tribes came to settle in Bunyoro are far different from theirs.
He says while others came in as refugees, theirs was a peaceful relocation which was reached at after signing an agreement. He estimates the number of Maragoli living in Uganda to be about 30,000, a figure that could not be verified.
Henry Ford Mirima, a Bunyoro Kitara historian who for a long time served as information minister in the kingdom, says he knows the Maragoli as one of the communities in Bunyoro, who were accepted after they came in 1958. He, however, does not know the exact number, notting that some of them went back home after failing to settle in Bunyoro. Mirima says they came and settled willingly after being given land by the kingdom.
On the agreement between Bunyoro and the colonial government, Mirima says he is not aware any exists.
Yolamu Nsamba, the principal private secretary to the Bunyoro King, says there shouldn’t even be a need for the Maragoli to demand recognition as they deserve it.
Nsamba says for years they have lived in Uganda and Bunyoro in particular, they have been good people and their contribution especially in agricultural production is far reaching.
Nsamba says Bunyoro Kitara Kingdom fully recognizes them as it does with other tribes like the Bakiga, Alur, Banyarwanda and Bakonzo among others living in Bunyoro.
The Maragoli Community in Kigumba is so much engaged in farming and they contribute a big percentage to the area’s maize production.
The Maragoli, sometimes referred to as Logoli or AvaLogooli, are the second largest tribe of the 6 million-strongLuhya community in Kenya, after the Bukusu. The dialect they speak is called Llogoli, Urulogoli, or Maragoli. Some of the Maragoli clans include the Gonda, Mavi, Sachi, Saniaga, Vulughi, Ndega, Sari", Ng'ang'a and Yonga.
Chapter Three of the 1995 Constitution talks about citizenship under Articles 9 to 19, where it provides for citizenship by birth, adoption, registration and naturalization among others. The Third Schedule to the constitution provides a list of 65 indigenous communities whose members qualify for citizenship by birth because such communities were living in Uganda as at February 1, 1926.