Bakonzo Youths Deploy At Mumbere's Shrine In Bundibugyo

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In short
Armed Bakonzo youths have beefed up security at the shrine of Omusinga Charles Wesley Mumbere in Bundibugyo district as ethnic tension between Bamba and Bakonzo continues.


Bakonzo youths have beefed up security at the shrine of Omusinga Charles Wesley Mumbere in Bundibugyo district as ethnic tension between Bamba and Bakonzo continues.
 
The shrine is located in Kirindi village, Busaru Sub County.

On Wednesday, youths travelling in a mini bus arrived at the shrine and immediately surrounded it. When a Uganda Radio Network reporter in Bundibugyo visited the shrine on Thursday, there were more than twenty mean looking muscular youths armed with spears. Seven bare chest youths were manning the entrance of the shrine, while others were in banana plantations behind the shrine.

Patrick Mumbere, the leader of the youths says the increase of security at the shrine follows reports that some Bamba youths were planning to burn it down. He claims that they were tipped off by some Bamba.

Mumbere says that they will continue occupying the shrine until they feel there are no more threats from the Bamba.

Asked if the police had been informed about the threats, Mumbere said that they don’t need police protection since the youths have been well trained to protect the shrine.

Last year Rwenzururu King Charles Wesley Mumbere, a Mukonzo, was in Bundibugyo for peace day celebrations and he visited the shrine where he performed some rituals. This did not go well with the Bamba who accused Mumbere of disrespect and trying to impose Kikonzo culture on them. In the clashes that followed, at least 400 people were displaced. The Bamba are now in the final stages of installing their own cultural leader, Major Martin Kamya.

In a telephone interview, Dennis Namuhoza, the Bundibugyo district police commander, told Uganda Radio Network that he isn’t aware of any threats on the shrine. He says the youths are free to protect the shrine, but shouldn’t instigate violence.

Fulgensio Bamwitirebye, the chairperson Bundibugyo Elders Development Association (BEDA), denied any plans by the Bamba community to burn the shrine. He says that the youths are seeking sympathy.

The increase in security at the shrine comes after security officials in the Ruwenzori sub-region asked King Mumbere to halt his planned visit to Bundibugyo District to prevent possible tribal clashes.

In March, Rwenzururu kingdom authorities wrote to the Bundibugyo Resident District Commissioner, Samuel Kazinga, notifying him of plans by the King or Omusinga to hold the Peace Day celebrations on June 30th in Bundibugyo. The day is marked in honour of the Rwenzururu Movement which was declared in 1962 in Bundibugyo, when three representatives from Kasese and Bundibugyo districts walked out of Tooro Kingdom Orukurato (parliament) in protest over alleged oppression.

This year’s Peace Day will be in Ngamba Sub-county, Bughendera County, an area dominated by the Bakonzo.