Just a week after Rwenzururu King Charles Wesley Mumbere was granted bail, a 28-year-old man has renewed his claims to the throne. Robert Bwambale Tibamwenda, a former claimant to the throne before government recognised Mumbere in 2009, wants to return to Kasese district as king. It is not yet clear who among the elders in the district may be behind the move.
Mumbere was released on Monday after more than two months in jail over his role and that of his guards in the Kasese clashes that left more than 100 people dead. He was arrested from his Buhikira royal palace in Kasese town on November 27, 2016 and remanded to Luzira prison over several charges including murder, attempted murder, terrorism and treason until his release on Monday. He is restricted to movements within Kampala and Wakiso areas, hundreds of kilometres outside his kingdom in Kasese district.
Now, Robert Bwambale Tibamwenda, a former claimant to the throne before government recognised Mumbere in 2009, wants to return to Kasese district as king. It is not yet clear who among the elders in the district may be behind the move.
Tibamwenda, 28, who hails from Nsenyi village in Kisinga sub county in Kasese district, says that he will return on March 4, 2017 as a king, claiming that Mumbere has not been cultural.
Speaking to Uganda Radio Network on phone from Kampala, Tibamwenda said that ever since government recognised Mumbere as the rightful king of the Bakonzo, there have been no efforts to revive the cultural values but "instead politics carried the day".
Tibamwenda who has been appearing in newscasts by different television stations in Kampala claims that it is his Baswagha clan that is supposed to reign over the cultural affairs of the Bakonzo. He alleges that Mumbere was only crowned by Rwenzururu Movement fighters following the death of his father Isaya Mukirania in 1966, as they fought the government in search for a separate political state.
Asked about whether government will be able to recognise another king among the Bakonzo when Mumbere is still living, Tibamwenda told URN that everyone has seen what the later stands for, referring to the tensions between the cultural institution and central government since 2012.
"Everyone including government has clearly seen what Mumbere's kingship stands for. This is purely politics but not culture. It is culture that I have always stood for and will preserve when people finally taste my leadership," he said.
Tibamwenda, a Muswagha clansman was early last year seen giving an interview to one of the TV stations in Kampala with Hajji Swalleh Tibamwenda, a man from the Basu clan who was also an active claimant to the Rwenzururu throne. About this, the young man says everything has been sorted out among the two and will work closely to revive, protect and promote the culture of the Bakonzo.
The two claim to know the historical lineage of kingship and accuse Mumbere of eroding the Bakonzo culture by calling himself Omusinga, which is not in the Lhukonzo orthography, instead of the actual title of Omwami.
Robert Tibamwenda and his team have drafted a budget of about Shillings 10 million to prepare for his return to Kasese as a king who will then later in mid-March ascend to the Rwenzori mountains to perform a ritual that he has always challenged Mumbere to perform.
URN has learnt that the ritual that Tibamwenda claims Mumbere cannot risk to perform involves slaughtering a ram in one of the rivers flowing from the Rwenzori mountains and offer a sacrifice on behalf of the tribe.
Meanwhile, Cyril Makoma, the head of the Baswagha clan from which the claimant comes, has since last year denounced him as member arguing that his grandfather only grew up in their home and has since been treated as part of the family.
The 95 year-old Makoma, who recognises Mumbere as king, is son to a one Tibamwenda who together with drummist Kapolyo and traditional healer Nyamutswa were executed and burried in a mass grave at Kagando after being found guilty of fighting the colonial government and Tooro Kingdom in 1921.
On January 9, 2016 Makoma held a press conference at which he read a letter he had written to Robert Bwambale Tibamwenda warning him against interfering in the affairs of Rwenzururu Kingdom using the name of his clan, where he is not a member.
"I want to bring it to your notice and attention that the Baswagha in the lineage of Tibamwenda to which you are not a member, subscribe to the Rwenzururu Kingdom led by Charles Wesley Mumbere Iremangoma," he said.
He added that: "Secondly and most important to note, is that you (Robert Bwambale) are not Omuswagha (Baswagha clan member) linked to my late Father Tibamwenda. You are Omuhira by clan linked to Kahika; that is where your grandfather Francisco Mukirania comes from."
When contacted, Clarence Bwambale the Rwenzururu kingdom spokesperson called Tibamwenda a day dreamer adding that he would rather not waste time to respond to his claims. Bwambale says that the kingdom administration and the entire subjects are concentrating on securing justice for King Charles Wesley Mumbere and his co-accused, the royal guards.
During the struggle for the recognition of Rwenzururu Kingdom, there were other claimants to the throne but the inter-ministerial committee popularly known as the Kajura Commission recommended for Mumbere to be recognised as the rightful cultural leader, after majority of the people consulted in 2005 seconded him.