Kooki Cultural Institution has officially launched its gigantic metallic arch to outline its boundary. The launch on Thursday was part of a three-day event that marked the institution’s Annual Cultural Day festival at Royal park gardens in Rakai Town Council under the theme “For culture and Development.
The monumental arc was erected Tuesday at the Kooki-Buganda border near Kisoma wetland along the Kyotera-Rakai road just a few meters from Lwanda town.
The monumental arc is decorated with Kooki’s Coat Of Arms with inscriptions in Lukooki dialect translated in English. ‘Obukama Bwa Kooki Nibukutangilila’ meaning, ‘Welcome to Kooki Kingdom’.
Top officials in Kooki told the Insight Post that this is the first of the many arcs expected at every entry point of Kooki. Kooki has boundaries with Buddu and Kabula Counties in Buganda kingdom, as well as Ankole Kingdom and Tanzania.
The institution has two acres of land on each side of the road/arch where it further plans to build a modern roadside one-stop centre where travelers and motorists plying Kyotera-Rakai route will buy eats and refreshments among other services which will boost job creation and economic development in Kooki.
“This is another giant leap into being a firmly-rooted monarchy and independent kingdom. We expect to put up more arcs to help the visitors understand they are entering Kooki kingdom” said Premier Al-hajji Iddi Ahmed Kiwanuka while launching the arch.
According to Kiwanuka, the arch is not a launch pad for conflict with Buganda as perceived by some people but to show where Buganda stops and Kooki starts for the good of the people. He added that “this is not new at all since there are so many boundary or welcoming signs in different cities, districts, cultural institutions, countries, mention more,”
Equally, he noted, it is a symbol that Kooki is an independent institution as recognized under Article 246 (1) of 1995 Constitution.
“Subject to the provisions of this Constitution, the institution of traditional leader or cultural leader may exist in any area of Uganda in accordance with the culture, customs and traditions or wishes and aspirations of the people to whom it applies,” highlights the constitution.
Therefore with the boundaries marked, Kiwanuka explained, the visitors from other cultural institutions must have to notify Kooki administration about their official visits to avoid intrusion which is likely to spark clashes as it has been (with Buganda) a few times previously.
“We respect and welcome all visitors, and we are ready to cooperate with all cultural institutions in harmony,” said the Premier, adding that Kooki is just where it was before the colonialists tagged it with Buganda.
His Royal Highness –Apollo Ssansa Kabumbuli II, the Kamuswaga of Kooki, applauded all his ministers for their special acumen and tireless efforts in promoting Culture and Development in Kooki.
He said that the success Kooki has attained in a few years has attracted overwhelming confrontation from their rivals but this has encouraged them to do more for the good of the people.
“Amidst all challenges, it is evident that Kooki is steadily progressing, and I can assure you that no one or nothing will put off our mission of developing our ‘Kingdom’,” said the Kamuswaga.
Among the developments Kooki has reached in a few years is bringing free health services to our people through Operation International, as well as put up multi-billion investments naming a radio station, cultural museum, Royal Park Gardens, Royal Beach, and Olympics standard swimming pool, an international school currently under construction, and others in the pipeline.
He (Kamuswga) asked the elders’ committee and his minister to be watchful of people’s intentions and resist any form of intrusion which may destabilize Kooki.
“We are a peaceful entity (Kingdom) and we have not attacked any of our counterparts because we follow the law. We respect other cultural institutions because of their independence as provided for in the constitution,” he reaffirms.
The Kamusaga advised all parties that feel hard done by Kooki’s independence to seek legal means for redress than resorting to direct and indirect confrontation which they are ready to resist at all cost.
“I prohibited Buganda’s Masaza cup in Kooki because Kooki had its own tournament. Much as Kooki is promoting various talents among the youths, we could not tolerate the Masaza cup which had wrong intentions. We are ready to use the system in place to protect Kooki by all means” he noted.
Reviving Kooki Counties
About reviving the three counties of Kooki including Mayango, Bulaga and Ddungu, which slipped into hibernation for several decades, the Kamuswaga clarified to elders and ministers that they have started with setting up administrative offices where the county heads will operate from.
When revived, the county departments will handle lower administrative matters to relieve the prime minister and cabinet of the workload.
“We have the offices in place and the next step is appointment of the county heads and representatives to take over the administrative offices. We are taking one step at a time and I am sure our dream will come true,” he emphasised.
Dickson Ssebyala, the Kooki Cultural Minister, said Kkii is on a campaign to ensure Kooki values remain entrenched in the hearts of the subjects.
“Kooki was redundant in the past and could hardly promote its own values. But we woke up, and we are doing what we are supposed to do,” he said.
Fred Kasozi, the Kooki Minister for Education and sports, explained that the ongoing campaign has enabled local communities and school children to understand and appreciate Kooki’s history.
“This campaign is meant to build a strong generation that will stand firm to protect, treasure and promote its own values,” he said.
Apart from the Buganda Youths Council threatening to pull the arch down, Mengo has not made its official stand about border sign post.
Historically, Kooki had existed since 1720 as an autonomous Kingdom long before the British Colonial government merged it with Buganda Kingdom in 1896. This followed an agreement signed between Kooki’s King Hezekiah Ndawula and Buganda Kingdom.
Kooki needed special protection from kingdoms such as Ankole that were powerful and a threat to Kooki’s survival. Therefore, by joining Buganda as a tributary Kingdom, Kooki could not be invaded.
But even then, unlike other 17 counties in Buganda, Kooki retained its administrative structures with its hereditary head as Kamuswga, ministers, flag, and anthem, a court of arm, clans, and counties.
Until now, Kooki and Buganda have been bickering close to eight years over Kooki as an independent cultural institution. Buganda maintains that Kooki is still one of its 18 counties that must pay special allegiance to Buganda and the Kabaka.
However, in 2015 the Kamuswaga emphasized Kooki’s independence by unveiling official flag, a court of arm, counties and anthem which sparked off bad blood. Since then, the two institutions have clashed on different occasions. The Kamuswaga prohibited Buganda officials from carrying activities within its territory such as ‘Ettofaali’ which is a fundraising drive for Buganda Kingdom and Masaza cup among others.
Still, in March 2019, Kooki quashed Buganda anthem ‘Ekitiibwa kya Buganda’ and replaced it with Kooki anthem dubbed ‘Ekula lya Kooki’.
This followed a campaign to promote Kooki anthem, flag and Kooki history in private and government schools, which mainly pay special allegiance to Obwakamuswaga.
The Kamuswaga- Apollo Ssansa Kabumbuli II spearheaded the campaign through his Culture/Tourism ministry with the Education and Sports ministry.
Currently, more than 30 schools in Ddwaniro, Lwanda, Kagamba and Kacheera sub-counties, dropped Ekitibwa Kya Buganda for ‘Ekula lya Kooki’ as well as hoisting Kooki Flag.
However, some are still hoisting the Buganda, Kooki and Uganda flags and have retained the three anthems.
Kooki Leaders Since 1720
Documents in Kooki Cultural Museum indicate that Kooki has had 13 kings since inception. They include,
-Bwowe 1720 – 1750
-Kitahimbwa 1750 – 1780
-Mujwiga 1780 – 1782
-Mugyenyi 1782 – 1782 (ruled for two months)
-Ndawula 1782 – 1785
-Kitahimbwa II 1785 – 1832
-Isansa I 1832 – 1862
-Lubambula 1862 – 1884
-Ndawula Kezekia 1884 – 1907
-Jofe sefasi kabumbuli 1907 – 1954
-Yoweri kayiba 1954 – 1981
-Edward mazinga 1981 – 1987
-Apollo Ssansa Kabumbulli II 2004 – up to date