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This article is about the Busoga kingdom and region and the Basoga people. For the language, see Lusoga.

Busoga is a traditional Bantu kingdom in present-day Uganda.

It is a cultural institution that promotes popular participation and unity among the people of Busoga, through cultural and developmental programs for the improved livelihood of the people of Busoga. It strives for a united people of Busoga, who enjoy economic, social and cultural prosperity. It also continues to enhance, revamp and pave the way for an efficient institutional and management system for the Kyabazinga kingship.

Busoga, literally translated to Land of the Soga, is the kingdom of the 11 principalities of the Basoga/Soga (singular Musoga) people. The term Busoga also loosely refers to the area that is generally indigenous to the Basoga. The kingdom's capital is located in Bugembe, which is near Jinja, the second largest city in Uganda. As of June 2007, Busoga Kingdom is composed of eight politically organised districts: Kamuli, Iganga, Bugiri, Mayuge, Jinja, and the newly created districts of Kaliro and Busiki (luuka district). Each district is headed by democratically elected chairpersons or Local Council Five, while municipalities are headed by an elected mayor. Jinja is the industrial and economical hub of Busoga. The Busoga area is bounded on the north by the swampy Lake Kyoga which separates it from Lango, on the west by the Victoria Nile which separates it from Buganda, on the south by Lake Victoria which separates it from Tanzania and Kenya, and on the east by the Mpologoma River, which separates it from various smaller tribal groups (Padhola, Bugwere, Bugisu, etc.). Busoga also includes some islands in Lake Victoria, such as Buvuma Island.

The Kyabazinga

Busoga is ruled by the Isebantu Kyabazinga of Busoga. This name was a symbol of unity derived from the expression and recognition by the Basoga that their leader was the "father of all people who brings all of them together", and who also serves as their cultural leader. In 1995, the government restored monarchies in Uganda with the promulgation of the new constitution of the Republic of Uganda; Article 246(1). On February 11, 1996,[1] His Royal Highness Henry Wako Muloki was reinstated as Kyabazinga Isebantu of Busoga. He served until Monday, 1 September 2008, when he finally succumbed to esophageal cancer at the Mulago National Referral Hospital in Kampala, at the age of 87.[1]

In a condolence message, Y.K Museveni, the president of Uganda described Muloki as "a great cultural leader and father" who was "generous and kind".

Since his re-installation on 11 February 1996,[1] Muloki had been a unifying factor in Busoga, the President noted. "The Government has had the privilege of working with Isebantu Muloki in developing our nation". Referring to the Kyabazinga as "a strong pillar", Museveni said although Busoga was one of the youngest kingdoms, under the leadership of Muloki, it had become strong. "Uganda mourns not only one of her esteemed traditional leaders but a national who put development and the welfare of the people of Busoga at the helm of his reign", Museveni added. The achievements of Muloki include special programs initiated for girl-child education, for the youth and for the elderly and the disadvantaged. The Royal Chiefs of Busoga elected and installed His Royal Highness Edward Columbus Wambuzi son to the deceased Kyabazinga Wako Muloki as the new Kyabazinga of Busoga but owing to political interference, he has not been able to undertake his duties to date, propelling disunity, unprecedented poverty levels and disintegration of Busoga.

History of Busoga

Early contact with European explorers

Written history begins for Busoga in the year 1862. On 28 July 1862, John Hanning Speke, an explorer for the Royal Geographical Society, arrived at Ripon Falls, near the site of the modern town of Jinja, where the Victoria Nile spills out of Lake Victoria and begins its descent to Egypt. Since Speke's route inland from the East African coast had taken him around the southern end of the lake Victoria, he approached Busoga from the west through Buganda. Having reached his goal – the source of the Nile, he turned northward and followed the river downstream without further exploring Busoga. He records, however, being told that "Usoga" (the Swahili form of the name "Busoga") was an "island", which indicates that the term meant to surrounding peoples essentially what it means today. The present day Busoga Kingdom was, and still is, bounded on the north by the swampy Lake Kyoga, on the west by the Victoria Nile, on the south by Lake Victoria, and on the east by the Mpologoma River. The last King of Busoga is called Lubrae el Classico of NtebeNTEBE

Early demographics

In the 19th century, one of the principal routes along which Europeans travelled from the coast to Buganda passed through the southern part of Busoga. From John Speke and James Grant, Sir Gerald Portal, F.D Lugard, J.R. Macdonald, and Bishop Tucket all noted that Busoga was plentifully supplied with food and was densely settled as a result. However, between 1898–99 and 1900–01, the first indications of sleeping sickness were reported.

In 1906, orders were issued to evacuate the region. Despite the attempts to clear the area, the epidemic continued in force until 1910. As a result, most of the densely populated parts of Busoga, the home land of over 200,000 persons in the 19th Century, was totally cleared of the population in the ten years. Lubas palace at Bukaleba, also the coveted European fruit mission, collapsed and relocated to other parts of Busoga. Southern Busoga constituted of about one third of the land area of Busoga, and, in 1910, southern Busoga was vacant. In the 1920s and 1930s, some of the evacuees who survived the epidemic began to return to their original land. However, in 1940 a new outbreak of sleeping sickness resurfaced in the area, and it was only in 1956 that resettlement, promoted by the government began again, but things were not going to be the same again. Few Basoga returned to their traditional lands.

The consequences of the catastrophe were that the Southern part of Busoga, the area roughly corresponding to what Johnston delimited as the most densely populated area, was virtually uninhabited. Other areas originally affected by sleeping sickness, including the eastern margins of Bukooli and Busiki conties were evidently depopulated too. Famines, too, resulted in substantial population movements. Several areas in north east Busoga and in the adjacent Bukandi district across the Mpologoma river were repeatedly struck by famines in 1898 to 1900, 1907, 1908, 1917, 1918 and 1944. Populations in these areas reduced, many people, falling victims to the famines while the survivors moved to other areas for safety.

The effects of these movements were apparent from the growth in population density in the central area of Busoga and in urban and peri-urban areas of Busoga. Many Basoga left Busoga in the same period, settling in other districts. The demographic profile of Busoga today is, as a consequence of all these developments. Today, Busoga is home to many people, of about 6 different origins.

Early economic status

In the pre-colonial era, people left their traditional lands and state structures disappeared. A number of clans and states were decimated and people migrated into Busoga in large numbers in this century, carrying with them the traditions and cultures of other lands. The most important causes of these movements were mainly famines and epidemics, which occurred within and in the surrounding areas.

Busoga experienced massive movement of people right from the early period that led to its construction as a nation. Several factors contributed to the trend of events. They included mainly factors ranging from famine and security. Today, these factors continue to affect and define the population mobility in the kingdom, in addition to the quest for employment and social amenities. The changes in the demographical trends have continued to witness a population influx in urban and peri-urban areas of Busoga kingdom for the above reasons. Towns like Jinja, Iganga, Kamuli, Kaliro, and their surrounding areas are some of the areas that continue to face high levels of immigration. Immigrants join town life in search for jobs and security.

Between 1920 and the 1970s, Jinja, Busoga’s capital city, experienced economic changes and gained in economic importance. During this period, it transformed into an industrial town with the steady high cotton production, as well as the completion of the Uganda Railway and Owen Falls dam. These factors elevated Jinja into an agri-industrial centre with over 46 factories, several cottage industries and a well-developed infrastructure. These developments attracted people in the form of labour from the rural areas of Busoga to work in those factories, help in house keeping or in doing other urban development related activities. Externally, many people also came from the neighbouring areas outside Busoga. Among the newcomers were families of Asian origin who came to do business. Estates like Mpumudde and Walukuba were developed to accommodate the increasing population. Other services like piped water, electricity, roads, hospitals and schools were also extended to serve the population. In the villages, the majority of people, with the assured market in towns, concentrated on agriculture. They grew both cash and food crops like cotton, coffee, bananas, potatoes and cassava, fruits and vegetables. Standards of living drastically improved and Busoga kingdom raised its revenue and constructed more infrastructures. It reduced the subsistence farming system of life and turned to real economic production that was in demand by Europeans.

By independence in 1962, Busoga was one of the most powerful regions in Uganda. Its power lay in the regional capital, Jinja, which is Uganda’s second largest city. Jinja was the home to 70% of Uganda's industries and also hosted the Nalubaale Power Station (Owen Falls Dam) that supplies electricity to Uganda and parts of Kenya and Tanzania. Jinja was also the home of the majority of Uganda's Asian population. The Ugandan Asians, who had been brought to Uganda from the Indian sub-continent by the British during colonial times, had helped to establish Jinja as one of East Africa’s most vibrant commercial centres.

Early political status

Main article: Uganda before 1900

About the turn of the 16th century, an important event took place, which was to give the Basoga their peculiar cultural configuration. This was the advent of the Baisengobi clan, who bear their historical descendancy from Bunyoro. Prince Mukama Namutukula from the royal family (Babiito) of Bunyoro is said to have left Bunyoro around the 16th century as part of Bunyoro’s expansionist policy and trekked eastwards across Lake Kyoga with his wife Nawudo, a handful of servants, arms and a dog, and landed at Iyingo, located at the northern point of Busoga in the present day Kamuli District.

Prince Mukama loved hunting and his adventures exposed him to the beauties of the new-found land. For sometime he engaged himself in blacksmithing, making hoes, iron utensils and spears. Prince Mukama and wife Nawudo bore several children of whom only five boys survived. On his departure back to Bunyoro, Prince Mukama allocated them areas within his influence as overseers. In this way, the first-born Wakoli was given to oversee the area called Bukooli, Zibondo was to administer Bulamogi, Ngobi was given Kigulu, Tabingwa was to oversee Luuka, while the youngest son Kitimbo was to settle in Bugabula. These loosely allotted areas of supervision to the Prince’s sons were later to become major administrative and cultural authority centers in Busoga. With time passing without the expected return of their father, the five sons of Prince Mukama regarded themselves as the legitimate rulers over their respective areas by virtue of their family origin (Babiito). They continued to preside over their respective dominions; employing governing methods and cultural rituals like those from Bunyoro-Kitara. This state of affairs in Busoga's political and cultural arrangement continued till the late 19th century when the colonialists persuaded the rulers of Busoga into some form of federation. This federation resulted in a regional Busoga council called Busoga Lukiiko.

Before 1906, although it was often called a ‘Kingdom’, it was debatable whether Busoga could really be classified as such. Unlike its western neighbor, Buganda, Busoga did not have a central ‘all-powerful’ figurehead (King or Queen) until 1906, at the behest of the British colonial powers. Prior to this, the Basoga were organized in semi-autonomous chiefdoms, partly under the influence of Bunyoro initially, and then later on, under the partial influence of Buganda.

Main article: Colonial Uganda

Before the coming of the British to Uganda, there was no uniting leadership in Busoga. When Uganda became a British protectorate, attempts were made to create a central form of administration on the model of Buganda which was a fully fledged kingdom. The Buganda King – the Kabaka had lineage going back centuries. However, in Busoga some of the chiefs had been simply appointed by the Kabaka – and it is believed that in some cases they were descendants of favored Baganda chiefs who were given authority to rule over land in Busoga. Others simply belonged to powerful landowning families in Busoga that had become self-appointed rulers over vast areas. The British brought all these chiefs into an administrative structure called the Lukiiko. The British appointed a Muganda from Buganda, Semei Kakungulu as the President of the Lukiiko and he became Busoga’s first leader, although the British refused to give him the title of 'King', as they did not regard him as a real king.

However wrangles amongst the different chiefs and clans continued, and most Basoga still retained affiliation to their chief, clan or dialect. It was also not helpful that the 'King' was from Buganda. The Lukiiko structure collapsed. The structure had however given the Basoga a taste of what influence they could muster in the protectorate if they had a King. It would elevate them to the level of Bunyoro and Buganda.

Meanwhile, the white colonial rulers were grooming Chief Yosia Nadiope, the Gabula of Bugabula to become the first permanent resident ruler of the formed Busoga federation. Nadiope had been one of the first Basoga students to study at Kings College Budo in 1906. However, catastrophe struck Busoga in 1913, when Nadiope died of malaria. The following year 1914, Chief Ezekeriel Tenywa Wako, the Zibondo of Bulamogi was completing his studies at Kings College Budo. With the support of the British coupled with his background as a Prince, Zibondo of Bulamogi, with his good educational background, was a suitable candidate for the top post. In 1919, the hereditary saza chiefs of Busoga resolved in the Lukiiko to elect Ezekerial Tenywa Wako as president of Busoga. Chief Gideon Obodha of Kigulu, a contending candidate for the post was not familiar with the British system, while William Wilberforce Nadiope Kadhumbula of Bugabula was still an infant. His regent Mwami Mutekanga was a 'mukoopi' (a commoner) who couldn’t run for the post. Eventually, in 1918-9, the title of Isebantu Kyabazinga was created and one of the chiefs, Wako took the throne. He was given a salary of 550 pounds, and permitted to collect taxes in Butembe county in lieu of the lost role in his traditional chiefdom of Bulamogi. In 1925, Ezekiel Tenywa Wako, the Kyabazinga of Busoga became a member of Uganda Kings Council, consisting of the Kyabazinga of Busoga, Kabaka of Buganda, the Omukama of Bunyoro, Omukama of Toro/Omukama of Tooro and Omugabe of Ankole.

On 11 February 1939 Owekitibwa Ezekerial Tenywa Wako (late father of the last Isebantu Kyabazinga wa Busoga, HRH Henry Wako Muloki), the Zibondo of Bulamogi was installed as the first Isebantu Kyabazinga wa Busoga which title he continued to hold until 1949 when he retired due to old age. By the time Owekitibwa E.T. Wako retired as the Isebantu Kyabazinga wa Busoga, the Busoga Lukiiko had expanded to include people other than the Hereditary Rulers. These members of the Busoga Lukiiko were elected representatives – two from each of the then 55 Sub-counties in Busoga.

When Owekitibwa E.T.Wako retired, it was necessary to replace him. The Busoga Lukiiko resolved then that the Isebantu Kyabazinga wa Busoga shall always be elected among the five lineages of Baise Ngobi (Ababiito) hereditary rulers – traditionally believed to have been the five sons of Omukama of Bunyoro who immigrated to Busoga from Bunyoro, namely:

This method of election was used for the subsequent elections of the Isebantu Kyabazinga wa Busoga, beginning 1949 when Owekitibwa Chief William Wilberforce Nadiope Kadhumbula of Bugabula was elected Isebantu Kyabazinga wa Busoga for two terms of three years each, followed by Owekitibwa Henry Wako Muloki who also served two terms.

In 1957, the title Inhebantu was introduced as a description of the wife of the Isebantu. This epitomised the gradual unification of Busoga and the evolution of Obwa Kyabazinga bwa Busoga.

When monarchies were abolished in 1966, the Kyabazinga was dethroned. When Idi Amin expelled the Asians from Uganda in 1972, Jinja suffered both socially and economically. The government of Yoweri Museveni has tried to encourage Ugandan Asians to return. This has helped but has not revitalized Jinja to its former glory. However the Asian influence remains, particularly in the architecture and street names.

Main article: Uganda since 1979

In 1995, the government restored monarchies in Uganda with the promulgation of the new constitution of the Republic of Uganda; Article 246(1). On February 11, 1995, H.R.H Henry Wako Muloki was reinstated as Kyabazinga Isebantu of Busoga, according to Kisoga traditions and culture. Unlike most monarchies, the Kyabazinga has no heir or Crown Prince. Instead, the Kyabazinga is succeeded by a reigning chief elected by the Lukiiko and the Royal Council.

Past Kyabazingas

Obwa Kyabazinga bwa Busoga has evolved over years and each Kyabazinga that has presided over Busoga has added a piece to the process. To date, there have been three past Kyabazingas who have presided over Busoga since 1939 as an established federated state of Busoga.

These have been:- Chief Ezekiel Tenywa Wako, who was the first Kyabazinga of Busoga and ascended to the throne in 1939: Yosia Nadiope, and Sir William Wilberforce Nadiope Kadhumbula.

Sir William Wilberforce Kadhumbula succeeded his late father’s (Yosia Nadiope) quick sense of judgement and love for the people. He ridded the kingdom of insecurity; eliminating bad elements in society in the famous operation named Emizindula (war against theft), ended the British policy on the fight against smallpox (Kawumpuli), during which residents were ordered to carry rat tails to Busoga square for counting as evidence that they had really killed the disease agents (rats). This, he saw as a dehumanising act and joined his subjects to denounce the policy, which brought him in conflict with the British administration. As a result he was exiled to Bunyoro where he was called to lead the Basoga into the Second World War.

His war skills and mobilisation ability earned him Queen Elizabeth's admiration and love. He was honoured with the title Sir among other awards.

He also played a big role in Uganda's independence struggle and before the end of his career, he had served as the first Vice President of the independent Uganda. He was also the Chairman of Uganda People's Congress political party (UPC).

He mobilised for the construction of infrastructures like roads, hospitals, government centres like county and sub-county headquarters and most of all mobilising the Basoga to productive farming of both food and crops.

During his tenure of office doubling as the Vice President, Kyabazinga and UPC Chairman, he managed to push for several development projects in Busoga that include construction of schools like the Balangira High School, which later became Busoga College Mwiri.

Current political setup

Busoga Kingdom Royal Council is composed of the 11 traditional leaders of the 11 traditional chiefdoms of Busoga. They include the five princes and heads of the five royal families of Busoga and the six chiefs of the traditional chiefdoms. They are:

Busoga Kingdom Royal Council
Title Ssaza (principality or chiefdom) Head
Zibondo Bulamogi Prince G. W Napeera
Gabula Bugabula Prince William Nadiope
Ngobi Kigulu Prince Izimba Gologolo
Tabingwa Luuka Prince W. Tabingwa Nabwana
Nkono Bukono Prince C. J. Mutyaba Nkono
Wakooli Bukooli Chief David Muluuya Kawunye
Ntembe Butembe Chief Badru Waguma
Menya Bugweri Chief Kakaire Fred Menya
Kisiki Busiki Chief Yekosofato Kawanguzi
Luba Bunya Chief Juma Munulo
Nanyumba Bunyole Chief John Ntale Nahnumba

The Katukiro (Prime Minister) of Busoga Kingdom is Rt. Hon. Martin Musumba. The office of the Katukiro in the Kingdom is an important and a vital one. The Katukiro is the head of the Kingdom's Government and official spokesperson for the Kyabazinga and the Kingdom.

Busoga Kingdom is administered in the following (This information is outdated & needs to be updated...):

Kamuli District - (4 Counties, 23 Sub Counties & 134 Parishes) - 2 Kings (Bugabula & Bulamogi)

Iganga District - (4 Counties, 25/26 Sub Counties, unknown number of Parishes) - 3 Kings (Kigulu, Luuka & Busiki)

Mayuge District - (1 County, 6 Sub-Counties, unknown number of parishes) - 1 King (Bunya)

Jinja District - (3 Counties, 11 Sub-Counties, 50 Parishes)

Bugiri District - (1 County, 12 to19) Sub-Counties, unknown Parishes) - Possibly 2 Kings (Bukooli And Banda)

Attractions and historical sites

Kagulu Hill

Main article: Kagulu Hill

The was the first settlement area for Basoga of Bunyoro origin led by Prince Mukama. Although the cultural value of Kagulu extends to cover a wide area, the remaining and visible landmark is the Kagulu hill. The hill sits in between two roads that divide at the foothill leading to Gwaya and Iyingo.

The hill, although not yet familiar to many people outside Busoga, has a breathtaking scenery that gives a clear view of almost the entire Busoga. Kagulu hill is unique in the attractions it offers. It is the only hill in Uganda that has been adapted for tourist climbing, with constructed steps to make it easy for visitors to access the top.

Budhumbula shrine/palace

Main article: Budhumbula shrine/palace

Located 2 km from Kamuli town along the Kamuli-Jinja main road, the site comprises a shrine and the residence of the former Kyabazinga of Busoga, Sir William Wilberforce Kadhumbula Nadiope, who died in 1976. The shrine, covered by beautiful marbles consist of graves of other various members of the royal family, such his father and mother, Yosia Nadiope and Nasikombi respectively.

The other graves found within the shrine are of his son, a former Uganda government Minister, Prince Professor Wilson Nadiope who died in 1991 and his mother Yuliya Babirye Nadiope who died in 2004. The palace’s main residence is a legacy of the British colonial government, having been donated by the protectorate government in 1914.

The source of the Nile

Main article: Source of the Nile

The source of the Nile, the second longest river in the world, marked by the discovery of one of the first European explorers, John Speke, is an internationally unique attraction. The tranquility and splendour of both Lake Victoria and River Nile embody great memories of any visitor.

Bujjagali Falls

Main article: Bujagali falls

This among others, such as the Bujagali ancestral site for the Basoga ancestral spirits at Bujagali falls, includes the numerous rapids along the Nile, virgin nature across the region, and the culture of the people and the great Lake Victoria by no doubt gives Busoga Kingdom its distinct place in tourism.

Lake Victoria

Main article: Lake Victoria

Southern Busoga is lined with the waters of Lake Victoria. The coastline starts from Jinja and goes eastwards, to the border with Kenya.

Twegaite The Busoga Community

This International organization headquartered in Boston Massachusetts USA is a cultural non profit organization. The main objective of Twegaite is to revitalize Busoga in its economy health and education primarily. Twegaite has several programs in these fields and will host Trade and Investment expos to rejuvenate industrial development beginning Dec 2011. These Expos will also promote Busoga's culture and religions which are intricate to the fabric of the society. Twegaite also holds conventions, 2008 Houston TX USA, 2009 Minneapolis/St Paul MN USA, 2011 Boston MA USA, 2012 Busoga Uganda. These conventions are geared to planning activities and discussing and forming resolutions for Busoga's societal challenges. They conventions also celebrate the rich culture and cultivate relationships with partner organizations, philanthropies and related institutions across the globe. Twegaite partner with the Kingdom of Busoga,the Government of Uganda and other global governments in Developing the Kingdom of Busoga. (Links: [2])

See also

  • Basoga - Basoga ethnic group
  • Lusoga - Lusoga Language


  • Fallers, Margaret Chave (1960) The Eastern Lacustrine Bantu (Ganda and Soga). Ethnographic survey of Africa: East central Africa, Vol 11. London: International African Institute.
  • Cohen, David William (1970). A survey of interlacustrine chronology. The Journal of African History, 1970, 11, 2, 177-202.
  • Cohen, David William (1986). Towards a reconstructed past : Historical texts from Busoga, Uganda. (Fontes historiae africanae). Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Fallers, Lloyd A (1965) Bantu Bureaucracy - A Century of Political evolution among the Basoga of Uganda. Phoenix Books, The University of Chicago.

External links

  • The Cultural Research Centre - Busoga A resource for literature relating to Basoga
  • Mpolyabigere RC RICED Center and Public Library at Nsinze in Namutumba district.

News websites

  • New Vision Online - Local East - News, mainly from the Busoga region

Some educational and research institutions

  • Busoga College Mwiri
  • Kiira College Butiki
  • Busoga College Mwiri
  • The Twegaite Boston Convention
  • Twegaite the Busoga Community
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