I joined the civil service in 1962 before independence during the late Benedicto Kiwanuka’s time as prime minister. I joined as assistant secretary. It was actually a district officer job. I went into the thick of civil service in April 1962, right after graduating from Makerere University.
Kabaka Mutebi was a young man then. He was a student in London during the 1966 crisis when his father fled into exile. My first contact with the young prince was in 1971.
By the time Amin came into power, Kabaka Mutebi’s father had died in London in 1969. Amin was very keen to get the support of Buganda. One of the things that he thought he would capitalise on was the return of the remains of the late Kabaka Muteesa, which he did at a supersonic speed as he used to say. I think the British government was also embarrassed by the speed at which he wanted to get the body here. He knew that if the body got here early enough, it would cement his hold on power. He wanted to get whatever mileage he could from that action and he did.
When the preparations were on, President Idi Amin asked me to take charge of the kabaka’s (then Prince Ronald Mutebi) stay.
I had been principal private secretary under Obote and I was in Singapore when the coup took place. I came back via Dar es Salaam and to my surprise, the (new) president asked me to go back to my old office. I later became permanent secretary in the office of the president and secretary to cabinet.
That was the time when these events were taking place. I was responsible for his (Kabaka Mutebi’s) programme when he came to bury his father. That is how I was able to meet him. He didn’t stay very long after the burial.
Amin procrastinated about the restoration of the kingdom. Many people thought that just as he was anxious to return the remains of Kabaka Muteesa II that he would also go into overdrive to get the kingdoms back.
However, that was not Amin’s plan and I think that is when people realised that he could not be trusted. I followed up the meetings with the Mengo establishment elsewhere in Entebbe and clearly, Amin wanted to use the burial for different purposes.
With that understanding emerging, it would have been wrong for anyone to aise the young prince to stay here. It was best for him to go and continue to observe things from a distance. Things became worse. Many people went into exile and so did I and that is how I linked up with then Prince Mutebi.
My spouse, Theresa Bagenda, daughter of Sarah Ndagire in Kalisizo had a very close connection with the Kabaka’s family. When we got to London, we connected. We are friends in many ways.
While in Brighton, we went and had a good time with my two little children during that very tough time in exile. Exile can be a unifying factor. There is a longing to be home and there we were in that difficult period together. He had been there (in exile) much longer and his father had been there before him. I came back soon after the Idi Amin regime was toppled.
I am amazed at the way he has followed the path of his father. Wherever his father is, he must be proud of him.
SOURCE: Daily Monitor