The Name Buganda Suggests Collective Effort [opinion]

Buganda kingdom’s name is derived from the local language noun obuganda, which means bundles of stalks piled, wrapped or tied together.

One bundle is called omuganda or akaganda when it is small, which then translates to obuganda in plural. Stalks or sticks or logs can be collected together for ease of conveyance, mostly by carrying on the head in the traditional fashion. Hopefully, I don’t mess up the literature but fairly that is it.

There is a saying,”one by one makes a bundle”. When somebody needs to light a huge fire, they collect one stalk at a time till they have all they need for fuel.

Buganda can easily act from its cultural name to “light as many fires” as context requires by bringing together the effort of its people without limit, unless the institution prefers limited capacity and unfinished business.

Kingdoms aren’t meant to be for prestige purposes. They are supposed to act as an identity and unifying factor for their people. Each Muganda is a ‘stalk’ in the bundle that makes up the whole Buganda.

The founders of Buganda were extremely wise in how they baptized their dominion and must be immortalized by way of practicing what they envisioned.

Back then, it is said that whenever the kingdom was going on a military expedition, it was compulsory for all able-bodied men to go along with the king, failure of which one would be put to death when the fighting party returned.

The kingdom also collected taxes which were not optional. Everybody knew where tax revenue went. Today, Buganda doesn’t collect taxes, yet the institution has development programmes. It’s at such times that the ‘one by one’ principle is most handy to empower business and facilitate activities.

In modern times where Buganda has no mandate to collect revenue directly as in the olden days, it takes the willing to help fill the financial gap. People should not feel compelled to give into any cause if they have no means to contribute. The kingdom and its officials haven’t announced sanctions on anybody.

The only existing pressure is social and for those with political ambitions, they may want to make an impression to appease their ancestors and voters. Still it is a choice. Besides ongoing efforts to restore the gutted tombs at Kasubi, the initiative can go places.

The backlash from those questioning the motive of those behind the ongoing fundraising drive is momentary in as far as justifying the cause is concerned. Transparency and accountability issues are expected wherever public funds are concerned.

The ettoffaali drive, being the first of its kind, should be done in such a way as to deliver maximum results to encourage future contributions. Projects that benefit the common man should be put on the to-do-list. No one should freely collect millions from the public for the benefit of just one section of the society.

If today it is ettoffaali (brick) being gathered, next it could be a hoe (enkumbi) to open up a large-scale agricultural operation, omutayimbwa (iron bar) to put up a hospital, school or stadium, or omupiira (tyre) to open up a transport company, for example. I have heard of talk of Buganda Airlines. That would require a, really, willing and generous generation of subjects.

Other dominions outside Buganda can copy the example. They shouldn’t wait for disasters to jolt them first. The problem is that people tend to have less of the spirit of generosity. They only give when a tragedy occurs. We need teamwork with both moral and material support. Indeed, non-Baganda have also willingly donated to the masiro cause.

Such fundraising is, in reality, a model for wealth creation, which should be replicated to other ventures, especially the productive ones. Other than revenue from taxes, the national coffers, too, could do with peripheral support from mass donations of the willing. Programmes to which such drives can be dedicated need not be named. Patriots need not be coerced or overtly begged.

The author is a member of the Commonwealth Writers Group.

Source : The Observer


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