Tribute to Angelina Nabakooza – Denis Mugonza Waggumbulizi

The late Angelina Nabakooza, the woman acclaimed for hiding, Kabaka Edward Muteesa II at the height of the 1966 Buganda Crisis, died on September 29, 2022, aged 109 years old and she was buried on Saturday, October 01, 2022, at Nsambya village, Mawogola County in Ssembabule District.

On the morning of May 23, 1996, the back-and-forth friction between the first President of Uganda, Sir Edward Muteesa II, the Kabaka of Buganda, and the then Prime Minister, Apollo Milton Obote, came to a head. Following a confrontation between government troops led by Idi Amin and Royal guards at Mengo palace, Kabaka Muteesa made the most of a cloudburst to flee.

Kabaka Muteesa embarked on a difficult journey that saw him take refuge in Rubaga Cathedral. He then braved grueling drives on rutted dirt roads past the odd zinc-roofed house en route to western Uganda. When he reached Ssembabule, he opted to take a breather. One of his aides known simply as Mumiransananfu then established connections with Nabakooza safe in the knowledge that she swore her allegiance to the Kabaka. Over a 20-day stretch, Nabakooza not only put a roof above the Kabaka but also nourished him in undoubtedly his darkest hours.

While Kabaka Muteesa stayed at Nabakooza’s home, the military launched a big manhunt for him. It was decided that the Kabaka had to flee the country via Rwanda. Staying at Nabakooza’s home was out of the question, especially after Obote staked Shs250, 000 (the equivalent of Shs60m today) for any information that would lead to Muteesa’s arrest. The Kabaka appeared two months later, in July 1966, in Bujumbura, Burundi from where arrangements were made to process onward travel papers for him to go to Landon. While, Muteesa died of alcohol poisoning in London, UK, three years after fleeing Uganda, Nabakooza’s act of velour in trying to save Kabaka Muteesa II will continue to be remembered fondly for many years to come.

It’s such a good thing that before Nabakooza died, she was honored in life, along with many others by Kabaka Ronald Muwenda Mutebi II, in recognition of her services to the Buganda Kingdom, specifically for her role in protecting, Ssekabaka Muteesa II for the month he spent in Uganda after Obote’s attack on May 23, 1966, before fleeing into exile.

Nabakooza contributed to Uganda’s contemporary history and she would, in normal countries, also be recognized and honored by the central authorities, since Buganda’s history is no doubt also Uganda’s destiny. Nabakooza’s name will forever be etched on Buganda’s collective memory, even in her death.

She lived an extraordinarily long life and was able to witness that sad chapter in the history of Buganda and Uganda since the criminal attack, but also to have an opportunity, on a happier note, to be honored by none other than Kabaka Muwenda Mutebi himself.

The late Angelina Nabakooza became a heroine after showing courage and roots in hiding, Kabaka Muteesa II, saving him from the 1966 attack on his palace by Obote.

Nabakooza was a loving and caring person, who worked hard to save her King.

Nabakooza brought glory to Buganda and brought pride to the people of Ssembabule District.

Lastly, there should be great lessons to us with regard to our behavior and conduct. If Nabakooza saved, Kabaka Muteesa in 1966, and the gift that Obote set up did not shake her, the people of today should also be involved in all the initiatives brought to build and bring back, Buganda back to the top.

We should strengthen relationships with different people and trust each other to help them develop.

Nabakooza made a great sacrifice and exhibited a brave act and so we must follow her example.

I thank, Kabaka Mutebi for awarding the late Nabakooza, Buganda’s highest honor, The Order of the Shield and Spears (Ekitiibwa ky’Amafumu n’Engabo) in March 2009 with a new house and a befitting send-off in October 2022. Nabakooza formed an ever-dwindling generation of eyewitnesses to the illegal assault on Buganda in May 1966. 

Go lucky, Angelina Nabakooza, the bravest woman of all time in the Buganda Kingdom.

By Denis Mugonza Waggumbulizi | Advocate, Researcher & Entrepreneur

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