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The King and the Kingdom of Bunyoro-Kitara
This kingdom, once the most powerful in East Africa, was created out of a former empire and is one of the oldest on the continent. It has an inspiring history, a rich culture, and a bright future.
His Majesty Rukirabasaija Agutamba King Solomon Gafabusa Iguru the First, is the forty-ninth Omukama of Bunyoro-Kitara. He is the twenty-seventh King (Omukama) of his dynasty, which is the royal Babiito dynasty.
On July 24, 1993, the Republic of Uganda constitutionally re-established the traditional kingdoms that thrived in ancient times but had been abolished by a dictator in 1967. Unlike the broad political power and rights the ancient kings held, the new kings have no political power per se. However, they serve as titular heads of the various regional governments in Uganda, as codified in 8(a) of the Fifth Schedule of the Article 178 of the Constitution of the Republic of Uganda (2005 Amendment). In addition, His Majesty King Solomon Iguru was specifically recognized as the rightful King of Bunyoro-Kitara by the Supreme Court of Uganda (see Civil Appeal 18/94 Prince J.D.C. Mpuga Rukidi vs. Prince Solomon Iguru and Hon. Henry Kajura and All Members of the Committee of Coronation of Prince Solomon Iguru of April 25, 1994). Similar to other reigning monarchs, the traditional kings currently serve as "cultural figures
" or "traditional leaders
" and are barred from engaging in politics. As such, these "living symbols
" are an inspiration in remembrance of the greatness of the past. They are regional heads, reigning and serving accordingly. But King Solomon Iguru 1st is more. Because his ancestors never renounced their rights, never abdicated
the kingdom, never ceded sovereignty, suffered exile rather than capitulate and concede anything, they maintained their original royal status and sovereign rights under the rules of "prescription.
" This is very significant as King Solomon is not simply a constitutional king. He is also the heir to a dynasty that has kept all its ancient rights intact.
Long before the British ever encountered them, the kingdom of Bunyoro-Kitara had all the ancient trappings of royalty and majesty, including courts, councils, clans, chieftainships, hereditary officers, territories, ceremonies, recognitions of the equivalency of knighthoods, titles, crowns, scepters, and other symbols of sovereignty. It was a well-organized and prosperous kingdom in every sense of the word. (Ibid.) Kingship within Bunyoro-Kitara was determined as follows:
First, the kingship is hereditary in the male line. . . . Succession is not predetermined; any son of a king . . . may inherit [the throne]: which one does so depends on the support he can command. Often two, sometimes three or more, eligible princes have competed for the succession after their father's death. So, in Bunyoro as in some other kingdoms, there was a period of lawlessness and anarchy between reigns, an interregnum during which warring factions made life for ordinary people dangerous and uncertain. To them, it was plain that the maintenance of the kingship was a condition of security and of national well-being, for when it was suspended the country was reduced to chaos and confusion. (J. H. M. Beattie, "Bunyoro: An African Feudality?," The Journal of African History, vol. 5, no. 1, 1964, p . 29)
The ancient succession battles, having caused numerous problems, gave rise to a less aggressive succession system. In 1933, and re-affirmed in 1955, it was officially proclaimed that the King of Bunyoro-Kitara could nominate his successor prior to his death from any of the following options:
(a) The Omukama's sons;
(b) the Omukama's sons' sons;
(c) the Omukama's sons' sons' sons;
(d) the Omukama's brothers;
(e) the Omukama's brothers' sons;
(f) the Omukama's brothers' sons' sons;
(g) other direct male descendants of the Omukama Kabarega. ("The Bunyoro Agreement," between Bunyoro and the British government in 1933 & 1955)
From the late 1800's, the Kings of Bunyoro-Kitara were:
Omukama Yohana Kabarega CHWA II 1869-1873 deposed and reinstated 1873-1898
Omukama Kabugungu OLIMI VI 1873 (abdicated)
Omukama Yosiya William Karukara KITAHIMBWA I 1898-1902
Omukama Andereya Bisereko DUHAGA II 1902-1924, born 1882, died 1924
Omukama Tito Gafabusa WINYI IV 1924-1967, born 1883, died 1971
The late Omukama Sir Tito Gafabusa Winyl IV, Knight Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, Rukirabasaija Agutamba Omukama (king) of the Kingdom of Bundoro-Kitara lawfully nominated his son Prince Solomon Iguru on October 22, 1962 by a written document according to the rules of succession. Upon his death in 1971, Prince Solomon Iguru ". . . was installed as heir . . . to the throne and he duly performed the requisite ceremonies and rites in accordance with Bunyoro Customs, Tradition and Culture.
" (Prince Mpuga Rukidi vs. Prince Solomon Iguru, Civil Appeal 18/94, May 17, 1996, Supreme Court of Uganda) On June 11, 1994, he was crowned the 27th Omukama in the Babiito dynasty of Bunyoro-Kitara.
As a constitutional honorary king as well as a rightful "de jure
" king, he has the right to honor others. One ancient honor, called the Omujwaara Kondo (plural form: Abajwara Kondo), was recognized as an Order. It was ". . . [officially] recognized as an old-established Order of distinction in the Kingdom [by the British in 1933]. . . . The Omukama [could] bestow the distinction of membership of this Order upon any . . . who has rendered service of outstanding merit to the Kingdom of Bunyoro-Kitara.
" ("The Bunyoro Agreement,
" 1955, §12 & 1933, §10) Members of this ancient honor were, and are, given the hereditary title of "Omujwaara Kondo
" (Coronet-Wearer), which has the equivalency of a knight or dame in the European tradition. The honor of Omujwaara Kondo is believed to date back to the 1400's, although records were orally kept and are not conclusive. (http://omukama-bunyoro-foundation-usa.org/royal_rolls.htm
The power and right to confer such honors is, of course, fully active today in the King and such honors have and are being rightfully conferred on worthy individuals from time to time. This special sovereign authority and right is called a "fons honorum", which is the right of a sovereign to be a "fount of honor" or a "fountain of honor" for others. It is a well-known fact that "de jure" or deposed kings can confer knighthoods and other high honors to others. Brien Horan, JD, legal advisor to the U. S. Embassy in Paris and Grand Duke Wladimir's personal lawyer, explained:
The exercise of the royal prerogative by the heads of deposed dynasties is discussed in a number of scholarly articles, including "The Royal Prerogative and its Use by the Heirs to Former Thrones" by Guy Stair Sainty and "The Social Recognition of Titles of Honours" by the late Sir Iain Moncreiffe of that Ilk, 11th Bart., Ph.D., LL.B, Albany Herald, an article published in Royalty, Peerage and Nobility of the World (London, 1976), pp. 663-670. See also The Jacobite Peerage by the Marquis of Ruvigny and Raineval (Edinburgh, 1904), which examines peerages created in exile from 1688 to 1788 by the deposed senior line of the English Royal House, as legitimist claimants to the throne. The basis for these many precedents of titles conceded by the heads of formerly sovereign houses is the juridical notion that de facto loss of sovereignty does not deprive a dynastic head of his rights as a fons honorum.
Dr. Pangloss declared:
The view that heads of deposed dynasties retain [keep and preserve] the capacity of fons honorum is well grounded in the laws and customs that have shaped the nature of royalty in Europe over the ages. In this view, possession of fons honorum is a dynastic attribute inherited by the head of any sovereign house whether he has reigned or not. . . .
In discussing the rights of H.M. King Kigeli V, the deposed king of Rwanda to grant titles and orders, Dr. W. H. Jones, declared,
Similarly, the King of Bunyoro-Kitara is granting some of the ancient honors of his kingdom to those of outstanding merit.
During the time of the reign of Chwa II Kabalega, King Solomon Iguru, grandfather, the kingdom came under direct and relentless attack, because of the invasion of the country by agents of the British government in 1872. British domination followed despite the determined armed resistance of Kabalega and his followers ". . . until in 1899 the valiant Omukama [king Kabalega] was defeated and eventually sent into exile in the Seychelles Islands.
" (Stewart Addington Saint-David, "All All Men: The Changing Role of the Omukama in Christianized Bunyoro," p. 4: see his article "Crown, Spears and Drums" at http://www.nobility-association.com/PDF%20Files/Bunyoro-Kitara/BOOK%20%20Crown%20%20spears
Thereafter, the Bunyoro Kings strenuously resisted and opposed outside rule. None of them ceded sovereignty, but instead maintained it according to international law principles and by the rules of "prescription.
" In so doing, they preserved their sovereign rights. (See: "Sovereignty: Questions and Answers
") Hence, the King of Bunyoro today is not just a regional king as head of the regional government of Bunyoro, but in addition is a true sovereign "de jure
" king. As such, he has all the rights of a true "fons honorum.
Dr. Stephen P. Kerr, a World Court Litigator and Special International Legal Counsel to the House of Habsburg-Lorraine, made it clear that, ". . .de jure possession of sovereignty continues so long as the de jure [deposed or dethroned] ruler or government does not surrender his sovereignty to the usurper.
" (See "Dynastic Law
") (Johann Wolfgang Textor, Synopsis Juris Gentium
, Chapter 10, Nos. 9-11, 1680)
This was once discussed by Thomas Hobbs in the 17th Century. He stated, “His [the sovereign’s] power cannot, without his consent, be transferred to another: he cannot forfeit it. . . .
” (Hobbes, Lev XX 2-3) (http://etext.library.adelaide.edu.au/h
In other words, the consistent resistance of the Kings of Bunyoro-Kitara to colonial domination means that they never forfeited their sovereignty. They never surrendered and continue to use their ancient titles along with maintaining their customs, rites, and ceremonies as rulers.
Baroni W. Santos, in his book Treaty of Heraldry, declared:
The doctrine [of dynastic law] and [international] jurisprudence have confirmed that the territorial power is not necessary for the exercise of the dynasty, for they are inserted in the person of the sovereign, which keeps the same after the loss of the throne, passing them regularly to their heirs and successors [ad infinitum or forever].
[In other words] the loss of its territory in no way diminishes its sovereign powers, [in the least] because these are inherent in the person of the sovereign, transmitting it, perpetually to their descendants. (Vol. I, 5th ed., 1978, p. 197-198)
Jean J. Burlamaqui, one of the great philosophers in international law wrote, "Every [sovereign has] a right to succeed in his rank, and transmits this right to his descendants, . . . though he has never reigned himself, that is to say, the right of the deceased passes to the living
" over and over again from one generation to another. As long there are living heirs of a dynasty that uses their titles to preserve their rank, the fons honorum is perpetually and endlessly maintained throughout time. (www.constitution.org/burla/burla_2203.txt
King Solomon Iguru is a full "de jure" sovereign with all the rights, privileges and royal honors of such, because both he and his ancestors obeyed the international jurisprudence which preserves such rights in perpetuity.
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