On April 20, 2016, BugandaWatch got an exclusive interview with the famous Mr. Hassan Mugerwa, founder and leaders of Kabaka Mwennyango, a group of boda-boda (motorcycle taxi) riders who escort the Kabaka of Buganda to and from public events. The interview with Mr. Mugerwa went as follows:
BW: Thank you for accepting to talk to us.
Mugerwa: I am privileged to have this great opportunity.
BW: Please tell us about yourself.
Mugerwa: I am Hassan Mugerwa of Nkima Clan and a resident of Kyaddondo County. I am commonly known as “Maliba”. People gave me this name because I wear an animal skin coat most of the time. My father is the late Abdul Lukwago and my mother is Mrs. Maria Namubiru, of Mmamba Clan and a resident of Mpenja village in Gomba County. And that is where I was born. I did not go far in education because I stopped in P 7, after my father died and since I was one of the older sons I had to take care of my young brothers and sisters.
BW: Please tell our readers about Kabaka Mwennyango.
Mugerwa: We are boda-boda riders from different stages around Kampala. I started alone to escort the Kabaka using my motorcycle. And my style of riding started to attract other boda-boda rider, who later joined me. When the number of riders started to grow, one of the Kabaka’s security guards advised me to form an official group where all members could be registered for easy communication and to ensure there is no security threat to the Kabaka.
BW: How did you recruited other members?
Mugerwa: I visited many boda-boda stages convincing the right people to join the group but many of them asked how they would benefit from this as they were used to getting free fuel and allowances from Uganda politicians. Anyway, I am happy to tell you that many accepted after I explained that we were trying to revive Essanyu lya Buganda, a motorcycle group which used to escort the Kabaka many years ago, from Muteesa and going back.
BW: What are some of the challenges you face while executing your work?
Mugerwa: During the early days of our work, boda-boda riders who are not members in our group used to join our convoy to cause confusion and steal our motorcycles at events. We lost many of our motorcycles that way. To deal with the problem, we got a uniform and formed a security committee among us, to ensure the safety of our motorcycles at all events. We also used to get into accidents and injured, until when we sat with the Kabaka’s security officials and agreed on terms and conditions for our movements. We also found later that the people we recruited included Uganda Government security personnel. One of them was a police officer who we found somewhere in police combat uniform. The other one was an army man, who told us the truth that he was sent into our group to find out what our intentions were. And was leaving because he was sure that our only intention was to serve our Kabaka.
BW: What qualifications do your look for when recruiting members into your group?
Mugerwa: It takes time to give someone our uniform and our identity card because we had bad experiences with bad people who we thought could harm the Kabaka’s security. We follow someone from the village where he was born, where he stays today, his relatives and those who have responsibility over him. We only work with people we know very well. Because our standards are so high, many people want to join us but few can qualify. I am happy we have very good people.
BW: What does a member of Kabaka Mwennyango get?
Mugerwa: Members get the great opportunity to be close to the Kabaka. Of course, serving the Kabaka comes with many other benefits like becoming popular and meeting important people who can be helpful to you. We also created a money account which enables us to help our colleagues in financial problems.
BW: What is your future plan as people who escort the Kabaka?
Mugerwa: It is our dream to get big motorcycles like those which escorted Sseekabaka Muteesa and other kings before him. We also hope to to grow a substantial account which can help our members to improve the lives of their families.
BW: What do you do during your free time?
Mugerwa: I like visiting friends and visiting beaches. I am also good at doing voluntary work.