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In his comments in The Observer of July 8, 2016, in response to mine of July 1, 2016 in this newsletter titled: “Rebuilding Kasubi Tombs is more than architecture”, Hassan Mukwaya makes a mockery of the importance of spirituality and, unwittingly, minimizes the impact of cultural spirituality to our daily lives.

Despite Mukwaya’s misgivings, Kasubi Royal Tombs is universally described as a place of: (a) Tangible and intangible value of beliefs; (b) Spirituality; (c) Continuity; (d) Convergence; (e) Pinnacle; and (f) Baganda identity. How anyone would doubt the spirituality of those royal tombs is beyond me. It must be said that Mukwaya’s criticisms or comments appear to lack moral virtue and due cognizance of the Rights of Indigenous People – UN Declaration 2007.

It is the case that partial knowledge always tends to ignore the time and efforts the other party may have invested in the subject that one is criticizing. And that is to be regretted because the approach should always be about adding value rather than trashing knowledge.

I made the case that we should not focus only on the architecture, namely presentation but pay equal attention to the cultural requirement that underwrite the importance of the  royal tombs at Kasubi. My emphasis on the UNESCO program was to underscore what we (Buganda and Uganda) undertook to fulfill when in year 2000 Buganda applied to have the Kasubi Royal Tombs recognized as a World Heritage site. As part of a wider entity we have to find linkages to those other World Heritage sites. Therefore UNESCO’s role in the Kasubi Royal Tombs is based on a 2000 Buganda application and the subsequent terms of acceptance.

Mr. Mukwaya appears unaware of the role of the Bannaalinya. Very briefly, there are 36 Bannaalinya and only the last 4, who took their seat with the Ssekabakas from the 32nd to the 35th are directly attached to the Kasubi Royal Tombs. The Council of Bannaalinya includes all the 36. In other words, they sit in council to update each other and reconcile their responsibilities. Buganda has always been a rule of law, where all social and political structures and responsibilities are common knowledge and predictable.

Since the executive rights of the Bannaalinya were fully recognized by UNESCO and the political authorities in Uganda, it follows that their role should never be questioned rather we should be asking how best we can assist them fulfill their role.

Modernity only arises in what assistance we, as a society, agree to extend to the Bannaalinya to fulfill their role. The suggestion that the Bannaalinya have no rules to guide them is to misunderstand Buganda’s heritage, which is about an orderly society respectful of authority.

As it were, the Nnaalinya would consult the Bannaalinya Council before submitting her request to the authority. In Mukwaya’s modern times, the Nnaalinya could also consult or report to the Buganda Tourism and Heritage Board.

Alternatively, we could follow the guidelines of UNESCO requiring the Bannaalinya reporting and/or consulting with the Buganda Advisory Heritage Commission to give its input before submitting a request for expenditure.

That is what order is about and not just a question of whoever controls the purse decides the vision of the royal tombs. While we are appreciative of the efforts of Mengo to collect ettoffali, Mengo should act only as a Treasury and not as the executive of the royal tombs. That role has historically belonged to the Bannaalinya despite often being ignored.

As proposed by UNESCO, the Site Heritage Committee, for each of the 32 royal tombs, falls under the Buganda Advisory Heritage Commission where each heritage committee is headed by the Site Nnaalinya with specific responsibilities including:

  1. a) Identifying and implementing changes that benefits the site and ensure its sustainable conservation.
  2. b) Developing partnerships and consensus to adopt the site for the contemporary socio-economic environment relating to society.
  3. c) Implementing changes in an incremental way with continuous attitudes so that fully appropriate solutions can be defined along the process – [this addresses the modernity point as raised by Mr. Mukwaya].
  4. d) Improving public understanding about the site, its history and its contemporary significance.
  5. e) Improving the conditions of life permanent caretakers of the royal tombs e.g. Statutes 8, 1993 schedule 7.
  6. f) Adopting partnership and transparency in management and monitoring of the activities to encourage all willing parties to confidently contribute to the positive changes.

It is in light of the above that UNESCO Decision 40 was made in July this year.

It is a given that it should not be up to an individual, however powerful, to direct and control social policy. It is for this reason that voices were raised about the royal tombs. The work is that of a collective responsibility hence the reason as a member of Uganda Heritage Group (previously unknown to Mr. Mukwaya) I took courage to point out that rebuilding Kasubi Tombs is not strictly about architecture. Secondly, involving a policy outside of the agreed guidelines sponsored by UNESCO would not be acceptable however well-meaning that could be.

I note all else that Mr. Mukwaya mentioned but I see little or no relevance to the substantive issues I raised. I therefore, remain of the view that the royal tombs are more than the architecture, just like “Man shall not live by bread alone….” Mathew 4:4 and Luke 4:4”, that was being promoted as an achievement. Rather we need to involve the Bannaalinya Council and the other stakeholders to revive the spirits of old and the Royal Tombs to become, once again, a shrine of pride and civilization.

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