It has been reported that Baganda who live in Diaspora and and others who attended the December 28, 2016, Buganda Diaspora meeting with Kabaka Mutebi were required to buy entry tickets at a price of US$100 per head. Anyone who could not afford to buy the ticket, regardless of his or her relevance to the purposes of the function, was unable to attend.
Except for a tiny number, Abataka b’Obusolya and Abataka b’Amasiga (clan elders) and prominent Buganda princes and princesses could not afford the tickets and, therefore, did not attend. Essentially, this function, which was advertised as an opportunity for Diaspora Baganda to visit Kabaka and experience Baganda culture turned out to be a commercial event.
There is strong evidence now that this Buganda function, and several other functions like it on Kabaka Mutebi’s calendar which are advertised under the theme of Buganda culture, such as the annual New Year eve Nkuuka yo’Mwaka, have are fully commercial events. Even the Ttofaali money collections, which extended to non-Baganda, were adopted and promoted as Buganda cultural events.
According to a December 28, 2016 statement on the official Buganda Government website (www.buganda.or.ug), the Buganda Diaspora Day function, like the Nkuuka yo’Mwaka, shall be an annual revenue generating “Buganda cultural event”. The question is whether Buganda culture is indeed a commercial product.
The basic message of the advertisement for the recently concluded Buganda Diaspora Day was “Baganda in Diaspora to pay US$100 for an opportunity to spend time and to feast with the Kabaka of Buganda”. And the main message of the advertisements for Nkuuka yo’Mwaka over the past several years has been, “Buy your ticket to be there when Kabaka wa Buganda unlocks the door into the New Year”.
So, in all this salesmanship, what is the Buganda culture, the product that the organizers are marketing? Is it the Kabaka of Buganda, the Diaspora Day feast and congratulatory speeches, the western copycat culture of Kabaka unlocking a New Year or the half-nude and sexy dances that have become a staple at Nkuuka yo’Mwaka and other events in Lubiri?
Who are the customers of this Buganda culture on the Uganda market? Is it Baganda seeking to experience their culture through their cultural institutions such as the Kabakaship, clans, olulyo olulangira, amasaza, youth groups and others? Or is it any person who has money to afford the tickets to commercial events like Diaspora Day feast and Nkuuka yo’Mwaka?
On the official Buganda Kingdom website, it is stated that Buganda culture is based on the clans. The number of these clans and other details are also stated. The question is, which part of the Buganda culture is on sale at the Diaspora Day feast, Nkuuka yo’Mwaka and Tofaali was based on the Baganda clans?
The truth is that Buganda culture is Buwangwa, with Nnono as the native laws and traditions, Bulombolombo as customs and Mizizo as taboos. Buwangwa is about foundationism, essentialism and ontology. So, if Buganda culture, as Buwangwa is based on Bika (Baganda clans), why don’t Abataka b’Obusolya and Abataka b’Amasiga have a leading role in the Diaspora Day feast, Nkuuka yo’Mwaka and Tofaali?
It is the Bataka, including the Ssabataka, who created and led the development of Obuwangwa (Baganda culture) over the last several hundred years. Even during the tough years 1966-1993, when Kabaka was in exile the Bataka proved that they are the true custodians of Obuwangwa.
What Buganda culture is being marketed without Abataka having a key role? The bigger question, however is, how can Buwangwa (Baganda culture) be commercially sold? What becomes of Buganda culture if these salesmen are allowed to continue claiming they are selling it at events like the Diaspora Day feast, Nkuuka yo’Mwaka and Tofaali but deliver foreign cultures to the ticket holders?