Fort portal, Uganda by Anastasious Gordon Ssekandi.
King Oyo Nyimba Kabamba Iguru Rukidi iv World’s traditional leader who ascended the throne at the youngest age ever on Saturday celebrated 25 years Coronation Anniversary (Empango).
The Toro King reigning over one of Uganda’s traditional monarchies hosted a limited number of delegates at the Kingdom Palace in Fort-portal West of the country led by Uganda’s Premier Rt Hon Dr Ruhakana Rugunda who represented President Yoweri Kaguta. The President congratulated King Oyo and applauded the cordial relationship between Uganda Government and the Kingdom in advancing cultural and development objectives.
Recently King Oyo who is also Chairperson of World Monarch Summit Secretariat met and agreed with President Museveni to postpone the first World Monarchs Summit to 25 – 27 July 2023 due to COVID 19. The duo also agreed on a new Road Map to engage Monarchs in the COVID 19 response and recovery through virtual forums and regional dialogues.
Oyo is now strategising to still host this summit.
Quick Facts: Reign, Coronation …
Rukirabasaija Oyo Nyimba Kabamba Iguru Rukidi IV, King Oyo was born on 16 April 1992 to King Patrick David Mathew Kaboyo Olimi III and Queen Best Kemigisa Kaboyo. Three and half years later in 1995, Oyo ascended the throne and succeeded his father to become the 12th ruler of the 180-year-old Kingdom of Toro.
In pre-colonial times, what is now Uganda was composed of sovereign kingdoms and societies headed by Tribal chief chiefs and Kings . Whereas most societies in Uganda such as communities in its north and northeastern were loosely set up systems led by clan leaders, others like Bunyoro, Buganda, Ankole and Toro were organised kingdoms.
In 1966, the political powers of the traditional leaders were abolished by the nationalist movement led by Milton Obote, who opposed the kings because of their collaboration with British colonial authorities alongside their potential to be divisive forces and thus a threat to the nascent republic. The 1970s and 1980s were characterised by political instability and civil unrest, which led to serious repercussions for the cultural institutions. Many of the leaders like the Kabaka Mutesa of Buganda and Omukama Patrick Kaboyo of Toro were forced into exile to escape the regime of terror. It was not until 1986 that President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, by an amendment to the constitution in 1993, reinstated the kingdoms. The kingdoms would never enjoy the sovereignty they had in pre-colonial times, but they would be instrumental in mobilising the country towards social and economic recovery.
Toro, with its capital Fort Portal, lies in the mid-western part of present-day Uganda. The people of Toro, known as the Batooro or Batoro, comprise 3.2 percent of the 35.5 million people of Uganda (2012 estimate). The Kingdom is ruled by the Babiito dynasty, whose history dates as far back as the 14th century. According to oral history, Prince Olimi Kaboyo Kasunsunkwanzi, son of the King of Bunyoro, annexed the southern part of his father’s Kingdom in 1822 and founded what is known as Toro today.
Oyo Nyimba is referred to as the Omukama, which means “King”, and Rukirabasaija, which means “the greatest of men”. Although he is considered the sovereign leader of the Batooro, Oyo Nyimba’s power is limited to cultural duties.
The death of his father King Kaboyo in 1995 meant the Crown Prince had to assume the role of King during his toddler years. At 2 a.m. on 12 September 1995, a week after the late king’s burial, the rituals to hand over the reins of power to Oyo began. They included a mock battle at the palace entrance fought between enemy forces of a “rebel” prince and the royal army, and a test of Oyo’s divine right to the throne, in which the Omusuga, head of the royal clan, called on the gods to strike Oyo dead if he was not of royal blood. On passing the test, Oyo was permitted to sound the Nyalebe, a sacred Chwezi drum, as his forefathers had done. He was then blessed with the blood of a slaughtered bull and a white hen.
At 4 a.m, Oyo was crowned King amidst a jubilant crowd and entered the palace as the new ruler of the Kingdom of Toro. He was served his first meal as King, which consisted of millet dough. He sat in the lap of a virgin girl, and he swore allegiance to the Crown while lying on his side on the ground.
The cultural rituals were followed by a religious ceremony presided over by the Anglican Bishop, Eustance Kamanyire. President Museveni attended the coronation celebrations and paid tribute to the new King.
Three regents were charged with overseeing King Oyo’s growth into the role of King and with handling the cultural affairs of the Kingdom during the King’s childhood and youth. At the time of his coronation, the three regents included his mother, Queen Best (the Queen Mother); his aunt/godmother, Princess Elizabeth Bagaaya; and President Museveni.
The late Colonel Muamar Gaddafi, the leader of Libya, was a patron of the Kingdom of Toro with close ties to the royal family. The 9 year old king King Oyo named Gaddafi the “defender” of the Kingdom and invited him to attend the 6th coronation anniversary celebrations in 2001. Gaddafi had made donations to the Kingdom, helping pay for refurbishments to the Palace in Fort Portal.
Charity and development projects
One of the main duties of the King is to lobby for donations for economic and social welfare projects for the wellbeing of his subjects. These include health, education, economic and cultural projects. The latter is important to build the people’s confidence in the King and promote strong cultural identity. Supported by his regents and family, Oyo travels the world seeking foreign assistance for the development of Toro. Most recently, Oyo received 100 wheelchairs on behalf of the Kingdom which were distributed to five regions of Toro. Other humanitarian projects are endorsed by the Kingdom through the Batebe Foundation of Toro which runs a special education fund for needy children.
Aside from his official duties, King Oyo goes to school and has time to play with his friends. However, his status dictates that he goes to private school and has a personal security guard at all times. Oyo spent two years in London and attended preschool there. On return to Uganda he got elementary level of education at The Aga Khan Primary school in Kampala. He later on went to Kampala International School Uganda for high school and says he enjoyed art, music, math, and swimming. He later on enrolled for a Degree in Business Management from Winchester University in the United Kingdom. In October 2013,three years later, King Oyo graduated from the University of Winchester with a bachelor’s degree.