Bamasaba to Celebrate Imbalu Ritual without a King

Updated by Kafeero Twaha

Tuesday, June 07, 2022

Imbalu candidates perform a traditional dance at Mutoto cultural site in Mbale City.

The celebration of this year’s Imbalu (circumcision) ceremony in Bugisu Sub-region is expected to go on without a cultural head.

The ritual, which will kick off in the first week of August at Mutoto Cultural Grounds in Mbale City, is supposed to be presided over by the sitting Umukukha every even year.

But this might not be possible this year since the throne remains empty as the contest over who is the rightful cultural head rages on.

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“For now, we are confused because this means we would proceed without a sitting cultural head, who has important roles to play, including blessing the candidates and other spiritual matters,” Mr Amos Nabende, one of the imbalu surgeons, told this publication on Sunday .

The government has not gazetted any of the parallel leaders despite calls from religious, political and opinion leaders in the region.

Mr Mike Jude Mudoma from Buyobo clan and Mr John Wagabyalire from Halasi clan, all from Mwambu family, were elected in 2020 by separate factions.

Mr Mudoma was elected by the faction led by Mr Nelson Wedaira, the speaker of the general assembly of the institution, while Mr Wagabyalire was chosen by a group led by Mr Geoffrey Wepondi, the secretary general of the institution.

The throne fell vacant after Bob Mushikori, who hailed from the Mubuuya family, died in January last year.
Mr James Manana, one of the elders, said the unresolved leadership wrangles have affected the running of the institution.

In April, the Ministry of Gender, asked the Mbale Resident City Commissioner, Mr Ahamada Washaki, to mediate between the rival groups but Mr Wagabyalire faction expressed reservations on his partiality.

Mr Washaki, however, maintained that he did the mediation successfully and sent the report to the ministry for further management.

Mr James Kangala, the secretary general of the institution, however, said they have formed Bamasaba Elders Council to oversee the imbalu activities as they wait on government to gazette a cultural leader.
“We are hopeful that the government will have gazzetted either Mr Mudoma or Mr Wagabyalire to preside over imbalu ceremony. There is still time,” Mr Kangala said.

He said incase the government fails to gazette any, the first Umukhuka, Mr Wilson Wamimbi, will be called upon to preside over the ceremony.

Mr Godfrey Mabonga, one of the confidants of Mr Wagabyalire, however, told HICGI News Agency on Sunday that they were making preparations to launch the imbalu .
Mr Wagabyalire camp has always maintained that he is the rightful cultural head, who will preside over the imbalu ceremony.

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