Omukama Kabalega succeeded his father Kyebambe 1V Kamurasi and came to the throne still a young man in his early twenties. it is difficult to give all the facts about Kabalega’s reign precisely because there are very many things to say. He is counted among the most powerful and bravest kings Kitara has ever had.
He is compared well with the other hero kings of Kitara like Olimi 1, Chwa 1 ,Olimi 111, Isansa and Duhaga 1. Kabalega was given the following praise names “Ruhigwa, Kitule kinobere abemi, Rukolimbo nyantalibwa mugobe, Rwota Mahanga etc
When Omukama Kyebambe 1V Kamurasi died in 1869 in Kiryandongo ( it’s a district now), all his brothers gathered to bury him and nominate his successor. Among those present were Princes Omudaya, Dwetakya, Kasami and Princesses Nyakuhya and Rwigirwa (his sister) as well as other Babiitos. Significantly absent on this occasion was Prince Nyaika of Kigoye, brother of Kamurasi. Never the less, the rest decided to carry Kamurasi’s body ( from Kiryandongo) to Kitonya in Buhanika Hoima, where it was to buried
Meanwhile, Prince Nyaika who had remained behind ostensibly to guard the palace and the capital was planning to install Kabalega as king in obedience to Kamuras’s expressed wish. In this scheme, he received Kabalega’s full co-operation. But Kabalega was not liked by the chiefs and the Bahuma who favored Prince Kabigumire Ruhwino of Kahere Kabalega’s elder brother. Indeed they made fun of Kabalega, saying “Kabaleega alirega Empango” (Kabalega is the rightful heir to the throne)
As Kamurasi’s grave was being dug at Kitonya and other burial rites being performed Nyaika sent the following secret message to Kabalega, “Have you forgotten your father’s wish? I was present when he expressed the wish that you should succeed him. You will lose the throne if you wait for them to finish burial rites. Are there no other important men who are your friends and who can support you? Then come quickly and do not waste time”
When Kabalega received this message he rallied the support of some of his friends and that of the intimate friends of Nyaika. These were;
1-Nyakamatura son of Nyakatura of the Bamoli clan, saza chief of Bugahya by then
2-Byarogonjo son of Kanyonyi of the Bagonya clan
3-Bitega son of Mambu of the Bakwonga clan
4-Kamara son of Bamya
5-Kikomberwa son of Nyarubona of the Bahinda clan
6-Babiiha son of Kapimpina of the Basazima clan
7-Rugunje son of Mpunde of the Balisa clan
8-Ruhirimya son of Nyabatwa of the Bacunga clan
10-Matebere son of Ndyaki
11-Rusongoz son Byontabara
12-Kabagambe son of Itera
He also got support from many others who were his companions and because unlike Kabigumire he did not favor the Bahuma, Kabalega’s popularity among the ordinary people the bairu was enormous. After conspiring with his friends, they escaped during the night from the palace having crossed the river nyabaleba, they proceeded to Ngagi through Macunda here they pitched their battle camp.
When Kabigumire went to pay respect to his Uncle Omudaya the following morning, Omudaya remarked about Kabalegas absence and inquired from Kabigumire “Where is your brother Kabalega? What is behind all this?, you usually come together to visit me. Is he indisposed? And Kabigumire replied “Sir I did not visit his camp this morning nor have we exchanged messages yet. But in the evening I was him together with Nyaika’s messengers, perhaps he wants a fight. I do not know”
Omudaya was disturbed by this answer and immediately sent a servant to summon Kabalega to him. When the servant reached the place where Kabalega was staying, he found all the houses empty everyone having gone away by night. Infuriated at this news Omudaya said “Oh this child Kabalega, has no feeling of shame. How can he do such a thing without telling us his fathers?” Then he summoned all the Babiito, great chiefs and minister to a meeting at which they declared war on Kabalega.
The army was mobilized and Omudaya gave orders that Kabalega should be captured and brought to before his because had had forgotten his manners ( “Akahwa muno ensoni- literally” meaning lost good manners
The first battle encounter-The leadership of this army was given to Prince Katabanda, son of Kigoye, He was to be assisted by Prince Biremesezo son of Kikonge. Katabanda’s Army encountered that of Kabalega at Kinoga where a big battle was fought. The battle of Kinoga was a big disaster for Kabigumire because the entire army led by Katabanda was wiped out, not even the commanders escaped. Then a chief called Muhangi son of Nyakairu of the Basazima clan, formed his own army and moved against Kabalega Muhangi’s was too totally wiped out just like Katabanda’s Muhangi himself was killed in the battle. This battle was fought in the market belonging to Mbwa son of Bahemba. Then news reached Omudaya that Kabalega was difficult to beat and that he was marching towards Omudaya himself.
On hearing this news Prince Omudaya gathered his cows and fled away with them but he was intercepted at a hill called Musaija Mukuru in Hoima by Kabalega’s men and all his cattle got captured. Omudaya and his men however escaped but Kabalega pursued him up to Mulina and stopped. And as Omudaya continued to flee carrying the dead body of Kamurasi, Kabalega’s soldiers took the captured cows to Nyaika’s home in Buruli
Then Kabalega decided to raid the enemy’s stronghold, between Hoima and Kikonda. His soldiers captured the cattle of Kacwera, Bumba and Kihuna Buruko and Busanga and Kabalega took them all. While all these things went on Kabalega decided to pay a visit to Rubanga son of Kyangwire to seek his aid because Rubanga was a re-known powerful sacred power (Embandwa) at the same time he sent a message to Kabaka Mukabya (Muteesa 1) of Buganda, requesting him to send an army to help him fight against Kabigumire and Prince Kamihanda Omudaya
The war intensified for six month and the initial friend of Kabalega Prince Nyaika upset by the miseries bred by the war lamented “Oh Bugahya is going to die. People have spent 6 month with out cultivating their crops. How can they combat the famine and hunger which is sweeping every where?” This concern made Nyaika to change his mind and moved against Kabalega now.
Nyaika moved from Buruli into Bugahya bringing with him an Arab slave trader called Suleiman (Kirimani as the banyoro called him at the time). They camped at Kasingo and prepared to move against Kabalega. These Arabs traders had been helping both Ruyonga and Kabigumire and using them for their own benefit
Meanwhile Mutesa 1 had decided to send an army to help Kabalega. It was led by the Kangaho( official title of Saza chief of Bulemezi) Nyika. That was in 1870. They entered Kitara by way of Kwankwanzi. Now hoping to get Kabalega to fight without the assistance of Buganda, Nyaika was looking for cattle to raid. By that time Kabigumire was at Kitahuka Kabalega pursued him to this place and inflicted a heavy defeat on him at the battle of Busiba. Kabalega recovered his fathers body here and took it to Kikangara where he left it and continued in pursuit of Kabigumire, who fled to kyegayuke
At this juncture the chiefs became fade up of the succession war and they advised Kabalega to bury his father and proceed to the throne and so stop the fighting and restore peace. Kabalega accepted their advice, buried his father at Busibika Rukindo and thus was crowned king as Chwa II Kabalega. He built his Capital at Kikangara Kisagara. Then he ordered the seizure of a young Prince called Kabagungu crowned him as King Olimi VI and after nine days dragged him to Buziba where he was killed and buried. Buziba is found in Buyaga, Kabagungu’s mother belonged to the Bafumambogo clan.
In the meantime Kabigumire had taken refuge in Nkore and Kabalega appeared secure on the throne. But then the Arabs who had helped Kabalega in the succession war demanded half of Kitara as a reward for their help. Kabalega in response turned his soldiers on them killed some and drove the rest out of his country. And when Baker arrived with his Egyptian and Nubian soldiers, the suggestion of dividing his country was still vivid and rankling in his minds
More trouble was still in store for him. With in a short time Kabigumire invaded Kitara with an army given to him by Omugabe Mutambuko of Nkore. This army was led by Ireeta. The invaders were heavily defeated and Kabigumire was forced once more to flee to Nkore Ireeta himself was captured and taken prisoner.
While in Nkore Kabigumire made another effort to request the Omugabe to raise another army for him. The Nkore King refused to aid him any longer, wondering that a man who had caused the death of many Banyankore should have the courage to ask him for more men. Kabigumire therefore left Nkore and proceeded through Bwera, Kahanga and Rugonjo to his home in Kisuga. Here he was well received by his people. But when Kabalega heard of his presence in Kisuga. He set off with his army from Buruko Bugangaizi matched through Kihaimi and Kikonda and camped at Kikangara. Kabigumire too collected his own soldiers when he learned of Kabalega’s approach.
The two leaders clashed in a big bloody battle here Kabalega was defeated but he did not give up he retreated to Kikube where he re collected a stronger army and once more challenged Kabigumire. This time Kabigumire was defeated and fled to Chope. Here he organized his army into a formidable force. Kabalega once more sent Kisiga with an army to dislodge Kabigumire from his stronghold in Chope but Kisiga’s army was defeated and the leader himself slain. Another army sent to by Kabalega under the leadership of Rugongeza was also liquidated by Kabigumire
At his juncture Prince Nyaika despairing at the un ending war went up to Kabalega and addressed him as follows
“Many people have been destroyed as a result of this war. If the entire population is wiped out what will you rule? If you do not want to kill your brother, then give him part of your kingdom so that he may also become King. How ever if you still hate him then give me a spear and I will go and kill him for you”
When Kabalega heard these words from his uncle he was so much stirred up to action. He handed Nyaika a spear and instructed him to capture Kabigumire is possible or kill him if need be, Nyaika was also given a detachment of the Royal army. He was accompanied by some chief and Nyakamatura head of the Royal Army as his deputy, when they reached Chope they found Kabigumire with few men for he had sent his army to Bugungu. Even though Kabigumire was successful at the first encounter and force Nyaika to request for more help back home from Kabalega, another bloody battle was fought and Kabigumire’s army was totally beaten.
Kabigumire fought with valor and did not surrender even when he discovered that he was left with only one faithful servant Jabara (Japari). Eventually he was killed at a place called Parangoli near Kwese and his servant Japari was captured and brought before Kabalega Kabalega thanked him for fighting for his brother Kabigumire and made him a sectional commander in Rwabudongo’s army.
He lived long and died at Mparo during the war with Europeans. The death of Kabigumire ended the succession war. From Kikube Kabalega moved to Bulyasojo now Masindi district one year before Sir Samuel Baker arrived at this place in 1872 with many Nubian soldiers
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