Sir Edward Mutesa II: Uganda’s first non-executive President but Executive King of Buganda (1962-1966)
I directed the Army Commander specifically against any Army attack (storming) of the Palace and that special care should be taken not to harm Sir Edward, whom I thought was in the Palace. The Army Commander sent 40 men, including Officers.
Those inside the Palace, who were equally armed and in numbers stronger than the Army Unit, thought it a battle and went on shooting at the gate, but the Army Unit kept themselves out until 4.00 pm in the afternoon of May 24, 1966, when they gained entrance into the Palace.
UGANDA IN 1966: The decision to declare a State of Emergency in Buganda was not taken until a report, was received at about 8.30 pm to the effect that some of the ex-Servicemen who had attacked the Army lorry had been arrested by the Police and had in their possession modern weapons which they alleged were distributed to them by officials at the Lubiri (Mengo) Kabaka’s Palace. There was also information at about 9.00 pm, to the effect that a number of Police stations had been over-run by mobs led by chiefs, and that some of them had been burnt out. These were some of the considerations that led to the declaration of the state of Emergency in Buganda Region.
After the cabinet decision I had a meeting both with the Army Commander and the Inspector-General of Police. The two officers were most emphatic that in the then prevailing situation I should give orders for a Unit of the Army to go to Mengo to investigate the story which the Police had obtained from the ex-Servicemen. I agreed with their professional advice and I directed the Army Commander to send a Unit (not the Police as alleged by the Press and Sir Edward) and I also directed the Army Commander to order the Unit to comply with the direction which I must now frame as good behavior, and the use of minimum force to gain entrance into the Lubiri (Palace) for the purpose of investigating the stores of arms. I directed the Army Commander specifically against and Army attack (storming) of the Palace and that special care should be taken not to harm Sir Edward, whom I thought was in the Palace. The Army Commander sent 40 men, including Officers.
The Unit, according to the orders and directives given to them, deposited themselves outside the Palace for ten hours. Those inside the Palace, who were equally armed and in numbers stronger than the Army Unit, thought it a battle and went on shooting at the gate, but the army Unit kept themselves out until 4.00 pm in the afternoon of May 24, 1966, when they gained entrance into the Palace.
You will find from the book “The Desecration of My Kingdom” by Sir Edward, something to the effect that a number of women and children were in the Palace. These were still there when the Army entered the Palace and each one of them is still very much alive. When you come to Uganda it might be possible for you to observe for yourself how impossible it was for 40 men to surround completely the Palace at Mengo. Sir Edward got out when it was raining at about 1.00 pm through the Gate of Death, and went to—of all places—the Roman Catholic Headquarters at Rubaga. From there he moved to a house only two miles away and spent the night.
At dawn he was driven in a car through the countryside and spent another night with a friend—still in Buganda Region. The next night he drove to Masaka town, then on to the Tanzania border, where he boarded a boat and went to Bukoba and stayed with a Presbyterian Bishop, before proceeding to Burundi. There is no truth, only myth, in the story that he went through jungles, ate fruits and generally made it to Burundi on foot. That, however, is the myth that a number of papers still entertain.
To consider any policy of the Government of Uganda or reducing that policy to mean that Mengo must approve of it to succeed, is to ignore deliberately a number of what I have called landmarks which have taken place in Uganda since Independence Day and which were either favored or seriously opposed by Mengo. The attempt to ignore those landmarks is the same as living in a world of myth rather than of realities.
In our next series, we shall report on how Obote denies the politics of ethnicity in his post independent government or trying to destroy Bugandaism.