New group in Bunyoro seeks for compensation from Britain over colonial era atrocities

A new organisation in Bunyoro is ramping up the push for compensation from the British government for atrocities committed during the colonial era against Bunyoro-Kitara Kingdom.

Under the umbrella organisation known as the Mubende Banyoro United Association (MBA), the activists are demanding up to USD$10 trillion in war claims.

They say that they are working with Bunyoro-Kitara Kingdom and the government of Uganda to push for justice and apology for the cruel treatment that was meted to their ancestors by the colonial administration.

An MBA official disclosed that they have already gathered evidence from across the world where the tormentors kept it.

John Mandy, the organisation’s General Secretary told The Albertine Journal that they are in the final stage of filing a court case with guidance from their lawyers.

The Banyoro accuse Britain of plundering natural resources, torture, wrongful detention and genocide, among others, especially during the scorched earth counter rebellion that crushed the Kabalega resistance.

This is not the first time groups from Bunyoro are demanding reparations from Britain.

A similar suit by the Bunyoro-Kitara kingdom against Britain under Civil Suit 595 of 2004 in the constitutional court of Uganda was botched in its initial stages.

The suit was put on hold in 2007 when the British Government under the leadership of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth requested to settle the matter out of Court.

This was after President Yoweri Museveni agreed with the then British Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, when he came for Common Wealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) which Uganda hosted in Kampala, in 2007 that the money be sent through budget support to a tune that has never been revealed to the public.

Another group pursuing a case against the British government is Bunyoro Kitara Reparations Agency (BUKITAREPA), which has been collecting money from people of Bunyoro Kingdom to allegedly finance a court case against Britain.

It (BUKITAREPA) also came under fire from local leaders accusing them of tribal indoctrination and cheating locals of their little money-promising they will pay back upon receipt of reparations money after the court ruling.

This culminated into a temporary suspension of BUKITAREPA activities in October 2014.

Mandy said for MBA, they are not getting money from locals but devising other means to fund the case.

He said they contacted the President in 2016 who promised full support and after which he made directives to the Attorney General through the state house legal department head.

He said they have also met the Kingdom officials who also agreed to move together with them.

In a letter dated January 18, 2023 which The Albertine Journal obtained, MBA demanded as one of the conditions not to secede finances, legal backing on the said case or else they would break away from Bunyoro and establish their own Kingdom which would take the greater Kibaale district.

In the same letter they say through investigations in United Kingdom (UK) courts, there are no attempts whatsoever by any person or group from Bunyoro pursuing a court case.

The president has since directed the Attorney General of Uganda, Kiwanuka Kiryowa, Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs to study the Bunyoro claim and prepare an opinion for him on its merits before government’s intervention.

One of the most powerful kingdoms in Uganda at the onset of colonisation, Bunyoro’s development and unity was decimated when the British adopted a scorched earth policy to crush popular resistance by subjects.

MBA said more than two million people are estimated to have died during and after the 1893 to 1899 war, mainly from starvation, disease and murder.

MBA has hired Professor Patrick Loch Otieno Lumumba, a renowned Kenyan public speaker, law lecturer, historian and orator as their lawyer to represent them in the case.

Lumumba on June 8, 2023, was in Hoima City, western Uganda, to deliver a public lecture under the invitation of MBA titled: “Legal claim against the British Government and General Public Lecture on Pan Africanism.”

Joan Aheebwa, a lawyer in Hoima City said the case stands to succeed given a declaration on the Mau Mau case.

She said the High Court in England ruling opened the door for all similar suits based on the same facts.

“Once a test suit succeeds, ground is created automatically for all other claims in the same class.”

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