By Buganda Today
On Tuesday afternoon this week, a black BMW pulled up in front of the main door of the imposing Bulange building where Katikkiro Charles Peter Mayiga was standing with a few of his lieutenants. In the back seat of the BMW was the United Nations Undersecretary responsible for UNAIDS – the UN agency tasked with eliminating HIV/AIDS globally. Michel Sidibe, the UNAIDS Executive Director, with a huge delegation of HIV/AIDS experts were at Mengo to further cement the relationship the Kingdom is forging with the United Nations in fighting HIV/AIDS.
Previously, UNAIDS requested the Kabaka to champion male involvement in the fight against HIV/AIDS in Africa. Kabaka Ronald Mutebi accepted the honor and became a goodwill ambassador. Sidibe and UNAIDS’ plan is to eliminate HIV/AIDS by the year 2030. “With your involvement as Buganda Kingdom, we know we can achieve this target before that year. In you, we have a partner we can trust,” Sidibe told Katikkiro Mayiga.
Sidibe’s visit to Bulange shows how far Buganda Kingdom’s influence is growing at a global stage. Previously, such high profile visitors would keep away preferring to only involve themselves with the central government and maybe some embassies. Today, such visitors know about Buganda and they look at it as a responsible and genuine partner in dealing with global issues.
However, it wasn’t always like that. Katikkiro Mayiga has worked hard over the last four years to portray the image of a Kingdom that is different, modern in outlook without putting aside its cultural aspirations. He has been blamed and criticized for that though the once barren tree is now bearing fruits.
And this started with Bulange itself. The potholes in the compound are gone, the lawn is immaculate. The building has fresh paint and very clean. A gigantic construction site besides it has been replaced with a nice building with blue glass windows in Masengere. When you are on the first floor of Bulange, you clearly see the Twekobe – also looking as majestic as it should be. A giant step in restoring Buganda’s glory.
The Royal Mile that connects Bulange to the Palace at Mengo looks beautiful thanks to a partnership with Kampala Capital City Authority. Such things may look simple but they took effort. They also matter to visitors. Imagine if you visited Bulange and your car goes through a deep pothole? And when you enter Katikkiro’s office, indeed it is an office that a Katikkiro of Buganda deserves. First impressions matter.
The people have been mobilized and they are united behind their king. That is why the UNAIDS Executive Director paid a visit. He knows there is much he can get from Buganda to achieve his ambitious target. He also knows Buganda under Mayiga can be trusted.
This started with local people who contributed Ettoffaali, then local companies like Airtel, Post Bank, Uganda Breweries and many others started lining up at Mengo. It was also natural that UNAIDS came along. Other global bodies will surely also find it important to work with Mengo. Former United Kingdom Prime Minister Tony Blair’s wife, Cherie Blair, has already been at Mengo. And like the Baganda say, Gakyali Mabaga (the best is yet to come).