“There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self.” – Ernest Hemingway
In the beautiful Bunyoro Kingdom of Uganda, one of the five constituent kingdoms of Uganda, we still find royalty making its way to resolve the challenges between the ways of old and the encroaching outside world of today. At one time the Bunyoro Kingdom was the largest in the area, encompassing much of what today is the Great Lakes region of Africa, including parts of Kenya, South Sudan, Rwanda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
I guess you could say the trouble really started in 1894 when Great Britain declared the region north of lake Victoria a protectorate, creating a rub with the King Omukama Kabalega of Bunyoro, who resisted the intrusion and was resultantly captured and exiled to the Seychelles, and parts of the Bunyoro kingdom were given to other kingdoms which had been more amenable to the British settlement. Even with the British having left, and the brutal dictator General Idi Amin having been defeated, the effect of its earlier trials and tribulations can be felt by the people of the Bunyoro kingdom still today. Under the filtered guidance and directed funding by the federal government, kingdoms are seeing a slow revival.
During the years of British influence in an area called Mbarara, south of their original home in the Bunyoro Kingdom, where things were unstable, a princess, and a granddaughter of the famed King Kabalega was brought up by her father and mother on a farm. Alice Kakwano and her parents moved during the years of disruption into a nearby land. Even there the family was recognized as royalty, but Alice’s parents instilled in her the importance of being self-sufficient, resilient, and humble. They made sure that Alice knew her value came from serving others and working hard. They instilled in her a sense of what they call “Pakasa,” which loosely translated means “wake up and get to work!”
Learning the secrets of tending animals, and the right timing and care needed to grow maize and beans, matoke (plantain) and even pineapple were just part of her daily life. Alice was taught by her family as well as her community the importance of storing water for the dry season with dams and other techniques, and of planting sweet potatoes in the rainy seasons when and where other crops were less abundant.
When the Ugandan Bush War broke out, as Yoweri Museveni and his National Resistance Army (NRA) sought to remove Idi Amin and his front man Milton Obote from power, Alice and her family escaped to the safety of Kenya, where she provided supplies, training, and safe passage for those going and coming, much like Harriet Tubman of the famed Underground Railroad. As peace eased back into Uganda under the new leadership of now President Museveni, Alice and her husband Ernest, and their children moved back to their beloved Uganda. Ernest went to helping the country create jobs by converting government owned institutions like the coffee business into a broad network of privately-owned coffee growers and entrepreneurs. Alice went back to farming. Even today, of the age to be retired, Alice spends little time thinking of her royal heritage, but she still loves the days she gets to see the cows, and oversee the crops growing in the field. I’m sure “Princess” Alice would agree with Thomas à Kempis who said “The more humble and obedient to God man is, the more wise and at peace he will be in all that he does.”
To all the amazing women who are willing to get their hands dirty, to work the soil with seed to feed their family and their community, we wish you great blessings.
Want to win a World Food Bank hat? The first person to correctly answer this question will win the highly coveted head cover! Submit your answer in the comment section below.
The not-so-humble Ugandan dictator, Idi Amin, never seemed to recognize that titles don’t necessarily command respect, though he never gave up trying. Can you be one of the first to tell us what all of the abbreviations stood for in his adopted title:
“His Excellency President for Life, Field Marshal Alhaji Dr. Idi Amin Dada, VC, DSO, MC, CBE.”