Bulange Mengo: The True pride of the Buganda Kingdom
Bulange Mengo: Within a few meters of the Kabaka’s palace on Namirembe hill stands Bulange the parliament and administration structure of the large Buganda kingdom. A straight Kabaka Anjagala road leads directly from the palace’s main gate to the parliament a perfect place to learn the history of Buganda which is identical to that of Uganda as a country.
Initially the ministers and the kings used to convene within the palace, or under one or more of the trees. As time went on grass thatched conference centers to serves as the parliament were constructed and during the 20th century prime minister Apollo Kaggwa constructed the first brick parliament. However as the parliament grew so did the need for a bigger parliament thus the construction of Bulange in 1955 with plans Ssekabaka Mutesa ll brought with him upon return from exile in Scotland similar to a building he had seen and admired there. The construction was fully funded by the Buganda government. The building was completed in 1958 and became the administrative capital of Buganda Kingdom. The Lukiiko were to hold their session her and the king handed it over to them.
The building sits on a piece of land that was once occupied by the first British police, formally called Namirembe. It has only one floor as one sits on the Kings’ head culturally. Bulange name was derived from the weaving grass that once grew on this hill.
There are lots of interesting stories about the 56 clans of Buganda that are well represented on the vestibule of Bulange. Symbols of each clan and their significance are explained. The guide will further explain what it means to be a part of a clan today and its role.
In the early years specifically 1966, Uganda as a country faced a political mayhem, the Lubiri (palace) was invaded and captured. Bulange was turned into the Uganda army headquarters when Obote ll decided to do away with the cultural institution. Thanks to the National resistance movement, in 1993, cultural institutions were restored and Bulange was handed back to the Buganda Kingdom.
This however did not come without any restrictions or estrangements- even though the Lukiiko recommenced its duties, there were precincts in the way they were to do their work. The Buganda Kingdom became a legitimate monarchy. The Lukiiko (parliament) was to legislate only cultural laws and to handle other developmental issues but were not supposed to take part in anything political. Unlike in the earlier days the Buganda Lukiiko was not to handle any political issue. The Kabaka was made apolitical. At the time, the Lukiiko was made up of sixty eight directly elected members from the Buganda counties, 18 Buganda county chiefs, 6 members who were allotted by the Kabaka and members of the Buganda cabinet ministers. The Kabaka and his prime minister have offices here along with the ministers.
When you are done you can support the Kingdom’s work by buying a certificate of any amount you feel comfortable with ranging from 5000 to 100000 or you could even have more. Visit the local bark cloth shop that also has numerous kooks o the History of Buganda just in case you have any more questions on the Kingdom f the country.