By ROBERT KAMUKAMA
BULANGE, MENGO[SHIFTMEDIA] This year’s Kabaka birthday celebrations and run have been shifted to an unspecified date in May as Kabaka Mutebi is still in Europe and is not expected to be back by his birthday.
The Katikkiro Charles Peter Mayiga said this as he addressed the media at Bulange Mengo in Kampala.
Mayiga noted that Kabaka Mutebi is not expected to be present in the kingdom by the 13th of April 2022. The birthday celebrations cannot therefore kick-off without the presence of the main celebrant Kabaka Mutebi.
Kabaka Mutebi II left for Europe on the 29th of March 2022 to meet medical experts and business partners of his Kabaka Foundation and he is still on this trip until May this year when he is expected to return.
The Kabaka’s birthday is not only held to celebrate his life but to also advocate for a specific health-related cause according to the theme set by the kingdom that year. This has now also been pushed to May.
The Kabaka usually flags off the run at the Mengo palace with a Buganda and Uganda flag. People then begin to run setting out from the Mengo palace along the Royal mile and ending at the palace.
Traditionally, the run is the biggest bash of the year with over 50,000 people participating every year donning red kits. It is held on the Sunday preceding Kabaka’s 13th April birthday to mobilize funds for a specific health-related cause.
The run was started in 2014, focusing on fighting fistula and by 2016, enough money had been raised and given to Kitovu hospital to help treat women with the condition.
In 2017, the run was directed at fighting against sickle cell and as of 2019, proceeds totaling to 550 million Shillings had been raised and given towards the fight. In 2019, the run was directed towards fighting HIV after Kabaka Mutebi was appointed the UNAIDs HIV/AIDs Ambassador. This theme continues till this year.
According to Katikkiro Mayiga, the birthday run kits which were supposed to be worn for the run are still held by the customs as Airtel Uganda has been unable to clear them on time to be used for the run which was expected to take place on Sunday 10th April 2022. Airtel as the main sponsor of the run is still working on having the kits cleared by May so that the run will be held then.
This is the first time for the Kabaka’s birthday not to be celebrated on the 13th of April since the kingdom and monarchy were restored in 1993. Since the reign of Kabaka Daudi Chwa, the birthday of the Kabaka has been celebrated publicly. Chwa’s birthday was celebrated on the 8th of August while that of his son Muteesa II was celebrated annually on the 19th of November.