Saturday, 15 March 2014

Bunyoro wants UK to return stolen throne

King Solomon Gafabusa Iguru dons royal attire during the ‘empango’ celebrations at the palace.

Bunyoro Kingdom has asked the government to support its demand to Britain to return its royal throne which was allegedly stolen by Col Colville, a British colonial agent on June 11, 1894.
Led by the prime minister, the Rev Jackson Nsamba Kasozi, the kingdom officials presented a petition signed by King Solomon Gafabusa Iguru, to MPs on the Finance, Budget and Natural Resources committee during a meeting on Wednesday.
“The British are keeping my throne at Pitt Rivers Museum as a historic piece that people pay money to see. Great Britain has benefitted financially from this throne since it got into their hands,” King Iguru’s petition reads in part. Kingdom officials say at the time of independence in 1962, the artifact and others should have been surrendered to Uganda.
Minister’s take
“However, the British chose to keep them and continue to earn income from them. I hold them legally responsible and accountable. This throne is our heritage,” the petition reads further.
The State minister for Bunyoro Affairs, Mr Ernest Kiiza, said the government had taken note of Bunyoro Kingdom’s concerns and would handle them accordingly.
“Government has the commitment to address our historical injustices. Some have been addressed and many more will be addressed,” Mr Kiiza, who is also the chairperson of Bunyoro Parliamentary Caucus, said.
Asked by MPs what the kingdom expected from Parliament regarding the petition, the head of Bunyoro Kingdom’s regalia, Mr George Muhuruzi, said they want the central government to exert diplomatic pressure on Britain to return the confiscated throne and compensate the kingdom.
This newspaper has, however, seen correspondences between the kingdom and Pitts Rivers Museum in which the museum denies holding the said throne.
The king wrote to the museum on November 28, 2013, demanding his royal throne which he saw during his visit.
Britain administered Bunyoro as a conquered territory after British soldiers defeated Omukama Kabalega’s nine-year rebellion against colonialism. Besides losing lives during the colonial war, Bunyoro says it also lost its cultural artifacts and symbols to the British.

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