Uganda : Uganda crowns 'youngest royal'

MsInterpret

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Uganda crowns 'youngest royal'

By Ben Simon (AFP)
FORT PORTAL, Uganda ? The "world's youngest king" assumed his official duties with an apparent air of reluctance on Saturday in a quiet town at the foot of Uganda's Rwenzori mountains.

Oyo Nyimba Kabamba Iguru Rukidi IV, 18, was crowned as head of the Kingdom of Toro in a traditional ceremony in his hilltop palace overlooking his capital of Fort Portal .

Draped in a long embroidered gown of blue and gold, the tall, lean Oyo hardly smiled through much of the ceremony, often staring straight down at the floor.

His symbolic authority covers the area known as the Mountains of the Moon straddling the borders of Uganda and Democratic Republic of Congo.

The young king had officially succeeded to the throne at the age of three when his father died of a heart attack in 1995, but coronation takes place only upon reaching adulthood.

His onlooking subjects struggled to express what they expected of their new monarch.

"There was a time the king had administrative power, going right down to the local chiefs. This place was very organised", said John Mugisha, a member of the Butooro clan.

Mugisha, a clarinet player in the police band performing at the coronation, said he regretted the decline of the historic monarchy under the colonial and post-independence governments.

But he was not entirely convinced he wanted the king's former privileges restored.

"The colonialists spoiled our heritage, although they also brought us some good things. For example, in the time of kings education was not there so much. Also healthcare. Things could even be better now", he said.

The challenge facing the Toro kingdom, which has been stripped of all its governmental duties and is required by law to behave strictly as a "cultural institution", is embodied within Oyo himself.

At one point, the master of ceremonies joked about how rare it is to see the teenage king smile.

"He's a very friendly but very reserved young man. I don't know how he copes with the pressure", said Evah Baguma, a 50-year-old family friend who lives and works in London but flew in for the coronation.

"I have seen him in the palace, and sometimes I feel bad for him. All that protocol. Rules on how to behave". READ MORE
 

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