Establishing My Office was Perceived a Taboo: Nnaabagereka Reveals in Autobiography.
• “Some of our adversaries told the Kabaka that the Nnaabagereka was trying to set up a parallel institution, something that consequently reflected negatively on our marriage.”
By Conslata Taaka
“Within the establishment, some key people believed that the Nnaabagereka wasn’t supposed to hold a formal office. Therefore, to some extent my efforts were initially perceived a taboo. As a result, there was constant internal efforts to discourage its existence and to bring it down even after it was established,” the Nnaabagereka (Queen) of Buganda Sylvia Nagginda Luswata reveals in Chapter 12 of the Autobiography which is supposed to be launched this evening.
In the entire chapter and others that preceded it Nnaabagerekareveals the frustrations and setbacks she received from within the institution because it was preferred, she remains a traditional wife and not a modern office leader.
An ordinary girl becomes queen in one of Africa’s great civilization, Buganda Kingdom. In her autobiography released on March 23rd 2023, Nagginda reveals how she grappled with the cultural definition of her role as the Nnaabagereka and what was expect of her.
Following the 1966 attacks on Buganda Kingdom by Milton Obote and Iddi Amin and the subsequent abolition of traditional institutions, Buganda didn’t have a Nnaabagereka for 33 years.
On 27th August 1999, Nagginda became a Nnaabagereka after a wedding with the Kabaka of Buganda Ronald Muwenda Mutebi II at St. Paul’s Cathedral Namirembe. She didn’t have anyone to guide her on the exact roles and traditional norms of the title she had assumed.
“I had two options, 1. To maintain status quo and be the traditional wife and stay safe, 2. Play an active role in shaping the community and the beloved nation. I chose both”. She writes in her autobiography.
In 2000 Nnaabagereka Nagginda founded her organization, The Nnaabagereka Development Foundation to change especially for women and girls. In her memoir, this is a dream she had labored with since her time at New York University as she pursued a degree in Journalism and Public Relations.
Becoming the Nnaabagereka placed her at a strategic point of view to do what she exactly wanted, playing a critical role in the development of the country.
To date, Nnaabagereka through her Foundation has shaped debate on many issues like; girl child education, women empowerment, immunization and forestation among others. Over 30,000 children aged between 8-18years have directly benefitted in the royal enclosure named Ekisakaate whose mission is to restore and instill cultural values in the young generation and impart the concept of Obuntubulamu (Ubuntu) that signifies shared values to promote wellbeing, togetherness and unity.
Establishing such an office that has had great impact was not a walk in the park as it initially had been perceived a taboo.
She does not, however, divulge much about how she eventually managed to break even, but rather says she rose above the waters, regardless.
Nnaabagereka is quick to say that the escapades left her marriage on the verge of breaking.
“Some of our adversaries told the Kabaka that the Nnaabagereka was acting in bad faith, that I was trying to set up a parallel institution, something that consequently reflected negatively on our marriage. The subtle yet clear message was that I wasn’t welcome within the main establishment,” she writes.
Support from her husband, Kabaka Ronald Muwenda Mutebi II and the overwhelming public encouragement kept her going.
Born on November 9, 1966 in UK to Mr. John Mulumba Luswata and Rebecca Nakintu Musoke. She returned to Uganda at five months and was raised by her grandparents Nelson Ssebuggwawo and Catherine Namayaza of Nkumba, Wakiso District because her parents were still pursuing undergraduate studies in UK.
She attended Lake Victoria primary school, Gayaza primary school and Wanyange Girls school. After Senior Four, she went to USA to join her mother. She later joined City University of New York for a degree in Journalism and Public Relations and later a masters from New York institute of Technology.
While in New York, she worked at the United Nations headquarters as the public information officer.
She returned to Uganda in 1993 for holiday, she would later do PR assistance for Joseph Mulwana with arrangements for the Uganda Manufacturers Association annual Exhibition.
Her first time to meet the King was in July 1993 during one of the private parties organized by Gordon Wavamunno in Munyonyo after the coronation. Several people close to the king including her auntie, now ICT Minister Joyce NabbosaSsebuggwawo had hinted on the idea of Nagginda and Kabaka getting married.
The two lost contact until 1998 when they reconnected in US. In the autobiography, Nnaabagereka says few months later, she received an email “Dear Sylvia, I think I am ready if you are”. She said YES to Kabaka Mutebi’s marriage proposal.
“At 36 years of age, I just wanted to get married. I didn’t take time to think hard about what I was getting into.”
On Valentine’s day of 1999 Kabaka Mutebi formally engaged Nagginda. The then serving Katikkiro (Prime Minister) Mulwanyamuli Ssemwogerere was subsequently informed that the kingdom has been blessed with a Nnaabagereka.
In Buganda tradition, the Kabaka does not attend his own traditional marriage ceremony known as Okwanjula. Katikkiro Ssemwogerere performed the ritual on his behalf. Nagginda too, hosted the ritual in absentia.
Two weeks to her wedding, Nagginda left the USA to marry the King and permanently settle in Uganda.
On July 04th 2001 she gave birth to Katrina-Sarah Ssangalyambogo from Queen Charlottes and Chelsea Hospital Hammersmith, London.
In 2010 she was blessed with twins Jade Nakato and Jasmine Babirye.
She has been instrumental in girl child and women empowerment.