World’s Youngest King Comes of Age
When he was three and a half years old, Oyo Nyimba Kabamba Iguru Rukidi IV became King of Toro, a western Ugandan Kingdom that has been around for 180 years. He ascended to the throne after the death of his father, and therefore became the world’s youngest monarch.
On April 16th 2010, King Oyo turned 18 and officially took control of his Kingdom which had been ruled by regents in his place.
James Murungi, his minister for protocol, said, “In Toro, it means a lot. The King was enthroned at three and half years which has never happened in the history of Toro. We have seen him grow up to this age of 18. To us this is historical.”
As part of becoming an adult, Oyo was initiated in an elaborate ceremony that lasted four days and ended on Sunday. African royals and Ugandan officials turned up for the rituals at the King’s palace in Fort Portal.
Such practices included sounding royal drums, or Empango Hakaswa, done by the King himself. “Empango is a ceremony that dates back to more than 100 years. Since the inception of the Kingdom, we believe that for the King to be in existence there should be a drum sounded to alert people that the King is a live and sound,” said Murungi.
King Oyo was also given a spear by his people, which represents him being their protector.
As a birthday gift, his mother, Queen Best Kemigisa, gave him a Mercedes Benz.
The Toro Kingdom, which has two million people, is largely impoverished and uneducated. Many are looking to the young King for guidance. He does not have much political power, but he can wield influence much like the European monarchs. During a church service, King Oyo said during a speech that he would focus on education.
“I hope he keeps his promise because education is the only way we can move forward,” said Rodgers Barozi, 20, a receptionist in Fort Portal.
Although he is a King, Oyo is said to be like any other 18 year-old. He likes movies and hanging out with friends, who do not treat him any differently. He also enjoys sports, with English football team Arsenal being his favorite to watch.
Now that he is finally an adult, Oyo has a lot to look forward to, plus a lot of responsibilities.
“For quite long, I have been under tight supervision, I hope this will reduce and I will be a free man,” he told New Vision newspaper recently.
He also called turning 18 to be “huge responsibility.”
“But I have a lot of support from my mother, my sister and others, so I know I can do it.”
Sources: Xinhua, CNN
Rwenzururu at Lasts Crowns its King
The people of the Rwenzururu Kingdom of Uganda have fianlly crowned their King, weeks after it was recognized by the government.
AP Photo/Karel Prinsloo
On Monday, Charles Wesley Mumbere, age 56, was coronated as the Omusinga of the Rwenzururu, located in western Uganda. The ceremony was attended by Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, as well as thousands of people, who were beating drums and wearing their King’s image on their clothes.
“It is a great moment to know that finally the central government has understood the demands of the Bakonzo people who have been seeking very hard for recognition of their identity,” Mumbere told The Associated Press.
The crowning of Mumbere has attracted worldwide attention, as it was recently revealed that he worked as a nurse’s aide in the United States for nearly 25 years. He mentioned that during an interview with The Patriot-News of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, upon his July return to his homeland.
Mumbere’s father, Isaya Mukirania Kibanzanga, fought in a secessionist group that was fighting another ethnic group which dominated the Bakongo people, the ones who live in Rwenzururu. Mumbere was taught to be a fighter at age nine, and grew up in the bush, which he described to the AP as “very difficult.”
AP Photo/Karel Prinsloo
When his father died, Mumbere led his people to hand in their weapons. In 1984, he went to business school in the United States on an Ugandan government scholarship. But when that scholarship was dropped after Uganda’s government changed, Mumbere got political asylum and became a nurse’s aide. He said he went into that field because it “was more reliable. Other jobs you can be laid off easily.”
All that changed when Uganda started to restore its traditional kingdoms in the 1980s. Mumbere then lobbied to the King of Rwenzururu, and now he is has been crowned.
But not everyone is pleased. Mumbere was not the only one claiming to the rightful King, even though he said he inherited the Kingdom from his father when Mumbere was 13.
“It is injustice,” one of the men, Swaleh Tibamwenda, said yesterday. “It [the ceremony] is a government project, not a cultural one. The government can’t take over the culture of the people.”
“There is not much I can do,” he said. “You cannot fight it, and I don’t know what really is going on.”
AP Photo/Karel Prinsloo
Some Ugandans have wondered if President Museveni’s move to recognize the Rwenzururu Kingdom was a political one to help him win reelection. His rival, Kizza Besigye, surprised everyone when he unexpectedly showed up at the coronation.
He did not speak during the ceremony, but the President did, giving the Osuminga a warning.
“Don’t mix culture and politics; that will be the end of your kingdom [if you do so],” Museveni said to Mumbere.
Thailand Celebrates Coronation Day
300,000 people took the streets of Bangkok to celebrate Coronations Day – the 59th anniversary of the crowning of King Bhumibol Adulyadej.
It was chance not only to honor their King, but to call for peace for a nation in turmoil.
Many Thais wore white or other neutral colors as part of the campaign “stop hurting Thailand.”
Those who spoke to the press said they were tired of the politics that divided their country. Others said they did not understand why the politicians were so bipartisan when they are so loyal to the King.
As an example of this, at 7:30pm on live television, Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva lead the government in swearing an oath to Bhumibol.
“To mark the 60th anniversary of His Majesty the King’s coronation [next year] and as a gesture of gratitude towards the monarch and all members of the royal family, I and all Thais will be steadfast in expressing our gratitude to the motherland.” the prime minister said.
“We will act in keeping with righteousness and religious morals and will uphold the institution of the monarchy and be always thankful to the institution’s contributions to bring prosperity to the nation.
“We will conduct ourselves with diligence and honesty to preserve the country under the constitutional monarchy,” he said.
Before all this, in the morning, King Bhumibol, Queen Sirikit and the rest of the royal family, went to Grand Palace’s Amarin Winitchai Throne Hall to mark Coronation Day.
Once there, the King allowed the Royal Pantheon to be opened to opened to the public. Normally, the Pantheon is exclusive to the royal family.
Celebrations went on throughout the day for Thais. There was traditional dancing and pop singers performing starting at 5pm until the partying ended at midnight.
Ethiopian Tribe Crowns New King
In a ceremony so secret, it is believed any outsiders witnessing the event will be killed, the southern Ethiopian tribe of Boreno, coronated its new King.
Guyyoo Gobbaa, a 36 year old cattle farmer, is to rule over the Boreno for the next eight years. According to tradition, he was handpicked at birth to be his tribe’s King in a complex rotating system of Boreno’s Kings.
“If you see them exchanging power you’ll die,” said Mohammed Nur, a member of the Borena tribe who is also a local government official. “You’ll spit blood. It is totally sacred.”
Gobbaa is spending his three coronation days eating rich food and meeting with tribal leaders.
His kingship has been accepted by the Ethiopian government.
Traditional rulers exist alongside formal government in many African countries, and their behind-the scenes influence can help or hinder vital national interests.
Gobbaa plans to fix his 1 million people’s ailing economy by improving access to livestock markets and patching up relations with other tribes.
“My main aim is to uphold this traditional culture,” he said. “Not only for Borena. For the whole of Ethiopia.”
The Borena claim their monarchial system dates back 550 years.
But there are some talks of changing it.
“I don’t know,” Mohammed Nur said when asked about the future. “Maybe we won’t want the traditional power. Maybe we’ll want the democratic one.”
Bhutan Crowns New King
The tiny Himalayan nation of Bhutan crowned its new King today. Jigme Khesar Namgyal Wangchuck, the 28 year old Oxford educated bachelor, is Bhutan’s fifth king.
King Jigme Khesar was coronated in an elaborate Buddhist ceremony in Thimpu, the country’s capital. Upon being crowned, he received the title, Druk Gyalpo, or Dragon King. Jigme Khesar took over after his father, Jigme Singye, abdicated in 2006. Court astrologers waited for the most auspicious moment for a coronation during this time, to assure a successful reign.
Thousands of Bhutanese people gathered in Thimpu to enjoy the three day celebrations. Many see their King as a stronghold on their tiny kingdom, which is slowly opening up to democracy and modernity.
“We have enjoyed progress, sustained peace, security and growth. These are all attributed to the great kings, benevolent kings, selfless kings that Bhutan has had,” Bhutan’s Prime Minister Jigme Thinley, who was elected in the country’s first democratic elections in March, told reporters Wednesday.
Most Bhutanese believe it is the kings who have allowed the small nation of some 700,000 people to survive with their culture and sovereignty intact while sandwiched between 1.1 billion Indians to the south and 1.3 billion Chinese to the north.
These two Asian giants have already swallowed the other Buddhist kingdoms, like Sikkim or Tibet, that once thrived across the Himalayan range.
It is a wonder how much this new King will allow change to his country. Bhutan prides itself on concentrating on its Gross National Happiness, which seeks to follow strict Buddhist philosophy over materialism.
That concentration has kept Bhutan in a mostly medieval-like state, with few paved roads or electricity. King Jigme Singye only allowed television and the Internet in 1999.
The people of Bhutan hope the new king will follow the ways of his gentle-spoken, much-loved father. “This ceremony, it’s not just about crowning a prince,” said Tinle Tenzin, 39, who owns a shoe shop in Thimphu. “It is about a new king who we hope will bring much good for the country and the people in the future.”
As King Jigme Khesar walked among his people during the coronation festivities, he said, “The greatest gift I can ask for is this…being with you…my people.”
King Of Tonga Crowned
Tonga crowned King Siaosi Tupou V in a lavish ceremony in the capital of Nuku’alofa. This coronation was the first for Tonga in over 40 years.
Wearing a the heavy gold crown, red velvet robe trimmed in ermine fur, and carrying a sceptre and a ring, Tonga’s 23rd monarch sat upon a gold throne, and was anointed with oil during a Christian ceremony. A massed choir sang Handel’s coronation anthem, Zadok The Priest. Royals from Japan, Thailand and the United Kingdom watched on, as did 1,000 other dignitaries and non-ruling royals from the South Pacific.
A 21-cannon salute and the tolling of church bells marked the coronation. The new 60 year old monarch was called upon to rule “wisely, justly and truly”.
Thousands of people had lined the route to the church and cheered when the new monarch emerged.
The crowning was the latest in four days of festivities. Wednesday saw a traditional ceremony where the King was presented with dozens of roasted pigs, hundreds of bowls of fruit, and kava, a mild narcotic drink. As is the custom, the king slurped the kava down in one, to the cheers and applause of his audience. At that very moment he became the king.
The other celebrations included an open air concert, a rugby match and traditional dancing. Nuku’alofa is completely decorated with flags, balloons, and streamers all in the name of Tonga’s new king.
How much of king Tupou will be remains to be seen. Tonga is one of the few countries where the monarch actually rules. It has a semi-feudal system where the upper class rule. This new King has said he will give up his powers to make his island nation a more democratic one.
There has been some controversy over the expensive ceremonies marking the new Tongan king. It is believed that about 2.5 million dollars has been spent, in a country where many live in poverty.
But Tongan Prime Minister Feleti Sevele says it is nationalism that allows the lavishness.
“This is about joy and celebration and pride in being Tongan,” he said. “It is putting our country in the world’s spotlight.”
Tonga’s royal family dates back to the 17th century. They are the last ruling royals in the South Pacific. Many others, such as Hawaii and Fiji lost theirs. “The other countries in the Pacific that have lost their royal families – they regret it now,” Sevele told the UK’s Guardian newspaper.
Before inheriting the throne after the death of his father in 2006, Tupou was a commercial businessman, which he gave up after becoming King. He has a playboy reputation, with his London cab cars and celebrity friends, such as Mick Jagger and Elle MacPherson. He reads music, plays the piano and double bass, can converse in French and German, has a smattering of Chinese and Japanese. He plans to have influence over Tongan education, and have students learn English, Chinese and Japanese due to the influence of China and Japan throughout Asia.