- Part II. With his gun Kabalega went on to shoot at the enemy as they also returned gun fire. Kabalega wanted to die than be taken prisoner of war. It was not until when he was shot in the right arm, and later left arm that his gun dropped, Faustin Mugabe writes.
It was war fatigue and destruction that led to King Chwa II Kabalega’s defeat. Since 1892 when a full scale war was launched against Bunyoro, a great deal of damage was done in the kingdom.
People, property and food stuff were destroyed in a scorched-earth policy. This was done to deny Kabalega support and food to his fighters. Kabalega’s underground granaries were also destroyed. His troops were also fatigued – having been fighting for close to eight years.
In early 1899, Kabalega and his troops were forced out of Bunyoro and retreated into Acholi territory in northern Uganda. It is said that Kabalega had retreated to Acholi in order to reorganise his forces. But while there, he was betrayed by his spotter.
On April 9, 1899, at Kangai, present day Dokolo District, Kabalega and Mwanga where captured, but not without a fight.
They were sleeping in a hut when they were overwhelmed by a dawn surprise attack. From the hut, the kings and their forces ran down into a swamp but they were already surrounded by the enemy forces.
A rain of bullets followed them. It is said that about 200 of Kabalega’s fighters were killed. But Kabalega was not about to surrender.
With his gun, named Bagwigairebata, Kabalega went on to fiercely shoot at the enemy as they also returned gun fire. Kabalega wanted to die than be taken prisoner of war. It was not until when he was shot in the right arm, and later left arm that his gun dropped and it was then that the army was able to capture the wounded Kabalega.
Important to note is that earlier before the battle at Kangai, Mwanga had suggested that they surrender to the enemy. But Kabalega, who had contracted an eye infection and was in severe pain, objected to Mwanga’s opinion.
“Everything has its time appointed. A woman travailing with a child reaches the time of her deliverance, so does a cow. The banana is planted and takes root, but when it arrives at fruition, it must fall, and now we have reached the hour of our fate. And if so be it that our appointed time to die has come, let us not be faint-hearted,” Kabalega is said to have told Mwanga.
Like a determined and suicidal fighter, Kabalega tried to encourage Mwanga who was beginning to tremble in the face of death.
Trekking from Dokolo to Kampala
British commander, Col Evatt, ordered Semei Kakungulu, a Muganda chief and British collaborator, to take Kabalega and Mwanga to Kampala with 11 other prisoners of war, including Kabalega’s son Jasi Nyakimoso who had also been wounded during the morning battle. They were escorted by about 100 soldiers.
Unfortunately, Nyakimoso died and was buried at Kamuniina, Kigweri in Buruli County. It was on the same spot that Kabalega’s mother, Nyamutahingurwa, was also buried.
From Dokolo to Kampala, people begged Kakungulu and his men to pardon Kabalega and Mwanga, but to no avail.
The wounded Kabalega was sometimes put on a stretcher for a distance before Kakungulu would order that he be put down to walk – until he could not walk again. It took them more than two weeks to reach Kampala.
Kabalega is amputated
When they finally arrived in Kampala, Kabalega was taken to Mengo Hospital where his right arm was amputated near the elbow join. It was the newly arrived British doctor, Albert Cook, who performed the operation on Kabalega. Dr Cook arrived in February 1899.
Upon realising that his arm was to be amputated, the helpless but stubborn Kabalega is said to have told Dr Cook: “I suppose you will want to cut off my other arm and probably my legs.”
While Kabalega was at Mengo Hospital, his fellow prisoner of war Mwanga was kept in prison at Mengo, Buganda’s maximum security prison.
On receiving intelligence that there was an attempt in Bunyoro and Buganda to rescue and reinstate the two kings, Kabalega was dragged from Mengo Hospital in plaster and bandage with bleeding wounds and was joined by Mwanga who was also removed from jail at Mengo.
On May 11, 1899, on the orders of the British the two kings and 11 other prisoners were forced into exile.
They were dragged and put on a steamboat at Busabala Port on Lake Victoria and taken to Port Kisumu, Kenya.
From there, they were both taken to Mont Plaisir, Marjorie prison. But because Kabalega’s wounds needed further medical attention, he was admitted to Gatundu military hospital.
Love amidst pain
In the hospital, Kabalega was dumped at one of the filthy wards for African prisoners. Fortunately for him, due to the injuries he had sustained he was assigned a senior nurse to look after him. She was a Kikuyu.
It is said Kabalega befriended the nurse and soon what started off as a nurse-patient relationship became intimate. It is not clear how long Kabalega stayed at the hospital.
While Kabalega was still at Gatundu military barracks, information reached Bunyoro Kingdom of their king’s incarceration. The Barusuura, the Bunyoro special forces, then started planning a rescue mission of King Kabalega.
Unfortunately, intelligence reached the British who informed authorities in Kenya. And that is why Kabalega and Mwanga were transferred to Kismayu, Somalia.
After some Banyoro visited Kabalega and Mwanga in Somalia, the British decided to transfer the duo to Seychelles Islands in the Indian Ocean for fear of a raid in an attempt to rescue them. The prisoners arrived at Mahe, Seychelles, on October 7, 1899, and were put in jail where Kabalega stayed for 24 years without any charges preferred against him.
When they finally arrived in Kampala, Kabalega was taken to Mengo Hospital where his right arm was amputated near the elbow join. It was the newly arrived British doctor, Albert Cook, who performed the operation on Kabalega
British commander, Col Evatt, ordered Semei Kakungulu, a Muganda chief and British collaborator, to take Kabalega and Mwanga to Kampala with 11 other prisoners of war, including Kabalega’s son Jasi Nyakimoso.