Land Board Report



MAY . 2016

Compiled by:


Busongora Land Board & Community Trust Fund

and the 

Office of the King

Busongora Kingdom

+256 [0] 789 756 487

Report of the Busongora Land Board - May 2016


Terms of Reference


1.0    Introduction

2.0    Community Needs Statement

3.0     Historical Background

4.0     Genesis of the Current Land Troubles

5.0     Establishment of the Busongora Land Board

6.0     Legality, Structure and Operations of the Land Board

7.0     Way Forward 

8.0     Conclusion

Terms of Reference

May 2016

Re: Report of the Busongora Land Board

Dear Friend, 


Under Article 13 (xv) of the Busongora Kingdom's Constitution, the Office of the Monarch of Busongora is required to facilitate or expedite services to the community, where such action is of assistance and does not prejudice or infringe the jurisdiction of local, institutional, national, regional or international authorities. To this end this report on Busongora’s Community Land Asset is meant for review and for consideration by the President of Uganda, and by such other authorities as may be concerned with the plight of the BaSongora community. 

The rules governing the Busongora Land Board & Community Trust Fund [BLB-CTF] also require that a report should be submitted annually for approval by the Monarch of Busongora, and a final report should be availed to other concerned authorities and stake holders, including the Uganda Parliament, showing the performance of the Busongora’s various land categories over the previous years. 

The BLB/CTF is a representative body with statutory authority under the Art. 246 of the Constitution of Uganda, and also under Act 6 (2011). Among other things, the board aims to hold in trust the community lands; to distribute statutory payments and income to the community; and to fund community services. The Board also aims to process applications for land titles and permits to community lands in order to prevent misuse and permanent loss of the land. 

The 2007 Resolution of the Inter-Ministerial Commission on Busongora, as well as other resolutions by pertinent authorities, recognise that the state of Uganda and the international community still owe a fiduciary duty - and assistance - toward the Basongora, on account of the genocidal appropriation of ancestral Busongora territory during the colonial era and since. The constitutional acts listed above - as well as diverse international conventions on indigenous and endangered peoples - have established the basis, and the procedures, upon which the Basongora community should claim rights to to their traditional lands. 

This report was prepared with the assistance of the Rt. Hon. Kyigambo Mugarra, Deputy Prime Minister of Busongora Kingdom and Chairperson of the Busongora Land Board; and also the Hon. James Behakanira, the kingdom’s Minister for Economic Planning & Infrastructure Development.   

In this regard, I am privileged and honoured to provide you with the 2016 report of the Busongora Land Board & Community Trust Fund. 

Kind regards, 


His Majesty the King, Ndahura II Imara Kashagama

Busongora Kingdom

Busongora Land Board Report 

May . 2016


This report is a review of the purpose of Community Land Assets of the Basongora community, and focuses specifically on their disposition and management as a trust - to be held in perpetuity - for the support and sustainable provision of services to the community’s members and institutions. The BaSongora community are the actual owners of the endowment lands and the traditional lands of Busongora. The Busongora Cultural Institution [Kingdom] as trustee holds legal title of the community’s lands solely for the purpose of administering the trust for the benefit of the designated beneficiary - the people of Busongora. 

There should be no excuse for why BaSongora remain impoverished and without services. If the communal wealth were properly managed, and rules were put in place to ensure equitable access, no one in the community would have cause to complain about poverty.  The resources in Busongora could provide employment, investment opportunities and financing for public services. 

The Community Land Assets and resources in question are constituted by ancestral land, natural resources, and intellectual property belonging to the BaSongora. The assets include thousands of acres [at this time is not clear how many acres in total]; thousands of square kilometres of Indigenous Ancestral Lands found in various national parks and reserves; Cultural Sites; Public Endowments; corporeal and incorporeal hereditaments [such as rights of way, rights of use, endowments, bursaries, awards, e.t.c.]; private bequests to the community; future collective acquisitions; and the Land Grants to the Songora community from private or corporate estates, or from the Republic of Uganda. 

The Busongora Cultural Institution established the Busongora Land Board and Community Trust Fund as the means to organise the community in matters relating to land management and utilisation of the community resources. Basongora lands shall be held in trust for future generations and the collective. Because we have inherent responsibilities in relation to our lands and all the living creatures on the land, as well as all the activities that take place on that land, individual BaSongora may have specific entitlements, but ultimately the benefits of our lands are for the collective community.   

The community land board, designated as the Busongora Land Board and Community Trust Fund, is designed to consider such options as:

[i] Management of the Busongora Lands Registry 

[ii] Management of the Community Genealogical & Population Registry

[iii] Establishment & maintenance of cultural sites, museums, schools and community centres

[iiii] Easements for such projects as power lines, roads, and private driveways

[v] Establishment of forests, wetlands, and wildlife and ecological reserves

[vi] Land acquisitions and exchanges for benefit of the community

[vii] Construction of dams, canals, reservoirs, waste-management and other public amenities 

[viii] Removal of invasive species and facilitation of improved farming systems 

[viiii] Revenue-sharing with national parks, private and public corporations and state-agencies

[x] Trust funds from Grazing and farming rents on communal lands

[xi] Trust funds from severable assets such as timber, oil, gas, mining and plantation products

[xii] Trust funds from recreational sites, and development of tourist sites 

The overall aims of the Board include: 

[i] Protecting Basongora culture and sacred sites.

[ii] Helping Basongora to recover land lost since the colonial occupation.

[iii] Consulting with stakeholders on mining, employment, development and other land use proposals.

[iiii] Assisting with economic projects on Basongora lands.

[v] Promoting community development and improving service delivery.

[vi] Helping resolve land disputes, title claims and compensation cases.

[vii] Managing the permit system for visitors to Basongora community land assets.

This report explains the key role of the Busongora Land Board and Community Trust Fund [BLB-CTF] as it assists community and government leaders to oversee trust operations on behalf of the community’s beneficiary institutions and collective membership, in order to ensure that BaSongora receive “maximum long term financial return and social benefit” from the community’s land assets, as well as from the community’s cultural, environmental and organizational resources.  


1.1 Evidence strongly suggests a lack of public knowledge and understanding of community rights in regard to utilization of communal lands. There is also a general misconception as to how Busongora’s communal lands were acquired, their purpose and dedication, and their disposition. This lack of awareness about communal lands, as well as the lack of information on the history  of traditional land claims of the Basongora in Kasese, have given impetus to land grabbers and to private firms to take or to misuse the lands of the Basongora.

1.2 The Uganda government granted land to the BaSongora community in 2006, after Parliament expressly mandated that the land be used for the support of BaSongora on account of having been dispossessed of their homelands by the colonial regime.  The lands which were granted BaSongora in 2007 had been part of the ancient lands that had been appropriated by the colonial regime and had belonged to BaSongora prior to the colonial occupation. These lands belonged to all Basongora regardless of where they were residing after 1912 when Busongora Kingdom was abolished and dismembered. Essentially the land grants of 2007 constituted a return to the BaSongora a small portion of their own ancestral lands.  

1.3 The formal trustee of those ancestral lands was the Busongora Kingdom prior to its abolition by the colonial regime. The process of dispossession was constituted by a series of property confiscations beginning in 1891, followed by the arrest and deportation and internment of Busongora’s king in 1907, and finally the appropriation of Songora territories that later became Parc National de Virunga, Queen Elizabeth National Park, Kibale Primate Reserve, Maramagambo Forest, Katonga Game Reserve, Rwenzori [Rwenjura] National Park, and other places besides these in 1910, 1931, 1956 and 1964. The Uganda Government decided to redress these injustices by returning a relatively small portion - about 15,000 acres - of these lands to the BaSongora in 2007. 

1.4 However, the ministerial committee in charge of overseeing the return of these assets to the community in 2007 did not formally designate any institution within the community to function as an accountable trustee to manage these lands on behalf of the community. At that time the Busongora Cultural Institution had not been revived and so could not fill the gap. The vacuum left unfilled was taken up by CBOs, NGOs, Co-operatives and “Clusters” that have neither the mandate nor the institutional capacity to manage these properties on behalf the community. 

1.5 The ministerial committee is required by law to hand over the management of these lands to the BaSongora. The only legitimate trustee of the community lands is the Busongora Kingdom itself - the very institution that was in charge of managing the lands of Busongora prior to the appropriation by the colonial regime.

1.6 The BaSongora have a saying ”Ekimasha kutembera omumahembe”, meaning  “a bull trying to mate by mounting the female from the wrong direction - over the cow’s horns....“.  The expression means to do something in a way that defeats the intended purpose. The ministerial committee gave the BaSongora lands but forgot to state how they were to be shared out or who would be in charge of managing them on behalf of the community. The result was that BaSongora began fighting over the distribution, management and utilization of communal lands. 

1.7 The conflict between Basongora was partly resolved when the serving Resident District Commissioner [RDC], Major James Mwesigye, ended up creating a formula by which each MuSongora would be entitled to 4 acres - parcelled out in such a way that one acre would be for cultivation, one for grazing calves, and 2 for the homestead. The baKonzo who were not part of this arrangement have been led by confused commentators to believe that the one acre meant for cultivation was to be given to BaKonzo. The Rwenzururu leadership has gone on public record in the past with claims there are court cases in which the matter of the 1:3 ratio is being challenged. In fact there are no such cases in any courts. If any such cases have been sanctioned by the State Attorneys at district level, it’d would be new and misleading twist in the saga of BaSongora land claims. However, some Konzo youths and land-grabbers have been encroaching on Songora endowment lands on grounds that they believe there is an acre for them at each homestead in Busongora.

1.8 Some BaSongora leaders concerned about encroachment by Konzo land-grabbers have decided to pull down fences and prevent anyone from renting out lands for cultivation. However, BaSongora without cattle or other means of income are depending on land cultivation for survival.  The lack of a proper management system that can generate income for the entire community has sometimes caused BaSongora to attack each other’s farms and to destroy property. 

1.9 Moreover, there is public concern over the future structure of the types of registration [leases and titles] to be issued after the government survey exercise is finished. BaSongora are worried that communal lands will end up in private hands and will gradually be sold off to non-BaSongora, and that eventually the community will have no lands left and that they will be evicted by new land owners. 


Over the past several years members of the BaSongora - collectively and individually - have expressed fears regarding their communal lands, which  include the following concerns:

2.1 the incomplete survey and unfinished transfer of ownership of communal land and collective land title from the government institutions to the Busongora Cultural Institution to hold in trust for the community. When the ministerial committee assigned land for resettlement of the BaSongora in 2007, no responsible or accountable authority within the community was assigned the mandate to register,   manage, conserve, distribute or develop the communal lands, with the result being that land conflicts erupted among BaSongora, caused by illegal land sales, competition for land, as well as over-exploitation and misuse of communal lands. 

2.2 that communal lands were going to be registered as private properties or the properties of co-operatives and so-called “clusters”, and that these lands would cease being community property and would eventually be sold off to people who were not members of the BaSongora community.  There are even reports that rich Asian and high-ranking government officials are buying up communal lands in Busongora and converting the lands into private property. However, no one has the authority or permission to sell these land assets. 

2.3 the fact that people had allocated themselves communal land and were now selling it, or had introduced non-BaSongora squatters and renters who would eventually displace or disfranchise the BaSongora by becoming “bona fide occupants” who could not be evicted. 

2.4 the reports that sand, water, clay and other severable or portable or extractable communal resources in the communal endowment lands were being sold for private benefit - and without any accountability or transparency - while many members of the community remained without any resources or income. In fact the sale of “severables” such as wood, sand and clay, for private benefit, has been taking place, without any regulation or oversight.

2.5 until the Busongora Cultural Institution [Busongora Kingdom] was revived in 2012 there had been no formally registered organ in Busongora with the mandate to act as the primary liaison with government ministries and local government departments charged with addressing land matters in Busongora. However, despite the formal recognition accorded the BaSongora Kingdom by state organs and international agencies - including the Uganda Parliament, the Ministry of Gender, UNESCO, e.t.c. - over the past few years, there is still need to increase contacts, meetings and planning between the government and the Busongora Cultural Institution, as a means of:  

(a) assuring regular representation of the community’s interest by a publicly recognised, accountable and properly funded authority with a broad mandate through which all BaSongora can collectively channel their concerns.; 

(b) increasing the capacity of the BaSongora community to manage their cultural heritage and communal land properties;  

2.6 the fact that our collective lands are being sold off without the community’s permission, and in violation of administrative and legal due-process. Of particular concern is the inadequacy, intractability and misconduct of private individuals and organizations - including co-operatives and CBOs, whose activities are causing BaSongora to lose access to lands and services to which they are entitled. After 2007 some CBOs and influential individuals lacking a proper skills or mandate to address land matters took upon themselves the initiative to manage and distribute those lands, but a lot of abuses and resource misuse have resulted as a consequence. Moreover, CBOs leaders, and the Kasese District Land Board, as well as some local government officials - including LC chairs and members of parliament - have been implicated in attempts to grab the BaSongora communal lands for themselves or to sell the lands to non-BaSongora;   

2.7 the non-implementation and incomplete implementation of development programs to the resettled communities that were promised in the 2007 cabinet paper, and which include the provision of public access to clean water, social amenities, schools, roads, valley-dams, and health centres; 

2.8 the continued attempts by non-natives - especially Bakonzo affiliated with Rwenzururu - to carve Busongora County into districts without concern for the negative effects on the rights and heritage of the indigenous BaSongora community, and without consultation or input by the BaSongora; 

2.9 the educational opportunities for the BaSongora - including bursaries and school facilities, professional training, access to certification and asset management courses - that are not commensurate with those provided for the Bakonzo within either of the two counties in Kasese district; 

2.10 the fact that Rusongora-speaking persons cannot find employment nor be served adequately in their language in schools, hospitals, or in government or private agencies within Kasese district. For example there are no BaSongora serving on the District Land Board, and hardly any BaSongora in the district councils at any level except LC 1. 

2.11 the high level of systemic discrimination in the local government in Kasese, and the apparent exclusion or absence of members of the native BaSongora community and other ethnic minorities from jobs in Kasese - especially in the wildlife park service, the police, the courts, the hospitals and the banks - whereas Bakonzo are employed in large numbers in these jobs;

2.12 the punitive, vindictive or excessive and malicious enforcement and misapplication of authority inflicted on BaSongora by Rwenzururu sympathisers employed in the municipal, district or state agencies, as well as in the legal or security services including in the Uganda Police and the Uganda Wildlife Authority, as well as in the local courts; 

2.13 the unfulfilled promises for consideration in employment in government institutions - including the Uganda Police, UWA and other civil services - made to members of the native BaSongora community who have supported and given exceptional service to the government;  

2.14 the deliberate policy of violent land-grabbing and massive encroachment on BaSongora lands especially by Bakonzo peasants, largely and openly encouraged, trained, and armed, by rogue elements associated with the Rwenzururu cultural institution, including some members of parliament and members of the district land board; 

2.15 the increasing pace at which Busongora's cultural and historic sites and ancestral lands are being compromised, engulfed and degraded - especially on account of tree-cutting around ancient graves and kraals for firewood and for sale, and bush-burning and clearance, house construction, and agricultural tilling and ploughing - despite the fact that BaSongora are indigenous to Kasese, and have the right - under the Uganda Constitution and the codes of natural justice and international law - to preserve for posterity our culture, and to promote for the benefit of all humanity, those aspects of our cultural heritage that are constructive;  

2.16 the withdrawal of police posts, stations, detaches and patrols, in recent years, months and weeks, from areas where they had been deployed on the orders of the IGP Kale Kaihura, in 2012 and 2014, for the protection of vulnerable BaSongora communities, and other minorities, who had been subjected to intimidation and attacks by Rwenzururu - including from such troubled places as Bigando, Muhokya, Katakyenga, Nsinungyi, Kayanja, Rukooki-Kiharra, etc. 

2.17 the inefficiencies in the complaints process at police and in the courts, that leaves hundreds of open cases unresolved years after the complaints were made. With large annual caseloads, there is insufficient capacity to service both increasing demands and a sizeable backlog of complaints - especially in land related matters. In fact the courts remain largely unable to prosecute or punish the perpetrators of encroachment and violence - on account of the lack of a comprehensive title to the communal lands, in addition to the contradictory nature of the laws dealing with Criminal Trespass and Occupancy/Transfer of lands, as well as the lack of investigative capacity by community authorities, and the lack of a computerized police filing system to allow rapid comparison and search for records;    


3.1 BuSongora - officially the Kingdom of BuSongora [ObuKama bwa BuSongora] - is a region in Central Africa that straddles the southern end of the Rwenjura Mountain Range [also known as Rwenzori Mountains, or Mountains of the Moon] and the plains below the mountains.  BuSongora also straddles the western arm of the Great Rift Valley and sits astride Kazinga Channel. The western part of BuSongora is incorporated into the Democratic Republic of Congo, and the eastern part in in the Republic of Uganda. BuSongora’s eastern side consists mostly of Queen Elizabeth National Park, while the western side consists of the Virunga National Park.

3.2 BuSongora's landscape ranges from tropical forest in the south and north-east, to savanna plains in the south-east, to the sub-alpine heights in the centre, surrounding the Rwenjura range [the Mountains of the Moon] with some peaks exceeding 5,000 metres, and savanna woodland in the west. 

3.3 The BaSongora are the oldest indigenous ethnic community inhabiting the western arm of the Great Rift Valley and the foot-hills of Mount Rwenjura [the name “Rwenzori” is a misspelling introduced into the lexicon by Henry M. Stanley in 1888]. The BaSongora have distinctive customs and spiritual beliefs, and speak 'Rusongora' an African language that originates from Proto-Kordofanian and is a member of the Rutara language group.    

3.4 The BaSongora or Songora, are largely a pastoralist people, although in past centuries there were several craft-guilds of BuSongora relating to cattle-breeding, priesthood, griots, iron-smithing, weapons manufacture and hunting, salt-refining and fishing, and pottery and artisanship. The BaSongora community also consisted of clans that grew out of affiliations such as ancestry, religious sect, geography, profession, military service, or adoption into the community.  Regardless of one’s guild or clan or lineage, all BaSongora considered cattle to be sacred and maintained an abiding interest in the rearing and preservation of cattle.  

3.5 The traditional lifestyle of BaSongora is notable for its adaptation to dry savanna and scrublands, as well as to mountainous terrain. The archaeological record alone shows that cattle-herding in the region dates back at least to the beginning of the Holocene era 10,000 years ago, and artefacts used by our ancestors and unearthed in both Virunga and Queen Elizabeth, as well as other places in area, are thousands of years old.  

3.6 Studies of East Africa by scholars, administrators and missionaries - including John Roscoe in the 1880s, Harry Johnston in the early 1900s, Ephraim Kamuhangire, Jan Kuhanen, and by many others over the course of  century have provided a steady record of the history and culture of the BaSongora. In their research on the vegetation of QENP in the 1960s Henry Osmaston and Lock of Cambridge showed that the open savannah and short shrubs were the product of centuries-long fire-management system by BaSongora to curtail overgrowth, and also noted the presence of so many euphorbia trees [enkukuru] as having been deliberately planted by BaSongora to protect their cattle against raids. Some of the planted euphorbia trees were estimated to be at least 500 years old. 

3.7 The BaSongora have always existed as a unique and well-defined culture and community. The BaSongora in ancient times constituted an autonomous and sovereign state that dates back to at least 1090 AD.  For most of its history, ancient BuSongora was a unified state led by a parliament and a constitutional Monarchy. The size of the ancient state of BuSongora changed over the centuries.  The pre-colonial state of BuSongora of the 1200s to the 1500s was much larger than the BuSongora of 1891 - the year  of the invasion led by Capt. F. Lugard.  

3.8 The years between 1890 and 1931 were particularly trying for BaSongora. Nagana and rinderpest killed off most of Busongora’s cattle in the early 1900s.  The people did not fare better than their cattle. The first continental outbreak of Sleeping Sickness [Empungira] spread from the Gambia, followed the slave route to the Congo River and eventually ended-up in BuSongora.  Nearly 70% of the BaSongora - 250,000 people - died of the illness in 1910. 

3.9 BuSongora’s independence as a state was extinguished, and its territory dismembered beginning in 1912, during the colonial occupation of Central Africa by Britain, Germany, France and Belgium. At that time Busongora’s remaining territory was given to Toro, Bunyoro and Nkore.  The conditions under which BuSongora was dismembered by the irresponsible and hostile colonial powers, were obviously illegal and unacceptable to BaSongora - and to other people - who have had to live with the terrible consequences of the conflicts that the colonial occupation generated.

3.10 The colonial officers and other persons directly or partly responsible for the genocide and destruction of the BaSongora were H.M Stanley, Capt. Frederick Lugard, Fenwick de Winton, Selim Bey, Sir Gerald Portal, Major Roderick “Roddy” Owen, Col. Henry E. Colville, Capt. MacAllister, Sir Apollo Kaggwa, Daudi Kasagama, Commissioner Frederick Jackson, Commissioner MacDonald, Mr. J.P Wilson, as well as Capt. Cromer Ashburnham, and Lieutenant van der Wielen.  

3.11 However, the most notorious and vicious crimes against Busongora - one of  Africa’s largest and oldest pre-colonial states - must be blamed on three officers:  Capt. F. Lugard - who  conceived the plan to create a string of forts to surround Busongora’s capital region; Col. Henry Colville who organized the erasure of BaSongora from the map of Africa, and gave the orders to “drive the BaSongora to the wall”; and Capt. MacAllister - the officer who was responsible for the most brutal massacres of BaSongora leaders.  The BaSongora who survived the colonial invasion and genocide remembered MacAllister as “Maisho Makali” and considered him a demon in human form.     

3.12 The most important hero in the anti-colonial struggle to save Busongora was King Kaihura. Omukama Kaihura served as King of Busongora from 1894 to 1901. As a punishment for resisting the colonial occupation, Basongora were subjected to Africa’s first targeted genocide, involving the use of concentration camps and deliberate disease infections to try and exterminate both the people and their cattle. Busongora is was also the only pre-colonial state whose territory was entirely dismembered and annexed to other states. Parts of Busongora were also turned into Africa’s earliest national parks. 

3.13 The following parks were carved out of territory that was still part of Busongora in 1910: Kibale Primate Reserve, Queen Elizabeth National Park, Rwenzori National Park, Katonga Reserve, Maramagambo Forest, and Park National de Virunga.  By 1915 Busongora Kingdom appeared to have vanished completely.  

3.14 The current BuSongora County - in Kasese District, Uganda - is now the only remaining polity that has retained the ancient name of the state. Attempts by local authorities to break up the county and erase the name BuSongora entirely have caused concern and distress among BaSongora and among people worried about the continued destruction of Africa's ancient heritage.


4.1 In March 2006 a group of Basongora who had migrated to the Democratic Republic of the Congo in the 1990s and settled in the Parc Nationale de Virunga returned to Uganda having been evicted from the Congo. This group of returnees joined the mainstream Basongora community in Uganda. 

4.2 However, owing to the number of cattle and the historical facts that led to the general displacement and disfranchisement of the Basongora community, and the related loss of their grazing lands in Busongora County - constituted by the constituencies of Busongora North and Busongora South -  and the conversion of these grazing lands into national parks - some of the returnees felt compelled to occupy the parks. The Uganda Wildlife Authority, after consultations with various agencies and the Ministry of Tourism, Trade and Industry, granted temporary grazing land near Nyamugasani River’s west bank for the Basongora cattle-keepers while awaiting government efforts to address the matters.    

4.3 In August 2006 after  a series of consultation meetings with the Inter-Minesterial Committe [IMC] to assess the problems of the Basongora bearing in mind the historical factors, recommended to the Uganda government [the Cabinet] solutions that included the resettlement of Basongora. 

4.4 The Inter-Ministerial Committee was comprised several cabinet ministers including:

[i] Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Animal Husbandry - served as the Chair of the IMC with his ministry serving as the secretariat of the IMC

[ii] Minister for Local Government

[iii] Minister for Internal Affairs

[iiii] Minister for Lands, Housing and Urban Development

[v] Inspector General of Police

[vi] Commissioner General of Prisons

[vii] Director General - Internal Security Organization

4.5 The IMC started work in August 2006 and concluded in June 2007. The IMC came up with recommendations upon which the Uganda Cabinet - on 29 August 2007 - made the following decisions with regard to removing Basongora from the Queen Elizabeth National Park and resettling them elsewhere. The affected Basongora who were at that time occupying the park consisted of about 8000 people with about 50,000 cattle.  

4.6 The Basongora were assigned 15,800 acres, taken in bits from land had formerly belonged to Basongora but was at that time incorporated as part of other government institutions, namely: Ibuga Prison Farm [1400 acres]; Ibuga Refugee Resettlement Scheme [3500 acres]; Hima Army Production Unit [3500 acres]; Mobuku Prison Farm [5300 acres]. This land was given to the Basongora community collectively to own and use as a community trust. The IMC had met members and elders affiliated with the Community Based Organization called the Busongora Group for Justice and Human Rights before making their decision that the land should be used by Basongora in the form of a community trust without wide knowledge of the majority of Basongora people who were at that time occupying the Queen Elizabeth National Park.

4.7 However, after the affected Basongora were moved to these areas in the weeks and months following  the IMC report and the cabinet resettlement order, the people found these areas to be unproductive, underdeveloped, without any amenities or services, and without any kind of administrative structures with the responsibility to assist the Basongora. The lack of a modernised system of communal ownership has become a major source of the abject poverty and harsh living conditions to which the Basongora in the resettlement areas were suddenly confined.  The community was left at the mercy of predatory individuals running self-appointed and unregulated agencies registered in name only as “Community Based Organizations”, “clusters”, and “co-operatives.”

4.8 Basongora in the resettlement areas have been continuously suffering a leadership crisis, which - led by CBOs such as the Group for Justice and Human Rights - engaged in local politics, created “clusters”, and eventually began orchestrating the elections of Local Councils - LCs] in all the resettlement areas, in effect denying the people rights to own land, manage it, or to utilize it individually. Moreover, key leaders of these self-appointed and unaccountable CBOs allocated themselves prime lands in the resettlement areas, and began to enrich themselves at the community’s expense. 

4.9 From 2007 up to 2011, Local Council elections were conducted [residual elections], alongside the existing cluster leaders who nevertheless continued to discharge responsibilities upon the communal lands without the people’s consent or knowledge. In 2013 the clusters were evolved into trade-unions of a sort and have claimed the status of co-operative associations - such as the Mobuku I Livestock Farmers Co-operative Limited, Ruhita Livestock Farmers Co-operative Society Limited, Ngano Pastoralists Farmers Co-operative Society, Nsinungyi Livestock Farmers Co-operative Society Limited, Ibuga Livestock Farmers Co-operative Society Limited, and many others. Moreover, the clusters and cluster leaders have also continued to existe and to work independently of the co-operatives. 

4.10 The co-opeartives are registered and almost entirely constituted as extended family units - family members, relatives, in-laws, friends and rich benefactors participating together as in a business. It is on the basis of such family-based co-operatives that land title claims are being advanced - without regard to the general interest of the community, and without regard to the fact that the land asset is collectively community-owned and is not meant to benefit private as family concerns exclusively without due regard to the community’s perpetual stake in the asset.  Placing the interest of the co-operative ahead of the interest of the community has created a charged commercial atmosphere. Violence, dishonesty, and corruption are the hallmarks of the rabid and unregulated exploitation of the land and the resources on the land.       

4.11 Dr. Wesonga Wandera S.N, Chairperson of the Government Technical Team, and together with the Commissioner for Animal Health, on 2nd May 2016 wrote a letter from the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Animal Husbandry, addressed to Mr. Okaali Wilson - Chairperson of Basongora Group for Justice and Human Rights, and to all chairpersons of “Clusters” and Livestock Farmers Co-operative Societies for resettled Basongora, to provide names - along with original documents - for all pastoralist who returned from the Democratic Republic of the Congo via the Queen Elizabeth National Park and who were resettled by the government. The letter directed the chairpersons to include the reviewed cluster and co-operative society register in order to ensure that only such persons as indicated above are reflected. However, bearing in mind that the names to be submitted are of lists drawn-up by co-operatives, there is a justifiable and reasonable concern that the names submitted will not include the majority of community members in the resettlement areas, but rather only the extended family-and-friends lists drawn up by the CBOs and co-operatives.                


5.1 On the Wednesday 18 December 2013, an emergency meeting was organized by the  Resident District Commissioner (RDC) for Kasese Mr. Milton Odongo, between Hon. Bright Rwamirama (State Minister for Agriculture and a member of the original Inter-Ministerial Committee that granted land resettle Basongora in 2007) and the leaders of the BaSongora community. The purpose of the meeting was to try and resolve multiple concerns over the communal lands and to avert potential violence and costly legal entanglements.  Among those present was Dr. Wasswa Wesonga, Commissioner of Lands and Surveys [Government of Uganda], as well as several members of the municipal and central government. Several prominent BaSongora leaders were present during the meeting. The late King Rwigi IV Rutakirwa of Busongora Kingdom, together with the current king of Busongora - Omukama Ndahura II Kashagama, and the Prime Minister of Busongora Kingdom Hon. Sam Ntungwa, were also in attendance. 

5.2 When Hon. Bright Rwamirama was informed during the meeting, that some people were selling communal lands, he appeared surprised and immediately issued a warning to anyone that might be doing land sales. He said that the if anyone had sold communal lands, they had sold “Embeho”. “Embeho” and “Omuyaga” are terms that roughly transliterate as “cold” or “wind” - but in fact mean “mirage” or “illusion”.  So then whoever had bought communal land would eventually be evicted because they would have paid to buy “wind”, not land.  

5.3 Nonetheless, the concerns remained, and BaSongora expressed frustration and indicated they would not sit-by idly waiting for the process of transacting “the wind” to proceed so that hypothetical evictions might then take place later.  There had been several incidents in which concerned members of the BaSongora community had blocked attempts by government officials to survey endowment lands because they feared that the survey exercise was in fact an attempt to “steal” or distribute land to well-connected private individuals. People had suspicions that the survey exercises and meetings on land matters were attended by only one party - a CBO constituted by BaSongora - while the rest of the community remained unaware that any meetings or surveying was taking place. The accusation of secret surveying were generally directed at one CBO called the  Busongora Group for Justice and Human Rights.

5.4 The meeting with Hon. Rwamirama and RDC Odongo discussed and identified the need to reform the way that land matters had been dealt with up to that point in time. The Minister Rwamirama ordered the surveyors present and other officials to allow the interested parties in the community, including Busongora Kingdom representatives, in all activities relating to land management, development and surveys. Many BaSongora, including officials of the Busongora Cultural Institution, had expressed concern that lands and decisions were being made without the community’s participation and without transparency or accountability to the community and the cultural institution.  

5.5 Among other matters of note that transpired during the meeting:

[i] the King Rwigi IV of Busongora requested that land matters be subsumed under the kingship, and should not be left to private organizations and NGOs that lack the mandate to represent the community’s long-term and overall fiscal or cultural interest. 

[ii] the King Rwigi IV also pointed out that whereas many BaSongora had not yet received land, others were already selling land. Hon. Bright Rwamirama responded by saying no one was authorized to sell land, and affirmed that whoever had sold land was doing so illegally.  

[iii] Hon. Bright Rwamirama ordered that in future surveys, the leadership and representatives of Busongora Kingdom, and of Rwigi IV and the Busongora Kingdoms Prime Minister Hon. Sam Ntungwa, had to be represented.  Rwamirama also asked the BaSongora leaders to co-operate with the survey teams and the survey exercise. 

[iv] Rwamirama also said that there should be a moratorium on breaking fences or homesteads of people who had fenced or built without clear mandate. People should desist from making additional fences and structures, and also from breaking the law by forcibly occupying land. He asked that people should wait for the survey reports from Wesonga’s office. 

5.6 Following on that meeting Omukama Rwigi IV asked Busongora Kingdom’s Minister for Community Rights and Constitutional Affairs to prepare a report on Busongora’s Endowment lands, as well as the minutes of the meeting with Hon. Bright Rwamirama. 

5.7 In May 2014 - following the start of the survey exercise to map and eventually issue title for the lands endowed BaSongora in 2007 - a cabinet meeting of Busongora Kingdom was called   and those present agreed that the kingdom’s representatives on future survey teams, as well as other persons with an interest in the management of Busongora’s endowment lands, should be constituted as the “Busongora Land Board.”  The cabinet decided that the Land Board would have 11 (eleven) commissioners, nominated by the public, by cabinet or community parliament, and confirmed by the Prime Minister of the Kingdom. The cabinet meeting also resolved that chair of the board would shall be appointed by the monarch who is the head of Busongora’s cultural institution [Kingdom of Busongora]. 

5.8 The recommendations of the Busongora Kingdom’s Council of Ministers [Cabinet] to create the Busongora Land Board and Trust Fund were necessitated by the need to allow the community flexibility in structuring future activities on the communal lands that conform to the legal requirements of the Uganda Government, and to better maximize returns to the principal beneficiary - namely the BaSongora community collectively.

5.9 Busongora Kingdom - being the logical and rightful authority and institution upon which the trusteeship of Busongora’s cultural and community assets should have devolved - had ceased to exist in 1912 after it was dismembered by the colonial government. The kingdom was only reconstituted in May 2012 after 100 years of abeyance. By lawful and constitutional means, the kingdom authorities felt compelled to establish a permanent community land board to oversee the lands, for the purpose of deciding how best to conserve, improve and generate revenue from the communal lands for the benefit of all BaSongora. 

5.10 The community land board came about as a direct result of several meetings held in 2013 in Busongora regarding land use and concerns about the survey and management of lands that were granted the BaSongora by the government of Uganda in 2007.  One of the major concerns that was raised repeatedly, had to do with the fact that there was no properly constituted authority within the community charged with the management of these lands. By 2013, many BaSongora were still without services or land property while others had allocated themselves large amounts of land. 

5.11 The Busongora Land Board & Trust Fund [BLB] was formally constituted on by the Busongora Cultural Institution, on Sunday 18 May 2014, with the mission to provide care for people, conserve the assets of Busongora, and provide funds to community charities and projects. The members of the Board - designated as Commissioners - shall always be volunteers nominated by the representatives of the BaSongora community, and confirmed in their offices by the Monarch of Busongora. The task of the commissioners is to make recommendations, to Busongora Kingdom and to the Government of Uganda and its agencies, about significant matters affecting the Community Land Assets of Busongora. 


6.1 The BaSongora as a People are entitled - under the tenets of international law - to pursue and to preserve its community’s cultural heritage, and natural law confers upon the community such powers as include the right to have customs and norms. Moreover, the BaSongora have a long history of constitutional monarchy dating back from the 1090s. The institution of constitutional monarchy is vital to the survival of the culture and for the cohesion of the BaSongora community - especially in times of global crisis when social atomization and territorial balkanization are so pervasive.  The Land Board was constituted under the provisions enabling Cultural Institutions and cultural leaders in Uganda to form such organs. 

6.2 The community of the BaSongora is also empowered by various international, regional and state organs, to preserve, enjoy benefit of its own cultural heritage. In this regard, the Constitution of Uganda is clear. Pursuant to Chapter Sixteen of the Constitution of the Republic of Uganda, 1995.,[1] Sc 246. - Institution of traditional or cultural leaders:-

(1) Subject to the provisions of this Constitution, the institution of traditional leader or cultural leader may exist in any area of Uganda in accordance with the culture, customs and traditions or wishes and aspirations of the people to whom it applies.

(2) In any community, where the issue of traditional or cultural leader has not been resolved, the issue shall be resolved by the community concerned using a method prescribed by Parliament.

(3) The following provisions shall apply in relation to traditional leaders or cultural leaders—

(a) the institution of traditional leader or a cultural leader shall be a corporation sole with perpetual succession and with capacity to sue and be sued and to hold assets or properties in trust for itself and the people concerned;

(5) For the avoidance of doubt, the institution of traditional leader or cultural leader existing immediately before the coming into force of this Constitution shall be taken to exist in accordance with the provisions of this Constitution.

(6) For the purposes of this article, “traditional leader or cultural leader” means a king or similar traditional leader or cultural leader by whatever name called, who derives allegiance from the fact of birth or descent in accordance with the customs, traditions, usage or consent of the people led by that traditional or cultural leader.

6.3 Constitutive Authority for the Board under the Constitution of Busongora Kingdom. 

The Busongora Land Board & Trust Fund is an organ of the Busongora Cultural Institution and  conforms to the requirements of the institution’s constitution. According, the key Board rules regarding is structure and operations are as follows: 

[i] The Busongora Land Board shall be constituted by 11 (Eleven) commissioners. The commissioners of the board shall be charged with the responsibility to administer the Board offices, and are the principal liaisons with various external agencies involved in community affairs. 

[ii] Members of the Board are appointed by the Prime Minister and the Omukama of Busongora, to two-year renewable terms, and include members of the BaSongora community with knowledge and experience in the fields of public education, Songora cultural norms, history and land tenure, administration, financial matters and the management of investment assets.   

[iii] The Commissioners shall organize the meetings at which representatives from various agencies and elected officials, as well as members of the BaSongora community address issues of concern within the community. The Commissioners shall also oversee the Board operating budget expenditures and prepare drafts, as well as the reports, submitted to the authorities.

[iiii] The Board shall develop model land codes, laws, protocols, agreements and management systems to assist the BaSongora community and the Republic of Uganda. The Commissioners shall address matters concerning land management, dispute resolution, housing and shelters, welfare, policing, citizenship, residency and violence, arising from land related issues.  The Board will establish processes for dealing with disputes in relation to lands and resources. These can include mediation, neutral evaluation, and arbitration. 

[v] Offices shall be established to assist the BLB/CTF Commissioners, and for the purpose of reviewing and improving practices that enhance the operations of the Board, as well as assisting the Board with administrative and public education efforts. BLB offices shall be constituted by the:

[1] Head Office of the Busongora Land Board & Community Trust Fund

[2] Busongora Land Management Resource Centres

[vi] The BLB/CTF offices shall have among their departments professional land surveyors, and business analysts and planners, who will assist all functions of the Board in managing community assets so they produce sustainable long-term economic, ecological, cultural and social benefits to the BaSongora community who are the beneficiaries.

[vii] The BLB/CTF officers shall be tasked to work with community leaders across Busongora on strategic investments and transactions in order to make the entire asset portfolio more secure and resilient.

6.4 Commissioners, Members and Staff include:

[a] Board Officers - [Commissioners]

[1] Chairperson

[2] Vice Chairperson

[3] Secretary of the Board

[4] Treasurer

[5] 7 At-Large Commissioners

[b] Board Members - Constituted by officers of Area Land Management Committees - such as: 

[1] Busunga Area Land Committee

[2] Nyakatonzi Area Land Committee

[3] Nyakakyindo Area Land Committee

[4] Ibuga Area Land Committee

[5] Bwizibwera Area Land Committee

[6] Muhokya Area Land Committee

[c] Staff - [Hired Professionals]

[1] General Manager

[2] Director of Planning and Land Use

[3] Community Liaison

[4] Head Office Manager

[5] Community Coordinator 

[6] Planning and Land Use Consultant 

6.5 The Busongora Land Board is charged with the following tasks: 

[i] To promote and provide care for people, conserve the assets of Busongora, and provide funds to community charities and projects.


[ii] To function as trustee of the community and to act on the community’s behalf in the matters of leasing or renting or maintenance and protection of land, the management and collection of revenues from the use of services and resources [timber, grass, water, sand, clay], and the distribution of revenues to the community in a manner that is accountable and transparent. 

[iii] To have the direction, control and disposition of the community lands of Busongora, under such regulations as may be prescribed by Uganda’s laws. The Board as trustee shall hold legal title of the community’s lands solely for the purpose of administering the trust for the benefit of the designated beneficiary - the BaSongora Community. The board shall be a trustee or business manager for the community in handling community lands. 

[iiii] To review requirements, facts, testimonies and supporting documentation presented by petitioners on land matters, and summarize them in a resolution that is then presented for final approval at the monthly board meeting. The final resolution becomes an official advisory document that is then passed on to the appropriate government or municipal agencies for review or implementation.

[v] To maintain a land fund and registry of lands and their occupants and the uses to which they are put, and to submit to the Monarch of Busongora and to the Uganda Parliament annually a report showing the performance of the Busongora’s various land categories over the previous year;

[vi] To oversee land grants and represent the community interest on crucial issues of development and planning, land management and land use, zoning and service delivery - such as sanitation and road maintenance - as well as coordination with social services and public education facilities.

[vii] To assess the needs of the community in matters relating to land, and advise the community and the public on land use and zoning, service delivery, and many other matters relating to the welfare of the community, meet with government and municipal agencies, and make recommendations in the budget processes. 

[viii] To liaise with the various authorities whose purview falls within Busongora or who have stewardship over areas containing cultural sites and fiscal assets belonging to the BaSongora community;  

[viiii] To maintain and enhance the capital value and revenue income of the communal lands of Busongora, the Busongora Crown Estate [land allocated to the Busongora monarchy], and the Protected Lands of Busongora [eg., national parks, cultural sites, environmentally sensitive ecological systems, agricultural or grazing reserves, etc.];  

6.6 The BLB/CTF publishes a comprehensive assessment of issues and trends in the community in our annual Community Needs Statement. The most recent Community Needs Statement, issued in May 2016, is included as part of this report.  


6.7 BLB/CTF vigilantly monitors service delivery and quality of life in the community to ensure that the Basongora community remains vibrant and livable. It advocates for adequate infrastructure, services, and resources for residents and workers. In addition to the Area Land Management Committees that cover geographical areas in Busongora - the BLB/CTF has the following committees:

[i] Environment Management Committee 

[ii] Education Management Committee 

[iii] Cultural Sites Management Committee

[iiii] Task Force on Disaster Recovery 

6.4 The land board works with an extensive network of government, non-profit and private agencies and organisations in Uganda, including UWA, UNRA, the Police, and others, and with elected officials as well. 


6.5 The BLB/CTF office keeps the community informed about ongoing meetings and issues in the community by disseminating notifications.

6.6 The body of assets that comprise Busongora’s endowment consists of three main parts:  

[i] the land asset granted by the Government of Uganda in 2007 consisting of more than 15,000 acres; 

[ii] the national parks, forests, rivers, lakes, and natural resources located in Busongora consisting of hundreds of thousands of acres; 

[iii] and, fiscal and cultural assets that are Based in Busongora, including such things as cultural sites,  factories, roads, mines, salt works, etc. 

6.7 Structure of Busongora’s Endowments Assets:

For the purpose of management and registration, the assets of Busongora shall  fall under three categories:-  

[i] Permanent Assets 

[a] Land Assets

[b] Permanent Funds

[ii] Available Assets [Earnings Reserve and Stabilization Fund]

[a] Earnings from rents and revenues on the Permanents Assets 

[b] Earnings from royalties on Permanent Assets 

[c] Earnings from Interest and dividends on Permanent Funds

[iii] Spendable Assets [Investment Fund] 

A percentage/fraction of Available Assets set by Land Board for distribution to beneficiaries. Beneficiaries shall include grants to:

[a] community institutions, such as schools, co-operatives, cultural centres, hospitals, scholarships and bursaries. 

[b] investment funds and community banks, for purpose of acquisition of additional assets for infrastructure development, including such things as water reservoirs and dams, bridges, roads and canals. 

[c] the crown estate of Busongora Kingdom, for the purpose of assisting with the discharge the duties of the Omukama, including staff costs and expenses incurred in running the monarch’s official household, official receptions, investitures, maintenance of the Royal Palaces in Busongora, and travel to carry out cultural engagements.

[d] the management and overhead costs of the land board. The funds used annually for the overhead, maintenance and utility bills, of the Busongora Land Board’s offices and resource centres, as well as the costs and compensation for the Commissioners and staffs of the land board, shall not exceed 15% of the Annual Income of the Available Assets. 

6.8 Asset Classifications:

[i] Protected Ecological Reserves [Protected Lands]

Lands that are important for maintenance of sensitive or endangered ecological systems, wildlife reserves, wetlands, habitats for birds and animals, unique vegetation, topography that influences rain-interception or other kinds of climate control mechanisms, etc. 

[ii] Forests and Wood Lands

Lands capable of regeneration and growing successive crops of commercial forest products on a sustainable BaSis

[iii] Agricultural Lands 

Lands used for growing cultivated plants or agricultural produce, including grains, vegetables, fruits etc. 

[iiii] Range Lands

Lands supporting natural vegetation suitable for grazing by domestic livestock or wildlife. 

6.9 Categories of Land Use 

[i] Residential Land Uses

[1] family buildings

[2] kraals/pens

[3] mixed residential & commercial buildings

[ii] Non-Residential Land Uses

[1] grazing ranges

[2] commercial/market/office 

[3] industrial/manufacturing/fabrication

[4] outdoor recreation/open space

[5] public facilities/institutions

[6] transport and utility

[7] parking facilities

[8] vacant land

[9] all others

6.10 In order to forestall any abuses by officers of the Busongora Land Board, the following precautions are recommended :   

[i] All Busongora Land Board meetings shall be open to the public, and anyone is free to ask any questions or raise concerns on matters concerning land and assets of the community.  Anyone requesting to place an issue on the BLB’s agenda shall submit a note to the Board with a description of the issue. 

[ii] The Busongora Land Board shall meet once a month. At the meetings, resolutions shall be reviewed and voted on. The meetings shall commence with the public session, during which members of the public shall be formally invited to voice their opinions on any proposal or application. 

[iii] During the public session, officials and persons with responsibilities for management of endowment lands or community lands in Busongora should advise the board in any matter of concern, and update the board members and the public about their activities during the previous month. Although restricted from participating directly in the executive session of the board, the public shall be entitled to remain and observe proceedings during the executive session which must always follow the public session. In the executive session, motions shall be introduced by board members, after which they shall be debated and voted on by the full board.

[iiii] The Board shall consist of 11 statutory members designated as commissioners, who shall each serve for a two-year renewable term. Six (6) of the commissioners shall be nominated by any member of the community, and five members (5) shall be nominated by the cabinet of Busongora Kingdom - or by a designated committee of Busongora Kingdom’s parliament. All the nominees shall require a general authorization and confirmation by the Prime Minister of Busongora Kingdom.  The Chair of the Board shall be appointed from among the commissioners by the Monarch [Cultural Leader] of Busongora Kingdom on the advice of a designated member of Busongora Kingdom’s Cabinet, the Prime Minister, or the Speaker of the Muhabuzi - the Kingdom’s Parliament.

[v] Board members shall be nominated from among energetic people who demonstrate interest and enthusiasm in serving their community. An effort shall be made to assure that every region and community in Busongora is represented. It shall be mandatory for board members to reside, work, or have some other significant interest in the BaSongora community. Commissioners shall be appointed for two year, overlapping terms. 

[vi] Individuals interested in serving on the board should file an application, and submit it to the Board office for processing. The Chair of the Board shall notify the applicant by letter if they have been nominated to serve for a two-year term. 

[vii] None of the lands shall be sold, but may be rented out or developed, and the proceeds from the rent and developments shall constitute the permanent fund - the Busongora Land Trust Fund - to be safely invested and held by the Busongora Land Board, and the income thereof be used exclusively for funding of community institutions, and services and programs, including such things as: community centres, cultural/communal activities, community records and publications, water reservoirs/wetlands, ecological parks, museums, theatres, libraries, schools, hospitals, demonstration/stock farms, grazing ranges, agricultural reserves, tree nurseries, etc.  

[viii] Proceeds from land use, sub-leases, and sales of severable assets (e.g., timber and minerals) must necessarily become financial assets in the Busongora Land Board and Trust Fund. The Land Board shall oversee land trust operations on behalf of the community and trust’s beneficiary institutions to ensure they receive “maximum long term financial return” from the trust assets.  

[viiii] No proceeds arising from the rent or disposal of any community lands shall be used for the support of any sectarian or denominational facilities or activities. 

[x] The lands shall be managed in such manner as will secure the maximum long term financial return to the institution or community project to which the proceeds/lands are granted. Chief among the beneficiaries within Busongora shall be the schools and community service centres, as well as grazing ranges and water reservoirs.   

[xi] 10% of the grant lands to be selected and located in legal subdivisions shall be for the purpose of erecting community buildings for administrative purposes including construction, repair and any other improvements and the payment of principal and interest on bonds issued for any of the above purposes. 

[xii] 50% of the proceeds of the severable assets shall be paid to the Busongora Land Trust Fund, the interest of which shall be expended for the support of community schools, and student scholarships. 

6.11 The Commissioners of the Busongora Land Board have the following responsibilities and duties:

[i] Take into account the need to observe a high standard of estate management practice. The BLB should observe professional accounting practices and distinguish in its accounts between capital and revenue. 

[ii] When letting land and other resources and properties under its management the BLB should always seek to achieve the best consideration (i.e. price) which can reasonably be obtained in all the circumstances, but discounting any monopoly value (mainly from ownership of the natural resources)

[iii] The BLB cannot grant leases for a term of longer than 10 years.

[iiii] The BLB cannot grant land or resource or services options for more than 5 years unless the property or service is re-valued when the option is exercised.

[v] The BLB cannot borrow money.

[vi] Donations can be made for purposes connected with the tenants’ welfare. Otherwise, charitable donations are forbidden.

[vii] The character of the Protected Lands (Park and Forest) must be preserved; no part of these lands may be sold or leased or rented.

[viii] A report should be submitted annually for approval by the Monarch of Busongora, and a final report should be availed to other concerned authorities and stake holders, including the Uganda Parliament, showing the performance of the Busongora’s various land categories over the previous year. 

[viiii] The Board shall also be responsible for the production of Asset Management Plans as a means to ensure assets can be managed, preserved and protected for long-term goals.  The plans must also include strategies, and define the over-arching cultural beliefs and philosophy about collective investments. Such plans shall consider classification of assets, elements of financial analysis, asset selection (and divestiture), asset allocation (diversification), plan implementation and ongoing monitoring of the investments and assets. The Asset Management Plans, when determining distributions shall consider: Actual and expected returns on the income from the assets; Expected volatility of income; Adequacy of distributable reserves to compensate for volatility of income; and Legal restrictions on spending principal.   

[x] Money received as a premium from a tenant on the granting of a new lease should be allocated between capital and revenue as follows: where the lease is for a term of 5 years or less it must be treated as revenue; for leases of more than 5 years it must be treated as capital.

[xi] As trustee, the Busongora Land Board has a fiduciary duty to carry out the intent of the trust settlor - Busongora Kingdom and Community. The Land Board cannot change the trust terms and must operate within the confines of those instructions. The board must find authority in the Uganda Constitution and Busongora Kingdom’s constitution and statues for its actions. To do otherwise is to violate the trust responsibility and risk the loss of the trust corpus.

[xii] Commissioners accountable by ensuring the requisite reporting of financial transactions by the manager and trustees to the beneficiaries. Commissioners must offer evidence that they have acted prudently to meet the mandate expressed in this statement of intention. 


BaSongora are considered to be one of the most endangered cultural groups in the world that are facing extinction, and require speedy and special measures to protect them in the face of conditions that may result in their dispersal and extinction.       

In order to resolve the outstanding concerns of the community, we recommend that efforts should be made to accomplish the following:

7.1 Those government institutions that share boundaries with the land allocated to resettle Basongora - such as Ibuga Prison Farm and Hima Army Production Unit - should demarcate and fence their lands so as to reduce and avoid the pervasive incidents of criminal trespass, and encroachment that are now existing between the Basongora and these institutions. 

7.2 The Uganda Prisons Department which has never formally written letters releasing the land should do so in order to effect the transfer of land to the community. The Commissioner-General of Uganda Prisons Mr. Johnson Byabasaija, has the authority to authorize and effect transfer. The Uganda Ministry of Defense has also not formally written letters or resolutions to effect transfer of land under its jurisdiction that was given to Basongora by the Inter-Miniterial committee. These omissions by key departments of state are some of the causes for the delay the issuance of land titles. 

7.3 Land titles for the Busongora’s communal lands should be made out in the name of the Busongora Land Board, and released to the Busongora Land Board along with a proper registry of names of all the resettled Basongora - the land board shall then formally allocate sub-leases with regulations on proper and equitable use, as well as regulations on transfers of land that don’t result in permanent loss of land. 

7.4 There is a genuine concern that releasing titles to individuals, with no obligation for them to return the land to the community at the end of the lease - or to submit themselves to regulations by the community - will leave the land at the mercy of commercial interests. Similar arrangements in other parts of Uganda (such as at Sanga in Mbarara) provide unfortunate examples of how lands freely given to victims of displacement have been mismanaged and sold at the first opportunity. 

7.5 However, releasing land titles to clusters and co-operatives with improper administrative practices and questionable membership lists and no means of enforcing proper management and transfer systems on the lands, will result in more conflict and in eventual loss of the lands. Conflict between members of clusters and co-ops in Busongora is already high, and having titles in which plots are jointly owned by dozens of persons is a recipe for chaos. Already, corrupt individuals have been engaged in obtaining money and other favours by promising to include people on lists. It is unlikely that such people will behave better once they obtain authority over the access to land titles. 

7.6 Ideally every title should have one owner, or at the most one family. However, having titles issued in the names of family and friends all claiming to represent a co-op is also wrong. 

7.7 An alternative method for registration that has been suggested is to release land titles according to the names of the places - Local Council system - other than under the clusters or the co-operative societies. This is being pushed as a means of avoiding the use of titles as security in the banks - people are worried that loan defaults can result in permanent land loss. The use of titles as bank loan security has already caused the loss of Basongora communal and collectively owned lands that were not part of the 2007 IMC process. 

7.8 The simple solution would be to issue the land title/s for the communal land to the Busongora Land Board & Community Trust Fund, which would give the Basongora an accountable, continuous and community-wide process for land management. 

7.9 The land board process would also assist in the full implementation of the 2007 government paper on the resettlement program aimed at provision of social services to resettled Basongora communities. 

7.10 Government should work hand in hand with the Busongora Cultural Institution and  Busongora Land Board - and with land committees - such as the Nyakakyindo Land Committee - in order to sensitise the public and to give full information pertaining to land.   The land board and land committees have publicly elected  and accountable membership.         

7.11 Government, through the Ministry of Lands, should emphasize on educating and sensitizing people about land issues in order to equip them with the knowledge of how to use, control and protect lands - aiming at full land-utilization for a self-sustaining economy. This can be done through radio and television programs, and through targeted contracts to enhance development.  

7.12 The government - through the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Animal Husbandry -  should put more emphasis on improving on the modern methods of land management and farming in the areas where the Basongora pastoralists have been resettled.


8.1 Over the course of over 10 decades - beginning in 1891 - the BaSongora have repeatedly resisted encroachment, and have consistently registered alarm in every available forum, over the illegal appropriation of their lands and cultural sites by the colonial regimes and by neighbouring communities.  BaSongora have claims over the lands that now constitute the QENP and Virunga, as well as the sacred burial grounds in-and-around the regions known as Bunyampaka and Kazinga. There are Songora cultural sites at the banks of Nyamugasani River, the lakes Kikorongo and Edward, and in Rubirizi and Kyenjojo districts. As well there are cultural sites in what is now Bukonjo County, and the regions of Bunyoro, Buganda, Toro, Nkore, and Karagwe.   

8.2 Today, more than at any other time in history, the BaSongora are being threatened with cultural genocide and the extinction of their heritage and traditions. Songora lands have already been appropriated, Songora place-names eliminated and changed, the unique and distinctive Songora language is being lost at an alarming rate, and BaSongora continue to suffer exclusion and distortion of their ancestry and history. Moreover, there is an ongoing revisionist campaign by some cultural institutions to permanently alter the record of hundreds of years of BaSongora’s ownership and effective habitation of their homeland.

8.3 The current BuSongora County - in Kasese District, Uganda - is now the only remaining polity that has retained the name of the ancient state and the community. Attempts by local authorities to break up the county and erase the name BuSongora entirely caused concern and distress among BaSongora and among people worried about the continued destruction of Africa's ancient heritage. It was the attempt to partition Busongora County that triggered the restoration of Busongora Kingdom, as well as the subsequent creation of the Busongora Land Board and other organs of the kingdom. 

8.4 The Busongora Land Board & Community Trust Fund provides the most effective means for effective and accountable management of the assets that comprise Busongora’s endowment, namely: the land asset granted by the Government of Uganda in 2007 consisting of more than 15,000 acres; the national parks, forests, rivers, lakes, and natural resources located in Busongora consisting of hundreds of thousands of acres; and, the fiscal and cultural assets that are Based in Busongora, including such things as cultural sites,  factories, roads, mines, salt works, etc. 

8.5 Land titles for the Busongora’s communal lands should be made out in the name of the Busongora Land Board, and released to the Busongora Land Board along with a proper registry of names of all the resettled Basongora - the land board shall then formally allocate sub-leases with regulations on proper and equitable use, as well as regulations on transfers of land that don’t result in alienation of the lands and/or permanent loss of land due to sales to persons or groups outside the Basongora Community. 


For more information, please contact: 


Office of the King

Ikamiro Palace

Telephone: 0789 - 756 - 487

© Busongora Kingdom 2016