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Thursday, June 14, 2012

The King of Tooro

Hey everybody, I'm sorry this has taken me so long to post but I couldn't access my blog account until I completely reset my Gmail account. Apparently Gmail thinks my account was hacked because it was accessed from Uganda and the Netherlands within a short amount of time and it took me a while to figure out. Anyways, I've been waiting to post this for a while now:


On Wednesday we had the honor of meeting with the king of Tooro - King Oyo - at his "Kampala Palace." It was a beautifully built, walled-off mansion in the middle of an extremely wealthy neighborhood that overlooked Lake Victoria. While this is not his main palace, King Oyo still visits it often when he is vacationing and when he has business in Kampala.

The thing about King Oyo is that he is no ordinary king. He was the youngest king in the world at the time of his coronation - at the early age of 3 & 1/2! What's equally interesting is the story of how he came to be king. King Oyo was crowned after his father was murdered by the Ugandan Prime Minister in 1995. The Prime Minister had been having an affair with the Tooro queen and wanted her for himself, so one day he decided to poison the king. Now, the ex-Prime Minister is locked up in Luzira maximum security prison. (We learned about all of this from the MUBS students and from Professor Fred Luganda after our visit).

Now King Oyo is 20 and he plays an enormously important role in the kingdom of Tooro. He considers himself a "leader and a businessman". But, he also functions just like any other normal 20 year old. He goes to university in England, he has an Xbox 360 and enjoys gaming (in fact he was playing Xbox right before we dropped in for our unexpected visit), he loves hanging out with his friends and relaxing, and he wears Polo tshirts and jeans.

How would you feel if you had that kind of responsibility at this age?
How would you live your life differently if you knew you had to e the role model for thousands?
What do you think of the way King Oyo lives?

Fun Facts:

The kingdom no longer collects taxes (because of Museveni) but the government now gives the kingdom local grants.

The Tooro Kingdom is very generous in giving back to the local community.

The equator goes through the Tooro Kingdom.

The kingdom also has Renzwari Mountain which is the tallest mountain in Uganda.


  1. I liked visiting the King. It was a bit interesting because apparently our visit was unexpected but it was fun taking pictures and being able to tell people I have met a king!
    I cannot imagine having those responsibilities at the age of 20 but I am sure that he is used to it because he has known his whole life what he will have to do. I was surprised how normal he was. He was a bit quiet and did not seem like he demanded this attention or even respect. It reminds me of the event at Colin Sentongo's dinner when His Excellency demanded Rachel and Alessa to kneel down but the king did nothing of that sort. It makes me wonder if that is a difference in culture of different areas in Uganda or a younger age thing or even because he has educated in England?

  2. I thought visiting the King was really cool even if he had no idea we were coming. I enjoyed how he acted like a normal teenager around us. He knows when he needs to be completely professional and when he can be more laid back. At our age though I think have his sort of responsibility would be very stressful. I know that he does not officially make the decisions for his kingdom yet, but knowing that someday you will has to be stressful. My life would be completely different if I had that type of role. Not only would I be in the spotlight since the minute I was born, but I would be attending many more professional events at a younger age. I wonder if the King has ever been so stressed or overwhelmed that he considers giving up his throne. I am sure there are days where King Oyo just wants to hang out with friends and not worry about being an adult. I'm sure he is given this option at school and probably enjoys it. But at the end of the day he knows his role and I give him credit for taking on that role.

  3. Kristina, I like your connection between the King and the ambassador to Japan at Colin Sentago's house. I think it's both a cultural difference AND an age difference. The older generation seems to stick to more conservative cultural values while the younger generation (who has been influenced by the media and other things) is more likely to be socially liberal in comparison. Also, Alyssa, I thought King Oyo does officially make the decisions for the Kingdom of Tooro now? Maybe I just assumed. Does he have advisors then?

  4. I would just like to say that meeting the king reminded me of the lion king. yes sorry another disney reference. The Oyo's father was killed by his brother (oyo's uncle). The uncle wanted to rule the kingdom. However Oyo was to take over the kingdom just like Simba in the lion king =) However unlike Simba who ran away from his responsibilities as king, Oyo at age three couldn't just run away he had to face the responsibilities full on. Another thing i found to be interesting was the fact he doesn't tell people at his university that he is a king. He is a normal teen with an xbox and hangs out with friends. I think one aspect of Oyo's living style that made me think was where his Kampala house was located. We drove thru what seem to be a poor village to get to his amazing house. it was unsettling to see the differences of living style and opportunities just footsteps from each other.

  5. I thought visiting King Oyo was a really unique experience. How many people can say that they have met a king? I think it was really cool that the King lives what most consider a normal life. He hasn't let fame and power get to his head and that is very respectable. The idea of these different kingdoms in Uganda is very interesting to me since they have presidential republic set up to rule, not a monarchy. Does it positively or negatively contribute to a sustainable government? Or does it make no difference at all? Just something to think about as well.

  6. Dori, you are hilarious! I love your reference and you are spot on. I loved visiting the King. He seemed just like us and any other teenager. I think it would have been cool if we could have just spent the whole day with him and he could have showed us what he does during the summertime. If I was a King at age 3 like King Oyo was, I would definitely have a hard time knowing what my kingdom needs and wants from me. The hardest part for me would be knowing when I would begin to rule all by myself, without the help from family like the mother. I know I would wait until I graduated from school, but then how do you know when the right time is. I sometimes wished I was a Queen that ruled thousands like King Oyo, but now thinking about how stressful that lifestyle becomes, I don't think I could do it. I would love to live that lifestyles for about a week tops.

  7. bimenyimana lawrenceJuly 3, 2012 at 2:25 AM

    @Kristiana. we were supposed to kneel to the KING but may be he just thought that u guys didnt know about it. His Exellency wanted the respect of a man. Prof.Deb knelt, she knew what to do.
    @Alyssa. i dont think the KING hangs out with civilians in uganda. may be outside Uganda but not in UGANDA. HE RESPECTS HIS KINGDOM and i think it may be against the rule of law.
    @Dori. the KING stays in a quite cool place where some other rich people stay.so i dont think he lives such a cool life and that wasnt a village compared to other areas in uganda.
    @Alessa. i think it is culture here that contributes to sustainable development.
    positively or negatively depending on the circumstances in each case.
    My comment about the KING is that he lives a cool life compared to other kings in the country. he is totally ddifferent.