Buganda gives Nsibambi family ultimatum before chasing them away from Buganda culture

A standoff has emerged over whether women should be allowed to become heirs to their fathers. This follows the death of Prof. Apolo Nsibambi, who chose one of his daughters as his heir.

The disagreement pitting religious leaders against cultural leaders started when the head of Ffumbe clan, Yusuf Mbirozankya Walusimbi, protested the choice of Nsibambi’s heir and the complicity of the Church in the issue.

Walusimbi says the decision by Nsibambi to make his elder daughter, Ruth Nakimuli Kasujja, the heir contradicts the Kiganda cultural norms. The clan head accuses the Church of blessing Nakimuli as the heir well knowing that the Bible also does not approve of a daughter becoming heir to her father.

 Walusimbi has asked other elders in the Ffumbe clan, who include Yusufu Ssenkaaba Ssengendo and Ian Philip Ssaabwe to intervene immediately and sort the mess before the clan pronounces itself on the matter.

Clan heads in Buganda can give punishments including ostracism, suspension or even fining to members who disobey them. Walusimbi expressed his anger on Wednesday at his clan’s offices on Kabakanjagala Road in Mengo, Kampala.

According to family sources, Nsibambi had become a BornAgain Christian, abandoning some of the cultural norms. Born-Again Christians, for example, do not take part in funeral rites where clan leaders present the heirs of the deceased to the public and also perform rituals on them.

The Ffumbe clan suggests that since Nsibambi had only daughters, his heir would have come from among his brothers, nephews and their children. The head of the Lugave clan, Grace Ndugwa Ssemakula, also emphasized his counterpart’s position, observing that the act was indeed an abomination.

“In Buganda, the responsibility was shared; a girl cannot be heir to her father the way a boy succeeds his mother,” Ssemakula said.

He explained that since boys build the clans of their fathers, they were given the responsibility of being their heirs. On the contrary, he said women build the clans of the men they marry.

However, Joyce Birimmumaso, the chief executive officer of Uganda Law Society, said customs that are inconsistent with the Constitution such as this one should be declared void.

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Muwanga Ronald is editor in chief of the UGANDANZ news website. He was formerly editorial director of UGANDANZ.COM, overseeing the publication’s digital operations. Before joining UGANDANZ in December 2018, Ronald was managing editor of NILE HOST In 2014, he was a finalist for the UJA Awards for Young Journalists for his reporting on the women's emancipation. Under his leadership NILE HOST won Media Industry Newsletter's Best of the Web award in 2018. A graduate of Makerere University, Ronald speaks Luganda and French and lives in Kampala with his wife and two children.