The Twin Cities hosted foreign royalty Wednesday as the Royal Council of Uganda met with area high school students.
Henry Wako Muloki, king of the Busoga people in eastern Uganda, and William Kiwagama, Busoga prime minister, discussed an African village that St. Paul Area Learning Center students constructed in Wilder Forest in St. Croix, Wis.
“The village is a living tactile school where students will learn lifestyle issues,” said Surya Pierce, Wilder Forest project consultant. “We’re looking to focus on a program that provides a cross-cultural study on out-of-door subjects like national environment issues and family life studies.”
The king visited St. Paul to help educate Minnesotans about the changes taking place in his land.
Uganda is currently experiencing a transition toward restoring democracy, a change some hope will strengthen the oft-troubled region.
“Formerly, kings had legislative and executive powers, but after some changes in 1996, the kingdoms were broken up,” Kiwagama said. “Now they’re reinstated, but with no legislative or executive power. The only power we have now is with cultural and developmental issues.”
The tribe’s inability to levy taxes has significantly reduced their power to provide for their citizens. The lack of funding has become increasingly problematic for changes being made in the Busoga educational system.
“One of the crises we have right now is in education,” Kiwagama continued. “In the past, only rich parents could send their kids to primary school. But now, the situation has been reversed. The free education has created a problem: Enrollment has jumped from 2.5 to 6 million.”
Lack of educational funding and increasing need for an FM radio station to provide effective communication with the Busoga people have the king meeting with local investors.
“We don’t have enough classrooms, and many of the teachers are on strike,” Kiwagama said. “The king has a problem talking to his people. When he wants to talk, he’s got to buy radio time. He’s decided to start his own FM radio station.”
So far, with promises of investment and more than 1,000 books, the council deemed its United States visit a success.
While in town, tribal leaders also met with Laura Duckett, an associate professor at the University’s School of Nursing; city officials from Stillwater, their newly named sister city; and with Hamline University faculty members about agricultural prospects in Uganda.
Travis Reed welcomes comments at [email protected] He can also be reached at (612) 627-4070 x3235.