Royal wedding; Princesses are found in fairy tales and all ends well when they find their Prince Charming. Tomorrow, Tooro’s 23-year-old Princess, Ruth Nsemere Komuntale walks down the aisle with her beau, American Christopher Thomas in Fort Portal. Felix Basiime & Geoffrey Mutegeki have followed the preparations.
Princess Ruth Nsemere Komuntale will tomorrow be wedded to Christopher Thomas, an American at St John’s Cathedral (COU) in Fort Portal town at a colourful function to be presided over by the outgoing Anglican Archbishop, Rt Rev Luke Orombi assisted by Bishop Reuben Kisembo of the Ruwenzori Diocese.
Over 2000 guests have been invited to the ceremony that will also attract several thousand kingdom subjects. Unfortunately, the cathedral only has a capacity of 500 people, but preparations have been made to take care of the numbers.
“On Friday we shall provide three tents outside the church and a sound system to accommodate the guests who will have come to attend a function to bid farewell to Archbishop Orombi,” said Bishop Kisembo, adding, “These facilities will remain in place for the Saturday wedding, but if the kingdom officials think these won’t be enough for their invited guests, they will provide more.”
St John’s Cathedral is just within Fort Portal town, at Harukooto, just opposite the King’s palace, Karuzika.
According to the day’s programme, the wedding is expected to run from 10am to 1pm after which the reception, to be held at the Karuziika palace is expected to begin at 2pm.
Here the Omukama, King Oyo Nyimba Kabamba Iguru IV, will host visitors, subjects and Tooro’s friends to a banquet, where dazzling pomp and pageantry will be at display.
It will be a fanfare where the king will speak to his subjects and where guests will be entertained.
Though in actual sense a young brother to Komuntale, King Oyo traditionally qualifies to host this function as the father of Princess Komuntale, because he is the heir of the late King Olimi Kaboyo, their father who died in 1995.
Top civil, political and cultural dignitaries around the country have been invited, including President Yoweri Museveni, the remaining Crown Defender in Tooro kingdom.
According to the Kingdom Information Minister (Kampala), Mr Arthur Namara Araali, they have invited cultural leaders of Buganda, Ankole, Busoga, Bunyoro, Alur and from several African countries who are expected in the country on Friday.
“I will be at Entebbe airport on Friday to receive more foreign dignitaries who include cultural leaders from Botswana and several other African countries” said Namara.
The wedding will be preceded by a corporate dinner today at Mountains of the Moon Hotel in Fort Portal town. This will serve as a pre-party (Kasiki) and tickets are going at Shs150,000. Part of the proceeds from this event will go to the Batebe Foundation, a kingdom humanitarian project, which Komuntale serves as patron.
However, The Kabarole district chairman, Mr Richard Rwabuhinga who is the chairperson organising committee told the press that the corporate dinner has been organised the corporates in Fort Portal, not the royals, although they have invited the royal family.
The royal pre-party (Kasiki) will be held at Link Bus park and musicians like Jose Chameleone, Bobi Wine, Juliana Kanyomozi and area local artistes are expected. King Oyo is also expected at this kasiki.
For most of the past kingdom functions, subjects in Fort Portal and mainly the business community have always complained of being sidelined and this time around the organisers have listened and responded.
“We are mainly going to rely on local Fort Portal service providers, they have always complained,” said Namara, adding, “But in some areas, we shall have to team up both the Kampala and Fort Portal teams in catering, events management and decorations etc.”
Some of the service providers include Mountains of the Moon Hotel (Fort Portal) that will do catering for mainly the VIPs while Biba Company owned by Mr Bashir Bigirwenda of Fort Portal will cater for other guests. Royal Florists (from Kampala) will do the decorations helped with some local firms in Fort Portal.
Customs and cultures
According to Prince Isaac Rabwoni Amooti, the Secretary of the royal Babiito clan, all functions will fully observe cultural values.
Before leaving home, Komuntale is supposed to perform a ritual of sitting on her parents’ laps, a ritual known as okubukara.
Then the Amakondere, the royal dance, a cacophony of music blaring out of wooden flutes and drums will be played.
“Amakondere is a royal dance reserved for royal functions in Tooro, it has no obscenity like some other African traditional dances,” said Rabwoni.
He adds, “The King will launch the Amakondere at exactly 3pm tomorrow by drumming,” Thereafter it should take place in designated places and at royal functions but of late it has been copied and used at some church functions”
After the king officially opens the celebrations, it will be time to make merry till dawn.
She was born a princess or Omubiitokati like she is known in Rutoro. Her full name is Ruth Nsemere Komuntale and she was born in 1989. Princess Komuntale went to school at Aga Khan Primary School before she proceeded to the International School in Tripoli, Libya.
She has two siblings, King Oyo Nyimba Kabamba Iguru Rukidi IV and Princess Celia Komukyeya who passed on at only three, after losing her battle to leukemia, at the Royal Marsden Hospital, London, in October 1997.
Princess Komuntale gets married to fiancé Christopher Thomas, an American. The wedding was earlier slated for July 14 though it was postponed to enable the princess complete her studies. She has just completed a Bachelor of Arts degree from the American University in Washington DC.
According to an article on the university’s website, Komuntale chose to major in women’s, gender, and sexuality studies because, “There are a lot of disadvantaged women in Uganda and around the world, especially in third world countries. I wanted to learn more about it and be able to help women.”
Since graduation, she has begun her career at City Gate an organization in Washington which educates underprivileged children and provides after school programmes.
Breaking cultural norms
Her engagement to Thomas rattled feathers as subjects and kingdom officials have previously come out to object to her marrying a foreign man. To them she could have done better marrying a Mutoro man.
However she did not budge and went ahead with her relationship with the man who had won her heart in Thomas and tomorrow they will be joined in Holy Matrimony.
“I have a right to choose a man I love, the one I know I will spend the rest of my life with because marriage is a lifetime commitment. I don’t want to get married to someone I don’t love because I am a princess and people should not base on culture to tear my heart apart,” Komuntale reacted. She had been criticised for her dress code too.
Her aunt, Princess Elizabeth Bagaya, has added her voice to support her niece saying that the days are long gone when royals would be subjected to spending the rest of their marital life with partners kingdom elders had found them.
“The world has become one global village. The Nnalinya of Buganda is married to a Danish man. We should not look at that as important. Christopher is doing us honours to find his roots in Uganda. Nothing should spoil this union,” Princess Bagaya, said at a welcome party organised for princess Komuntale recently.
“For us we are promoting globalisation. People should follow their hearts,” Namara Arthur Araali, Toro’s kingdom information minister said.
The 23-year-old princess becomes new patron of the Batebe of the Kingdom of Toro, a charity foundation, after Princess Bagaya retiring as former serving Batebe patron.
Christopher Thomas is an accountant from Missouri working the Discovery Channel, an American satellite and cable specialty channel. To the admission of princess Ruth Komuntale whom he will walk down the aisle in a matter of hours, he is great guy with a great personality.
Thomas is an embodiment of a gentleman according to stories the Princess regales friends with. He is born and raised in Washington DC and is the second born child of an investment banker, Thomas Senior.
The University of Maryland accounting graduate has also served the US Military before in Saudi Arabia, Ireland and Turkey. This could have helped inculcate in him the fighting spirit which helped him sweep Komuntale off her feet. His advances were turned down twice before Komuntale accepted him on his third attempt to date her.
There have been previous tabloid reports that Thomas proposed to Komuntale at the Eiffel Tower in Paris and that he bought her a Maybach, a luxury car, worth about $250,000 (Shs750m) when she accepted his proposed which the couple laughs off as creations of the press.
Actually, Christopher Thomas proposed to Komuntale at the aptly named Ruth’s Chris Steak House on her birthday in Washington DC. However, there was an expensive diamond ring involved, which Thomas used to propose to the princess. The couple seal their till death do us part vows at St. John’s Cathedral in Fort Portal tomorrow.
Rev Clovis Kyalimpa, the former Rwigi, (speaker) of the Tooro Kingdom (Orukurato) says the last high profile wedding in the kingdom was that of Komuntale’s father, King Patrick Kaboyo in the late 1980s at St John’s Cathedral, the same church where Komuntale and Christopher Thomas will exchange vows tomorrow. The church was founded by the first Christian King in Uganda called Daudi Kasagama Kyebambe IV. His wedding was the first one to held in the church, way back in 1896.
Rev. Kyalimpa says that in early 1900, another wedding of a colonial administrator called Mr Fisher was also held in this Church.
“Sir George Kamurasi Rukidi III (son of King Daudi Kasagama Kyebambe IV) also had a wedding at the church in place 1930. This is a church for Royals and the King is a titular head of laity. We look forward to the wedding of King Oyo Rukidi IV,” he said.
The church sits 500 people though 2,000 guests have been invited. Tents will be erected outside, to cater for the numbers.
The reception is taking place at the Tooro Royal Palace (Karuziika). The Palace was destroyed during the turbulent years in 1979. It was refurbished with the bankrolling of fallen Libyan Leader Col. Muammar Gadhaffi at the cost of Shs3bn dollars.
Of recent, the major functions that have taken place at the palace are King Oyo Nyimba Kabamba Iguru’s coronation anniversaries. Several thousands of people are expected at the reception where President Yoweri Museveni is expected to be the chief guest.