CNN reported that this Sunday marked the end of the four-day coronation ceremony of King Oyo. The 18-year-old monarch–who is now one of the youngest in the world–became ruler of over 2 million people of the Tooro kingdom in the African country’s western region. King Oyo has been anticipating his 18th birthday for a long time after first ascending to king as a 3-year-old after his father’s death in 1995. Not only did he receive a Mercedes Benz as a gift from his mother, Queen Best Kemigisa, but King Oyo has also taken on a key government position in whose primary roles are “promoting cultural pride and helping raise funds for issues such as health and education in his kingdom.”
Historically, Uganda’s kingdoms date to as old as the Egyptian civilization and were dissolved by the national government as recently as 1967; King Oyo’s kingdom was reinstated in the 1990s, but his more or less ceremonial position focuses mostly on cultural issues.
The young king knows there is a huge responsibility in the new leadership role and expectations coming from his own generation and older ones alike. He inherits one of the most impoverished kingdoms in Uganda and must work to build small business opportunities for the population. Indeed, with controlling power of tax funds from the Ugandan government, King Oyo has the potential to inspire real progress for his cultural people (the Batooro).
It appears King Oyo is already making great advances, though, by promoting self-sufficiency among Batooro farmers and by prioritizing education and health care. These initiatives are clearly imperative for the type of social and economic progress his subjects seek. They are hoping King Oyo will fulfill his role as their protector, symbolized in their gift to the king of the protector’s spear.