In her soon-to-be released autobiography on March 23, NNAABAGEREKA SYLVIA NAGGINDA candidly takes readers through her childhood, how she met the Kabaka, her hopes and fears on marrying into the monarchy as well as the joy of their twins. She also saliently delves deep into the role of the Nnaabagereka as well as her charity efforts to mentor young persons, writes Dennis Jjuuko.

Sylvia Nagginda Luswata, like most women, expected a marriage proposal like no other. Perhaps on the Riviera or in some other exotic place. After all, she was dating Uganda’s most eligible bachelor at the time, Kabaka Ronald Muwenda Mutebi, only to be extremely surprised.

As Nagginda was going through her emails in late 1998, she saw one from the Kabaka. Being on different continents and in the pre- WhatsApp era, email had become one of the couple’s most common means of communication. And in the email, the Kabaka simply wrote: “Dear Sylvia, I think I am ready if you are.” Like that! Nagginda doesn’t remember her exact response, but she said yes. That response changed her life story and made her one of the most recognizable faces in Uganda today.

But the email didn’t come out of the blue. Sometime in 1990, Nagginda’s friend Dr William Kalema, a close friend of Kabaka Mutebi, told her of a prince whom she needed to meet. But Dr Kalema made the mistake of asking her to send him her photos so he could forward them to the prince. She thought it was inappropriate. A year later or so, her aunt current government minister Joyce Ssebugwawo, who was visiting her in New York told her about the same prince.

Dr Kalema and Ssebugwawo hadn’t talked about it together. But still, she concentrated on her work and didn’t think much about a man she had never met. Then, in 1993, Nagginda decided to take a break in New York and reconnect with her roots in Uganda.

She wanted to check out the country and see if she could relocate. She had always wanted to find a way to contribute to the development of her country of origin. She was friends with Barbara Mulwana and had met the late, industrious business mogul James Mulwana at Barbara’s graduation in America.

James Mulwana gave her a consulting contract for six months to be part of the team organizing the first Uganda Manufacturers Association trade fair. James Mulwana was a close associate of the Kabaka. At the Kabaka Mutebi coronation at Naggalabi in Buddo, Nagginda attended the event along with the Mulwanas, but given the mammoth crowd that descended on that hill, the Kabaka was perhaps too busy with the tonnes of bark cloth and animal skins to notice her presence.

The opportunity would come a day later. Kampala businessman Gordon Wavamunno organized what I would call a post-coronation party at his exquisite mansion in Munyonyo. Naturally, the Mulwanas were invited. Nagginda tagged along again. All guests lined up to welcome the newly-crowned 36th Kabaka of Buganda. He shook hands with everyone, including Nagginda.

A day later, Kabaka Mutebi sent his friend Dr Kalema a message saying that he had seen “Sylvia at the party.” And then the Prof Ssetenza Kajubi family also had an after-coronation party. The Kajubis are also friends with Nagginda. This time she went with the Kajubis to the Kabaka’s residence in Kololo, where she joined his convoy to the party. At the party, they kept eyeing each other but couldn’t talk. Mutebi again sent Dr Kalema a message about her.

That second encounter wasn’t in vain. They started talking afterwards until after Nagginda decided that it was time to go back to America. And then they lost contact. She even heard that the Kabaka was dating somebody else.

But it seems the Kabaka’s heart was still ‘beating for her.’ In 1998, her friend, Sam Kyewalabye, who is a cousin of the Kabaka, told her that the Kabaka was looking for her and wondered whether he should give him her telephone number. She didn’t have any objections, though she believes he had already passed it on.

As a Muganda, she didn’t think he would not pass on a telephone number if the Kabaka asked. And he immediately called, and they rekindled their love affair, culminating in the famous wedding of the century in August, 1999.


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