As the Kabaka Birthday Run nears, dozens of hundreds of supporters of Gen Muhoozi Kainerugaba, have on Thursday afternoon thronged Bulange Mengo to buy running kits.
The Kabaka Birthday Run, is an annual event that forms part of the celebrations to mark the birthday of Kabaka Ronald Muwenda Mutebi II of Buganda. This year the Kabaka will celebrate 68 years of age.
Led by the MK Movement National Vice Chairman Western Uganda, Balaam Barugahara, the excited supporters clad in T-shirts with photos and writings declaring Gen Muhoozi Kainerugaba as Uganda’s President, excitedly sang Buganda Kingdom anthem as they peacefully moved (some on Boda Bodas and others on foot) to Mengo.
At Bulange, the group bought 1,000 kits worth Shs20,000,000. Each running kit worth Shs 20,000 includes a vest, a water bottle and cap.
Mr Barugahara, who represented Gen Muhoozi Kainerugaba said the Senior Presidential Advisor on Special Operations, said the MK Movement is anchored on youth empowerment, thus committed to supporting and working with the kingdom to promote sports and culture.
“Gen Kainerugaba has sent me to inform you that we are ready to work together to promote sports and culture in the country and we work towards empowering the youth. Gen Kainerugaba commends the Kingdom for always identifying and promoting talent through the Masaza football tournament,” Mr Barugahara said on Thursday.
“Like the General has publicly stated before, we are also committed to working with Buganda Kingdom in making Kampala the cleanest city in Africa. We will work with the Kingdom to rally citizens to engage in environment-conscious activities that will not result in littering, thus realizing our transformational agenda of Kampala,” he added.
This year’s run is intended to raise awareness and strengthen the efforts to fight the HIV/ AIDS epidemic in Buganda and Uganda at large, under the theme: “The fight to end HIV/ AIDS by 2030.”
On this, Mr Barugahara said the Kabaka has been at the forefront of campaigning to increase the uptake of HIV testing and treatment services, with a particular focus on men and boys, saying, as a group that consists mainly of young people, being part of such campaign is inevitable.
“Gen Muhoozi Kainerugaba’s supporters are mainly young people. We want to see them healthy and free of HIV/AIDS in order for them to build our country. So, we want to identify with Buganda Kingdom on this cause,” Mr Barugahara said.
On his part, the minister of Sports, Youth and Recreation in the Buganda Kingdom Owek. Sekabembe Henry thanked the MK Movement for the gesture, and appealed to the youth to protect themselves against acquiring HIV.
“Buganda Kingdom does discriminate people, we welcome everyone regardless of their political, ethnic, religious and other affiliations. It is in that spirit that we welcome here today. I am pleased that you have joined us to use this run to fight HIV/AIDS in the country,” Owek. Sekabembe said.
“The youth are an indispensable variable in this equation because HIV tackles the youth more compared to other groups. It is in this regard that I want to appeal to you the young people of this country to safeguard yourselves as far as this Virus is concerned. This is because if we are to fare highly and scale the heights in all other aspects say economics, politics, it should health first,” he added.
The Kabaka of Buganda Kingdom, Ronald Muwenda Mutebi II, will officially flag off the run on Sunday, April 16, 2023. They will start from Lubiri, Mengo and finish in Kampala City.
Over the years, thousands associate with Buganda Kingdom to make this run a success.
Data from UNAIDS, the leading organization in the fight against HIV/AIDS, indicates that by 2021, 38.4 million people globally were living with HIV.
The report also indicated that although 1.5 million people became newly infected with HIV, there was a reduction in New HIV infections reflecting a 54% drop since the peak in 1996.