Why Azande King is yet to receive full powers months on

Why Azande King is yet to receive full powers months on
New Azande King, Atoroba Peni Rikito Gbudue, carried by the royal family after his arrival at Yambio Airstrip on Wednesday. [Photo: Confucius Taban]

He was installed at a hyped-up event filled with dances and colourful speeches that boosted hopes. His enthronement signified a new dawn in the reincarnation of what used to be the administrative landmark of the Azande community.

The Azande King, His Majesty Atoroba Peni Rikito Gbudue, has enjoyed the warmth of the seat for two months now, albeit with no full crown—he is yet to receive his full administrative powers thanks to the lengthy nature of the process.

Atoroba, who is the grandson of Gbudue, was crowned the new Azande King in February 2022, after 117 years following the death of King Gbudue in 1905.

He succeeded the late King Gbudue, who was overthrown by British colonists and was assassinated after attempting to battle the British for African independence.

After the installation of the new king, people expected a cocktail of activities from the new monarch in terms of the administration system and rules. But since then, little has been seen, leaving people wondering what powers the new King has.

With the return of royalty now comes the question of whether the monarch will still embrace the ancient values of the monarchy or adopt modern rule.

“We have our kingdom, but someone like me and maybe others are expecting more from the King in terms of some activities that would make us feel the rule of the Kingdom,” Mburuga Ndukayo, an Azande youth, told The City Review in an exclusive interview on Wednesday. 

“But I haven’t seen anything yet. Now I am not sure if it will just be a name or if we will see a real king like the Gbudue we usually hear about. Because I want to see my King moving around so that I can see how much respect he will receive,” Ndukayo said.

According to Badagbu Daniel Rimbasa, one of King Gbudue’s grandsons who often speaks on behalf of the royal family, the King is doing his best to create a complete administration.

More expected

“As you are aware, after 117 years, the kingdom has been restored. There is a great deal that has to be accomplished. Yes, there are some activities going on but consultations are going on before the King forms the governance of his kingdom. “

According to him, the Kingdom must develop its constitution, as well as its vision, mission, and objectives, to have a complete constitution in place that grants the King and structures power over everything within the Kingdom.

“Especially at this time, when the King is planning a consultation session with many stakeholders to come up with an idea for the Kingdom’s conceptual framework,” Mr. Rimbasa disclosed.

Atoroba (King) is meeting with various elders, intellectuals, and other stakeholders to seek opinions on how things should take shape, a member of the royal family said.

He said the consultative workshop would bring together chiefs, intellectuals, women’s organisations, farmers’ unions, youth groups, traders’ unions, and other groups to build something that would sound inclusive and incorporate all of their thoughts.

“The consultation workshop is targeting people from various groups to enable them to establish the framework in terms of the kingdom’s legal rationale.”

Mr. Rimbasa added that the King is also considering aiming to have customary laws developed to empower local chiefs to ensure they adhere to the provisions of the Local Government Act of 2009.

He hinted that the King would soon invite stakeholders and intellectuals for a consultative workshop to enable the palace to have policies, including customary laws, and how the kingdom’s finances will be managed.

“Everything for the session had been completed, including the planning and budgeting. The only thing left was to mobilise resources for the workshop, following which the King would be able to hold the consultative workshop. “

What is significant, he said, is that they have already built up an office for the King to administer Kingdom matters, as well as some consultations and meetings that the King has been holding with international partners, organizations, church leaders, and others.

“The King, according to the Royal Palace, is a man of peace. He is also working on a peace initiative. He needs the country to be at peace. In Western Equatoria State, particularly in Tombura, he requires peace. “

The King has been lobbying for unity among people to work together for development, particularly agriculture development, which he considers very crucial to assuring food security in the country, according to the royal family’s spokesperson.

Atoroba urged everyone in the state and the entire country to engage in agricultural activities as a means of combating hunger.

“The King is delivering a strong message to the population, indicating that the time for farming has arrived.” Everyone must carefully consider farming as a means of combating hunger in the country and enabling people to pursue meaningful development in terms of income production for the youth, women, and other marginalised groups, “he said.

Strong ancient kingdom

In the early 1870s and 1880s, King Gbudwe fought a vicious civil war with his brothers after the death of their father, and after consolidating his power, he went on to win several battles against the Arabs, French, and British.

He was one of the Azande Kingdom’s most powerful kings, and his words were final. And his rules were characterised by bad practises in society, such as ordering the killing of anyone who cannot obey him.

King Gbudwe, whose real name was Mbio, which means “a kind of small antelope,”, later renamed himself “Gbudwe”, also known as “Gbudue,” meaning “to tear out a man’s intestines.”

In his rules, King Gbudue promoted bad forms of cultural practises such as the inheritance of women, including young and beautiful girls who were forcibly selected by their parents to serve in the palace as wives to the kings or royal guards in the oldest kingships.

These are some of the bad habits that most kings had in those days, but all those things are going to be the opposite based on modern ideas, especially national leadership.

So, the question is: will royal power regain the clout it once enjoyed, or will it be subservient to the state and national leadership that is based on modernity?