Kabaka Ronald Muwenda Mutebi, looking fit as a fiddle, briefly stepped out of his car and walked to the gathering that stood excitedly along the Royal Mile road. The Kingdom has for the last eight years organized the event under different campaigns. The first campaign was to fight fistula and collect funds towards operation costs for women with the disease, the second campaign was to fight sickle cell disease and currently the fight against HIV/Aids.
The Kabaka of Buganda Ronald Muwenda Mutebi II is welcomed at Mengo Palace by Katikkiro Charles Peter Mayiga.
The Kabaka of Buganda, Ronald Muwenda Mutebi II has flagged off the 2021 Kabaka Birthday Run which took place at the Mengo Palace in commemoration of his 66th birthday.
Only 200 participants were allowed at the official event held under the theme; Men Against Aids to Save the Girl Child.
This year's event was supposed to take place in April but postponed due to the Covid-19 restrictions that were issued by the government. This makes it the second consecutive year that the event is not happening in April due to the Covid-19 pandemic and also the second year that the event is held under the theme of fighting HIV/Aids.
The Kabaka was in 2017 named a Good Will Ambassador by the United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDs (UNAIDS) for East and Southern Africa.
In his speech, the Katikkiro of Buganda Kingdom, Charles Peter Mayiga said that the Kingdom is committed to fighting the disease until it is wiped out by 2030.
"Today we gather with our King in the midst to celebrate his birthday. Our King turned 66 in April this year and if it weren't for Covid-19, we would have had the Kabaka's Birthday Run, a Sunday preceding the birthday," said Mayiga in part. "That being the case, we are still celebrating the Kabaka's Birthday and that's why we are here."
The Kingdom has for the last eight years organized the event under different campaigns. The first campaign was to fight fistula and collect funds towards operation costs for women with the disease, the second campaign was to fight sickle cell disease and currently the fight against HIV/Aids.
According to the Katikkiro, it pleases the Kabaka to pick a theme in promotion of health and the proceeds from the event will go towards the fight against HIV/Aids in the Kingdom and country.
Mayiga said that the country cannot realise social and economic transformation unless the people are in good health.
"And the different kings of Buganda have always been at the forefront in the promotion of good health. We shall continue with the fight against HIV/Aids with men in the lead to save the girl child," Mayiga noted.
Most of the participants held the marathon virtually from their respective counties, sub-counties and homes in a bid to follow the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) issued by the Ministry of Health to control the spread of Covid-19.
This year, the Kingdom targeted 70,000 participants from Buganda and other parts of the country and sold out kits at 15,000 Shillings each.
Despite limited numbers at the main event at Mengo Palace, hundreds of Kingdom subjects gathered outside the palace on Sunday morning and along the Royal Mile to participate in the run. These were seen welcoming the Kabaka on his way to the event and on departure. Kabaka Mutebi briefly stepped out of his car and walked to the gathering that stood excitedly along the road.
The Kingdom Minister for Information, Noah Kiyimba encouraged the public to continue embracing the Covid-19 vaccination campaign so that the Kingdom and country move forward with healthy citizens.
He also reminded the Kingdom subjects to fight the transmission of HIV/Aids saying that the disease cannot be vaccinated against.
Participants in the Birthday run were divided between the 5km, 10km, 21km and 42km race.
According to statistics by UNAIDs, 1.4 million people are living with HIV in Uganda.
Statistics further indicate that 84 percent of people living with HIV in 2018 know their status, 72 per cent were on treatment and 64 per cent were virally suppressed.