The Reign of Kabaka Suuna: 1810–1852
From C R Spinner, soc.culture. african newgroup, 11 June 2003
In his lifetime, he married 148 women. In addition, he had 2000 concubines (call them reserves) plus 18,000 maiden servants, who could also step in as wives, if and when the need arose.
Suuna ascended the throne in 1810 after the death of his father Kamaanya. He was only twelve at the time. A handsome boy, with beady eyes and a commanding voice, he quickly became popular among his subjects. However, as he grew older and more confident of himself, Suuna’s character changed, to become one of the most cruel kings ever to rule Buganda.
His mother Nakkazi Kanyage was one of the most beautiful women in the kingdom, more beautiful than many of Suuna’s wives and even younger. She was captured during a raid ordered by Suuna’s father against one of his chiefs who had fallen out of favour. Her beauty was the cause of the deaths of many chiefs whom Suuna suspected to having had affairs with her. At one time he sent soldiers to plunder her property after suspecting that she was pregnant, later he returned her property after establishing that she wasn’t with child.
He forced several of his sisters to become his wives, breaking the long-standing Buganda tradition of princesses remaining unmarried. Having so many wives and concubines at his disposal did not deter Suuna from straying beyond the walls of his palace, to poach on other men’s wives.
On spotting a beautiful while on tour, he would order his men to put up a temporary shelter so that he could sleep with her there and then. This strange obsession earned Suuna the nickname Museewo entimbe (put up screens).many chiefs lost property and sometimes even their lives because they were reluctant to part with their beautiful wives.
Acquiring a large number of wives has not always been a hallmark of Buganda kings. The first king of Buganda, Kintu, had only one wife Nambi Nantutululu, daughter of Bakazirwendo of the Ngeye clan. His successor Chwa I had two Nakku daughter of Walusimbi of Fumbe and Nakiwala daughter of Semwanga of Ngonge.
Suuna died in 1852 and was succeeded by Muteesa I, who had 84 wives, 1000 concubines and 17,000 maiden servants.
Charles B. Lwanga.