BUGANDA: On the Old Stool

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High on a red hill above the sunburned plains of Equatorial Africa, in the hereditary palace surrounded by flame trees, Mutesa II, 35th directly descended Kabaka (ruler) of Buganda, one of Uganda's three provinces, last week ascended the old stool which serves as throne for the Kingdom.

Promptly on his 18th birthday, Mutesa II put on his eight-inch-high gold crown, newly rushed from London, encrusted with sapphires, fire opals and carbuncle garnets, fronted with the tall, traditional white ostrich plume. This made him ruler, under a British "agreement of non-interference," of a cotton-growing territory roughly the size of Ireland.

His 877,000 Negro subjects speak a language called Luganda and will refer to him in properly deferential terms. They will not say he sleeps but that he is "just resting." For them, he will not eat but will be "among the baskets."

Mutesa was born in British Reformer Sir Albert Cook's house, overlooking Lake Victoria. Three years ago Mutesa's father, Sir Daudi Chwa, died of a chronic hangover. Until Mutesa came of age last week, Buganda was run by a regency including aged Prime Minister Martin Luther. Mutesa meanwhile played football, rode his bicycle, studied English at King's College in Budo.

Last week he began earning a nine-gun salute and £5,692 a year.