Princess Elizabeth Bagaaya Akiiki of Tooro Kingdom, Uganda || Uganda’s most prominent woman

Princess Elizabeth Christobel Edith Bagaaya Akiiki is a royal princess (Omubiitokati) of Tooro Kingdom, Uganda. She has been termed Africa’s princess and Uganda’s most prominent woman due to her many acomplishments being;

  • Princess of Tooro Kingdom
  • Batebe (Princess Royal/royal advisor) to her late brother King (Omukama) Patrick Kaboyo Olimi III
  • First Uganda Female Lawyer
  • First Uganda Female Minister – Foreign affairs
  • Firest East african woman to be admitted in the english bar
  • First African to model on the Harper Bazaar magazine
  • Third african student to be admitted at the University of Cambridge
  • Only black student at Sheborne girls school England during her time
  • Uganda’s amabassador to USA, Germany, Vatican, Nigeria
  • Actress
  • Uganda’s President’s advisor on Culture

She was born in 1936 to late king (Omukama) George Rukidi III (died 1965) and his favourite wife Lady Kezia (died 1998)

Princess Bagaaya and her parents

Princess Bagaaya was schooled in Kyebamabe girls secondary school, Gayaza High school, Uganda. Later she joined the Sherborne grils in England where she was the only black student. Princess Bagaaya joined Girton College, Cambridge becoming the third African woman to be admitted to the University of Cambridge in its history. She graduated from Cambridge with a law degree in 1962 and in 1965 became a barrister-at-law, becoming the first woman from East Africa to be admitted to the English bar. She became the first female lawyer in Uganda.

Photos ; courtsey

Her father died in 1965 and her brother King (Omukama) Patrick Mathew Kaboyo Olimi III was crowned King. Princess Bagaaya was installed Batebe to his brother. Batebe loosely means Princess royal and her role is being an advisor to the king. She and her other brother Prince Stephen Karamagi were beside their brother as he was crowned. Princess Elizabeth Bagaaya was also selected as one of the guardians of his young nephew King Oyo Rukidi IV when he was crowned aged only 3 in 1995.

Photos ; courtsey

In 1981 she married the Aviation engineer and co Pilot Prince Wilberfoce Nyabongo, sadly in 1986 he died aged just 32 in a plane crash

Princess Bagaaya had a short but international career as a model. After the abolition of traditional kingdoms by Prime minister Milton Obote she was invited by Princess Margaret to model in a commonwealth fashion show. Later Jacqueline Kennedy invited her to move to New york and her career as a model was a breakthrough. She was featured in magazines that included the British Vogue, Queen Magazine, American Vogue, Look, LIFE and Ebony magazines. She was the first black to appear on the cover of a top fashion magazine, Harper’s Bazaar. She became so famous that women started rocking her famous hairstyle called princess Elizabeth Bagaaya Hairdo. She also featured as an actress on the film Sheena

Photos ; courtsey

IN 1971 Idi Amin overhtrew Milton Obote and Princess Bagaaya came back. Bagaaya was named ambassador in July 1971, and soon, Amin elevated her to Minister of Foreign Affairs, making her the first woman in Uganda to hold a ministerial post. As Uganda’s foreign affairs minister, Bagaya led a delegation to the 29th session of the United Nations General Assembly. As the elected chairperson of the Organisation of African Unity, she highlighted fair trade among other issues that were necessary for Africa to achieve economic independence and alleviate poverty.

Photos ; courtsey

Idi Amin astonished by her beauty, asked her to marry him. Upon her refusal shortly afterwards, the princess was fired from her prestigious job and thrown into jail on dubious charges but later was released immeaditely leaving through Kenya to London.

Photos ; Life magazine, Corbis

After the overthrow of Idi Amin, Museveni appointed princess Bagaaya as Uganda’s ambassador to the US between 1986 and 1988. Following a period of service as Uganda’s Ambassador to Germany and the Vatican, Elizabeth accepted an appointment as Uganda’s High Commissioner to Nigeria. She has been the presidential advisor on culture to President Yoweri Museveni

Photos ; courtsey

She has been focused on charity in her tooro kingdom and running traditional affairs of the kingdom. She is, today, one of the key players in the kingdom reconstruction activities of The Batebe of Toro Foundation, to which she devotes most of her time. She has authored her autobiography “Elizabeth of Toro: The Odyssey of an African Princess”, published by Simon and Shuster.

Photos ; URN, New Vision, 102FM

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