Hundreds of people have this morning participated in the annual Kabaka’s Run event at Lubiri Mengo. The run partly marks celebrations for the 62nd birthday of the Kabaka of Buganda Ronald Muwenda Mutebi II.

Like for the previous editions, this year too witnessed thousands of participants grace the Mengo Lubiri Royal Palace as early as 5 a.m ready for the official flag off in the 5, 10 and 21km races.

Incidentally, this year’s run corresponded with the famous Palm Sunday, celebrated days to the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

People from all works of life from Government officials, company CEO’s, private business entities, lawyers, doctors, teachers, engineers, royal Kingdom leaders, clergy, journalists, politicians, musicians, comedians, the socialites, students, name them took part all with a mission or two at hand.

The Airtel Kabaka birthday fun run has now officially become one of Uganda’s most awaited social events on the calendar.

The run is primarily meant to celebrate the birthday of the Buganda Kingdom king, Kabaka Ronald Muwenda Mutebi II with particular Corporate Social Responsibility causes attached to the run.

In 2015 when the run was first held and the following year, proceeds were geared to the fistula victims.

Proceeds from this year’s event will go into fighting sickle cell disease in the country.

Sickle cell is an inherited change in the structure of red blood cells in which a muted form of haemoglobin distorts the red blood cells into a sickle shape.

If both parents have the sickle cell trait at each pregnancy, there is a 25% chance that the child will pick the trait from both parents.

The runners who have participated in today’s three races including 5km, 10km and 21km were flagged off by Kabaka Ronald Ronald Muwenda Mutebi II.

The Kabaka was in the company of the Kingdom’s Katikkiro Charles Peter Mayiga, central government health minister Ruth Jane Aceng and state minister for health Sarah Opendi. Also at the event were Buganda Princesses Katrina Ssangalyambogo, Getrude Nabanakulya and Joan Nasolo as well as Kingdom ministers.

Katikkiro Mayiga said that this year’s run does not only celebrate the 62nd birthday of the Kabaka but focuses on the fight against sickle cell disease.

He cited a need for the Kingdom and Uganda at large to fight the disease in order to have a developed country.

According to the health ministry, 33,000 babies are born annually with the sickle cell disease in Uganda, of which 80 percent die before the age of 5 years. Other statistics from the ministry indicate that in Uganda, between 50 and 70 percent of the children born with the disease die before celebrating their 5th birthday.

Health Minister Aceng noted that her ministry had partnered with the Buganda Kingdom in a bid to control the sickle cell disease whose preverance is high in the country. She says that the preverance of the disease is now at 1.4 percent while that of the trait goes up to 10 percent.

Aceng said that the aim of her ministry partnering with Buganda Kingdom is to increase awareness about the existence of the sickle cell disease and that it can be prevented with pre-marital screening.

Previous Kabaka’s birthday runs contributed to fighting fistula with an estimated 15,000 people participating in the 2016 run.

Winners:

Frank Okello crossed the finishing tape first in the 5km race that covered the distance around the famous Mengo ring road. Musa Kasirivu, Shafiq Kinene and Julius Ceasar Kyasanaku followed in the respective positions.

Uganda Wild life Authority’s Alex Musajjaakawa took the 10km race top slot in 41 minutes. George Williams Kimbowa closely followed having used 42 minutes.

Buganda Kingdom princess Katrina Sangalyambogo ran 10km in 58 minutes as the chief runner Prince David Wasajja participated in the 21km race who completed the race in 3 hours, 3 minutes and 07 mirco-seconds.