HARRISBURG, Pa. — An African man who worked for years as a nurse's aide in the United States, caring for the elderly and sick, is back in his homeland to be crowned king of his people in the mountains of western Uganda.
Charles Wesley Mumbere's coronation is scheduled Monday in the Kasese district. He will rule over Rwenzururu, a kingdom of about 300,000 people – roughly the size of Pittsburgh – that is now recognized by the national government.
Mumbere, who is in his 50s, lived in the United States for 25 years. He kept his royal roots secret until July, when he granted an interview to The Patriot-News of Harrisburg as he was preparing to return to Uganda.
"I find it was very good interacting with the people I was taking care of," he told the newspaper at the time. "It was very lovely and friendly."
In the 1960s, Mumbere's father, Isaya Mukirane, led a secessionist movement by an ethnic group known as the Bakonjo, and they recognized him as their king.
Mumbere inherited the title at 13 and took charge of the kingdom when he turned 18.
"I grew up in the mountains, fighting in the war," he said.
When he was 30, the Bakonjo and the government negotiated an agreement that provided for Mumbere to be sent to the United States for an education.
Mumbere arrived in 1984 and attended a business school until his government stipend was stopped amid political upheaval in Uganda. In 1987, he gained political asylum, trained as a nurse's aide and took a job in a suburban Washington nursing home to pay his bills, the newspaper said.
In 1999, he moved to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania's capital, where he worked for at least two health care facilities.
He was "very loyal, a very hard worker, a very private person," said Johnna Marx, executive director of the Golden Living Center-Blue Ridge Mountain on the outskirts of Harrisburg.