Uganda is interestingly known as the “Pearl of Africa”, it is a land-locked country located in Eastern Africa, west of Kenya, south of South Sudan, east of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and north of Rwanda and Tanzania. It is situated in the heart of the Great Lakes region and is surrounded by three of them; Lake Edward, Lake Albert and Lake Victoria. Kampala is Uganda’s capital city and the she got her independence in 1962. Its wilderness is extra ordinary and Ugandans are welcoming people with amazing cultures.
Uganda is astonishingly a great country with a variety of tourist attractions around the country and these include National Parks, Game Reserves, and Cultural sites, Mountains, Lakes and Rivers.
THE PEOPLE OF UGANDA
Uganda is purely blessed with friendly and welcoming people who have mastered making new people (visitors to the country) feel comfortable and at home by providing a friendly and warm and welcoming environment.
The country has got a large variety of ethnic groups; the ‘Bantu South” and the “Nilotic North” The Bantu speakers form the largest portion of Uganda’s population. Of these, the Ganda remain the largest single ethnic group, almost constituting one-sixth of the total national population. Other Bantu speakers are the Soga, Gwere, Gisu, Nyole, Samia, Toro, Nyoro, Kiga, Nyankole, Amba, and Konjo. A sizable population of Rwanda (Banyarwanda) speakers also form a certain population those who had fled Rwanda in the late 1960s and early ’70s, some lived in Uganda until the mid-1990s while others stayed and intermarried with the Ugandans. The Bantu languages start with letters; “Ru” or “Lu” depending from where someone is coming from for example the Nyankole speak Runyankole while the Ganda speak Luganda, this is because there is a slight difference in pronunciations among Bantu speakers.
The Nilotic languages are also represented by the following; Acholi (Acoli), Lango (Langi), Alur, Padhola, Kumam, Teso, Karamajong, Kakwa, and Sebei; are spoken by more than one-tenth of the population. Central Sudanic peoples including; the Lendu, Lugbara, and Madi are also found in the north.
Apparently, Uganda is divided into four (4) regions; Northern, Eastern, Central and Western regions. There are over Fifty (50) tribes with different and unique backgrounds, cultural and traditional practices evidenced by their day to day lifestyle and how things are done in the community.
English and Kiswahili are the two official languages although urban people can speak fluent English than the rural people.
CULTURAL AND TRADITIONAL PRACTICES IN UGANDA
The people of Uganda are hospitable and come from a diversity of rich cultures and lifestyle where by many regions have kingdoms including Buganda, Busoga, Bunyoro and Toro.
Ugandans have got a variety of unique and interesting cultural and traditional practices to explore since each tribe has a unique cultural practice that makes it outstanding from the other. Some of these include the following;
Cultural and Traditional Dances in Uganda
Pearl of Africa has a strong cultural heritage and each tribe has its own traditional dance. For example the Alur people from the West Nile have the traditional Agwal dance, Bagisu have the Imbalu dance during circumcision ceremonies. The Banyankole perform their Kitagururo dance, Banyoro perform Runyege, Bwora and Otole dances for the Acholi.
Cultural and Traditional Dressing in Uganda
Traditionally, the dress code in Uganda must portray respect and decency, the cultural and traditional attires are therefore long up to the feet. For example Banyankole women’s dress code is “Kwezirika” their brides cover their heads (Kwetwekyerira) during give way (Kuhingira) ceremonies, the Banyoro and Batoro women wear is “Mushanana” and “Bussuti”, Karamajongs wear ”Suuka”, the Baganda women wear “Gomesi” and men put on “Kanzu” these attires are mainly during traditional functions and on other celebrations.
Traditional Marriages in Uganda
Marriage is one of the most treasured tradition in Uganda, it is so unique and outstanding depending on the different tribes hence a great cultural experience to explore. Bride price is a must among several tribes which is a sign of appreciation to the bride’s family, it also proves that a man is traditionally the head of the family. For example in certain tribes such as Banyankole, Karamajongs, Itesots, Acholi, Batooro to mention a few, cattle is highly and traditionally respected and treasured because its great importances dowry inclusive. Traditional marriage is done in Two (2) levels among the Baganda of Central Uganda; “Kukyala” where the groom’s family visits the bride’s family to discuss and agree on the bride price and then the official date to pick the bride is set “Kwanjula” while the Banyankore of Western of Western Uganda have Three (3) levels; Katerarume faces the bride’s family to present the interests of the groom and makes sure that the request is accepted, once accepted, the groom’s family brings Ënkwatarugo” to bride’s family a sign of appreciation and to prove to the community that bride is theirs, at this point bride price discussions are done and once cattle has been brought ”Okureta ente”, they set official date to pick the bride “Kuhingira”.
Traditional Foods and Drinks in Uganda
Uganda’s staple food and popular dish is “Matooke”, Bananas. However, the different tribes in Uganda have special dishes which define them and are prepared on special occasion such as functions and ceremonies or visitors come home. For example Luwombo for the Baganda of Central Uganda.
In Northern Uganda their special dish is Úgali’ Posho and Millet. Millet is also common in East and Western tribes. “Eshabwe” is for Banyankore of Western Uganda and it is a mixture of ghee and rock salt water and “Karo”, a mixiture of mingled millet and cassava floor for Batooro of Western Uganda, the Bagisu of Eastern Uganda have “Malewa” which is made out of Bamboo shoots. While Karamajongo’s staple diet is blood obtained after punctuating a cow’s skin and raw milk.
There are several traditional drinks among the different tribes in Uganda which include some of the following;
Uganda’s most famous drink is “Waragi” which is a locally distilled gin. Other popular traditional drinks include “Omubisi”, it is prepared from fruits for instance yellow banana juice which if fermented turns into a local brew known as Tonto and it is common in Central Uganda. Busheera or Enturire drinks in Western Uganda made from sorghum after it has been fermented. There is also malwa and ajono which is made out of germinated millet and later fermented, this is common among the Itesots in the Eastern region. These drinks are popular at cultural and traditional festivals.
CLIMATE AND WEATHER
Uganda’s climate is largely tropical with two rainy seasons per year, March to May and September to December.
The rest of Uganda apart from the northern region lies within a relatively humid equatorial climate zones, and the topography, prevailing winds, and lakes and rivers cause large differences in rainfall patterns across the country. It’s location in the tropics and across the equator results in the country’s weather and seasonal being determined by the large-scale Indian Monsoon, Congo air mass, Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) and the Inter Tropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) systems. The northern region, which forms one quarter of the country lies outside the tropical belt, and hence experiences only one rainy season, March to October.
Uganda also experiences the El Nin Southern Oscillation (ENSO) phenomena, which are principal driving forces of intra-annual to inter annual rainfall variability. Overall, Uganda experiences moderate temperatures throughout the year, around 22.8°C, with monthly temperatures ranging between 21.7°C (July) and 23.9°C (February). During this period, total annual average precipitation is 1,197 mm, and mean monthly precipitation of the country varies from 39.6 mm in January to 152.7 mm in April.
Uganda’s climate is controlled by the oscillating effects of the Inter-Tropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ), which sees the convergence of the rain bringing Atlantic westerlies and Indian Ocean easterlies and the dry north-east and south-east monsoon winds. Thus, in keeping with much of tropical Africa, Uganda experiences a wet season and a dry season, its precipitation pattern described as bimodal, the main or long rains arriving March – May, the short rains November – start of December.
Uganda has quite a number of religions with Islam and Christianity as the indigenous religions.
Christianity is the most widely practiced religion in the country and around 85% of the population practices one of several Christian denominations.
Christians are primarily divided between Roman Catholics and Protestants – mostly Anglicans but also including Pentecostals, Seventh-day Adventists, Baptists, and Presbyterians.
The Christian population is followed by the Moslems community who began arriving from the east coast of Africa in the 1830’s. Islam was the first of the exogenous religions to arrive, and it became politically significant in the 1970s while Christianity came during the colonial period through spirited missionary activity especially in the south, where Catholics were called Bafaransa (the French) and Protestants Bangerezza (the British).
The British explorers made their way here in the 1860’s. After learning some of the teachings of the Christian religion, the Baganda king requested the Queen of England to send missionaries and in 1877 the first Protestant missionaries arrived. In 1879, the French Catholic missionaries also came. The two denominations soon began a rivalry in the courts which was respected by the local culture and helped to spread the religion.
In the early 1930s, the Balokole (Born again) revival was initiated by a group of Anglican missionaries together with several Ugandans. As time went on, it became a powerful force of Pentecostalism in Uganda and has continually spread throughout Eastern Africa and beyond
FACTS ABOUT UGANDA
Uganda is a landlocked country in East-Central Africa with almost a size of Great Britain whose diverse landscape encompasses the snow-capped Rwenzori Mountains and immense Lake Victoria. Its abundant wildlife includes primates in Kibale Forest Nattional Park as well as rare birds. The Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is also a renowned mountain gorilla sanctuary. Murchison Falls National Park in the northwest is known for its 43m-tall and powerful waterfall in the world and wildlife such as hippos. Lake Bunyonyi is famously known as the second deepest lake in Africa after Lake Tanganyika of Central Africa on the borders of Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Zambia and Burundi.
Uganda is populated by dozens of ethnic groups. The English language and religion help to unite the great numbers of peoples that come together in the cosmopolitan capital of Kampala, a verdant city whose plan includes dozens of small parks and public gardens as well as a scenic promenade along the shore of Lake Victoria, Africa’s largest freshwater lake.
The Swahili language unites the country with its East African neighbors Kenya and Tanzania.
Capital City: Kampala
Official Name: Jamhuri ya Uganda (Swahili); Republic of Uganda (English)
Head of State and Government: President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, assisted by Prime Minister: Robinah Nabbanja
Form of Government: Multiparty Republic with one Legislative house (Parliament )
Population: 42,886,000 (2021 est.)
Currency: Ugandan shilling (UGX)
Official Languages: English; Swahili
CULTURAL AND HISTORICAL SITES IN UGANDA
Uganda has for years had a strong cultural heritage because of the different rich cultures all over the country. There are several cultural sites in the Pearl of Africa whereby all regions are blessed with at least a unique, beautiful, and amazing historical site that still exist basing on the ancestral beliefs that are passed on to all generations.
Below are historical sites in Uganda
THE KASUBI TOMBS
Kasubi Tombs is located in Kasubi-Nabulagala approximately 6KM from Uganda’s capital city; the Kasubi Tombs was built in the late 19th Centuary, 1882 using wood and other organic materials. The interior part is designed in an extra ordinary way with 52 circular rings on its ceiling representing the 52 Buganda clans and a scared forest. Kasubi Tombs stands to be the most active cultural site in Buganda Kingdom because it is the burial ground for the “Kabakas” Kings of Buganda, apparently it houses the four (4) tombs of the “Kabakas”.
In 2001 Kasubi Tombs was included on the UNESCO World Heritage List, in March 2010 it partially caught fire that destroyed it, months later, the Reconstruction Project that was financed by Japan and implemented by UNESCO and the Ugandan was launched.
In September 2021, Kasubi Tombs was ranked number one (1) on the list of 12 Africa’s Iconic, Innovative and Historical Architecture in Buildings.
THE UGANDA MARTYRS SHRINE NAMUGONGO
The Shrine is 15 KM from Uganda’s capital city; Kampala in Namugongo, Wakiso district. The Shrine is a church at the same time and it plays a very big role to the Catholic and Church of Uganda (Anglican) community.
The Shrine has a spectacular interior and exterior designs, it was constructed in an African architectural hut design with wooden doors to commemorate the martyrs who refused to denounce the Christian faith and were killed under the orders of Kabaka Mwanga of Buganda in 1885 and 1887.
The martyrs included 24 Catholics and 13 Anglicans plus 6 other prisoners who were sentenced to death for other committed offences. Some Martyrs were burnt from Namugongo while others from different places of Buganda region and Gulu in northern Uganda.
The construction of the Shrine started in 1967 and ended in 1975, it was built where the original church parish was and at the spot where some martyrs including Charles Lwanga were killed from.
On 3rd June 1886, Charles Lwanga who had become a leader for both Catholic and Protestant/ Aglican religions after Joseph Mukasa’s death, he became a victim of holocaoust and was picked by Senkoole to be the next victim. Charles Lwanga was taken to a spot of about 50 yards from the road and was told to arrange his own death bed of firewood, he burnt slowly from feet to head wrapped in reeds. Lwanga died a brave Christian as he made no cry but rather twisted and moaned to his death.
Many pilgrims come from different places all over the world on the 3rd June every year to come and celebrate with Uganda the courageous men “Uganda Martyrs”.
BIGO BYA MUGENYI
Bigo Bya Mugenyi “The Fort of a stranger” is located in Ntusi, Mawogola County about 50 km from Ssembabule. The place is believed to be a historical place for the ancient Bachwezi who lived there first and other parts of the country such as western Uganda and central Uganda. The mysterious Bachwezi who have no historical background are also believed to have been the very first people to settle in Uganda in the 11th to 16th century with a duo dynasty rule of Wamala and Ndahura which did not last long. They had inexplicable and bewildering ways of life for example leaving foot marks on the rocks, flying with the wind and disappearing in thin air.
The Bachwezi are believed to have been demigods and their identity is enigma. At the Amabre caves is a “Kigere” meaning foot which is one of the explosion craters at the place, it is in form of a foot and therefore believed to be a foot print of the Bachwezi people.
It is believed that in the late 15th century, the Chwezi Empire disintegrated and Ruhinda Rwa Njunaki, son of Wamala, the last king of Bachwezi formed Ankole, now the Ankole Kingdom. The Bahinda clan where the ‘’Omugabe wa Nkole”, King of Ankole belongs to, the clan is normally referred to as “Bakama be’ngoma” which means “the Loyal Family”. The rulers of Ankole are therefore descendants of Ruhinda, he was named that because of the Ekihinda (a balck mark) on his face. Njunaki was Ruhinda’s mother and she was a servant at the King’s palace. Unlike the Buganda, Bunyoro and Tooro Kingdoms, the Ankole Kingdom has not been restored yet.
One of the ditches at Bigo bya Mugenyi which is believed to have been a hiding place for the former inhabitants.
Baker’s Fort also known as Fort Patiko was a military fort founded by Sir Samuel Baker in Ajulu parish, Patiko sub-county, Asawa County, Gulu district and the construction of the fort was completed on December 25, 1872. It is 32 KM north of Gulu town.
The fort was initially a slave collection center built by the Arabs. When Sir Samuel Baker was sent on mission by the Queen of England to stop the slave trade that was being carried out by the Arab slave traders, he took over the fort from the Arabs in 1872.
The fort had divisions which were instrumental to the Arab slave traders and these include; the Administrative Chamber, the Prosecution Chamber- by (firing squad /beheading), the Industrial area, Concrete stores and Court yard.
Slaves were a key trading item for the Arabs and were captured from northern Uganda, Gondokoro in Sudan and other areas. Ocecu Hill became a sorting ground for slaves. Healthy-looking ones were forced to trek from Patiko, through Sudan across the Red Sea and sold in Egypt.
Sir Samuel Baker served up to 1888 and left, the fort then became the headquarters for Emin Pasha and Charles Gordon who served as Governors of the Equatorial Province of the British-Uganda Protectorate.
In the center of the fort, there is a plaque on the remaining wall of the Grain storage building which reads, “Fatiko 1872-1888, founded by Sir Samuel Baker, occupied by Emin Pasha and Gordon”
NYERO ROCK PAINTINGS
The prehistoric art paintings are amongst the most important rock art in Uganda, they are located in Kumi district, eastern Uganda, west of Kumi town and about 250 km Kampala, the capital city. Nyero Rock Paintings are also on the tentative list of the UNESCO World Heritage sites.
Nyero Rock Paintings has got six (6) shelters in total, initially only three (3) rocks were recorded and the local communities would refer to them as shrines. No one has knowledge about the origin of the paintings and the authorship remains in debate.
The genetic, archeological and ethnographic evidence attributes the paintings to the ancestors of Batwa people, hunter gathers who are descendants of the ancient aboriginal groups that are believed to be original inhabitants of this area. They spread across east and central Africa, living in small groups near the Rwanda/ Uganda boarder present day.
Nyero Rock Art sites
This is a small rock shelter on the outer edge of the outcrop and comprises six sets of concentric circles with a central image of a ‘floral motif’ and a so-called ‘acacia pod’ shape. The geometrics in this shelter are all painted in white.
Nyero 2 is believed to be the main shelter and it is the overhang formed by an enormous boulder (estimated to weigh at least 20,000 tons) which has broken away; a vertical rock against the back wall measures 10m in height. The panel at here consists of more than forty images such as vertical divided sausage shapes, so-called ‘canoes‘, unidentified faint markings, ‘U’ shapes, lines and dots, with evidence of superimposition; but is dominated by concentric circles. A unique feature of the paintings are the so-called ‘canoes’ or parts of ‘canoes’ due to their resemblance in form. The depictions are all painted in shades of red.
The overhang protects the paintings from direct rain and direct sun is protected by rocks to the front and sides and this is believed to have contributed to their preservation. Early users of the shelter placed ritual gifts on its south-eastern side; the tradition of using this space to place money either before or after receiving help from ancestral spirits is continued by the local community.
A bone incised with three concentric circles and four parallel lines, and pieces of prepared ochre were excavated from this site in 1945. These are the only evidence of prehistoric portable art so far found in Uganda.
Nyero 3 is about eight (8) minutes’ walk from Nyero 2, the shelter is formed by a large boulder perched on supporting rocks. Paintings consist of white concentric circles; the outer circles surrounded by double curved designs, between which are double lines divided into small compartments.
This is the smallest shelter on the south-western side of the hill where there are a few traces of red finger-painted concentric circles, two conical shapes and lines.
Nyero 5 is situated on the western side of the hill, the shelter has a red geometric motif composed of a combination of circular and linear shapes made with both a brush and a finger. However, the images are quite difficult to distinguish as they are damaged by natural water erosion.
This shelter is situated on the top of the hill and it has a good view of the landscape. This site features two red finger-painted outlines of small oval shapes and a slanting L-shape as well as an outlined cross with a small circle below. The painted surface is now subject to severe exfoliation as it is open to the rain and morning sun.
The sites at Nyero are believed locally to have been sacred ancestral places where, in the past, people would have travelled long distances to make offerings of food, beer and money in times of drought, misfortune and for child birth. Nyero was also regarded as a magical place where rain ceremonies were held.
Oral histories have also recorded strong attachments to the site while individual and community prayers were held seasonally. The antiquity of the images and their association with long-forgotten peoples may serve to enhance Nyero as a special and sacred place for local communities.
The breathtaking and spectacular Ssezibwa Falls are found in Mukono district 35km east of Kampala. They are believed to have been born by humans many hundred years ago. The falls are one of the most spiritual and cultural centers where many natives flock for blessings, wealth, and fortunes. A traditional healer performs ceremonies for those seeking love, children, a successful business deal or a good harvest.
The Falls are on the Ssezibwa River which flows from the wetlands between L. Victoria and L. Kyoga. The falls are about 7 meters high and with a wonderful hissing sound created by the falling water forms beautiful and compelling scenery. This is complemented by the natural vegetation cover and the undulating and steep rocks over which the waters fall. The site has several bird species which provides an opportunity for bird watching.
This place is a reserved Buganda Heritage Site because the falls have a cultural and traditional bearing in the region and to the Baganda in particular due the myths behind the formation of the Ssezibwa River. It is believed that this river, together with another called Bwanda was born of a Woman on her way to place called Kavuma Bukunja.
Ssezibwa Falls is an excellent and convenient place where one can enjoy and experience the wonders of nature. Among the activities a tourist would enjoy include; Camping, Bird watching, Boat drive/canoeing, Nature-guided walks, Community walks, Hiking, Mountain biking, Primate Walks and Rock climbing.
KARAMBI ROYAL TOMBS
Karambi Royal Tombs is located aproximately 6km to the south west of Fort portal town on Fort portal-Kasese road. It is the burial ground of the three kings (Abakama) of Tooro kingdom and these are Kyebambe Kamurasi, Rukidi III and Olumi Kaboyo II found in the three separate tomb houses.
Outside the houses are the tombs of the princes and princesses of the kingdom. The place also keeps the royal regalia that were used by each of the respective kings.
There is no much to look at outside of the tombs. However, with a help of caretaker, you can have a look at the different equipments in the inside such as house drums, spears and other personal effects of several of the Toro kings who are buried here.
The cemetery outside is the resting place for various other royal family members.
WAMALA KING’S TOMBS
Wamala Tombs site is located in Nansana along the Kampala-Hoima Road. It is 13 Km from Kampala city center and takes about 30 minutes. It is a place where the Kabaka and his representatives frequently carry out important rituals allowing them to communicate with their ancestors.
When Kabaka Suuna II (1836-1856) was King of Buganda, during his reign in the middle of the 19th century, he became the first king to admit outside traders into Buganda and this became the largest of the traditional territories that now make up the nation of Uganda. He had 148 wives and sired 218 children, and when he died, he was the last king to have his jawbone (which was believed to contain his spirit) placed in a royal shrine staffed by his descendants.
The Wamala King’s tombs, including the shrine of Kabaka Suuna II, are one of only two such tomb complexes remaining in Uganda.
Wamala King’s Tombs has for years remained a very important site for traditional religious practices hosted by the royal family.
NKOKONJERU TOMBS – A BURIAL PLACE FOR THE LAST 2 KINGS OF ANKOLE
This is a historical site for the people of Ankole Kingdom therefore found in western Uganda, Kaakika in Mbarara district. This is the burial ground for Omugabe (King) Edward Solomon Kahaya II, who died in 1944 and Omugabe (King) Sir Charles Rutahaba Gasyonga who died in 1982 and ruled for 23 years, there are other graves 8 in number. Omugabe Gasyong ruled Ankole Kingdom under Dr. Apollo Milton Obote regime as the President of Uganda who abolished Kingdoms on the 17th of September 1967.
The Tombs are of great importance to the Banyankore (the people of Ankole), there is a foreign like structure and other 2 slabs. This place is believed to be of much help for people (researchers) who would like to understand the history of Ankole Kingdom.
Unlike other Kingdoms such as Buganda, Tooro and Bunyoro, Ankole Kingdom was never restored and late Prince John Barigye is said to have sold the land after being denied coronation before he died while knowing him as a king who never sat on his throne tortured him so much. It is for this reason that the abandoned land (site) is claimed to have been sold to private developers and the Kingdom might have lost control over it since Price John Barigye could not explain better before his death.
The Nakayima Tree is located on top of Mubende Hill along Kampala – Fort portal highway and approximately 3.8 Km from Mubende Town and 181 Km from Kampala
It is supported by a large root buttresses, forming nooks and fissures. The root system has formed four spaces believed to be rooms each for Ddahula, Nalongo Jajja Mukasa, Jajja Musoke and Kilunda. The top of the hill has a flat table-like top which is believed to have been a fort for the Chwezi dynasty (1350 -1400) and an official residence of Nakayima, a Princess to Ndahura the last King of the empire. Once on the top of the hill one gets an excellent view of Mubende town and the surrounding area. The tree which is 40 meters high is estimated be 400-500 years old.
Nakayima Tree marks a shrine, of the spirits of Nakayima the first wife of the Bachwezi King Ndahura. It is visited by people paying homage to Nakayima or Bachwezi dynasty. The believers offer sacrifices of coins, animals and other items to obtain favors of wealth, good health and others from the Bachwezi goddess.
It is claimed Nakayima wasn’t only a keeper of the tree, but was also a medium through which the spirit of Ndahura would communicate to the community. Nakayima is claimed to have had mystic powers that made her able to restore small pox victims to full health by treating them. She would also treat other diseases that wouldn’t be treated by any other herbalists around the community besides blessing barren women with children.
The Bachwezi were believed to possess supernatural powers. The tree is therefore believed to be the spiritual home for the Bachwezi goddess respected by both the Baganda and the Banyoro. Nakayima Shrine is also said to hold the spirit of Ndahura, a former Bachwezi king.
It is believed that the Nakayima lineage was acknowledged four centuries a spiritual figure to both the rulers and the peasantry of Buganda and Bunyoro. Its end was remarkably abrupt. The first intimation of its demise in 1888, when the religious conflict that rocked Buganda forced the incumbent Nakayima, Nyanjara, to flee from Mubende. When she returned a year later, one of the seven huts traditionally in habited by the Nakayima razed, while the graves of her predecessors had been defaced, and her sacred drums had vanished. This attack had no immediate impact on the Nakayima’s influence in Bunyoro, then relatively un exposed to exotic religions-indeed, king Kabalega made a special visit to Mubende to pay Nyanjara tribute in 1899.
In the year 1902, the political autonomy that had characterized the once- feared and revered spiritual community led by the Nakayima was curtailed when Mubende Hill was placed under the indirect colonial rule of a Maganda Saza chief appointed by the British administration at Kakumiro. Nyanjara retired to Bugogo, where she died in 1907, the first Nakayima not to be interred in the traditional cemetery near the sacred tree, however, she was eventually buried in isolation at the base of Mubende Hill. Her fantastic regalia, confiscated by the authorities now form one of the most impressive displays in the national museum in Kampala-together with two large and ancient pots.
MPARO SITE – BUNYORO CULTURAL TOMBS
Mparo Tombs is located 4 kilometers on the Hoima – Masindi road. It is the burial grounds of Omukama (King) Kabalega Chwa II (18 June 1853 – 6 April 1923), Sir Tito Winyi and princesses of Bunyoro Kitara kingdom once the most powerful Kingdom in the country. This was also the former palace of Omukama Kabalega and the tombs are a very important place among the Banyoro.
Omukama (King) Kabalega Chwa II was a thorn on the side of the British for much of his reign until he was exiled in Seychelles by the British Empire in 1899, Tito Winyi plus several princesses and royals of Bunyoro-Kitara kingdom.
The most shocking part of the tradition is Omukama Kabalega died in 1923 but still has a living wife and will forever have one. By tradition, when a king in Bunyoro marries a woman, he marries the entire clan and if his wife passes on, another woman is chosen from the same clan and the King and his wife’s clan proceeds even after his death.
At the tombs, the remains of the king were just laid out in small mausoleums and not buried. Each of the tomb is covered with a bark-cloth, a cultural cloth made from cultural trees. Next to the cloth are the royal regalia and other cultural tools and belongings that respective kings used during their rule.
Omukama Kabalega is referred to as a brilliant fighter who always made the right decisions. Omukama Kabalega is still admired for his courage, exceptional achievements, and noble qualities. While the most immense tomb at Mparo Tombs holds the remains of their greatest king, Omukama Kabalega who is remembered for his exceptional endeavors to protect Bunyoro-Kitara from the British rule. Several infrastructures such as hospitals, roads, schools and buildings have been named after him.
Inside the Tomb are his spears, bowls, throne and other personal effects on display above the actual resting place.
NAMASOLE KAYANGE AND BAAGALAYAZE TOMBS
In Buganda Kingdom the mother to the Kabaka (King of Buganda) is referred to as; Nnamasole. These historical tombs are located separately in different places and each of these tombs holds remains of Nnamasole.
The Nnamasole Kayange Tombs
This is located a few meters from Kampala – Bombo highway in Kagoma village, Kyadondo County, approximately 13 km from Kampala city and it holds remains of Nnamasole Kanyange. Nnamasole Kanyange was Kabaka Suuna II’s mother, whose body was not laid far away in Wamala Tombs.
A traditional trek is done to the Wamala Tombs which recites the prints that Nnamasole Kanyange and Suuna II used for visiting each other.
The tomb is of great importance to the Buganda Kingdom since more Nnamasoles were buried in this tomb and thus a lot of Baganda traditional ceremonies and rituals are done here. In one of the tombs, is a sanctisfied drum that is used to request Kabaka Suuna II’s spirit when carrying out certain rituals.
The Nnamasole Baagalayaze Tombs
These are located approximately 20km from Kampala city in Mpererwe, along Kampala – Gayaza highway in Busiro County. It holds the remains of Nnamasole Bagalayaze, King Mwanga II’s mother who was laid to rest in 1916. This Nnamasole was famous was always hailed and praised in the Buganda Kingdom because of her extra-ordinary character and was also a virtuous woman. Different Baganda traditional celemonies and practices are done at Nnamasole Baagalayaze Tombs such as music and traditional dances, storytelling to mention but a few.
NAGGALABI – BUDDO CORONATION SITE
This mighty historical place is located along Kampala – Masaka highway in Buddo, Busiro County, it is approximately 20-30 minutes’ drive from Kampala city.
Naggalabi – Budo Corronation Site is believed to be the genesis of Buganda Kingdom and every king is crowned from here since the 14th and 15th century. In the 13th century AD, the first king of Buganda; Kintu announced himself as Kabaka of Buganda after putting his brother Bemba to death on Buddo hill. it is since that incident that the “Ganda” rituals are held here on this tremendous hill most importantly enthroning the Kings of Buganda Kingdom, it is also from the same site where Ssabasajja Kabaka Ronald Kimera Mutebi II, the current kabaka was enthroned in 1993 and this makes it one of the great cultural sites in the history of Buganda kingdom.
Naggalabi Coronation Site is a place for the sanctified sites of the precedent and current Kabakas of Buganda.
The hill is endowed with tremendous surroundings and covered by a small forest which is amazing with clear views of the stimulating Lake Victoria. Up the hill, you can also view some segments of Kampala, Wakiso and Mpigi districts.
KATEREKE PRISON DITCH
The ditch that circles an area of approximately 70 meters is situated in Nsangi Village, Buddo, Busiro County along Masaka road with approximately 30 minutes’ drive from Kampala city. The ditch holds great history in Buganda kingdom, following the political confusion in 1888 when Kabaka Mwanga was removed from the throne by strange people who claimed to be Muslims and was succeeded by Kabaka Kiwewa whose reign was short-lived and was later succeeded by Kabaka Karema.
The Katereke Prison ditch is believed to have been dug in the late 19th century by Kabaka Karema who was terribly scared of his rivals, his own siblings (princes and princesses). It is claimed that under his orders, his clan chiefs constructed the ditch and imprisoned all his siblings. The action taken did not give him peace and was still feeling threatened and was never comfortable with his rule, this forced him to take a very horrible action by ordering for the slaughter of prisoners, 30 lives of his own siblings. This accelerated fear and tension among people in the kingdom and the lives of his subjects were at stake as they could be taken next. It is also believed that other royal prisoners were starved in the same ditch during the savagery time of Kabaka Karema’s reign.
Kabaka Mwanga was returned to throne after a year and exiled Kabaka Kalema who passed months after. The ditch has got amazing earthworks and close to 10 meters from up to its bottom.
This historical site is located along Mbarara – Kabale road in Kinon Rwampara, western Uganda. It is a very important place in the history of Ankole Kingdom as it is at this very place that the sacred Bagyendanwa royal drum was crafted by Wamala, the last king of Bachwezi Empire. The royal drum is one of the greatest requirements for recognition of Ankole kings and it’s looked at as the source of power, dominance and one with it has the right to command.
The Bagyendanwa with other royal drums are sanctified and they can beat themselves in case something bad happens in the kingdom for example violations of the kingdom code (obuhangwa), abomination to mention but a few. In such cases the royal drums stop beating if the problem has been dealt with by the concerned kingdom officials after carrying the required traditional rituals.
In Ankole Kingdom, no King (Omugabe) is recognized as king by his subjects and people if he does not possess the Bagyendanwa royal drum. It is highly respected and treasured by the people of Ankole the same way you would treasure the person that you love most.
IGONGO CULTURAL CENTER
This is located in the western Uganda approximately 12 km along Mbarara – Kampala highway. This cultural center is very rich with the “Banyankore” culture who belong to the Ankole Kingdom, it has several tourist attractions such as the Museum, Nkwanzi crafts and bookshop, restaurants, hotels and bars in close vicinity, cultural village and Mpororo court which are worth visit for those interested in exploring about the history of Ankole people of southwestern Uganda.
Igongo Cultural Museum
This is the best museum in western Uganda and also one of the best museums in Uganda, it was put place to preserve the ancient Ankole culture and it has served an important role in history of Ankole for years. The museum is used by both students and history lovers as it contains things that define the Banyankore people such as the long-horned cattle, hides and skins, milk pots, stools, the Ankole traditional attire; regalia to mention but a few.
Nkwanzi crafts and Bookshoop
Here you find several beautiful handmade crafts and costumes, jewellery used in Ankole traditional functions for example “Omugamba” that is used during “Kuhingira” give way, in Ankole culture kuhingira celemony can never be performed if “Omugamba” is not present whether bride price has been paid or not.
There are also several historical books with detailed information about this amazing culture over 500 years ago. One of the most interesting readings is the Eclipse Monument on the Biharwe hill that was put in place as a memorial site many years ago. This happened when the Baganda went to invade the Ankole cattle and when they arrived on top of Biharwe hill, they were covered in total darkness which caused them to flee immediately in fear of Ankole ancestors while leaving the cattle behind.
This is an amazing palace in Igongo Cultural Center and it is known as Kitami palace where you get to know about the leadership stories of Mpororo Kingdom in the 18th Century. Inside this palace are several items for example those that make up regalia, you can see milk pots, royal drums, spears and statues of the women council.
This is also known as “Itaramiro” meaning a place where people gather. It is where you get to interact with the locals who sleep in grass thatched huts with different amazing local designs. At this cultural village you encounter the ancient Ankole life styles while seating in a circular position with fire in between listening to the riddles and stories about Ankole, it is such a great a moment and unforgettable experience for culture lovers.
NDERE TROUPE CULURAL CENTER
This is located in north eastern Kampala, 20-30 minutes from the city in Ntinda. Several cultural and interesting activities are carried out at this place and it has always been highly respected and recognized both locally and internationally.
The international recognition followed the early days of 1990 extra ordinary performances by the Ndere Troupe Cultural Center performers which included dances, plays and many more that struck most people’s attention including those in Europe and that marked their first time invitation to Europe in history. It is believed that a renowned Dutchman requested Ndere cultural troupe to flee for performances that happened in Belgium, Netherlands and Germany and the greatest performance was held in Tilburg at the prominent Mundial Festival.
Ndere Troupe Cultural Center has a diversity of different cultural performers that represent different Ugandan cultures that leave you with nothing but joyful moments and amazing experiences.