CULTURAL TOURS AND CULTURAL SITES IN UGANDA
Uganda is blessed with over 50 tribes spread through-out the whole country, all these tribes have their own unique customs and beliefs. Some of these tribe include the Baganda who dominate the central part of Uganda, the Basoga, Batooro, Banyankole, Bakiga, Baluuli, the Alur, the Ik the Karamojong, the Langi, the Bafumbira, the Kumam, the Tepeth, the Jopadhola, the Batwa, the Lugbara, the Bamba the Bagishu the Bagweere, the Acholi, the Banyoro, the Kuku, the Madi, the Pokot, the Nubi, the Sebei, the Samia, Bakonzo and so many other tribes. Most the tribes in Uganda have kingdoms led by kings and others have chiefdoms led by chiefs.
Some kingdoms and chiefdoms where abolished by president Milton Obote due to a lot of power they had, later president Museveni revived them.
When you come for a cultural tour in Uganda, you will get the opportunity to learn all these tribes’ culture, their norms and practices. One of the most visited tribes in Uganda are the Karamojong who are found in the northern corner of Uganda and near Kidepo valley national park, the IK also found near Kidepo valley national park. The IK people are one of the smallest ethic groups in Uganda, the Batwa people [the pygmies] in Mgahinga national park and Bwindi national park.
Cultural sites in Uganda.
These are the burial grounds for the four fallen kings of Buganda kingdom and located in central Uganda. These tombs are a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Kings that were buried in Kasubi tombs are Ssekabaka [meaning fallen king] Mutesa the first, Ssekabaka Mutesa the second, Daudi Chwa and Ssekabaka Mwanga the second. These tombs are one of Buganda’s main treasures and the most visited cultural site in Buganda.
The Kasubi tombs are only a few kilometers from city centre and can be explored in one day while on a city tour, those doing research can exceed the one day.
Namugongo martyrs’ shrine is one of the most visited religious sites in Africa consecrated in 1975. It’s a Roman Catholic minor basilica dedicated to Ugandans who were killed by Kabaka Mwanga of Buganda, because they had adopted a foreign religion which looked as a threat to his throne.
They were over 32 men who refused to denounce Christianity, some of them had adopted the Anglican faith and others the catholic faith. Some were burned alive and others were killed with pangas and spears. The shrine was built in Namugongo because, most of the men were burned from that area while others were killed from different places like Munyonyo where they killed saint Andrew from. When you visit Namugongo shrine you see sculptures showing how the exact moment was when martyrs where being burned to death.
Every year on 3rd June millions of people come to Pay a pilgrimage to Namugongo in the honor of the men who died for their faith. You can visit Namugongo shrine any time of the year.
Fort Patiko is located in Patiko Gulu district, having trenches which were dug by slaves on orders of the Arabs. The fort was built by Arabs as a place to keep their slaves and sort them before transporting them. Slaves were later taken and sold in Egypt and middle East, weak ones were beheaded while healthy and young ones were taken to Egypt or middle East on foot. This site is also a representation of dark tourism due to terror and horror that happened when Arabs were in charge of the fort. Many people were beheaded and killed.
Baker’s Fort was later discovered by Sir Samuel Baker and used it as his military base as he fought against slavery.
Bigo bya mugenyi.
This cultural site is located in Sembabule district a 4-5 hours’ drive from Kampala city. It is a historical site that is believed to have been a home for the Bachwezi, who are believed to be demi-gods and used to disappear. They are believed to be the first people to settle in Uganda during the 11th and 16th century. They disappeared in thin air but left foot marks on the rocks and on the ground where they stepped, up to date the foot marks are visible. The palace was built using grass and mud and constructed grass thatched huts. Up to date no one knows where the Bachwezi went and where they came from. Before entering Bigo bya Mugenyi site, you are cleansed with stream water, it is believed that the cleansing will protect you from the Bachwezi in case you do something that may annoy them.
Katereke prison ditch.
Katereke prison ditch was dug and constructed on the orders of Kabaka Kalema in 1888 who was afraid that his siblings may take his throne and had become his political rivals. He captured and imprisoned all his brothers and sisters until they were starved to death. Apart from his siblings, other peasants and Royals were starved to death also. The prison is located in Nsangi wakiso district a 1-hour drive from Kampala city.
Itaaba kabanyoro is located in western Uganda in Ankole region Mbarara district seated on a hill. It is believed that, it is where the last king of the Bachwezi crafted his sacred Royal drum from. This drum is believed to be one of the most important requirements for one to be recognized as a king.
It is said that this drum and other Royal drums could drum themselves in case of any danger in the kingdom, and didn’t stop till the cause of the danger was solved and stopped. Itaaba kabanyoro site is said to be a birth place of the founder of Ankole Kingdom and the place where Ruhinda was crowned, as Bachwezi transformed into Banyankole.
Igongo cultural Centre.
This cultural site is located on Mbarara masaka high way. It was opened up with an aim of promoting and preserving the culture and heritage of the Ankole people. When you visit Igongo cultural center, you will be amazed with the traditional and culturally constructed museum with art facts and crafts of the Ankole people. Apart from that, you will be guided to their mini cultural village called the Eitaramiro, you will see the Ankole people sculptures showing how they used to live their lives, these sculptures take you back and feel like you existed that time, guides are readily available to tell you historical stories. You can also decide to eat their traditional food like the karo [millet bread], their ghee and have a sip on their local bear.
Igongo cultural centre has a hotel that offers accommodation and restaurant.
Ndere cultural Centre.
The is located in Kampala district just a few kilometers from Kampala city. Ndere cultural Centre is the best place to visit for a cultural tour in Uganda. There are various traditional dances from different tribes of Uganda performed at Ndere cultural Centre. There are over 40 cultural performances from different tribes in Uganda, Rwanda and Democratic Republic Congo. Ndere cultural centre has an arena where cultural performance mainly dances are conducted from, as you watch the dances, you can order for any food from any tribe you want. Some tourists choose to join the dances and get the feel of the African tradition.
The Kabaka’s palace.
This palace is located in the heart of Kampala city in Mengo. The palace is official residence for the reigning king the Kabaka of Buganda. In Buganda, was customary for a new king to choose a hill where he would build his palace, which would later be the capital of the kingdom, he would name it as he wishes. The palace was built in 1885 organized by Ssekabaka Mwanga Daniel the second 2 who became king after his father. Up to date the royal family stays in this palace. The palace has a lot of tourism sites like the Amin’s torture dungeon where hundreds of people were tortured to death, the Bulange trail which has sculptures of the animals representing the clans of Buganda.
Uganda’s museum was built in 1908. This where Uganda’s history is preserved. The museum is situated five kilometers from Kampala city centre on plot 5 Kira Road, when coming from Kampala, you pass through Wandegeya trading centre and by Mulago hospital, just Kamwokya town When you enter the museum, you immediately feel you are in Uganda’s past time. There is a lot of Uganda’s art facts, musical instruments among others that will blow your mind. You will see the music gallery which has traditional music instruments from different tribes found in Uganda, you will the archeological sector which has stone tools that were used over a million years ago, the spears, arrows. Apart from that’s, you be taken to the cultural village which has grass thatched hearts representing the traditional lifestyle of Uganda.
Wamala tombs are located in Wamunyenye in wakiso district, it’s a 30 minutes’ drive from the city centre along Hoima high way. Wamala tombs is where Ssekabaka [fallen king] Ssuna was buried. Ssuna was one of the Buganda kings with the highest number of wives and children. He had over 100 wives and over 200 children. It is said that Ssuna was the last king to have his jaw bone removed after his death. Wamala tombs are treasured by the Baganda people. Inside the tombs there is a hut where the skull of Kabaka Ssuna is kept, there is a fire place that doesn’t stop burning. When you enter inside, you are welcomed by darkness, spears of different sizes, shields that were used in wars. The tomb has a wide range of Buganda’s arts and crafts like baskets, gourds, drums, mats and animal skin.
Naggalabi coronation site
This site is located in Buddo wakiso district. It is said that Buganda kingdom started from this place after Ssekabaka kintu declared himself as the new king, this happened after him, killing his brother Bemba Musota. Naggalabi coronation prevails you with an opportunity to see the tree which is said to be the place where the earlier courts of Buganda kingdom used to sit, judge and govern from. After coronation of the Kabaka, sexual intercourse is prohibited for nine days, in the period of nine days the Kabaka stays in his house as he plans on how to govern his kingdom and chooses his cabinet.
This is a man-made lake close to the kings’ palace, it was dug on the orders of Kabaka Mwanga the second to create an escape route through Lake Victoria in case of a civil war. Kabaka Mwanga the second used it for swimming and fishing during his free time.
Nyero rock paintings
Nyero rock paintings are located in Eastern Uganda in Kumi district, it’s approximately 200 km from Kampala city. It believed and thought that these rocks belonged to the Batwa people commonly referred to as the Pygmy. The rocks have different art works said to be done by the pygmies who once lived around these rocks, but later left the place after the coming of the bantu tribes, Nilotic and the Luo. They are six rocks in total each having different art works. The rocks are said to have existed for more than a million years.
Ssezibwa falls are located in kayanja mukono district. The falls are located on Ssezibwa river, It is believed that this Ssezibwa river and river bwanda were given birth to by a woman who was passing by heading to another village to go meet her parents after a misunderstanding with her husband, her parents instructed her to go back to her husband, on her way she gave birth to the two rivers. It is believed that, the falls are home to ancestral spirits like Mukasa whom people worship for fertility, Nalongo kubo, Musoke, Musisi, Kibuuka and Dungu. To date many people especially Baganda, visit this place to pray to the ancestral spirits to give them children, jobs, wealthy and protection. The falls have great sites and the guides are ready to tell you the historical stories of this mysterious falls.
Nakayima was a name gotten from a princess believed to be a daughter of the Chwezi king.it is found in mubende district approximately 149 km from Kampala city, on Kampala fort portal high way after Mityana district, its just 4 km from Mubende town. The tree stands 40 meters high from the ground. They say that Nakayima disappeared in the tree but the reason is not known why she disappeared in there. It is said and believed that Nakayima was also a mediator between the king and his people. The tree has large buttress roots which form spaces considered as rooms for Nalongo, dhahula, kilunda and Musoke. It is believed that the tree has existed for over 400 years. To date, many people flock to this tree worship the gods, offer sacrifices, pray for healing, health, fertility, wealthy and other challenges they face in life.
These tombs belong to Bunyoro Kitara kingdom found in the western part of Uganda. They are located about 4 kilometers from Hoima town on Hoima-masindi high way The tombs are resting grounds for the famous king Kabalega the second and other Bunyoro Kitara Royals. It is surprisingly that the remains of Omukama kabalega were not buried, they are kept. Omukama kabalega is one of the most remembered and honored kings in Uganda, he fought had to protect his kingdom from the British colonial rule.
You will be surprised that omukama kabalega up now has an existing wife, this is because in Bunyoro Kitara kingdom, omukama has a wife forever, when one wife dies, they choose another for him even though he died many years ago, and the cycle continues. A big ceremony is conducted when choosing another wife for the king.