It started from Mulungu. On Tuesday, 25th May 1886, a very excited Kabaka Mwanga suddenly decided to go hippocampus hunting. Unfortunately, the hippo was not sighted and that set Mwanga on a rage spree.
Upon reaching the palace, there were no servants to welcome him as they had all gone to pray. He had noticed that his servants seemed to make prayer and not him their priority.
Bitter, Mwanga sentenced all his Christian servants to death. In particular, they were to be burnt at Namugongo which was the execution yard. However, outside of Namugongo, there would also be other incidences that have been made for historical sites today. The Kabaka and his allies had made it their life’s mission to break and crash religions that didn’t quite bow to theirs.
One day while returning from Kisubi, Fr. Lourdel Simeon Mapera was arrested by a Muslim, Amid Ssekikubo. There was an order to stop any strangers from proceeding to the palace-Lubaga. Mapera and one Evans were imprisoned in a hut where they suffered from acute malaria with little food. Fortunately, luck sided with them after they were granted bail by Mwanga who offered Lubya to the catholic missionaries to set up a mission station as a gesture of his apology for their detention. Today, a church stands at the spot of their arrest.
Kyamula, Salaama road
This is the spot where Ponsiano Ngondwe, a tax man, was not just beheaded but speared too and left to die. Ponsiano was part of the death march from Munyonyo to Namugongo. However, he was not among the martyrs sentenced to death by Mwanga. He was sneaked into the execution list by the chief executioner Mukajanga who had personal grudges against him for allegedly taxing him two cows as opposed to the lawful one. Down Kyamula is a swamp where the executioners washed the knives after chopping Ponisano’s corpse. A few meters from the sits a church in which these knives have been kept.
Denis Ssebugwawo’s site Munyonyo
Here, St. Denis Ssebugwawo a page boy of Mwanga was murdered for absenteeism on the fateful day the Kabaka returned from a fruitless hunt. Dennis belonged to the Musu clan, a clan whose major role is to clean royal toilets. It is said that on the 26th of May, he was tortured and speared by the Kabaka. A raging Mwanga
kept poking Ssebugwawo’s head to until the spear broke in his hand. He then seized Denis’ lifeless body and him out of his courtyard, into the audience hall, shouting wildly. Quickly his men stripped him naked and hacked him into pieces.Read More
At the mention of Martyrs’ day, the location Namugongo is the first thing that comes to mind. But did you know that Kampala has lots of other sites where more than 20 Christian martyrs lived and some later killed in 1980.
Assuming you didn’t, View Uganda through its tested contributor Solomon Oleny will take you through the various sites and the stories therein. Stories of not just martyrdom but faith and consistent belief.
Off Lubaga Road
This is the spot where St. Jean Marie Muzeeyi one of the last martyrs was killed in October 1884. Muzeeyi was killed for rejecting the role of being caretaker of the Kasubi tomb where Mutesa had been buried in the early months of 84.Jean was beheaded and his head was thrown in Jugula swamp, wrapped in plantain leaves. For the reason that he once served as one of Mutesa’s nurses, Jean is regarded as the patron of medical professionals like nurses, doctors, physicians among others.
It is here that Kabaka Mutesa met Stanley and the first missionaries Shergold-Smith, Rev. C.T Wilson, O’Neil, and Alexander Mackay. Mutesa ordered that the missionaries be settled at present-day Lungujja hill. Months later, Mackay was dislodged off the hill to the Western Side of Nateete hill for stalking Mutesa using a pair of binoculars. The hills would later be offered to the Catholic missionaries and shifted.
MacKay’s cave Nateete
It is believed that Mackay was transferred here to prevent him from using his binoculars to follow proceedings in the palace of a polygamous Kabaka that had 85 wives and 1,000 concubines. It is here that Mackay began his missionary work by establishing a worship center, putting up an education center, a printing press, and a medical unit.
Sserwanga and Lugalama, the two-page boys who attempted to escape across Lake Victoria into Tanzania with Mackay were killed in this spot. The boys were led out with a mob howling insults and throwing stones. They were led down Nateete hill towards the swamp where their hands were cut off with hideous knives so that they could not struggle in the fire. Their charred bodies were thrown in a swamp in Busega. Today, a church stands behind a giant cross planted at the spot where the bodies were thrown.Read More
Established in 1895, this concrete house, roofed with rusty corrugated iron sheets is found along the royal mile, less than a minute’s walk from the gate of Buganda’s parliament, Mengo.
It belonged to Zakaria Kizito Kisingiri, one of the three Regents to the then young King Daudi Chwa. Kisingiri later served as the treasurer for the Kingdom when Daudi Chwa had grown old enough to assume full authority as king. This strong attachment explains why Kabaka Mwanga’s body was rested at his home for days before it was buried. This followed his death in Seychelles Islands in 1904 where he had fled to exile following Britain’s invasion of his Kingdom.
According to Grace Kitaka, one of the grandchildren of Kisingiri, the house’s construction was foreseen by Miller and Stanley in 1895. They were prolific European masons at the time. It sits on a three-acre peace of land and has a compound that is as big as a standard football pitch. It has three floors and was built with palm trees, sun-dried mud bricks, and stones. The ancient mansion has 70 well-maintained rooms built with board floors. Most of these rooms measure 20 by 20 square feet each.
The heart of the structure is graced with two sitting rooms that are equivalent to space occupied by a complete house. The stones at their fireplaces glitter whenever the fire is on. The house has an indoor 20 feet swimming pool, modern bathtubs, and well-polished wooden staircases.
“Residents refer to Kisingiri as Ku Nfudu, a Luganda reference for a sanctuary of turtles. This is because it once doubled as a home to three tortoises that Stanley Kisingiri came back with from Seychelles in 1945. He was one of the sons of Zakariya Kisingiri.” Pastor Grace explains
Kisingiri is more a Kingdom hero, he is regarded as a national hero for having facilitated John Speke’s discovery of the source of the Nile. His daughter-in-law, Princess Beatrice Muggale(R.I.P), was a God-fearing mother who had a special place in the heart of Kabaka Ronald Muwenda Mutebi II (current King of Buganda). Whenever he was hungry for spiritual nourishment, he would visit her for a Bible session.
Twekobe – Lubiri Royal Palace-Kampala
This royal palace is such a majestic asset to the kingdom from which Uganda got its name, Buganda. It has an architectural design that was based on Stormont House in Northern Ireland, and was built by Kabaka Sir Edward Muteesa. He was the first post-independence President of the country. It used to be his official residence until 1966 when kingship was abolished by the central Government of the day, as Presided by Apollo Milton Obote.
In short, Lubiri brings a level of reality to Ugandan history, giving you the opportunity of discovering the rich history of Buganda, a kingdom that is over 300 years old. At Lubiri, you will also find a well-hidden political prison where President Idi Amin and Milton Obote used to torture and kill their political threats, totaling to over 30,000.
The five-roomed underground structure is enveloped by wild vegetation. It was built by the Israelites as an armament arsenal for Dictator Idi Amin, only to be later repurposed for dark use. Prior to their murder, most victims were electrocuted with low voltage in an effort to coerce information. It was impossible for them to escape as the only entrance was guarded full-time. It is such a painful episode in the history of Buganda. This explains why the incumbent Kabaka Ronald Mutebi doesn’t stay here, but rather another Palace found in the Eastern Kampala, Banda. He only uses Lubiri to receive visiting dignitaries.
One of the palace’s biggest treasures is a well-kept museum where Buganda’s culture and traditions are preserved. Here you will find lots of royal regalia and artefacts that have been passed on from one royal generation to the next.
Lubiri overlooks the royal mile, a mile-long street linking it to Mengo, Buganda’s Parliament. On either side of the street, you will find Kabaka anjagala trees and 52 beautiful statues of totems, each symbolic of a particular clan of Buganda
St. Luke and St. Katherine general wards-Mengo Hospital
At 121 years old, Mengo is the oldest hospital in East Africa, and one of its oldest assets is St. Luke and St. Katherine’s general wards. It was built in 1904 by Dr. Albert Cook, the first colonial doctor to treat Ugandans.
According to records from the hospital’s archives, at the time of its construction in 1897, it was made of reed, mud, and thatch. Then, it had 12 wooden beds and straw mattresses. In 1900, it was destroyed and rebuilt in 1904 using meter-thick walls and gauge 24 iron sheets imported from Britain. The building had two wards. One on the left had 30 beds for women, and one on right had 30 for men. They were named Katherine and Luke wards respectively, in commemoration of Dr. Albert Cook Luke and his wife Katherine, a midwife who helped Lady Druscilla Namaganda deliver Kabaka Muteesa II in 1924. Mutesa was the first President of Uganda.
In between these wards was the operating theatre, Dr. Cook’s office, and library on its upper floor. The building was at the time said to be the best and only modern building in Uganda’s protectorate. It was opened by Alfred Tucker, the then Bishop of Eastern Equatorial Africa.
The roof of the building has never been replaced, but the interior is slightly modified to cater to two words, orthopedics, and some offices. The ward has electricity and running water.Read More
In my hands is a copy of View Uganda, a magazine with a sturdy foot in tourism. In these very hands, curved into the pages of this magazine, is a list of all the things to do whilst at the Pearl of Africa-Uganda.
Trust me, it doesn’t get more Easterly (if that’s even a word) than this! Next to the entire Christmas-New Year’s break that renders the city empty, I think Easter is what the urban youth would call lit.
Unlike the Christmas season where we all throng the villages, how about exploring Ugandan instead?
Seriously though, if a mammoth 1.3million people are seeking out destination Uganda annually, believe me, we must be a touristic magnet! So how about you bundle a whole four days of no work into a whole four days of exploring this giant of a tourism destination. It doesn’t matter which side of the campus your journey would lead you to, Uganda’s beauty knows no bounds.
If you are headed North and or North West, the rambling falls that are humbled into the Albert Nile should soothe you. The animals at the Murchison Falls National Park, or just the Murchison Falls itself, should get you all ‘easter up (pardon the urban youth word choice.). The journey alone, the people, the beauty, everything will make it worth your while. Don’t forget to stop and eat some nang-nang, don’t ask me what that is, just go and ask for it.
Maybe like me, you would be taking the Eastern route, right? You might not even need to step out of your car to nod to the beauty that is Uganda. The forest in Mabira, the waters of the Nile, which if you allowed yourself a few more minutes, can be traced back to their source at, well, The Source of the Nile. Yes, our very own Nile! It’s the majesty of the Elgon Mountains or the shy yet wildly flirtatious falls at Sipi. Maybe you want to see an ancient rock painting in Ngero or is it all the animals that call the breath-taking Kidepo home? What is it you are into?
Agreed, we all can’t go North and East at the same time, how about West and or South West? Look out for the hills, oh my God! It’s the cheeky folds as if a game of hide-and-seek. Naughty-naughty hills they have over there in Kabale, Kanungu, and Kisoro districts. It’s the green that courts the creator lakes in Kabarole. I am talking blue and clear waters, nature’s own swimming pool, free of the toxins of course. It’s the scenic Lake Bunyonyi, our very own ‘Wakanda’. Oh yes! Don’t get me started on Queen Elizabeth National Park or the impenetrable forest that is home to the Gorillas of Bwindi. Folks, we would need all day.
Okay, not all of us will be out of the city and might just want to explore the central region. Ever heard of the king of Buganda? Of course, you have! He is called the Kabaka and yes, he has a lake. Go check out the Kabaka’s lake, will you? How about where the royalty of this kingdom is buried? These are not just tombs, they literally have risen through the ashes and are bursting with history. Okay, maybe you are not into traditional kingdoms, then a boda-boda ride, a chance to journey into the history of the seven hills that birthed this Kampala City, might do the trick. Are you into fish? I would suggest a trip to the shores of Lake Victoria, a lake whose belly carries the waters of the Nile. It’s all about the beach and the fish over there! Hell, songs have been composed rhyming about beach and fish. How about the islands of this very lake, go watch some birds and become one with nature.
Try as I may, I can’t list it all, not in a day. It’s just not possible to do this as Uganda is a buffet of tourism your plate just wouldn’t hold. Take it like a coursed meal, or maybe different parties; each region comes with its own buffet. There is just so much to see, to do, and experience. Travel my good people, travel through the fiber of this country and you will know why it is called the pearl of Africa.Read More
Uganda is home to some of the most beautiful birds, animals, and features. These have been enhanced by the weather and topography of the country, which is the adulating plateaus, valleys, and others.
It is little wonder that we receive more than 1.3m million arrivals of tourists are registered every year, according to Uganda Tourism Board figures.
In this particular context, whoever jets into Uganda is considered a tourist regardless of the duration or purpose of their visit.
The figures also suggest that Tourist Arrivals in Uganda increased to 1,449,000 in 2017 from 1,323,000 Thousand in 2016. Tourist Arrivals in Uganda averaged 648,790 from 1990 until 2017, reaching an all-time high of 1449 Thousand in 2017 and a record low of 69,000 in 1990.
However, with all these numbers coming from other countries, Uganda’s appreciation for tourism remains dwindling below the expected numbers.
UTB indicates that out of every 10 Ugandans you find, only 2 know about the tourism centers in the country and have conveniently visited them.
Comparatively, Kenya, Uganda’s biggest tourism competitor registers over 50% of domestic visits to its tourism attractions. “This translated to 4.05million bed-night-occupancy in 2017, compared to 3.5M beds occupied in 2016,” says Najib Balala Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for Tourism.
Ironically, Ugandan’s find it more convenient to travel to Kenya than exploring their own country. According to the end of 2018 report by the Kenya Tourism Board, over 20.6% of tourist arrivals in Kenya were Ugandans, most of whom sought holidays in the coastal areas, especially Mombasa and Diani. That is 61,542 arrivals.
Balala mostly attributes this success to massive promotional endeavors to Uganda’s travel market.
Picking a leaf from Kenya’s success story, View Uganda has dedicated the last four years to showcasing domestic tourists Uganda’s unique tourism attractions. This has been achieved through a multi-media penetration approach; through its website www.viewuganda.ug , social media platforms https://www.facebook.com/Viewuganda/ and a print magazine that is published on a quarterly basis.
While launching the campaign of promoting local tourism last year, former TUB boss Stephen Asiimwe said the only way of making Ugandans appreciate their tourism is by increasing sensitization.
“We need to sensitize people and let them know that Uganda is that kind of place worth visiting and we can do this by first appreciating it as Ugandans. How we can do this is b76y allowing them to get involved into the tourism centers like encouraging them to visit them through promotions,” Asiimwe said.
“A lot of people were attributing our gorilla tourism growth in gorilla trekking to the rise in the price of Rwanda gorilla permits. The gorilla permits in Rwanda have been more expensive than Uganda’s for many years but why was Uganda having less than 50 percent throughout the year? Uganda even reduced its permits to $450 (about Shs1.6m) during a low,” one of the bloggers said and the reason Rwanda has grown enormously is that it has promoted local tourism.
At the start of this week, the government together with UTB made gigantic strides in the campaign to promote local tourism when they launched the Tulambule campaign in the Northern and Eastern parts of the country.
Mr. Godfrey Kiwanda, the minister of state for tourism said the move was aimed at making at least seven Ugandans know about tourism in their own country.
“We have been behind as a country in representing our own tourism. We need many Ugandans to know about what we are and what we have, this will make tourism one of the most lovely ventures you can ever involve yourself in,” Mr. Kiwanda said as he launched the campaign at Sipi Falls in Kapchorwa.
In accordance with the tourism review of 2011, Uganda’s tourism sector grew 25per cent compared to that of South Africa and Tanzania that grew 21 percent and 13.4 percent respectively.
Lilly Ajarova is UTBs new Executive Director. One of the primary strategies she intends to use to build on the above development is the usage of regional tourism clusters. She is optimistic that this will uplift domestic tourism promotion, partly because Ugandans can easily relate with the main products that will be fronted, especially cultural attractions.Read More
The government and Uganda Tourism Board (UTB) have been on a major campaign to turn tables around and promote local tourism. This week, the two bodies jointly launched a countrywide movement
from one tourism center to another carrying out sensitization and promotion of local tourism to boost the face of travel in the country. The many tourism centers in Uganda have been enjoyed mainly by foreigners for a long time and the campaign is aimed at reworking the face of tourism and travel.
Today, Anita Fabiola led another group of tourism enthusiasts such as Miss Tourism Uganda, Margaret Kankwanzi, the State Minister for tourism, Godfrey Kiwanda among others to Sipi Falls in Kapchorwa after Griffin Falls in Mabira Forest where activities such as abseiling, zip-lining and others.
The controversy however was the choice of Fabiola ahead of Miss World Africa Quiin Abenakyo as the face of the campaign. UTB defended their position saying the latter had some personal issues that she needed to be sorted out and the campaign had to move forward.
“I have never gone for zip lining and I am scared of heights although I very much wanted to go for it,” Fabiola said after one of the activities.
This campaign could boost Uganda’s local tourism because a report from UTB last year indicated that only 2 out of every 10 Ugandans have been to most of the tourism centers across the country. This is the campaign former UTB boss Steven Asiimwe left halfway as he tried to pursue the same.
Herman Olimi, one of the communication officers at UTB says this is a chance for Uganda’s tourism to change because the locals will be involved in adding to the numbers that promote tourism.
“We can promote our own tourism and that can be achieved by involving the locals and promoting our own tourism. By the end of the Tulambule campaign, we shall have almost achieved most of what we are looking for,” he says.
The campaign will continue in Mbale, Soroti, Kapchorwa and then climax in the Karamoja region.
This region is the most endowed in terms of tourism around the whole country. You expect to find the Mt Elgon, Wanaale hills, coffee growing in Mbale, Sipi falls, bird watching, interaction with the world’s best marathon runners in Kapchorwa. Then you will have the marvel at the Pian Upe Wildlife Reserve endowed with all animal spices, Matheniko Wildlife Reserve from breath taking wildlife experience, , Bokora Corridor Wildlife Reserve and certainly the Culture of the people in Karamoja.Read More