Cultural Sites in Uganda : Cultural Tours in Uganda are not as popular as visiting mountain gorillas and game drives. Uganda is rich on cultural tourism with about 65 tribes with interesting ethnicity. On a cultural tour, visitors have an opportunity to understand the culture of these indigenous groups by visiting a family or attending their cultural performances. Below are some of the most popular cultural sites in Uganda;
Bigo bya Mugenyi
This cultural site is located deep in Mubende District in a place called Ntusi. Bigo bya Mugenyi means “The Fort of a Stranger”. It is believed that the Bachwezi demi-gods lived in the area hundreds of years ago. They left several artifacts and earthworks that are of cultural importance to local people in the area. The earthworks are believed to have been made in the early 13th Century. This site is very remote and requires real perseverance and patience to get there. The roads to the site are not well paved and can be dusty or muddy depending on the season of the year. Bigo bya Mugenyi will get more visitors in the future if what is there can be preserved. To access the facility, visitors are required to cleanse themselves with water from a nearby stream. Washing one’s self ensures that you do not anger the gods in of the site.
The Mparo Tombs are found in Hoima District – 4 kilometers away in Mparo Division. The tombs are the burial site for the former Kings of Bunyoro. The great Kabalega of Bunyoro who gave the British colonial government a hard time is buried here. Kabalega led a rebellion against the British for a long time as they attempted to control his Kingdom. He was exiled along with Kabaka Mwanga of Buganda to the Seychelles Islands. The Mparo tombs are visited by many local people to seek blessings or honor their former King
These tombs are found in the town of Fort Portal. The tombs belong to the Kingdom of Tooro. Three Kings of Tooro are buried here – Olumi Kaboyo II, Rukidi III and Kyebambe Kamurasi. Each King has a tomb for himself with all his royal regalia. Other royal princesses and princess are also buried here. The Karambi Tombs hold great cultural significance to the Batooro and are hence a perfect site to visit if you want to learn more about their culture and monarchy. You will be impressed with the simple but unique architecture and royal instruments including giant drums, spears and other items that were personal to the specific King. The scenery around the tombs is beautiful with several large mango trees scattered around. There are plans to renovate them to modern standards to help generate revenue to the Kingdom of Tooro. Karambi tombs are located 6 kilometers away from the town center along the Kasese to Fort Portal road, Cultural Sites in Uganda
The Ssezibwa falls are found in Mukono between the Kyagwe and Bugerere parishes. The waterfalls are an important cultural and spiritual site for the Baganda people and especially die-hard royalists. All Kings of Buganda have visited the Sezibwa falls to seek for blessings from their ancestors. Apart from the royals, hundreds of people come to a shrine on top of the falls to seek the blessings and favor from the gods. The falls are visited by many tourists who leave impressed by the beautiful scenery surrounding the place. One can enjoy rock climbing, primates viewing, birding, picnics or camping around the beautiful gardens of the falls.
These tombs are found in Mbarara district in an area called Kakiika. It is the burial ground for two of the previous Omugabes (Kings) of Ankole and other royal family members. Rutahaba Gasyonga II and Edward Solomon Kahaya II are buried in the tombs while 9 other royal graves are positioned outside.
This tree is found in the District of Mubende. It is believed to be over 400 years old and is one of the biggest trees in Uganda. Legend has it that the tree was planted by the wife to a certain Nduhura called Nakayima. People would go to the tree to seek blessings and favor from their gods as they dealt with the challenges of life. People still go to seek blessings from the tree to this day. Tourists can visit this cultural site on their way to Kibale national park. The main activity is going for a community walk or climbing the hill to see the main shrine. Expect to meet a lot of people at the site who have come to seek for blessings for their children and household. People also bring local beer and animals to sacrifice to the tree. The site is kept running by witch-doctors who are always in a trance, meditating and communicating to the spirits, Cultural Sites in Uganda.
Katereke Prison Ditch
This ditch is a constant reminder of the brutality of some of Buganda’s Kings. Kabaka Kalema faced opposition from his siblings and decided to do the unthinkable. He captured all his brother and sisters – 30 in total and imprisoned them in a ditch until they all starved to death. The Katereke Prison Ditch is a reminder of this difficult time in the Buganda Kingdom and also the savagery Kabaka Kalema. Despite its connection with the brutality of the paranoid king, the site attracts many international visitors.
The Coronation Site in Buddo (Naggalabi)
This site is located in Busiro Country on Buddo Hill and about sixteen kilometers away from Kampala city. Naggalabi is where the Kings of Buganda are crowned from after undergoing several preparations and rituals. Some believe that the Buganda kingdom was established here in the early 14th century. While visiting this coronation site, tourists can step on the very place and path taken by the present and past kings of Buganda. Visitors can also visit some of the other sacred sites in the area.
This site found a short distance away from Mbarara town. The site is important in the history of the Ankole Kingdom as the place where the last ruler (Known as Wamala) of the Bachwezi empire designed the sacred royal drum known as “Bagyendanwa”. The drum still exists to this day and is one of the revered cultural symbols of the Ankole kingdom. To reach this site, you need to drive along the Mbarara to Kabale road and the stop at Kinoni Rwampara.
Kanyange and Nnamasole Baagalayaze Tombs
These tombs hold the remains of the mother of Kabaka Suuna II who was buried at the Wamala tombs. She was known as Nnamasole Kanyange. The tombs are located on a hill along the highway from Kampala to Bombo – very close to the Wamala tombs. The Nnamasole Tombs also keep the remains of the mothers to other Kabakas. Just like it is in other royal tombs, ceremonies involving rituals are frequently performed by traditionalists. A sacred drum is positioned at the tombs which is claimed to summon the spirit of King Suuna II.
The Wamala Tombs
Apart from the Kasubi tombs, Buganda has other tombs for their earlier kings. The Wamala tombs holds the remains of Kabaka Suuna 11. Kabaka Suuna is remembered as the first Kabaka (King) to allow foreign traders into Buganda. He had over 150 wives who gave birth to 218 children. The Wamala tombs are built on top of a hill with nice surroundings.
Igongo Cultural Centre
This is a privately owned cultural Centre found in Mbarara District along the highway to Kampala. The Centre is built on the grounds of the former palace of the King of Ankole. Mr. Tumusiime established this Centre to promote the culture of the people of Uganda and Africa as a whole. There is no better place to experience the culture of the people of Western Uganda than at the Igongo Cultural center. The Center has been built to high standards with beautiful gardens and views. The Centre has a museum, restaurant and nice craft shop. You can also buy local dictionaries and books about Uganda and the local tribes in Western Uganda. Igongo is a favorite stopover place for tourists heading for Queen Elizabeth national park and for gorilla trekking in south western part of Uganda. If you want to spend a longer time at the Centre, you can book a room from the hotel at the Centre or put up a tent at the designated campsite, Cultural Sites in Uganda.
Ndere Troupe Cultural Center
This center is found in Ntinda, a suburb in Kampala. Ndere is got from a Kiganda word “endere” which refers to a flute. The Ndere Troupe Cultural Center is arguably the best place to experience the culture of Uganda as a whole. Traditional performances of tribes from all over Uganda can be enjoyed here. Apart from learning about the culture of the tribes in Uganda, you can order for traditional meals from almost every part of the country. The Ndere Troupe Cultural Center attracts a lot of tourists. It is really the place to be if you are touring Kampala or on a wider cultural trip around the country. You don’t have to worry about accommodation because they have decent accommodation facilities at a good price.