CULTURAL TOURISM IN UGANDA
Uganda is mostly visited by tourists for mountain Gorillas and Wildlife but Uganda has so much in places like the different cultural groups and welcoming and friendly people who welcome foreigners no matter the situation. Uganda has many cultural sites and tribes like the Acholi, Alur, Bafumbira, Baganda, Bagishu, Bagwere, Bakiga, Bamba, Banyoro, Banyuli, Bateso, Batooro, Batwa, Jonam, Karamonjong, Kuman, Langi, Lugbara, Madi, Jopadhola, Tepth among others and all these tribes have a unique language, cultural practices, and norms.
These tribes were each categorized under a king or a traditional ruler but they were abolished by the president since the king and the rulers are more powerful than them, approximately 30 years the kingdoms were re-established by the president of Uganda.
On a tour, tourists have a chance to understand and learn about the different cultures by practicing in them and also attending the performances. The famous cultures that visitors encounter are the Batwa in Mgahinga national park, IK, and the Karamojong from Northeastern Uganda.in Mgahinga, the Batwa trail involves visiting the Batwa pygmies who were evicted from the forest to create more room for the Gorillas and during the trail, you get the chance to with the Batwa pygmies who will teach you the ancient ways of hunting, local herbs, the cultural norms and also move with you to the caves they called their home.
The IK people had the smallest population of about 10,000 people living in Kidepo valley National Park before being evicted from the park by the government to create a way for the wildlife species. According to their culture, children at the age of 3 or 4 are not supposed to be living and getting support from their parents, so they are sent to live in a separate house and take care of themselves.
Karamojong is also known for its cultural practices which are so unique in the way that they depend on their cattle for food, milk, and meat so they move with their animals from one place to another grazing them. during a visit, the tourists are also able to join them in the milking and grazing of cattle plus participating in their traditional dances and songs.
Bagisu is found in the eastern part of Uganda and is famous for the ancient circumcision rituals and dances the ‘Kadodi’. During the ceremony, young boys undergoing circumcision tend to dance around escorted by friends and relatives before being circumcised in order to show them that he is ready to join the group of men by doing that you have to get blessings from your relatives during the dancing ceremony. Tourists can also join the dance up to the ground where the boys will be circumcised publicly and in this culture, when you are circumcised from the hospital, you are considered a coward.
One of the unbelievable cultures is the Sabiny who circumcises the girls upon reaching maturity through the culture as being rejected by the women organizations and the government but it is done in a quiet way.
Apart from the tribes and their cultures, there are also cultural sites that the government has tried to promote since most of the sites are owned individually or by cultural institutions so it became hard to develop them. Some of the sites include; Kasubi Tombs, Museums, King’s palace, Kabaka’s lake, Namirembe and Rubaga cathedrals, Uganda Martyr’s shrine, Fort Baker, Bigo bya Mugenyi, Mparo Tombs, Karambi tombs, Ssezibwa falls, Nkokonjeru tombs, Nakayima Tree, Katereke prison ditch, The coronation site in Buddo, Itaaba Kyabanyoro, Nyero rock Paintings, Kanyange and Nnamasole Baagalayaze tombs, Wamala tombs Igongo cultural center, Ndere troupe center, Bahai temple.
The temple has unique architecture and it is the only one in Africa making it popular with both locals and international tourists.
The temple was built on a 30-hectares piece of land on Kikaya Hill. it has beautiful gardens for relaxation and meditation since it is accessed by all religious groups.
IGONGO CULTURAL CENTER
Is found along the Kampala highway in the Mbarara district. The center was built by Mr. Tumusiime to promote the Ankole culture in Uganda and Africa. The center was built with beautiful gardens, craft shops, Museum, and a restaurant where you can eat, rest, and also buy books and souvenirs to take.
The center is mostly accessed by tourists heading to Queen Elizabeth National Park and Bwindi Impenetrable National park as a stop-over place to relax before proceeding with the journey.
The tomb is where Kabaka Suuna11 was buried and he was remembered for allowing foreign traders into Buganda.
He had 150 wives and 218 children and the beautiful surroundings are good for taking photographs.
NYERO ROCK PAINTINGS
The paintings are found in the East along Kumi town along Ngora road. these paintings were left behind by the humans during the Iron age and these paintings show canoes and animals that were found in the area.
KANYANGE AND NNAMASOLE BAAGALAYAZE TOMBS
This is where the remains of Kabaka Suuna 11’s mother Nnamasole Kanyange were buried. The tomb also keeps the remains of other Queen mothers and ritual ceremonies are also performed by traditionalists around the tomb and a scared drum is positioned to always summon the spirit of Kabaka Suuna 11.
This is where Wamala the last ruler of the Bachwezi designed the sacred royal drum(Bagyendanwa) and this drum is still there today. this place is found along Mbarara-Kabale road.
THE CORONATION SITE IN BUDDO(NAGGALABI)
Is located in Busiro county on Buddo Hill. this is where the Buganda kings were crowned after passing through several rituals and preparations. there is a belief that the kingdom was established in the 14th century in the same place and tourists who visit the site are able to move on the path that the present and past kings of Buganda used to move during the time of the coronation.
KATEREREKE PRISON DITCH
This is where Kabaka Kalema captured all his brothers and sisters and imprisoned them in a ditch where they were starved to death because of the opposition he got from them. this prison always remains the people of Buganda of the brutality of Kabaka Kalema.
It is believed that the tree is over 400 years and is one of the tallest trees in Uganda. This cultural site is found in the Mubende district on your way to Kibale national park. Myths say that the tree was planted by Nakayima the wife of Nduhura so people go gather under the tree to seek blessings and favor from the gods.
On the hill is where you will find the shrine and people who come to seek solutions and blessings from the witch doctors who act as mediators between them and the gods with sacrifices.
It is the burial ground for the two Ankole kings (Rutahaba Gasyonga 11 and Edward Solomon Kahaya 11) and others are buried outside the tomb and this place is located in the Mbarara district.
The falls are a favorite cultural and spiritual site for the Buganda kings and the people where they go to seek blessings from their ancestors. The place is also beautiful for rock climbing, primate viewing, birding, and picnics around the beautiful gardens of the falls, and these falls are located along the Jinja highway.
Is the tomb where king Olumi Kaboyo 11, Rukidi 111, and Kamurasi were buried with each in his tomb with the royal regalias including the princesses and princess. The tombs are the best place where you will learn more about the Tooro kingdom and its culture.
There are beautiful and unique royal instruments such as the drums, and spears that were specific to each king.
This is where king Kabalega was buried and he was the king that rebelled against the British colonialists in the attempts to rule the kingdom. Kabalega was exiled to Seychelles Islands along with Kabaka Mwanga of the Buganda kingdom. The tombs are visited by the locals for blessings and honoring of the king.
BIGO BYA MUGENYI
This site is believed to be a place of the Bachwezi demi-gods who lived here hundred years ago. the place has a lot of artifacts and earthworks which were made in the early 13th century, the road leading to the site is muddy or dusty depending on the season but it’s the best to visit for tourists. The name Bigo bya Mugenyi meaning the Fort of Stranger’ is located in Mubende district in a place called Ntusi.
The place was built by Arab slave traders who made the slave dig 15ft deep and 16ft wide trench where they were kept before shipping them but the place was taken over by Sir Samuel Baker who hated the slavery activity from 1872 up to 1888 later taken over by Emin Pasha and Charles Gordon. The place always remains the people in the area of the evil slavery with dark marks around the stones which are believed to be the blood of the slaves who were beheaded. The fort is located in Patiko.
The shrine is the most visited religious site in Uganda on 3rd June every year where Christians flock to the shrine to remember the 25 Anglican and Catholic Christians who refused to give up on their faith and were killed by Kabaka Mwanga who saw them as a threat to his leadership.3rd June is a public holiday in Uganda where both Catholics and Anglicans visit the shrines to commemorate the Martyrs.
Namirembe cathedral is prominent for the Anglican faith and Rubaga for the Catholics. The Rubaga cathedral was built in 1880 on top of Rubaga hill while Namirembe was built in 1903 on Namirembe hill it is where the highest ranked bishops reside and the cathedrals are flocked by Christians on Sunday to thank God. Cathedrals have cemeteries or tombs where the former priests and bishops came as missionaries to Uganda and it is where the priests and bishops are buried.
The lake was created as an escape route in case of a civil war by Kabaka Mwanga in 1880. The lake covers an area of 5 acres of land with calm water which is home to beautiful birds and wildlife, Kabaka Mwanga would go there for swimming and fishing though he never fulfilled the promise of creating a channel to Lake Victoria. So visitors who love swimming, sport fishing, and relaxing along the shores, the lake is the place to do all the activities and the lake is found close to the palace in Mengo.
The Museum was built to preserve Uganda’s history and the Museum was built in 1908 to preserve the instruments, artifacts, and recordings.
They are the main treasures of the kingdom and the leading Tourism attraction in Uganda it is a UNESCO World Heritage site and receives over a thousand visitors a year.
They are the main burial ground for the Buganda kings(Kabakas) as well as the other royals including Mutesa11, Mwanga11, Daudi Chwa, and Mutesa 1. The Tombs were largely destroyed by unknown people by fires through the culprits who have never been caught and renovations have been taking place to take them back to their normal state with funding from the Uganda and Japanese governments.
NDERE TROUPE CULTURAL CENTER
The center is found in Ntinda a suburb of Kampala, the place is the best to experience the Uganda culture in terms of the traditional performance, and traditional meals from the part of Uganda. Ndere center is a place you can be when having a tour in Uganda.