Uganda: Fire Guts 300-Year-Old Buganda Cultural Site

Fire Guts 300-Year-Old Buganda Cultural Site

17 March 2012

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Uganda– It was panic and tears at Bendegere hill in Nkumba village after unknown people torched the cultural site belonging to Omutaka Kasiga of the Mamba Enangiira clan.

Five grass-thatched houses with brick walls which belonged to Omutaka Kasiga, Nagadya mu Nkumba, Lubowa, Buganda and Musoke were eaten up in the inferno.

“This is a big loss to Buganda as all the history of over 300 years has been turned into ruins,” Kasiga lamented. He said the Buganda government had already listed the place among its tourist sites.

The irate Kasiga explained further how the ruined cultural site dates back to Sekabaka Semwezi – Maganda who sent for Sebalamu from Ssese to help him resolve Buganda problems.

“Sebalamu came with his sister Nagadya who sailed all the way from Ssese seated on a goat skin floating on the lake and reached Bendegere hill in Nkumba.

“He continued to Namwezi hill in Mpigi, prepared three stones where he cooked food which the Kabaka served Obuganda and everything settled,” narrated Kasiga.

He adds that was the time the Kabaka named Sebalamu ‘Kasiga’ and gave him a big chunk of land at Bendegere hill in Nkumba. The cultural deeds that took place at Namwezi hill placed Kasiga on another level as he must not bury nor look at a corpse.

According to the representative of Nagadya mu Nkumba, the fire started after midnight.

She attributed her survival and those of the children she had in her grass-thatched house to their spirits which refused her to sleep early.

“Whenever I tried to put my head down the Jjajjas [forefathers] called me and I remained awake until the time I smelled petrol,” she explained.

By the time she got courage to go out and see what was happening, it was too late because she only saw Omutaka Kasiga’s house already lit.

“I only had time to wake up the children to run for dear life before ours [hut] also started producing sparks of fire.”

Nagadya says they made alarms which attracted the neighbours but it was too late, with a lot of valuable cultural and personal items lost.

“The houses were stocked with cultural documents, bark cloth from centuries back, spears, mindi [smoking pipes]and beautiful animal skins our grandfathers’ had collected over the years,” she explained.

Plans are underway to restore the site and Kasiga called upon government to investigate the people behind Buganda cultural sites fires.

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