Kampala is not only a visitors’ center for visitors to Uganda, it also has many historical, cultural, manmade and religious attractions. The Kampala’s most famous attraction is the Kasubi tombs. From Kampala, the Kasubi Tombs is located 5 kilometers away on Kasubi hill. The ground is a royal burial place for four kings of Buganda, anciently known as Kabakas. Now the burial ground of kings holds importance in the Ganda culture as it symbolizes the Ganda’s culture and history.
The tombs and palaces are great exemplary of ancient African architecture, hut made of reeds, different types of spears and their pet animals. The entire area shows their lifestyle. All year round, traditional customs, ceremonies are carried out in this place. On the new moon night, a ceremony and consultation medium is held between the tribal people and the kings. But the ceremonies are carried in very secretive manner, hidden from the outsiders, within the building.
The Baganda is a part of the tribe of Uganda who speak Bantu. The history of the king of the Baganda is said to be that first Kabaka (king) was Kintu who came here in Uganda with his wife Nambi. He did not die in battle or by something else, but he got lost in the forest of Magonga, and was never to be known.
The palace at the burial ground was first constructed by Kabaka Mutesa I in 1882. The traditional of the Baganda is very interesting like according to the tradition of Baganda, the if the king dies, he should be buried at different site, and his jawbone was to be removed and place in the a royal shrine which should be made at different site as it was said that jawbone carried the spirit. But when Kabaka Mutesa I died (1856-1884), he was buried in his previous palace with his jawbone.
Later his son, Mwanga II who happens as expected like his father Mutesa. But he was staying at the Seychelles Islands, and when he died (1910) his remaining were brought from there and buried beside his father. The Mwanga II also had a son, Daudi Chwa II; even he ruled and died in 1939. He got respectful burial, like his fathers, at the tombs too.
Daudi Chwa’s son, Edward Muteesa, took over his father position and with changing world; he became governor of the Uganda province. After achieving so much, he died in London in 1966. His body was brought here and united with his father and ancestors, in the tomb.
The reason why the tombs of the great kings hold so much significance is because old traditions was broken at the site when Four kings of Baganda were obscured simultaneously. Since then, every descendent of the 4 kabakas are buried behind the main shrine. It has become a royal cemetery of Buganda kingdom.
As soon as you reach the royal burial as well as the religious place of Buganda, the first thing you will notice is the magnificent gatehouse, known as Bujjabukula, which is an entrance to the site. The roof of the gatehouse is supported by the wooden poles and wall is built of interwoven reeds. The gate goes to small circular house, called as House of Royal drums. There are many small houses, which was dwelling place for the Kabakas widows, and for other rituals in the main courtyard.
Behind the Kasubi and other royal tombs has back door, which leads to the forest. Inside the forest, the royal kabakas tombs are kept and most of the ceremonies like new moon and other rituals are carried there only. The back door is cover with cloth curtain and only kabakas widows and their descendents are allowed to go in there.
However, the Kasubi Tombs is a great place to view royal insignia like drums, spears, photographs, shields and medals of the buried Kabakas. The structure is very impressive to see – the wooden poles structure draped in backcloth, the ground are swathe with palms leaves mats and grass. The thatching of the roof was done by the Ngeye Clan and the Leopard clan carried out the work of decorating the poles. The backcloths used to decorate the poles are made of soft back of a fig tree. The fig tree has a very important in the Uganda’s rituals.
There is a unique tradition or rule, cant say, but people at that time didn’t allowed the Thatchers to have intercourse until the thatching work doesn’t get completed and plus, ladies were not allowed to enter the house as believed that it would cause leakage in monsoon. The Ganda culture’s 52 clans are signifying in the 52 rings that support the roof of the structure.
The Kasubi Tombs are great exemplary of heritage as well as rich tradition of the Baganda people. Inhabitants consider that every person’s death has a sacred origin and there is communication linked between the dead and the living. The people of Uganda have great respect for this place as their fore fathers, rulers and tradition lie here even today.