Uganda Historical Sites
Palaeontology is a science that deals with the study of Fossils, Uganda is endowed with many of these historical sites hence making it a unique tourism country in East Africa.
Bigo Bya Mugenyi: The Home of the Bachwezi
Bigo, also Bigo bya Mugenyi, is an extensive alignment of ditches and berms comprising ancient earthworks located in the interlacastrine region of south-western Uganda. It is situated on the southern shore of the Katonga river. Bigo has two elements; The first consists of a long, irregular ditch and bank alignment with multiple openings that effectively creates an outer boundary by connecting to the Kotanga River in the east and the Kakinga swamp to the west.
The second element consists of a central, interconnected group of four irregularly shaped ditch and bank enclosures that are connected to the Katonga River by a single ditch. Three mounds are associated with the central enclosures; two within and one immediately to the west. When combined, the Bigo earthworks extend for more than 10kms and Resulting from radiometric dates collected from archaeological investigations conducted in 1960 and additional investigations undertaken at the Mansa earthworks site in 1988, 1994, and 1995, the Bigo earthworks have been dated to roughly AD 1300-1500, and have been called Uganda’s “largest and most important ancient monument.
From a tourism perspective, Bigo Bya Mugyenyi is among the vital cultural treasures in Uganda. Even though the place is still neglected and little done to preserve it, it is among the cultural Tourist sites in Uganda that has got a potential for travelers.
As you make your way into Bigo Bya Mugenyi, you will pass through a place called Kabeho that has ancient spears that used to guard at the camp before making their destination to the Katonga river. This is a spot where tourists fetch water for cleansing themselves before making the long stride to Bigo Bya Mugenyi.
The idea of cleansing your self is an act of seeking for protection from the gods so that they don’t get annoyed with you and there after proceed to the jungles though believed to have many wildlife including Leopards, Snakes, lions and other animals but they have never attacked anyone even seeing them. therefore, this shows that the Bachwezi are present in these animals.
Nakayima Tree – A mysterious tree
As mystery suggest, once upon a time there existed a beautiful spiritual Princess called Nakayima who disappeared in the tree which is to date believed to be possessing supernatural powers for healing, giving fertility in women, wealth, solves problems and gives good health to people that go and worship it.
It is located in Mubende district just 3hr drive from Kampala and some other 15-20minutes to climb the hill. this tree is believed to have been planted by Nakayima, a wife to Ndahura a local ruler of the Bachwezi who dates over four hundred years ago.
Nakayima tree is so far the most famous attraction on Mubende Hill up to now and is claimed to hold the spirit of Ndahura (the god of small pox), reason why it has stayed existent for all the years. The tree got its name after a series of traditional practices like witchcraft besides naming it after the person who planted it, Nakayima (Ndahura’s wife).
The ancient tree which is estimated at 650 years takes after the name of Princess Nakayima a royal princess. The tree is considered as an important part of the African spirituality. Due to its spiritual powers the tree draws People from all over Uganda to seek solutions to their problems, ask for blessings among other things. The buttress rooted tree which is not very far from being a cave has 18 rooms in which the care takers and the people who come to pray sit. The believers sit on mats or grass and are allowed to smoke pipes openly as they seek the gods.
Another mysterious thing about this tree is that, water sipping out of its stem and said to cure diseases. It is also said that all the flora on this hill is medicinal, of the 18rooms available four are Ndahura, two for Jajja Musoke and kirunda and some are for Nalongo Jajja Mukasa.
It’s claimed Nakayima wasn’t only a keeper of the tree, but was also a medium through which the spirit of Ndahura would communicate to the community. She was always possessed by the spirit of Ndahura and get small pox for a good number of days until the Ndahura’s spirit leaves her body then she could get healed.
Kibiro Salt Producing Village – Fishing Villages
Kibiro is a small fishing village in Uganda that lies on the South Eastern shoes of Lake Albert, the residents of the village are unable to produce their own agricultural products and must trade with other communities for most of their necessities. The people of Kibiro support themselves primarily through production and trading in salt. Because of its value it was added to the UNESCO World Heritage list in September 10 1997.
Kibiro salt producing village demonstrates a unique example of an industry which has sustained its people for eight to nine hundred years ago and continues to do so perhaps for posterity from fishing on Lake Albert, the people of Kibiro have depended on the production of ash salt which is obtained by recycling residual earth with fresh soil which is spread on salt gardens for the salty water to get absorbed by capillary system.
Through repeated scraping, spreading and heaping of the salty soil over a seven days’ period, it is leached and the scam is bolt to crystallisation point to produce the ash salt. The residual soil from leaching is then mixed with fresh soil to repeat the salt production process.
Salt production is a female hereditary occupation and before the introduction of metallic vessels, pottery ware was used during the leaching and boiling processes and this is evidenced by the rich archaeological depositions of potsherds throughout the village going as deep as 4 meters and dating to between 800-900years to the present.
Kibiro village is a sandy beach along Lake Albert where food does not grow. The village therefore forms an important cultural site which has combined both archaeology and ethnography through time in the production of ash salt.
Kibiro is located at the bottom of the Western Rift Valley and is in the rain shadow and has less rain than the adjacent country side. It has a windy and hot climate with yearly temperature ranging between 22-29°C.
The Hot springs at Kabiro
Kabiro is not only a fishing village but also there exists a hot spring in the area and the water boils at 100 degrees even more. Like any other hot springs, it’s amazing to watch the water boiling where Green bananas, eggs and Irish potatoes are prepared and served. Most people visit this site expecting to get healed of their sicknesses and diseases after bathing this warm water.
This hot spring forms a stream flowing to the west where it meanders to pour in lake Albert though the water sometimes becomes dirty due to animals that die in the hot springs expecting that water is at the same temperature like that of other places.
Local guides will take you around as they explain to you what you need to know. There is also a believe that hot springs can be visited up to 7pm because after that time spirits are in the springs and if you are there you can anger.
Because of the nature of the Safari, visitors are advised to carry enough drinking water, some snacks, long sleeved shirts, Trousers and hiking boots plus walking sticks to support you in the hike.
Tanda pits – Walumbe: Pits of Death
Among the many historical sites in Uganda, here are the Tanda or Walumbe pits that have become an important tourism activity in the region. In the Greek Mythology pits are called the Abyss and the Hebrew Bible they call them Bottomless Pit so Ganda people have them as Tanda pits.
Tanda pits are located about 60kms West of the capital city of Kampala Uganda, from the town of Mityana the pits of death are about 11kms East by Van. There is much to learn, a superhuman mountain of knowledge and when you visit the site try as much as possible clear you brain with the rumours once heard.
Locals believe that Tanda pits have mystical powers because some holes are covered by clothes, such that the worshippers use this place to perform certain rituals like looking for children, wealth, twin naming, blessed marriages, life, and so many things as life dictates, the worshippers can stay in that place until Jjaja Bulamu has revealed to them their fate in dreams.
The history or myth behind the Tanda Pits
The Legend of Kintu the first man, is eventually met by Nambi, the daughter of the heavenly deity Ggulu. Upon learning of Kintu’s existence, Ggulu orders his sons to steal Kintu’s cow. Nambi is enraged by this and decides to bring Kintu to heaven. Kintu is then given many trials from Ggulu. After Kintu passes all tests, Ggulu gives him his daughter, Nambi, among other gifts to take back to Earth. He gives them multiple vegetable plants, a hen, and some millet.
He warns them then to hurry back to Earth to avoid gaining the attention of Nambi’s brother Walumbe, who he had sent away on an errand to prevent him from meeting Kintu. He specifically tells them not to come back for anything, but along the journey to earth Kintu and Nambi realize that they forgot to bring the millet. After much quarrelling, one of them return for the millet. While in heaven, Walumbe confronts Kintu and demands to accompany him to earth. After much deliberation, Kintu and Nambi allow Walumbe to accompany them to Earth.
In tradition with Gandan culture, Walumbe, as a brother of the bride, claimed one of Kintu’s children as his own. Kintu refuses Walumbe’s claims and continues to do so throughout the years. Frustrated, Walumbe then begins to kill a single child every day. After conversing with Ggulu Kaikuzi sent to aid Kintu in sending Walumbe back to heaven.
After refusing to accompany Kaikuzi back to heaven, Walumbe retreats by hiding in craters in the ground that he creates by stomping his foot. This is said to have created the 240 Walumbe Tanda Pits that are still in Uganda today. Kaikuzi soon tires of pursuing Walumbe and asks all of mankind to be silent for two days to lure Walumbe out. When Walumbe finally emerges, Kintu’s children cry out at the sight of him and he again retreats into the earth. Upon Kintu’s dismissal, Kaikuzi then returns to Ggulu and explains the situation. Upon hearing of this, Ggulu allows Walumbe to remain on Earth.
Walumbe is therefore blamed as the reason for death on Earth. Though every descendent of Kintu is eventually claimed by Walumbe, Kintu continues to fight Walumbe by constantly having more descendants than Walumbe can steal.
You need a Tour Guide in this place due to the fact that many holes are covered with thick bushes so one might easily die by falling in these pits and even your body never to be found because some pits are too deep.
The holes are said to have claimed lives for hundreds of years. That is why they are referred to as pits of death by some people, but some have been closed and during worshipping in the night people are advised to be careful not to fall in the pits. Though many people perceive Walumbe as the god of death, some perceive him as a god of life, so that is why many people come here to seek blessing from him and offer to him.
Since this place is also for educational purposes, the students come to see and clarify whether what is taught in class does exit. At Tanda again, you find many several small shrines that are dedicated to other Buganda gods.
Nsongezi Rock Shelter – offering a Proof of stone Age Craftsmen
This is one of the number one of the locational views of the late stone Age, excavations and investigations at this site has led to a reappraisal of Stone Age people’s capabilities and culture. It seems they were much more sophisticated than previously believed.
This is the best spot to visit if at all you have ever heard about the story of the stone age. These shelters are situated along the banks of River Kagera and the kikagati Trading centre. They are famous in the entire Uganda for the late stone age microlith and dimple based pottery.
The rock shelters are located in area of outstanding Natural beauty and in recent years the area around nsongezi has become a vacation destination and the nearest town is Mbarara just 64kms.
The site came to existence way back in 9th century and along these rock shelters you find the Kansyore island next to River Kagera. The island was occupied by the rulers of Nkore, Ntare of the time and Rwanga as refugee.
Visitors can access the Nsongezi rock shelters and the Kansyore through the Kampala-Kabale route past oruchinga refugee settlement. Alternatively, you can take the Mbarara-Kitagati route and between 24 and 26 kilometers from Mbarara you will also find the Buchunku Stanley memorial and the Bweyorere capital sites. This is where the famous explorer H.M. Stanley made blood brotherhood with Buchunku on 23rd July 1889.
Buchunku represented the King of Nkore, Ntare ‘V’ while Bweyorere which is located nearly three quarter kilometers, off Mbarara-Kikagati route was a capital site for two rulers of the Nkore, Kasasira and Karara kingdom. Do not miss to see the low mounds all over the site that might have been the shelter sites and cow dung heaps. There is also pottery widely spread in the site which is Uganda’s only thriving archaeological site