The Buganda kingdom is the most active Ugandan traditional kingdom presently in Uganda with a number of heritage sites that are still sacred to the kingdom and the people as well as impressive culture and heritage tourist attractions. One of the outstanding cultural tourist attractions in the Buganda kingdom is the Kasubi tombs – a burial ground for Buganda kings.
Kasubi tombs is located in Kasubi just few minutes drive from Kampala city center and its where 4 of the Buganda kings were buried. The tombs are a UNESCO recognized tourist attraction where a number of tourists interested in learning about the Buganda culture visit.
The real kings tombs are not open to the public and are concealed with backcloth – a traditional wear of the kingdom and also while entering, tourists are supposed to take off their shoes.
Most of the structures around Kasubi tombs were constructed using local construction materials (reeds, thatch and poles). As you enter the site, there is a gatehouse locally known as Bujjabukula where royal guards of the tombs stay. From the gatehouse, you directly head to a circular house with a number of royal drums from where one goes to the yard that has various thatched houses for widows. These were all built and designed using local materials and while here, you directly see the tomb building locally known as Muziba- Azala- Mpanga.
The tombs house was well architecturally designed and it’s the prime tourist attraction at Kasubi. Some of the prominent Buganda kings who were buried at Kasubi include Kabaka Muteesa, Daudi Chwa II and Kabaka Mwanga.
The kings’ wives or close females of the deceased kings wives conserve the Kasubi tombs and when they die, they are buried at Kasubi but not in the king’s burial chamber. Today, the Kasubi tombs are among the most functional areas in the kingdom and many people flock the area to perform rituals because they believe that the site acts as a ground where people can communicate to the dead (spiritual attachment).
The main kings burial chamber is sacred to the current Buganda king where he goes to perform various rituals. All these make the Kasubi tombs not only a cultural and heritage site but also a sacred prayer place for talking to people underworld. A view to the way the buildings at Kasubi were built using local materials (poles, grass and reeds) makes you appreciate the great craftsmanship of the local Baganda who were able to show their skills way before modernization.
Kasubi tombs act as a unique cultural sign of identity for the Baganda and Uganda in general.
The site can be visited by tourists at any time of the year and can be accessed by car or using local transportation means (a motor cycle locally known as Boda Boda) that may charge 5,000 uganda shillings or using a Matatu – taxi at 1,000 shillings from the city center. The tombs can be visited by tourists on kampala city excursions and there are well informed local guides that are always willing to explain the meanings attached to most of the cultural items viewed at Kasubi plus the historical backgrounds of Buganda kingdom. Just outside the palace there is a local market that sells a variety of locally grown foodstuffs and many fruits like jack fruit, mangoes, oranges, pineapples and vegetables that are fresh from the gardens. If interested, you can get yourself any and enjoy the sweetness and delicacy of Ugandan fruits.
While on a visit to Uganda, do not miss out this opportunity of learning about the customs and beliefs of one of Uganda’s major tribes.