With over 100 districts and many traditional kingdoms & chiefdoms, Uganda exhibits a wide array of cultures & traditions that have been diligently followed & preserved over the centuries. There are numerous ethnic groups present in Uganda such as Baganda (Bantu-speaking tribes), Lango, Acholi, Iteso, Karamojong, and many more including pygmies. There are numerous cultural sites of historical significance dispersed in various districts, kingdoms, and chiefdoms within Uganda. Some of the most visited of these cultural sites are briefly discussed below.
A UNESCO world heritage site, Kasubi tombs are situated on the Kasubi Hill, only five kilometres away from the Kampala city centre. It’s perhaps the most famous cultural site in Uganda that was used as the burial grounds for four Buganda kings who are referred as kabakas. The baganda people whose civilization could be dated back to the 13th century A.D. used Kasubi for the first time to bury their 35th kabaka somewhere in the year 1884. The site of Kasubi tombs holds a very important place in the lives of Baganda people both spiritually as well as politically. The thatching technique used in all of these tombs is endemic to Baganda people and is quite different from other thatching techniques used elsewhere in Africa or Europe.
Located at a distance of 33-35 kilometres east of Kampala on the Kampala–Jinja highway in the Mukono district, Ssezibwa Falls holds religious and historic significance. The legend connected to the origin of Ssezibwa Falls is as enthralling as the place itself. According to the legend, a woman by the name Nakangu Tebatesa was expected to deliver twins (Ssezibwa and Mobeya); instead, she supernaturally gave birth to two streams and the spirits of her unborn children till date inhabit the falls. Baganda people treat this place as a spiritual centre and often visit it for blessings, wealth, and prosperity. Ssezibwa Falls also happens to be an excellent site for birdwatching, nature walks, primate sightings, and boating.
Namugongo Martyrs’ Shrine
If there is a place in Uganda that truly epitomizes the Christian faith in Uganda, then it has to be the Namugongo Martyrs’ Shrine. The Buganda king Mwanga II ordered to kill in excess of 45 Christians between 1885 and 1887 who refused to renounce Christianity. On June 3, 1886, 26 Christians were burnt alive by his order at Namugongo. Uganda Martyrs’ Shrine was built to commemorate the undeterred faith of these courageous martyrs. Every year, June 3rd is celebrated as the Martyrs’ Day in Uganda and is observed as a national holiday. Located at a distance of around 16 kilometres from Kampala, Namugongo Martyrs’ Shrine was visited by approximately 2 million visitors in June, 2015.
Fort Patiko (Baker’s Fort)
Located around 30 kilometres north of the town of Gulu (Gulu district), Fort Patiko played an important part in abolishing slave trade from Uganda. Sir Samuel Baker, a merchant turned traveller, was entrusted (by the Queen of England) with the work of eliminating Arab slave traders from the strategically important Gulu area so as to make way for the colonization of Uganda. The fort is guarded by a 16 feet wide and 15 feet deep trench which was used by the Arabs to dumb the beheaded bodies of slaves that were not healthy enough to be sold in the slave market. In 1872, Sir Samuel Baker succeeded in taking the control of the Fort Patiko and ended merciless salve trading practices of Arabs.
In addition to the above mentioned historically & culturally important sites in Uganda, cultural safari tours also cover many other such places that are spread over this beautiful & mesmerising country.