King of Toro (The Omukama)

The Omukama of Toro is the name given to rulers of the central African kingdom of Toro. The kingdom lasted as an independent state from the 16th to the 19th century. Although no longer the ruler of a state, the Omukama of Toro remains an important figure in Ugandan politics, especially among the Toro people of whom he is the titular head.


The Kingdom of Toro

The kingdom of Toro, of the Babiito dynasty, aptly claims its rightful origins in the ancient empire of Kitara. The first son of Omukama Kyebambe III of Bunyoro rebelled and annexed the southern part of his father’s kingdom, forming his own kingdom. He placed the northern border of his new kingdom at River Muziizi. The kingdom of Toro was born, under the reign of Rukirabasaija Omukama Kaboyo Kasunsu nkwanzi Olimi I.

Following the death of Omukama Kaboyo Olimi I, there followed several other kings and princes on the Toro throne. Some of them reigned for very short periods of time, during which they were still referred to as “Omubiito” (prince), not by the right title of “Rukirabasaija Omukama“. When we include such princes, the number of Batooro kings comes to 8. The present Omukama is Rukirabasaija Omukama Oyo Nyimba Kabamba Iguru Rukidi IV.


The people of Toro


The people of Toro are known as the Batooro (singular, mutooro; adjective, kitooro; language, Rutooro). They are a proud tribe of about one million strong. They enjoy a rich culture of oral tradition, tribal customs, indigenous handicrafts, patriotism, and very high self-esteem. Like all African children, Batooro children are taught to respect and value their elders. They are also taught to love and be proud of their tribe and country. Pride in being a mutooro is a value of paramount importance that is inculcated into every mutooro child from birth. There are certain behaviors, manners of speech and personal conduct, therefore, which are considered to be beneath a self-respecting mutooro.


Traditionally, for instance, a mutooro is not supposed to speak words or make any utterances that distort the mouth and make the person look undignified. Unfortunately, the observance of this norm made it difficult for many Batooro to pronounce certain foreign language words effectively! A mutooro has to make a conscious effort to break with tradition in order to utter some foreign expressions that end in an open mouth or a distorted facial expression.

Traditional eating habits of the Batooro left them prone to malnutrition as their choice of acceptable cuisine was very limited. Many of the good, nutritious foods that abounded in their kingdom were taboo. A mutooro did not eat “birds” or their eggs. So, for the longest time, the Batooro did not eat chicken or eggs. A mutooro did not eat “frogs” (a derogatory name generalized over everything from the water, including fish). It was ironic; therefore, that while Toro boasted of having two fresh water lakes teeming with delicious tilapia Nilotic, they considered it beneath them to eat the fish! A mutooro did not eat the meat of any animal that had upper teeth, because such an animal was like a dog. This ruled out pork. For some reason, Batooro women were, and still are, expected to be even more dignified than their male counterparts. Whatever the taboo was, it went double for the women. As modern times slowly caught up with us, we slowly started breaking some of our long held traditions. To this day, however, there are some old Batooro women who will not allow chicken, fish or pork to be cooked in their kitchens!


The Batooro had a concept of a supreme being Ruhanga. Ruhanga was believed to have created all things. He was believed to be a good and benevolent being who unless wronged could not do harm to the people. However, it was believed that the world was full of evil doers; evil spirits and sorceress who could employ their magic to undermine Ruhanga and cause disease, misfortune, barrenness, death and droughts or even bad weather.

The Batooro believed that there existed mediums some of whom were agents of the devil while the good ones were agents of Ruhanga. The Batooro also believed in the Mamdwa cult. Shrines were constructed for the worship of Emandwa in every home. The Mamdwa were usually worshipped and praised by playing ofentimbo (drums) and trumpets). In the actual process of worship, people would wear skins (emikako) knitted with beads and cowrie shells. An important medium of the Mamdwa would wear a six centimeter bark-cloth material with horns on the head (ekisingo). The whole process of worshiping involved a lot of eating and drinking.

In the event of disease, death or misfortune, a mufumu (divinera0 would be consulted to interpret the demands of Emandwa. Thereafter, appropriate measures would be taken to appease the Mamdwa. Supplications to the Mamdwa were normally effected at night. A man would put fire in front of the house and pronounce his problems to the Mamdwa. The language used to in addressing the Emandwa was slightly different from the common one used in ordinary parlance. The pronunciation of certain words was slightly altered. Surprisingly; in talking to Emandwa the Batooro would use Runyankole terminologies. For instance Omukama was pronounced as omugabe, okurora, as okurora, omwaana omwerere, and several others


GREETINGS/ Empaako (names of endearment)


Unique to the people of Toro, Bunyoro (and one or two tribes in Tanzania and Congo) is a special name of endearment, respect, praise, etc., known as Empaako. In addition to the name the world will know the child by; each mutooro child is given one of the ten “Empaako” names. The Empaako names are: Abaala, Abooki, Abwooli, Acaali, Adyeeri, Akiiki, Amooti, Apuuli, Araali, Ateenyi, and Atwooki.


There is a twelfth one, Okaali, reserved only for the Omukama (king). Okaali is very special in that it is not for everyday use to greet the Omukama. It is used on occasions when our tradition elevates the Omukama to the rank of our gods. When we “worship” our king, we address him as Okaali. The Omukama is the only mutooro with two Empaako names. Upon becoming the Omukama, no matter what his Empaako was before, he takes the Empaako Amooti. This is the one we use to greet him on an everyday basis. On special, traditional ceremonies and rituals, we greet him as Okaali.


Contrary to the norm that kitooro names have a kitooro meaning and say something, the Empaako names do not mean anything in Rutooro; because they really are not kitooro names in origin. They were brought to Bunyoro by the Luo who invaded Bunyoro from the North. They have been assimilated into the language and tagged with special meanings; for instance, Akiiki bears the tag “Rukiikura mahaanga” (savior of nations); Abwooli is the cat; Ateenyi is the legendary serpent of River Muziizi, etc. The Empaako is used for respect, praise and love. Children never call their parents by their real name; they use the Empaako. Calling one’s parents by their “real” names is considered a sign of disrespect, even poor upbringing.


When Batooro greet each other, they use the Empaako, e.g. “Oraire ota, Amooti?” (Good morning, Amooti?). Amooti is the Empaako in this example. Very often one will hear an exchange like this: “Empaako yaawe?”  “What’s your Empaako?” “Adyeeri, kandi  eyaawe?” “Adyeeri and what’s yours?”


Having established each other’s Empaako, they proceed to exchange greetings. Our relatives, close friends, and (sometimes) important members of the community, expect us to know their Empaako. It is impolite not to know it! Sometimes one tries to ask other people while the relative, friend, important person, etc. is not hearing, so one can greet them without having to ask them their Empaako. Grown-ups can generically apply the Empako Apuuli to young male children whose Empako they do not know. The Empako Abwooli may be equally applied to young female children

Marriage and family

Occupied an important position in the cultural life of the Batooro man would not be regarded as complete before he got married. Formerly, marriage would be arranged by the parents of the boy and the girl without their knowledge with or without their consent. During the preparations however, the consent of the girl would have to be sought.


A middle-man was usually sought by the boy’s side and his role was socially recognized and rewarded. He was known as Kibonabuko. He had the duty of making investigations about the character of the girl, her family background and her ability to work. After such ground work was completed, the Kibonabuko would proceed to secure the girl from her parents on behalf of the boy’s family.

The Kibonabuko would wake up one morning and go to the girl’s family and declare his intentions to marry their daughter. He would make the following statement to the father of the girl:

Sir, I come to you that you should build a house for me. I would like you to be part of my clan; I have come to ask for a wife, the builder of the house.

The normal response from the girl’s father was: I don’t have any child”. The Kibonabuko would insist that the child was there, and on being asked who exactly he wanted, he would name the girl. If the father consented, the Kibonabuko would thankfully kneel down as a sign of appreciation. The next step would be for the boy’s family to take beer to the girl’s parents for the bride wealth to be fixed.

The bride wealth was normally in the form of cows. It varied between the Bahuma and the Bairu. For the Bahuma, it ranged from six to twenty cows. For the Bairu, the ceiling was about eight cows. They would often make payments in goats and hoes. All or part of the bride wealth when due, would be received during a ceremony known as Okujuka. It was a very important ceremony involving a lot if eating, drinking and merry making. Thereafter, the young man’s family could send backcloth and some skins for the bride’s dress. Meanwhile other formalities would be finalized for the wedding.


On the wedding day, another big feast was organized. The bride would be collected around six or seven o’clock in the evening. Before leaving, she would first perform a ritual of sitting on her parents laps. This ritual was known asokubukara. She would then be lifted onto a litter and carried to the bridegroom’s home. On arrival, she would perform a ritual of being carried on her parent’s in –laws laps. There she would be sprinkled with some herbal water (endemezi) to welcome and bless her. Before the feasting started, the bridegroom would go to bed with the bride, to perform another ritual, okucwa amagita. Thereafter, the guests were given coffee berries, smoking pipes, beer and later food. If the girl was found to be a virgin during okucwa amagita, a gift of a cow or a goat would be sent to her mother to congratulate her on raising her daughter well. On the third day, the bride’s friends and relatives would give her gifts from home. They would come to see where she had been taken. The bride would spend some days in confinement and, at the end of it all, an elaborate ceremony would be held to bring the girl out and to initiate her into the art of cooking and house keeping

In the event of a divorce, bride wealth would be refunded. However, part of the bride wealth would be retained if the woman had already had some children with her husband.

Other tourist attractions in Toro

Kibale National park

This is an extensive biodiversity National Park, protecting large block of rainforest birding. It harbors the greatest variety and concentration of primates found anywhere in East Africa. Superb birds and primates combined with easy access, a good infrastructure and a variety of interesting activities make this forest a worthwhile destination.

Many of the facilities are community-based, thus providing the local community with the necessary revenue to keep their interest focused on the long-term protection of the areas.
It is the most accessed of Uganda’s major rainforests; Kibale is a home for over 13 remarkable primate species, including L’Hosts and red Colobus monkey. The elusive forest elephant, smaller and hairier move seasonally into the developed part of the park

Kibale national park is located in the Toro kingdom, bordering fort portal and it covers are area of 795 sq km. Since the park is accessible, its only 320km from Kampala and an hour’s drive from Kasese all by road transport


While at Kibale national park, you can carry out activities like, chimp tracking and this is considered as the major activity in this national park because it has the highest concentration of primates in the Africa. However other activities like bird watching, forest walks, community walks and game viewing of the beautiful crater which lies between fort portal and Kibale forest and all these activities can be carried out throughout the year since Toro has the best weather in Uganda



Katonga Wildlife Reserve

This is a game reserve in western Uganda, along the banks of River Katonga sharing the two districts of ibanda and kamwenge covering the size of approximately 211sq km and this place is accessed by road from Kampala covering about 200km

The wildlife reserve was established in 1998. The reserve is a recent addition to Uganda’s list of protected wildlife areas. It protects a network of forest-fringed wetlands along the Katonga River. It best explored by foot and by canoe. It is home to over forty (40) species of mammals and over one hundred and fifty (150) species of birds; many of them specific to wetland habitats.
Commonly sighted in the wetland reserve are elephant, waterbuck, reedbuck, Colobus monkeys and river otters. Also found in this habitat is the shy Sitatunga, a semi-aquatic antelope with webbed hooves. Viewing this game from a canoe, whilst they come to the water’s edge to drink is a thrilling and memorable experience.

This reserve can be visited in January-Febraury and July-August since it’s the dry season but one could still visit any time for activities like bird watching and game viewing

Rwenzori Mountain National Park

The fabled “Mountains of the Moon” lies in Western Uganda along the Congolese boarder with the Snow – covered equatorial peaks rise to a height of 5,109m and lower slopes are blanketed in moorland and rich montane forest. Most of the park is accessible only to hikers although the magnificent scenery and 19 Albertine Rift endemics would be ample reward for Birders.
Rwenzori Mountains National Park protects the eastern slopes and glacial peaks of the 120km-long Rwenzori Mountains or ‘Mountains of the Moon’, a world-class hiking and mountaineering destination; it covers the area of 996 sq. km

You will do activities like mountaineering trailhead, bird watching of over 195 species and Nature guided tours through all the vegetation zones at the glacial peaks and these activities can be accessed through the Nyakalengija trailhead a 22km from Kasese off Fort Portal road and also you can visit the park in January-Febraury and July-August because they are considered dry months but rain is possible due to unavoidable season changes.


Semliki National Park


This lies on the southern shores of Lake Albert in the far west, 50km from fort portal and it covers the area of 221 sq km  and offers a mosaic of different habitats with some excellent birding opportunities.

The Toro-Semliki Wildlife Reserve (formerly called the Toro Game Reserve) is subtly different and shows affinities with the northern savanna woodland with over 400 bird species coupled with a number of exotic scenery views.
No visitor to the reserve should miss a boat trip on Lake Albert for nowhere else in Uganda do you stand a better chance of seeing the mighty shoebill this national park is considered to be the top with many bird species in Uganda thus the birding activity is key, plus nature guide walks, game viewing and this park can be accessed and visited throughout the year


Queen Elizabeth National Park


This is Uganda’s most popular National Park found in the south west near fort portal and Kasese, it covers an area of 1,978 sq. km; getting here is by road or air but by road one will use the Mbarara route of the fort portal and you will expect to participate in activities like launch trip at the Kazinga channel, game viewing, bird watching, chimp tracking, game drives and guided nature walks

It stretches from the crater-dotted foothills of the Rwenzori ranges in the north, along the shores of Lake Edward to the remote Ishasha River in the South, incorporating a wide of variety of habitats that range from savanna and wetlands to gallery and lowland forest.

The lush savannah of Queen Elizabeth National Park offers prime grazing to buffaloes, elephants, various antelopes and a checklist of over 600 bird species.





Kazinga channel


The Kazinga Channel is the widest, 40km long natural channel that connects Lake Edward in the west, to Lake George in east. The channel is a dominant feature of the Queen Elizabeth National Park (Uganda’s most popular reserve covering a total of 1,978km2). The Kazinga channel attracts a various range of animals and birdlife, with one of the world’s largest concentrations of hippos and numerous Nile crocodiles.

On the East of the Channel lies Lake George – a small lake with depth of 2.4m (250km2). The lake is supported by streams from the Rwenzori Mountains, north of the lake. Lake Gorge outflow is through the Kazinga Channel which drains into Lake Edward (one of Uganda’s major freshwater lake) situated west of the channel, covering 2000km2.

Top Attractions

Boat Cruise along the Kazinga Channel is quite rewarding and one of the most famous launch trips in Uganda. Boat drives at the Kazinga Channel offers the opportunity of viewing hundreds of water birds, huge mammals like hippos, buffaloes, elephant herds. On occasions you might see a lion or a leopard along the banks of the Kazinga Channel and the must see birds include pelicans and flamingos



These make up the largest ethnic group in Uganda, though they represent only 16.7% of the population. (The name Uganda, the Swahili term for Buganda, was adopted by British officials in 1884 when they established the Uganda Protectorate, centered in Buganda); Buganda’s boundaries are marked by Lake Victoria on the south, the Victoria Nile River on the east, and Lake Kyoga on the north. This region was never conquered in the colonial era; rather, the powerful king (or Kabaka), Muteesa, agreed to a British policy of giving Buganda protectorate status.

The 5.5 million Baganda are a Bantu-speaking people (singular Muganda; often referred to simply by the root word and adjective, Ganda) who make up the largest Ugandan ethnic group, representing approximately 20% of Uganda’s total 28 million population. They occupy the central part of Uganda which was formerly called the Buganda province.

Buganda, which means ‘bundles,’ is their subnational kingdom, the largest of the traditional kingdoms in present-day Uganda, spread out in the modern districts of Kampala, Mpigi, Mukono, Masaka, Kalangala, Kiboga, Rakai, Sembabule and Mubende.

Their language is referred to as Luganda and they refer to their customs as Kiganda customs. Sometimes the generic term Ganda is used for all the above.  Buganda is home to the nation’s political and commercial capital, Kampala; as well as the country’s main international airport, Entebbe.

‘Uganda’ (a Kiswahili word for ‘Land of the Ganda’) was the name used by the Arab and Swahili traders on the East African coast to refer to the Kingdom of Buganda.


The Baganda people of Uganda are sometimes referred to as The King’s Men because of the significance of the role of their king—the Kabaka in their political, social, and cultural institutions. Until 1967, the Baganda were organized into a tightly centralized, bureaucratized kingdom. Between 1967 and 1993, the Ugandan national government abolished all kingdoms. In 1993, the national government reinstated the Kabakaship (kingship) by permitting the coronation of Ronald Muwenda Muteebi II as the thirty-sixth king of the Baganda.

Traditionally, the Kabaka ruled over a hierarchy of chiefs who collected taxes in the form of food and livestock. Portions were distributed through the hierarchy, eventually reaching the Kabaka’s palace in the form of tribute (taxes). The Kabaka made direct political appointment of all chiefs so as to maintain control over their loyalty to him. Many rituals surrounded the person of the king. Commoners had to lie face down on the ground in his presence.

Today, the Kabaka has only ritual functions and no political power. He was removed of his power so that tribal differences would not interfere with the formation of a nation state. All Baganda participate in the Ugandan government system. Nevertheless, the kingdom and associated institutions remain strong forces in the cultural practices and values of the Baganda.


Riddles, myths, legends, and proverbs tell the origin and history of the Baganda, as well as the workings of the everyday world. The most significant legend involves Kintu, the first Kabaka (king). He is believed to have married a woman called Nambi. First Nambi had to return to heaven. Gulu, her father, objected to her marriage because Kintu did not know how to farm but only how to obtain food from cattle. Nambi’s relatives tested Kintu in order to determine his suitability as a spouse. In one test Kintu was asked to identify his own cow in a herd, a difficult task since there were many cows like his own. By chance, a bee told Kintu to choose the cow on whose horns he would alight. After several large herds were brought to him, Kintu reported that his cow was not among them. (He was continuing to watch the bee that remained on the tree.) Eventually, Kintu, with the help of the bee, identified his cow, along with several calves that had been born to his cow. The amazed father eagerly gave his daughter’s hand in marriage. He prodded them to hurry to leave for Kintu’s home before Walumbe (Death) came and wanted to go with them. Gulu warned that they should not come back even if they forgot something; for fear that Death would follow them. They left carrying with them cows, a goat, fowl, sheep, and a plantain tree. Unfortunately, over the protests of Kintu, Nambi went back to obtain grain that had been forgotten. Although she tried to run away from Death, she was unsuccessful. After many years of happiness on earth, Walumbe (Death) began to bring illness and death to children and then adults. Up to the present day, Death has lived upon the earth with no one knowing when or whom he will strike.


The majority of present-day Baganda are Christian, about evenly divided between Catholic and Protestant. Approximately 15 percent are Muslim (followers of Islam). In the latter half of the nineteenth century, most Baganda were practicing an indigenous (native) religion known as the Balubaale cult. This cult consisted of gods who had temples identified with them. These gods were each concerned with specific problems. For example, there was a god of fertility, a god of warfare, and a god of the lake.

The Baganda also believed in spiritual forces, particularly the action of witches, which were thought to cause illness and other misfortune. People often wore amulets (charms) to ward off their evil powers. The most significant spirits were the Muzimu or ancestors who visited the living in dreams and sometimes warned of impending dangers. The Balubaale cult no longer exists. However, belief in ancestors and the power of witches is still quite common.

Contemporary Baganda are extremely religious, whatever their faith.

Clothing and fashion

The rural Muganda (Baganda individual) woman typically wears a Busuuti. This is a floor-length, brightly colored cloth dress with a square neckline and short, puffed sleeves. The garment is fastened with a sash placed just below the waist over the hips, and by two buttons on the left side of the neckline. Traditionally, the Busuuti was strapless and made from bark-cloth. The Busuuti is worn on all festive and ceremonial occasions. The indigenous dress of the Baganda man is a kanzu, a long, white cotton robe. On special occasions, it is worn over trousers with a Western-style suit jacket over it. Younger people wear Western-style clothing. Slacks, jeans, skirts, suits, and ties are also worn


The staple food of the Baganda is Matoke, a plantain (a tropical fruit in the banana family). It is steamed or boiled and commonly served with groundnut (peanut) sauce “ebinyeebwa” or meat soups. Sources of protein include eggs, fish, beans, groundnuts, beef, chicken, and goats, as well as termites and grasshoppers in season. Common vegetables are cabbage, beans, mushrooms, carrots, cassava, sweet potatoes, onions, and various types of greens. Fruits include sweet bananas, pineapples, passion fruit, and papaya. Drinks include indigenous fermented beverages made from bananas (omwenge), pineapples (munanansi), and maize (musoli). Although Baganda have cutlery, most prefer to eat with their hands, especially when at home.


Cultural heritage

Baganda number among the best songwriters, playwrights, poets, novelists, artists, and musicians in Uganda: Performing arts, especially music and dance, have enjoyed a longstanding tradition. The Kabaka’s Palace was a special place where royal dancers and drummers regularly performed. Most Baganda households contained at least a small drum for regular use in family singing and dancing. Other musical instruments included stringed instruments such as fiddles and harps, and woodwind instruments such as flutes and fifes.

Dancing is frequently practiced by all Baganda, beginning in early childhood. Today, Uganda dancers and musicians are frequently seen performing abroad.

Basketry is still a widespread art, especially mat-making by women. These mats are colorful and intricately designed. In addition to creating useful household containers, woven and coiled basketry serve as the foundation for stockades, enclosure fences, and houses.

Games and sports

Football (soccer), rugby, and track and field are popular sports in Uganda. Baganda boys participate in all these sports, while girls participate in track and field. Traditionally, the Baganda were renowned for their skills in wrestling. Males of all ages participated in this sport. Wrestling events were accompanied by beer-drinking, singing, and drumming. It was, however, considered inappropriate to defeat the Kabaka. Other traditional outdoor games for boys include the competitive throwing of sticks and a kicking game in which boys stand side by side and attempt to knock over the other boy

Children play games involving a chief for boys or a mother role for girls. Okwesa is a game of strategy involving a wooden board and stones or beans that are placed in pockets in the board. Verbal games such as riddling are played frequently, especially at night and in the company of grandparents.

Hobbies and crafting

In addition to basketry and musical instruments, the manufacture of products from bark-cloth was and continues to be significant. The bark from a species of fig tree called “mutuba” is soaked in water, and then beaten with a wooden mallet. This yields a soft material that is decorated with paint and then cut into strips of various sizes. Larger strips traditionally were used for partitions in homes. Smaller pieces were decorated with black dye and worn as clothing by women of royalty. Later, bark-cloth dress became the national dress. Today, one rarely sees bark-cloth dresses. They have been replaced by the cotton cloth Busuuti. Bark-cloth is found today as decorative placemats, coasters, and designs on cards of various sorts.

Other Tourism Attractions in Buganda

Uganda National Museum

This is the biggest and the oldest Museum in Uganda which was founded in 1908, the Uganda Museum is a remarkable collection spans over two million years of human history. Enjoy an African history cultures and treasures of Uganda under one roof and this museum is located in Kamwokya just a few minutes’ drive from the city Centre and just bordering the Uganda wildlife authority headquarters.

The museum is sub divided into sections

The traditional music section with the traditional musical instruments and a live performance is available for the visitors

Archaeology section with the parts of Stone Age and Iron Age where you will be able to see the Stone Age tools which were used 1,000,000 years ago

Independence pavilion of science and industry having transport (7th car in Uganda), communication (model of the 1st telephone in East Africa)

Ethno history with the things of recent history like the first printing press in Uganda
Ethnography providing the visitors with the touch of cultures and peoples’ way of life

Paleaolontology with the fossils aged about 20,000,000 years ago. Also discover the distinct species of mammals like Long- horned buffalo and the Indian Elephant


The Royal Mile (Lubiri Palace and Bulange Parliament)

At the other end of a ceremonial Royal drive leading from parliament of Buganda Kingdom, Lubiri Palace was built in 1922 .The building was duly converted to army barracks, while an adjacent site became a notorious underground prison and torture-execution chamber built by Idi Amin in the 1970s. Guides will lead you to this terrifying site, a dark concrete tunnel with numerous dark, damp cells separated by an electrified passage of water to prevent escape. At the gate of this palace is a traditional fire source that has never burnt out since the inception of the Buganda monarchy/Kingdom and shall never stop burning least a king is dead. Here is a representation of all Baganda Clans and their respective role in this Kingdom since time of immemorial as narrated by a royalist at this fire source. A mail away but directly positioned gate to gate is the Bulange- a parliament in which the Kabaka and his ministers have since old days sat to deliberate upon issues concerning Buganda Kingdom. The architectural design of this building has proven a spectacular Uganda tour site to many local and international visitors. Walk the mile as you learn about Buganda cultural norms and the city of Kampala
Outside the Museum is the Living museum (Cultural village) that exhibits the ways of lives of Ugandans as it represents the whole of Uganda and this outside museum also exhibits all the kingdoms of Uganda and their way of life

Kasubi Royal Tombs

These tombs are of significance to the Buganda kingdom, the huge thatched-roof palace of the UNESCO World Heritage listed Kasubi Tombs was tragically destroyed by the fires in March 2010. Fortunately construction is in its final stages because of the help from locals and international support who has contributed money towards this project of putting up the sites back and this is done through the campaign of “kusonda etofali” championed by the “katikiro” Prime Minister of Buganda. Kasubi tombs was built in 1882 as the palace of the King Muteesa I, it was converted into his tomb following his death two years later. Subsequently, the next three Kabaka (kings) “ Mwanga; Daudi Chwa II; and Edward Muteesa II, father of the current Kabaka, Ronald Muteebi II (known also by his Baganda name, Muwenda)   broke with tradition and chose to be buried here instead of in their own palaces. You will learn more about Buganda culture and history at the site.

National Theatre and Craft Village

You will visit this place to enjoy the quality programs of music, film, dance and drama performances in the theatre, but most tourists are here for the popular, free outdoor events. Grab a beer and a chair and catch an informal open-stage jamming, infectious Afro-fusion grooves and, underground hip-hop on or comedy night. There is also a great selection of Ugandan and African crafts and souvenirs from Uganda at a good bargain.

Ndere Centre

Ndere Centre is the Home of Cultures; the center is built on 9 acres of well-maintained green, beautifully flowered walk ways and shaded by very mature fruit and other African trees. The rare architecture is a seamless combination of artistic creativity with simplicity that takes African forms, materials, colors and construction to unprecedented heights. The Centre is tranquility at its best enabling you to enjoy blissful artistic creativity of Uganda and African music and performances. The Centre with its resident troupe Ndere Troupe captivate you with amazing cultural songs, dances and unique instruments from the 56 nationalities (tribes), weaves them with humorously informative stories and presents them in an authentic but artistically developed spectacle every Wednesday and Friday at 7pm, and Sundays at 6pm an experience not to be missed by the entire family. For international guests to Uganda, this is the best introduction to Africa’s culture and ways of life, and firm bridge to your own country and culture.

Makerere University

This esteemed public University has held the mantle of Uganda and East Africa as an icon for tertiary training. Established in 1922 as a simple technical school, Makerere is Uganda’s second oldest institution after Katigondo seminary in Masaka. It has satisfactory education setting with its semi-autonomous collegiate system offering doctoral, graduate and under graduate programs. Despite its educational reputation, Makerere University is a safari destination of its own.
The rich heritage that is demonstrated by the colonial architectural buildings clearly brings out its test of time. Commonly denoted as the Ivory tower, it contains protruding buildings that escalate up to the sky such as the main building- also the main administration block and the Senate building which is the academic hub of Makerere University.

It is also amazing to note that there is lush flora and host of fauna not forgetting variety of birds that roam with in the vicinity of this mighty institution. Plant species like Mahogany, Primates like monkeys; birds like Hadada-ibis, Marabou stork among others cannot be missed at Makerere University. This institution has fame arising from its research and innovation in the fields of Engineering, ICT, and Food processing and packaging. Advanced soft wares, the Kiira Electric Vehicle – an electric powered vehicle, plus the food incubation center are among the prime projects one would be proud to identify at Makerere University.
Considering its stature in the world of academics, Makerere University is recognized for having the biggest and the best library in the whole of East Africa with a wide range of collections from its own students, African writers and the global scene. The institution also contains a range of monuments, sculptures, works of art and paintings that describe it’s close to 100 years journey and the Uganda’s and Africa’s past in general. The zoology museum- the second museum in Uganda has enormous fossil collection, Margaret Trowel art gallery features a lot of African art, the replicas of great men like Kwame Nkrumah, David Livingstone, Julius Nyerere, and Ssenteza Kajubi, the monuments like war victim, hatching a new generation have a lot of tales that you would wish to hear in your life time. Considering this, Makerere University can truly make your visit in Kampala city memorable.

Namugongo Martyrs Shrine

This Namugongo shrines is dedicated to 22 young Christian congregants who were brutally murdered by Kabaka Mwanga in 1885-1887 for their allegiance to Christianity, they were beautified in 1920 by Pope Benedict XV and later canonized by Pope Paul VI in 1964. The 22 Martyrs are the only African saints to whom a basilica is dedicated and they are the largest group of saints ever canonized by the Catholic Church. Every 3rd June the Catholic Church and their counterpart of Anglican persuasion flock this place from all over Africa most of them by foot to commemorate this day in honor of their Religious heroes. The unique architecture of African hut, the temple of worship in this place is a great tour destination and this same place will be hosting Pope Francis this year

Old Kampala National Mosque/ Gadhafi

This mosque is the major feature on the oldest hill in the city offering unrivalled 360 degrees views of Kampala from the Minaret. The Mosque is regarded as the largest in Africa, reputed to have enough space to accommodate 35,000 worshippers at any one time. Be prepared to change your style as ladies will be required to experience and dress in long skirts and headscarf. All included in 10,000 ticket you experience a mix of modern and traditional, African, European and Arabic influences the mosque is definitely a worthy visit while in Kampala

Rubaga Cathedral/ Twin-Towered Roman Catholic Church

The huge building was restored for the Pope’s visit of Uganda. It has great historical significance in the history of the Catholic Church. The transept is a memorial to the Uganda Martyrs (dozens of Ugandan Christians burnt to death by Kabaka Mwanga II in 1885 and 1886 for refusing to renounce the white man’s religion), 22 Catholic victims, later declared saints, are enshrined in the stained-glass windows. It overlooks the city and is a large complex that takes in various functions of the church and surrounded by beautiful trees plus flowers. It is also situated on a hill with a great scenery view of Kampala city. Built in 1914, the cathedral houses the remains of the late Archbishop Joseph Kiwanka (June 25, 1899 – February 22, 1966), the first African Catholic Bishop and the first African Archbishop of Kampala Diocese, are housed inside the cathedral

Bahai Temple

Visit the mother Temple of the Bahai faith in Africa. And just like the faith it represents, the Bahai temple is no ordinary house of worship. Sitting on 52 acres of land, the temple is a unique architectural master piece. Built between 1958 and 1961 on Kikaaya hill, three miles North of Kampala the building is 130ft. its dome is a 44ft in diameter. It is a nine sided structure which represents oneness and unity of the faiths biggest tenets. It seats on a beautiful park like ground with lots of beautiful trees most of them fruit tree species plus flowers as well as a green-carpet like grass with clean clear gazetted paths leading to the dome. This park like environment attracts many people who sit on the grass and have a peaceful moment or hold picnics not forgetting couples in love who flock this place for quality time

The Independence Monument

Standing majestically at a height of 6 metres, is a must see if you are travelling to Kampala. The monument is situated in the heart of the capital between the Sheraton Kampala Hotel, Grand Imperial Hotel and Standard-Chartered bank, is one of the most distinctive landmark of Uganda.
Uganda’s Independence Monument was constructed by former British Colonial Government just before Uganda celebrated its first independence on Tuesday 9th October 1962.
The monument depicts a man un wrapping a child and raising the child to touch the sky. The sculpture signifies a new born country let free from colonialism and bondages. Today with the beautification around the monument, you need to carry your camera for the memorable capture of the sight.

The Statue of Leadership

The Statue of Leadership situated outside Amber House (Kampala road) may be considered as a celebration of one of Uganda’s major milestones – the introduction of electricity. Situated overlooking the Kampala road, the Statue of Leadership sculpture depicts Sir Apollo Michael Kawalya Kaggwa, who is perhaps best known for his vision and foresight in accelerating the kingdom’s development.

The Centenary Monument

The Centenary monument located at the popular Centenary Park in Kampala, along Jinja road and neighboring Hotel Africana, was erected to commemorate a centenary of Kampala City Council’s (the city planning and administrating body) existence and its contribution to social economic development of the city. The 6ft Centenary Monument of a treadmill protected by shields signifies progress. This memorial is also depicted on Twenty Thousand Uganda Shillings note (2010).

World War Memorial Monument

The World War Monument is reputed to be the oldest monument in Kampala. It was built in 1945 by the British colonial government. The monument standing at the Constitutional Square in Kampala near the fence of the Uganda High Court was built during the British era in memory of Uganda soldiers who died during the 1st and 2nd world wars. The 5ft monument is also depicted on the front side of the Uganda Shilling Five Thousand note (2010).

Sir Edward Muteesa II Monument

The Sir Edward Muteesa II Monument is situated next to the Independence monument at the junction of Speke road and Nile Avenue. Overlooking the Post Office Kampala, the monument was built to pay tribute Edward Muteesa II (first president of Uganda) for his invaluable contribution to Uganda’s independence

The Stride Monument

This is situated between the Uganda Parliament Gardens and Kampala Serena Hotel, the Stride Monument, was built in commemoration of Uganda hosting the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in 2007 and was unveiled by the Queen of England during the CHOGM summit. The Stride Monument is estimated to be the most expensive monument in Uganda with the work of its construction costing the country over Ush150 million.

Katanga Slum/ghetto Tours and Bwaise

Every developing country in Africa has got slums and ghettos and in Kampala we have got the most known slums of Katanga in Wandegeya and Bwaise which can be accessed a few minutes from the city center. These slum tours will take you through the temporary structures that act as housing for the dwellers, their living conditions. This will give you a new perspective a side from the posh hotels and lodges and it will show you the other side of life


The Kingdom of Bunyoro-Kitara is the remainder of a once powerful empire of Kitara. At the height of its glory, the empire included present day Masindi, Hoima, Kibale, Kabarole and Kasese districts; also parts of present day Western Kenya, Northern Tanzania and Eastern Congo. That Bunyoro-Kitara is only a skeleton of what it used to be is an absolute truth to which History can testify.


One may ask how a mighty empire, like Kitara, became whittled away to the present under populated and underdeveloped kingdom of Bunyoro-Kitara. This is the result of many years of orchestrated, intentional and malicious marginalization, dating back to the early colonial days. The people of Bunyoro, under the reign of the mighty king Cwa II Kabalega, resisted colonial domination. Kabalega, and his well-trained army of “Abarusuura” (soldiers), put his own life on the line by mounting a fierce, bloody resistance against the powers of colonialization. On April 9th, 1899, Kabalega was captured by the invading colonial forces and was sent into exile on the Seychelles Islands.

With the capture of Kabalega, the Banyoro were left in a weakened military, social and economic state, from which they have never fully recovered. Colonial persecution of the Banyoro did not stop at Kabalega ignominious capture and exile. But acts of systematic genocide continued to be carried out against the Banyoro, by the colonialists and other foreign invaders.

Colonial efforts to reduce Bunyoro to a non-entity were numerous, and continued over a long period of time. They included invasions where masses were massacred; depopulating large tracts of fertile land and setting them aside as game reserves; enforcing the growing of crops like tobacco and cotton at the expense of food crops; sanctioning looting and pillaging of villages by invading forces, importation killer diseases like syphilis that grew to epidemic proportions; and the list goes on.

Details of the horrific, genocidal acts against the Banyoro are well documented in “Breaking Chains of Poverty”, published by the Bunyoro Kitara Kingdom Advocacy Publications; authored by the Hon. Yolamu Ndoleriire Nsamba, Principal Private Secretary to H.M Solomon Gafabusa Iguru I, Omukama of Bunyoro-Kitara. This book is a “must read” for anyone interested in the History and welfare of Bunyoro-Kitara. It enumerates Historical events, plus practices, past and present, that made Bunyoro-Kitara “a kingdom bonded in chains of poverty”.


Bunyoro Kingdom was one of the most powerful kingdoms in East Africa from 13th century to the 19th century. It is ruled by the Omukama of Bunyoro. The current ruler is Solomon Iguru I, the 27th Omukama (king) of Bunyoro-Kitara.


The people of Bunyoro are also known as Nyoro or Banyoro (singular: Munyoro) (Banyoro means “People of Bunyoro”); the language spoken is Nyoro (also known as Runyoro). In the past, the traditional economy revolved around big game hunting of elephants, lions, leopards, and crocodiles. Today, the Banyoro are now agriculturalists who cultivate bananas, millet, cassava, yams, cotton, tobacco, coffee, and rice. The people are primarily Christian.


Omukama of Bunyoro is the title given to rulers of the central African kingdom of Bunyoro-Kitara. The kingdom lasted as an independent state from the 16th to the 19th century. The Omukama of Bunyoro remains an important figure in Ugandan politics, especially among the Banyoro people of whom he is the titular head.


The Royal Palace, called Karuziika Palace, is located in Hoima. The current Omukama is Solomon Iguru I and his wife is the Queen or Omugo Margaret Karunga.

As a cultural head, the King is assisted by his Principal Private Secretary, a Cabinet of 21 Ministers and of Orukurato (Parliament)


Like other Bantu groups, the origins of the Banyankore could be traced to the Congo region. Legends hold that the first occupant of Ankole was Ruhanga (the creator), who is believed to have come from heaven to rule the earth. Ruhanga is believed to have come with his three sons Kairu, Kakama and Kahima. There is a story about how Ruhanga gave a test to determine which of his sons would become the heir. The test is said to have been that of keeping milk –filled pots on their laps throughout the night. At the end of it all, the youngest son, Kakama, is said to have passed the test followed by Kahima and last came the eldest son, Kairu. Judging from the performance in the test, Ruhanga is said to have decreed that Kairu and Kahima would serve their brother Kakama. Thereafter he went back to heaven, leaving Kakama or Ruhanga, as he was also called, to rule the land. This legend portrays social stratification in Ankole society. It was concocted so as to make the Bairu accept their sub servant position to the Bahima as being supernatural.

Marriages and family

Traditionally, the normal pattern was for both the parents of the boy and the girl to arrange the marriage, sometimes without the knowledge of the girls concerned. The initiative was normally taken by the boy’s parents and upon the payment of an appropriate bride wealth; arrangements would be made to fetch the bride. Customarily, a girl could not be offered for marriage when her elder sister or sisters were still unmarried. If a marriage offer was made for a young sister, it is said that the girl’s parents would manipulate issues in such a way that at the giving- away ceremony, they would conceal and send the elder sister. When the bridegroom would come to know it he was not supposed to raise questions. He could go ahead and pay more bride wealth and then go ahead and marry the young sister if he could afford it. It was the responsibility of the father to pay in full the bride wealth and meet all the other costs of arranging his son’s marriage.

During the wedding ceremony, the girl would be accompanied by among others, her aunt. Some traditions assert that the husband would first have sex with the aunt before proceeding to have it with the bride. Another piece of tradition says that the duty of the aunt was to prove the potential of the bridegroom by just watching or listening to the sexual intercourse between the bridegroom and her niece. It is said that her duty was to advice the girl on how to begin a home more so, since Ankole, girls were supposed to be virgins until marriage. The first tradition is false because in most cases the aunt would be an elderly lady almost the same age as the mother of the bridegroom but the other two traditions are true. If the parents of the girl were aware that their daughter was not virgin, this information was formally communicated to the husband by giving the girl, among the other gifts, a perforated coin or another hollow object.


“Okuteera Oruhoko” was a phrase used to describe the practice whereby a boy whom the girls had deliberately refused to love or whom a particular girl had rejected could force the girl to marry him abruptly without her consent and much preparation.


The Banyankore did not have peculiar birth customs. Usually when a woman was to give birth for the first time, she would be sent to her mother. Brave women, and majority of them were brave, could give birth by themselves without any need for a midwife. However, if things went wrong, an acting midwife, usually an old woman would be summoned.

If the afterbirth refused to come out freely and quickly after the child, some medicine would be administered to the woman. If the normal herbs failed to induce it out, the husband of the woman was required to climb with a mortar to the top of the house, raise an alarm and slide the mortar down from the top of the house.


The child could be named immediately after birth. The normal practice was after the mother had finished the days if confinement referred to as ekiriri. The woman would confine herself for four days of the child was a boy and three days if the child was a girl. After three or four days, as the case may be the couple would resume their sexual relationship in a practice known as “okucwa eizaire”. The name given to the child depended on the personal experience of the father and the mother, the time when the child was born, the days of the week, the place of birth, or the name of an ancestor. The name would be given by the father, the grandfather, and the mother of the child. However, the father’s choice usually took precedence.

The names given were verbs or nouns that could appear in normal speech. Often the names also portrayed the state of mind of the persons who gave them. For example, the name Kaheeru among the Banyoro portrayed the fact that the husband suspected that the woman got the child outside the family. In traditional Ankole, it was normal for the woman to have sex with her in-laws and even have children by them. Such children were not regarded any differently from the other children in the family.


The Banyankole did not believe that death was a natural phenomenon. According to them, death was attributed to sorcery, misfortune and the spite of the neighbors. They even had a saying: “Tihariho mufu atarogyirwe”. Meaning; “there is no body that dies without being bewitched”. They found it hard to believe that a man could die if it was not due to witchcraft and malevolence of other persons. Accordingly, after every death, the persons affected would consult a witch doctor to detect whoever was responsible for causing the death.

A dead body would normally stay in the house for as long as it would take all the important relatives to gather. During this period, the whole neighborhood would not dig or do manual work because it was believed that if anyone dug, or did manual work during the mourning days, he would cause the whole village to be ravaged by hail storms. Such a person could also be regarded as a sorcerer and could easily be suspected of having caused the death of the person who had just been buried. If the dead man was the head of the house hold, his leading bull would be killed and eaten to end the days of mourning. Further ritual ceremonies would be conducted if the dead man was very old and had grandchildren. If a person died with a grudge against someone in the family, he was buried with some objects to keep the spirit occupied so that it would fail to have time to haunt those with whom the deceased had a grudge



The Royal Regalia

The royal regalia of Ankole consisted of a spear and drums. The main instrument of power was the royal drum called “Bagyendanwa”. This drum was believed to have been made by Wamala, the last Muchwezi ruler. This drum was only beaten at the installation of a new King. It had its special hut and it was considered taboo to shut the hut. A fire was always kept burning for Bagyendanwa and this fire could only be extinguished in the event of the death of the King. The drum had its own cows and some other attendant drums namely; kabembura, Nyakashija, eigura, kooma and Njeru ya Buremba which was obtained from the kingdom of Buzimba


The Banyankole idea of Supreme Being was Ruhanga (creator). The abode of Ruhanga was said to be in heaven, just above the clouds. Ruhanga was believed to be the maker and giver of all things. It was, however, believed that the evil persons could use black magic to interfere with the good wishes of Ruhanga and cause ill- health, drought, death or even bareness in the land and among the people.

At a lower level, the idea of Ruhanga was expressed in the cult of Emandwa. These were gods particularly to different families and clans and they were easily approachable in the event of need. Each family had a shrine where the family gods were supposed to dwell. Whenever beer was brewed or a goat slaughtered, a gourd full of beer and some small bits of meat were put in the shrine to the Mamdwa. In the event of sickness or misfortune, the family members would perform rituals called okubandwa as a way of supplicating the gods to avert sickness or misfortune.

Method of counting

The Banyankole had their own method of counting. They could count from one to ten using fingers. One was indicated by showing only the fore finger. Two was indicated by showing their first and second fingers, three was indicated by raising the last and the third fingers one one’s hand, and five was counted by clenching the fist with the thumb enclosed. Six was indicated by showing the first, second and third fingers. Seven was implied by holding down the third finger and showing the first, middle and last fingers. Eight was implied by snapping the first fingers of both hands, nine was indicated by clenching the middle finger with the thumb, and clenching the fist with the thumb outside meant ten


The Acholi are a Luo people, who are said to have come to northern Uganda from the area now known as Bahr el Ghazal in South Sudan. Starting in the late seventeenth century, a new sociopolitical order developed among the Luo of northern Uganda, mainly characterized by the formation of chiefdoms headed by Rwodi (sg. Rwot, ‘ruler’) By the mid-nineteenth century, about 60 small chiefdoms existed in eastern Acholi land. During the second half of the nineteenth century Arabic-speaking traders from the north started to call them Shooli, a term which transformed into ‘Acholi’.

Their traditional dwelling-places were circular huts with a high peak, furnished with a mud sleeping-platform, jars of grain and a sunk fireplace, with the walls daubed with mud and decorated with geometrical or conventional designs in red, white or grey. They were skilled hunters, using nets and spears, and kept goats, sheep and cattle. In war they used spears and long, narrow shields of giraffe or ox hide.

During Uganda’s colonial period, the British encouraged political and economic development in the south of the country, in particular among the Baganda. In contrast, the Acholi and other northern ethnic groups supplied much of the national manual labor and came to comprise a majority of the military, creating what some have called a “military ethnocracy”. This reached its height with the coup d’état of Acholi General Tito Okello in June 1985 (thus terminating the second regime of Milton Obote), and came to a crashing end with the defeat of Okello and the Acholi-dominated Uganda National Liberation Army by the National Resistance Army led by now-President Yoweri Museveni in January 1986.

The Acholi are known to the outside world mainly because of the insurgency of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) led by Joseph Kony, an Acholi from Gulu. The activities of the LRA have been devastating within Acholi land (though they spread also to neighboring districts and countries). In September 1996 the government of Uganda put in place a policy of forced displacement of the Acholi in the Gulu district into displacement camps. Since 1996 this policy has expanded to encompass the entire rural Acholi population of four districts, one million people.



The Batwa, or ‘Twa people are one of the last groups of short-statured people also known as ‘pygmy’ people, and until Bwindi Rainforest was gazetted as a National Park they lived a hunter gather lifestyle in the forest. They are now some of the poorest people in the world with a high infant mortality rate and low life expectancy.

As the original dwellers of this ancient jungle, the Batwa were known as “The Keepers of the Forest.” The history of these small-statured people is long and rich. The Batwa survived by hunting small game using arrows or nets and gathering plants and fruit in the rain forest. They lived in huts constructed of leaves and branches, moving frequently in search of fresh supplies of food. The Batwa lived in harmony with the forest and its creatures, including the mountain gorillas, for millennia. Some anthropologists estimate that pygmy tribes such as the Batwa have existed in the equatorial forests of Africa for 60,000 years or more.

The social status of the Batwa


According to the 2002 population census, the Batwa population in Uganda is about 6000people, with the majority living in the Southwestern districts of Kabale, Kisoro, Kanungu, Bundibugyo and Rukungiri. The size of the Batwa is quite different from other tribes in Uganda, the men and women rise to an average of four feet or less in height, the tallest man among the Batwa would be the shortest among the neighboring community, the Bakiga. Traditionally, the Batwa lived as hunters and gatherers, residing in temporary huts and caves, deriving sustenance from forest resources like honey, wild fruits, mushrooms and vegetables. Each clan collectively owned an area of forest within which they derived food and herbal medicine for their sustenance.

According to a study undertaken in 1996, the Batwa reside in about 53 separate settlements falling within 41 villages. On average each settlement is composed of about 10 households. The household sizes range from single to 17 member households. Despite living in different settlements, the Batwa have strong social relations and recognize themselves as a community. They share close attachments to certain areas within concomitant social formations that appear to derive directly from the ancient past. Marriages normally take place within the clans though marriage among members of an individual settlement is rare because of the close relations amongst such persons. Batwa still practice social norms and customs normally associated with clanship similar to majority of other tribes in East and Central Africa. However, due to the resettlement Programme most Batwa are never sure of their clan leader and where he lives.

The Batwa Pygmies are believed to be the original inhabitants of the equatorial forests of the Great Lakes region of Central Africa. The forest was their home. It provided them with sustenance and medicines, and contained their sacred sites. Their low-impact use of forest resources meant that their way of life was sustainable over thousands of years.

Traditional Economy of Bambuti


The Batwa-Bambuti‘s economy is just as simple as their general way of life. They are wanderers by nature with no fixed place of abode. Their chief means of subsistence is meat and the forests where they live abound with elephants, monkeys, lizards and some antelopes.

The Bambuti prey on these animals and several others which the forest contains; as one would expect, the Batwa-Bambuti have no home industries. Their mode of life is purely subsistence and they do not seem to be troubled by lack of home comfort

Other Attractions


The Batwa trail


The dense forests at the foot of the Virunga Volcanoes were home to the Batwa people: hunter-gatherers and fierce warriors who depended on the forest for shelter, food and medicine thanks to ancient knowledge passed down for generations.

When Mgahinga Gorilla National Park was established, the Batwa were suddenly evicted from the forest and forced to abandon their low-impact, nomadic lifestyle. Now landless, they work when they can for local farmers, and the only time they are permitted to re-enter their cherished forest is as tour guides on The Batwa Trail, where they invite visitors to discover the magic of their old home.

During this moving tour, the Batwa demonstrate hunting techniques; gather honey; point out medicinal plants and demonstrate how to make bamboo cups. Guests are finally invited to the sacred Ngarama Cave, once home to the Batwa King, where the women of the community perform a sorrowful song which echoes eerily around the depths of the dark cave, and leaves guests with a striking and moving sense of the richness of this fading culture.


Bwindi forest National Park


Bwindi Impenetrable National Park offers some of the finest montane forest birding in Africa and is a key destination for any birder visiting Uganda plus its major attraction being the gorilla

Amongst the numerous possibilities are no fewer than 23 of Uganda’s 24 Albertine Rift endemics, including spectacular, globally threatened species such as African Green Broadbill and Shelley’s Crimson wing.

Bwindi is one of the few in Africa to have flourished throughout the last Ice Age and it is home to roughly half of the world’s mountain gorillas.

Of Uganda’s forested reserves, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is best known for its superb gorilla tracking, but it also provides refuge to elephants, chimpanzee, monkeys and various small antelope and bird species. The national park can be visited at any time, but not advisable during rainy seasons especially April – May and September – November


Mgahinga National Park


This is Uganda’s smallest and probably most scenic National Park is situated in the extreme South-Western corner of the Country, forming part of a large conservation area that straddles political boundaries to include parades Volcano in Rwanda and Pac de Virunga in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Three extinct Volcanoes, part of the spectacular Virunga range, lie within the boundaries of the Ugandan portion of this biologically rich area.
Mountain gorillas form the main attraction at Mgahinga National Park, which protects the Ugandan portion of the Virunga, an imposing string of nine freestanding extinct and active volcanoes that runs along the border with Rwanda and the Congo.

Gorilla tracking (Gorillas are at times cross border) limited to a maximum of 8 people per day – Permits must be pre-booked at the Uganda Wildlife Authority offices in Kampala.
Nature Guided walks through a variety of wildlife, Volcano climbing at Muhabura, Sabyinyo and Gahinga, Bird watching and monkey viewing


Mountain Rwenzori national park

The fabled “Mountains of the Moon” lies in Western Uganda along the Congolese boarder with the Snow – covered equatorial peaks rise to a height of 5,109m and lower slopes are blanketed in moorland and rich montane forest. Most of the park is accessible only to hikers although the magnificent scenery and 19 Albertine Rift endemics would be ample reward for Birders.
Rwenzori Mountains National Park protects the eastern slopes and glacial peaks of the 120km-long Rwenzori Mountains or ‘Mountains of the Moon’, a world-class hiking and mountaineering destination; it covers the area of 996 sq. km

You will do activities like mountaineering trailhead, bird watching of over 195 species and Nature guided tours through all the vegetation zones at the glacial peaks and these activities can be accessed through the Nyakalengija trailhead a 22km from Kasese off Fort Portal road and also you can visit the park in January-February and July-August because they are considered dry months but rain is possible due to unavoidable season changes


The Bagisu people or Bamasaba inhabit the western and southern halves of Mt. Elgon. On the west, the mountain spreads like the fingers of a hand with steep and narrow valleys between them. On the south, the land is broken and consists of a jumble of hills jammed against a high escarpment like a crumpled tablecloth. The escarpment fades gradually to a plain leading away to the northeast inhabited by the Iteso tribe.

The Bagisu speak a dialect of the Lumasaba language called Lugisu, which is fully understandable by other dialects, and is also understood by the Bukusu.

The Bagisu or Bamasaba undergo a circumcision ritual called the Imbalu. The ritual is held every two years during August.


History of the Bagisu or Bamasaba

The Bagisu- has no tradition of an early migration from somewhere. They assert that their ancestors were called Mundu and Sera whom tradition says came out of a hole in Mountain Masaba (Elgon). Their early life seems to have been anti-social, almost based on the principle “survival of the fittest”. Very little is so far known about their history but they are known to be related to a sub-group of the Luhya of Kenya known as the Bukusu. The Bagisu are believed to have separated from the Bukusu sometime in the 19th century. The tradition claiming that they have always lived where they are throughout history is not fashionable. The earliest immigrants into Bugisu area are believed to have moved into the Mt. Elgon area during the 16th century from the eastern plains.
Their earliest home is said to have been in the Gishu plateau of Kenya. They seem to have been an end product of the mixing of peoples of different origins and cultures, but since their language is Bantu; their predecessors should have been Bantu speakers as well.


Circumcision Rituals/ Imbalu
One of the unique social customs of the Bagisu are male circumcision. The actual origin of this practice is mysterious even among the Bagisu themselves. One tradition states that it originated from the demand by the Banpa (Kalenjin) when Masaba, the Bagisu hero ancestor, wanted to marry a Kalenjin girl. Another tradition claims that the first person to be circumcised had a complication with his sexual organ and that circumcision started as a surgical operation to save the man’s life. There is yet another story that the first person to be circumcised had it done as a punishment for seducing other people’s wives. Legend states that it was decided to partially castrate him by way of circumcision. When he recovered he resumed his former practices and rumor went around that he had become excellent at it. In order to compete favorably, other men decided to circumcise also.


The Bagisu are a highly superstitious people
Before circumcision, an initiate is administered with a certain herb called ityanyi. Its purpose is to arouse interest in circumcision within the candidate. Often the ityanyi is tied round the initiate’s big toe or it is put in such a place where he might jump over it unawares. It is believed that if the candidate who has taken the ityanyi is delayed or hindered from being circumcised, he might end up circumcising himself as his mind is said to be so much stimulated towards circumcision that no other thing can distract him. Circumcision among the Bagisu occurs biannually during leap years. Every male has to perform the ritual upon reaching puberty. Those who abscond are hunted down and forcefully and scornfully circumcised. Before the day of circumcision, the initiates are tuned up by having them walk and dance around the villages for three days. Their heads are sprinkled with cassava flour and painted with malwa-yeast paste. Their relatives dance with them and there is much drumming and singing.


Girl’s part

Girls, especially the sisters of the initiates, enthusiastically take part in the processions. It is believed that once a boy is circumcised he becomes a true Mugisu and a mature person. An uncircumcised person is known as a musinde. The circumcision operation on each initiate is pretty feast; the circumciser and his assistant move around performing the ritual as appropriate. The assistant circumciser pulls the foreskin of the penis and the circumciser cuts it off. The circumciser goes further and cuts from the penis another layer which is believed to develop into another top cover for the penis if it is not removed. The circumciser proceeds and cuts off a certain muscle on the lower part of the penis. These three cuttings end the circumcision ritual.


After circumcision

The initiate is made to sit down on a stool and he is then wrapped in a piece of cloth. After that he is taken to his father’s house and made to move around the house before entering it. For three days, the initiate is not allowed to eat with his hands. He is fed. They say that it is because he is not yet fully initiated into manhood. After three days, the circumciser is invited to perform the ritual of washing the initiate’s hands. It is after this ritual that the initiate can eat with his hands. On the same day, the initiate is declared a man. It is then that custom allows him to marry. During the ceremony the initiate is instructed on the duties and demands of manhood. He is informed in addition that agriculture is very important and advised to always behave like a man. It is believed that the healing of the cuts depends on how many goats have been slaughtered during the initiate’s circumcision.


After healing
A ritual is performed. All the new initiates in the locality have to attend. This ritual is called Iremba. It is an important occasions which all the village people and, these days, even government officials attend. During ritual proceedings, the initiate could pick any girl and have sexual intercourse with her. The girl was not supposed to refuse. It is believed that if she refused, she would never have children when she got married. This poses problems of Christian females if they are chosen. Previously, circumcision was done in specific enclosures and only the initiates and the circumciser were allowed in. The rest of the congregation would just wait and listen from outside the enclosure. Today, however, all people are allowed to watch the whole process. Firmness and courageous endurance on the part of initiate is appreciated as a sign of bravery.


Other Tourists attractions

Mountain Elgon National Park

Mt. Elgon is an extinct volcano that first erupted more than 24 million years ago. With the largest surface area of any extinct volcano in the world (50km by 8 km), Mt elgon is the fourth highest mountain in the eastern Africa, with the second-highest peak in Uganda (Wagagai peak-4321M). Mt elgon contains crater covering over 40km at the top of the mountain, surrounded by a series of rugged peaks

Sipi falls

Sipi Falls is a series of three waterfalls in Eastern Uganda in the district of kapchorwa, northeast of Sironko and Mbale. The waterfalls lie on the edge of Mount Elgon national park near the Kenyan border.

The Sipi Falls area is the starting point for many hikes up Mt. Elgon. The most popular route starts in Budadiri and follows the Sasa trail to the summit and then descends down the Sipi trail back into the Sipi Falls. Hikes around the falls offer stunning views of the Karamoja plains, Lake Kyoga, and the slopes of Mt. Elgon. Individuals can organize trips through the Uganda wildlife authority or local private operators.

There are a number of lodges and backpackers / campsites in the area offering a range of accommodation for all budgets. With a cooler climate than most of the country Sipi Falls is a nice place to unwind, relax and literally chill out away from the hustle and bustle of the towns and cities. Being on the foothills of Mt. Elgon, Sipi offers a number of alternative activities to the mainstream river activities in and around Jinja. Rob’s Rolling Rock, a local outfit trained by Italian climbers offers abseiling along the side of the main 100m Sipi waterfall as well as climbing on 14 bolted sport routes with a range of difficulty. Other activities include hiking around the local area and visiting the local waterfalls.

The Sipi River is named after the ‘Sep’, a plant indigenous to the banks of the River. Resembling a type of wild banana, Sep is a medicinal plant; the translucent green frond with a bolt of crimson rib is used for treating measles and fever.

The Sipi Falls area is particularly famous for locally grown Bugisu Arabica coffee. Bugisu Arabica only grows at an altitude of between 1,600 and 1,900 metres. Coffee tours are organized through guides with knowledge of coffee farming, processing and roasting. Profits from this go towards community projects

Semei Kakungulu burial site

Kakungulu was a warrior and statesman of the powerful Baganda tribe. During the 1880s he was converted to Christianity by a Protestant missionary who taught him how to read the Bible in Swahili. Because he commanded many warriors, because of his connections to the Bugandan court and because he was a Protestant, the British gave Kakungulu their support. He responded by conquering and bringing under the British sphere of influence two areas outside of the Bugandan Empire, Bukedi and Busoga. These areas were between the Nile River’s source in Lake Victoria and Mt. Elgon on the Kenyan border

Kakungulu believed that the British would allow him to become the king of Bukedi and Busoga, but the British preferred to rule these areas through civil servants in their pay and under their control. The British limited Kakungulu to a 20-square-mile (52 km2) area in and around what has now become Mbale, Uganda. The people who inhabited this area were of the Bagisu tribe rivals to Baganda. Nevertheless, Kakungulu, with the help of his Baganda followers, although much reduced in numbers, was able to maintain control so long as he received British support

Beginning in about 1900, a slow but continuous mutual disenchantment arose between Kakungulu and the British. In 1913, Kakungulu became a malakite Christian. This was a movement described by the British as a “cult” which was “a mixture of Judaism, Christianity and Christian Science.” Many who joined the religion of Maliki where Kakungulu was in control were Baganda

While still a Malakite, Kakungulu came to the conclusion that the Christian missionaries were not reading the Bible correctly. He pointed out that the Europeans disregarded the real Sabbath, which was Saturday, not Sunday. As proof, he cited the fact that Jesus was buried on Friday before the Sabbath, and that his mother and his disciples did not visit the tomb on the following day because it was the Sabbath, but waited until Sunday

Kakungulu died on 24 November 1928 of tetanus. After his death, the Abayudaya community divided into those wishing to retain a toehold within Christianity and those wanting to break those ties completely. The Abayudaya “remained a mixture of both Christianity and Judaism, with faith in Christ remaining prominent in Kakungulu beliefs

Kakungulu is buried a short distance from the main Abayudaya synagogue behind the unpretentious home in which he lived during the last years of his life. The grave has a stone which reads]


A Victorious General and
Sava Chief in Buganda
Administrator of Eastern Province 1899-1905
President of Busoga 1906-1913
Died 24th 11 1928”

And it is from this background and history, that makes this burial site a must visit whenever one is in elgon areas or Mbale hence a tourism attraction


Busoga is a cultural institution that promotes popular participation ‎and unity among the people of Busoga, through cultural and developmental programs ‎for the improved livelihood of the people of Busoga. It strives for a united people of ‎Busoga, who enjoy economic, social and cultural prosperity. It also continues to ‎enhance, revamp and pave the way for an efficient institutional and management ‎system for the Kyabazinga kingship


Busoga, literally translated to Land of the Soga, is the kingdom of the 11 ‎‎principalities of the Basoga/Soga (singular Musoga) people. The term Busoga also loosely ‎refers to the area that is generally indigenous to the Basoga. Busoga Kingdom is composed of seven ‎politically organized districts: Kamuli, Iganga, Bugiri, ‎‎Mayuge, Jinja, and the newly created districts of Kaliro and Busiki. The Busoga area is bounded on the ‎north by the swampy Lake Kyoga, on the west ‎by the Victoria Nile, on the south by Lake Victoria, and on the east by the ‎‎Mpologoma River, Busoga also includes some islands in ‎‎Lake Victoria, such as Buvuma Island.‎

The King
Busoga is ruled by the His Royal Highness “Isebantu Kyabazinga” of Busoga. This name was a symbol ‎of unity derived from the expression and recognition by the Basoga that their ‎leader was the “father of all people who brings all of them together”, and who also ‎serves as their cultural leader.
History of Busoga Kingdom
‎Written history begins for Busoga in the year 1862. On 28 July 1862, John Hanning Speke, an explorer for the Royal Geographical Society, arrived at Ripon Falls, near the site of the modern town of Jinja, where the Victoria Nile spills out of Lake Victoria and begins its descent to Egypt. Since Speke’s ‎route inland from the East African coast had taken him around the southern end of ‎the Lake Victoria, he approached Busoga from the west through Buganda. Having ‎reached his goal – the source of the Nile, he turned northward and followed the ‎river downstream without further exploring Busoga. He records, however, being told ‎that “Usoga” (the Swahili form of the name “Busoga”) was an “island”, ‎which indicates that the term meant to surrounding peoples essentially what it means today. The present day Busoga Kingdom was, and still is, bounded on the north ‎by the swampy Lake Kyoga, on the west by the Victoria Nile, on the south by Lake Victoria, and on the east by the Mpologoma River.


In the 19th century, one of the principal routes along which Europeans travelled from ‎the coast to Buganda passed through the southern part of Busoga. From John Speke and James Grant, Sir Gerald Portal, F.D Lugard, J.R. Macdonald, and Bishop Tucket all noted that Busoga was plentifully supplied ‎with food and was densely settled as a result. However, between 1898–99 and 1900-‎‎01, the first indications of sleeping sickness were reported.‎

In 1906, orders were issued to evacuate the region. Despite the attempts to clear the ‎area, the epidemic continued in force until 1910. As a result, most of the densely ‎populated parts of Busoga, the home land of over 200,000 persons in the 19th ‎Century, was totally cleared of the population in the ten years. Lubas palace at ‎Bukaleba, also the coveted European fruit mission, collapsed and relocated to ‎other parts of Busoga. Southern Busoga constituted of about one third of the land ‎area of Busoga, and, in 1910, southern Busoga was vacant. In the 1920s and 1930s, ‎some of the evacuees who survived the epidemic began to return to their original ‎land. However, in 1940 a new outbreak of sleeping sickness resurfaced in the ‎area, and it was only in 1956 that resettlement, promoted by the government began ‎again, but things were not going to be the same again. Few Basoga returned to ‎their traditional lands.‎
Religion and Expressive Culture

The Basoga believe in the existence of a spirit power that is omnipotent and timeless and influences activities in a way that is beyond human understanding.

At the top of the religious hierarchy, is Kibumba (the Creator), who created the people and the earth, moved into the sky, and left behind the spirits as his representatives. The spirit world left behind consisted of emizimu (omuzimu, singular), enkuni, and emisambwa (omusambwa, singular).

Omuzimu is the spirit of a dead relative and can affect the lives of that person’s descendants. Enkuni represent the first place of settlement for the clan and thus are places of worship. Emisambwa are the spirits of “national” heroes such as Kintu, Mukama, and Walumbe. These spirits are associated with marriage, birth, fertility, and death.

Despite the introduction of Christianity and Islam, a significant number of people consciously or unconsciously observe “Indigenous Kisoga Religious Beliefs.” This is the case partly because the Basoga attitude toward religion is primarily utilitarian.

Marriage and Family

To ensure the continuation of a clan, marriages, particularly those involving men whose offspring automatically become members, are encouraged.

Polygamous marriages were encouraged because they increased a man’s chances of having a large family.

Since marriages are between families rather than individuals, relatives on both sides become interested in whom one is marrying. Once the two families reach an understanding, the man’s side pays bride-wealth to his prospective in-laws in appreciation for raising his wife-to-be.

A wife expects her husband to provide housing and clothing and to treat her and her relatives well. The husband expects his wife (or wives) to be a good cook and to work hard enough to provide daily food, bear children, and have good relations with his relatives. Failure by either party to meet these obligations may result in separation or divorce. Families try to intervene to prevent the dissolution of a marriage.

Religious Practitioners

Communication with spirits was done through “religious professionals,” the most important of whom were the abaswezi (omuswezi, singular), who act as mediums of various emisambwa. Emisambwa decide who becomes omuswezi by possessing a person, who then is taught the skills of divination and medium ship by the senior abaswezi.

The second category are called the abaigha (omuigha, singular), who play the role of “doctor.” These persons are not possessed by emisambwa; but their skills in divination are inherited. Thus, if a father was omuigha, one of his sons was expected to follow in his footsteps. Abaigha can diagnose problems and provide solutions. They also make charms that people wear for protection from diseases and enemies.

There are abalogo (omulogo, singular) who use mystical power to harm or kill people. This group is hated, and if anybody is caught in the act of okuloga, the public may kill that person.


To placate the spirit of a dead relative, family members have to perform rites involving offerings of food or meat or libations of beer. Failure to maintain a good relationship with the omuzimu can lead to misfortune, sickness, or death. Normalization of this relationship is achieved by sharing a ritual meal with the living members of the family and the displeased spirit.

When families face sickness, drought, poverty, or misunderstandings, the Basoga believe that this may be a sign of displeasure from the spirits. A ceremony intended to reconcile with these spirits is performed. When there is a drought, the Basoga consult with the God of Rain (Musoke). A variety of foods are tied in a bark cloth and thrown into Lake Victoria, where the God of Rain resides.

The Basoga also honor occasions related to foreign religions. In 1977 the Church of Uganda celebrated a century of Christian activities in Uganda.

Arts and craft

The Basoga excel in making drums, mats, and baskets. Emphasis is placed on indigenous music and dancing as forms of entertainment.


The traditional healers known as abaigha are consulted, together with doctors who practice modern medicine.


Death and after life

The musambwa associated with death is Walumbe. It is believed that when a person dies, the spirit remains alive while the flesh is rotting. Since the Basoga believe that life after death is a continuation of what one was doing on earth, the deceased must be given a proper burial, which includes burying the body in ancestral land, ensuring that all clan traditions are followed before and after the burial, and burying the body with some items that were associated with the deceased.

Attractions and historical sites


Kagulu Hill

This was the first settlement area for Basoga of Bunyoro origin led by Prince Mukama. The hill, although not yet familiar to many people outside Busoga, Kagulu hill has ‎a breathtaking scenery that gives a clear view of almost the entire Busoga. Kagulu ‎hill is unique in the attractions it offers. It is the only hill in Uganda that has been ‎adapted for tourist climbing, with constructed steps to make it easy for visitors to ‎access the top.‎

Budhumbula shrine/palace
The site ‎comprises of a shrine and the residence of the former Kyabazinga of Busoga, Sir William Wilberforce Kadhumbula Nadiope, who died in 1976; The shrine, covered ‎by beautiful marbles consist of graves of other various members of the royal family, ‎such his father and mother, Yosia Nadiope and Nasikombi respectively.‎


The source of the Nile
The source of the Nile, the second longest river in the world, marked by the ‎discovery of one of the first European explorers, John Speke, is an internationally ‎unique attraction. The tranquility and splendor of both Lake Victoria and River Nile embody great memories of any visitor.‎


Bujagali Falls
This among others, such as the Bujagali ancestral site for the Basoga ancestral ‎spirits at Bujagali falls, includes the numerous rapids along the Nile, virgin nature ‎across the region, and the culture of the people and the great Lake Victoria by no ‎doubt gives Busoga Kingdom its distinct place in tourism.‎


Lake Victoria
Southern Busoga is lined with the waters of Lake Victoria. The coastline starts ‎from Jinja, Uganda and goes eastwards, to the border with Kenya.