Are you wondering what the Kasubi tombs are?!! Well, this is the site of the burial grounds for four Kabakas (Kings) and other members of the Baganda royal family. As a result, the site remains an important spiritual and political site for the Ganda people, as well as an important example of traditional architecture.
It is one of the top attractions to visit on a Kampala city tour, and you are always assured of a memorable city tour in Kampala – with a visit to the Kasubi tombs. If there’s no traffic jam, getting to the Kasubi Tombs site takes about 15 minutes’ drive from Kampala city center and less than 50 minutes’ drive from Entebbe, where Uganda’s airport – the Entebbe International Airport is located.
Inaugurated in the 13th century, the Kasubi tombs are the major ones out of the Buganda Kingdom’s 31 royal tombs it boasts. In 2001, the Kasubi tombs became a UNESCO World Heritage Site and it is currently among the finest places to visit in Kampala and Uganda entirely as they have a lot to discover mainly about the Buganda Kingdom, the most dominant Kingdom in the country.
All princes and princesses are buried at the back of the main tomb known as Muzibu-Azaala-Mpanga. The Kasubi tombs are an important historical, cultural and spiritual center for not only the Baganda people but Africa as a whole. It is certainly one of the prominent heritage sites Uganda has. Due to their cultural and national value, the tombs became a protected site by Ugandan law in 1972 nonetheless they remain registered as Buganda Kingdom property.
The miserable history of the Kasubi tombs
On 16th March 2010, at around 8.30 pm local time, it was a downhearted day to all the Ganda people along with the rest of people in the country as the news spread that the Kasubi tombs were destroyed by fire – the cause of the fire which is up to now yet unknown. Some of the major buildings there were almost completely demolished by fire and as a result, in July 2010 it was included in the list of World Heritage Sites in Danger.
The Buganda Kingdom did however vow to rebuild the tombs of their kings and the President of Uganda in Yoweri Kaguta Museveni said the national government of Uganda would assist in the restoration of the site. Reconstruction started immediately in 2014, funded by the government of Japan and various contributions from the local Ganda people and well wishers from other tribes within the country. The Kasubi tombs were finally resuscitated and are active now.
According to the by then Prime Minister of Buganda Kingdom, John Bosco Walusimbi, the remains of the Kabakas (Kings) were intact as the inner sanctum of the tombs was protected from total destruction. On 17th March 2010, His Majesty the Kabaka of Buganda, Ronald Muwenda Mutebi II, and the President of Uganda, Yoweri Museveni, visited the site of the tombs. Hundreds of people did also travel to the site to help rescue any remains.
Riots however flared-up in the course of the President’s visit as the Ganda people didn’t want him to come next to their royal tombs postulating that he was behind the destruction of their tombs. This was because the destruction had happened almost 7 months after the fiddly relationship between the government of Uganda and the Buganda Kingdom which even saw the King of Buganda being denied an opportunity to visit some parts of his Kingdom, in September of 2009. Riots did not only break out at the tombs but also in the capital city, Kampala, as the Uganda soldiers and police clashed with rioters and the forces had to exert tear gas to disseminate the furious Ganda rioters. In the course, many people lost their lives.