Bunyoro Royal Tombs Rot Away as 19th Coronation Anniversary Looms

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As Bunyoro kingdom subjects prepare to celebrate the 19th coronation anniversary of Omukama Solomon Gafabusa Iguru slated for June 11th, many royal tombs lie sadly neglected. Not even the tomb of one of the longest reigning monarchs of the once proud kingdom has been spared by the ravages of time.
As Bunyoro kingdom subjects prepare to celebrate the 19th coronation anniversary of Omukama Solomon Gafabusa Iguru slated for June 11th, many royal tombs lie sadly neglected.

Kibaale district has around 18 different locations where royal tombs of former Bunyoro Kitara kingdom kings sit.

Muzhee Kawesa Rwebembera, the saazi chief for Bugangaizi County, Bunyoro Kingdom, says that the most dilapidated royal tomb is the one where Duhaga Chwa Mujwiga 1 is buried. The tomb of the 16th Omukama of Bunyoro who reigned for 51 years from 1731 to 1782 is almost forgotten. It is located in Kihumuro village, Bwanswa sub county, Kibaale district, a few metres from Kagadi-Mubende road.

Kawesa says that the existence of the cultural site came under intense threat on February 7, 2013 when unidentified people raided it and allegedly exhumed the remains of Omukama Duhaga Chwa Mujwiga I. Police is yet to ascertain the motive for the vandalism. No suspects have been arrested.

Kawesi says nothing has been done to restore the tombs since they were vandalised and is afraid they may soon fall into total disrepair.

Another important neglected tomb belongs to Omukama Kyebambe IV Kamurasi at Ngangi village in Kibaale town council, Kibaale district. Kyebambe IV Kamurasi reigned from 1852-1869 was buried here.

He was the father to Omukama Chwa II Kabalega, the great king who ruled from 1870-1899 before being ousted and forced into exile by British colonialists.

Kabalega is remembered for resisting the British indirect rule in Uganda through his Nyangire rebellion.

Kabalega’s successor King George William Kitahimbwa’s tomb in Masaka village, Nyalweyo sub county is equally neglected. Kitahimbwa reigned from 1898 to 1903 and was buried there.

Araali Ronald Isagara, an elder in Bunyoro Kitara Kingdom in Kibaale district, explains that though Kitahimbwa royal tomb got a facelift, the 10 million shillings collected and used was hardly enough to do a thorough job.

He adds that most the royal tombs in the district have had the pieces of land where they sit encroached on by residents due to poor demarcation.

Elder Araali argues for their care because the royal tombs are part of cultural heritage and play a big role in promotion of tourism from both local and international fraternities. Their extinction will put the cultural heritage and tourism of Bunyoro Kingdom at stake.

He further reveals that cultural sites in Bunyoro Kingdom started declining in 1966 when then president of Uganda Dr. Apolo Milton Obote abolished kingdoms and their consequent care by tax payers.

Concern for these cultural landmarks comes ahead of the celebrations to mark 19 years since the current Omukama Iguru ascended to the throne.

This year’s coronation commonly known as Empango will be held under a theme dubbed “Tapping Tourism and Agricultural Opportunities in Bunyoro.”

The theme aims at promotion of tourism and trade in the kingdom a move which local kingdom leaders say is supposed to begin with developing and modernizing cultural sites.

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