Beyond birds, primates and major wild life species in Uganda is the unique culture of the people. Uganda has various cultural tourist attraction centers across the country where a tourist can learn about Uganda’s history and culture, people, backgrounds and major practices. The following are some of the cultural sites which can be visited on a Uganda tour through the pearl of Africa .
Uganda Martyrs Shrine
The shrine is located in Namugongo a few minutes drive from the city center and its where 26 religious followers were killed on the order of the then Buganda king Kabaka Mwanga. At that time, various foreign religions had been introduced in Buganda (Islam, Catholicism and the Anglican faith). Mwanga had already been converted by the Muslims and therefore being the king Mwangawanted his preferred religion to be practiced in his kingdom. All those who refused to renounce other religions were punished brutally by death whether young, old, male or female.
WhenMwanga heard of the very committed Christians, he ordered for their arrest and they were then taken to Namugongo- a pre-colonial execution site. While at the site, they were asked to renounce their faith in order to be forgiven which they refused because of their faith. On 3rdJune, they were given the last final chance to renounce their faith in Christianity which they refused and therefore sentenced to death. Beginning with their leader Charles Lwanga, the martyrs were beaten, strongly tied and put to a furnace when still a live where they burned to death. With such brutal deaths and having been killed for their faith, the Uganda martyrs efforts could not just be forgotten and therefore a shrine was built to commemorate their strong faith.
Today, various Christian pilgrims from various areas flock the area on foot for prayers and to honor the act of the martyrs. A visit to the site can therefore give a tourist a chance to learn about the religious practices in Uganda during the colonial times as well as the hard times the martyrs went through before being killed.
The Nakayima Tree
This 40 meters high tree is located in Mubende district. Nakayima tree is held with large buttress roots forming caves. It’s believed that Nakayima a great sorceress resides in these caves and therefore many African traditional believers visit the tree for Nakayima’s blessings while other people with various diseases visit the tree hoping to be healed. These people first make offerings to the tree in order to be healed while others spend various nights around the tree. Visiting the tree gives a tourist a chance to learn more about the African traditional beliefs.
This is Uganda’s national museum located in Kampala city with various archaeological collections of Ugandan tribes’ traditional home tools, musical instruments, royal regalia, pictorials, art pieces, wood carvings and historical displays. All these portray what the pearl of Africa is and who the people are. There is also a craft shop at the museum which has various crafts and African pieces of clothes, locally made woven baskets, papyrus bags and other souvenirs one can be interested in.
The Uganda museum also has ethnographic collections of the hunting communities in Uganda, religious practices plus agriculture.
This is a burial site for the Buganda kings located in kasubi a Kampala city suburb which is a few minutes drive from the city center. At kasubi, there are various huts of the Baganda traditional art that were constructed using poles, bark, thatch and reeds with collections of Buganda’s royal regalia, wood carvings, musical instruments, pictorials, fighting weapons like spears and many others.
The UNESCO recognized world heritage site offers opportunities to learn about Buganda kingdom and all the Buganda kings who were buried there plus the major Buganda traditional practices. Other major Uganda kings burial places include the Wamala tomb where Kabaka Mutesa 1st was buried, Nkokonjeru tombs where the Ankole kings were buried located in Mbarara district and Mparo a burial place for the kings of Bunyoro located in Hoima district.
Ntunsi Earth Works
This is located in south western Uganda and is believed to be one of the oldest archeological sites where the Bachwezi demi gods once lived. Iron smelting, wood carvings, pottery and a clay cylinder were dating over 300 years ago were discovered in the Ntunsi area as well as various depressions around. These are believed to have belonged to the Bachwezi who had divine powers.
Bigo Bya Mugenyi
This is also believed to be a site for the Bachwezi demi gods. This site also has unique earth works of deep rock excavations believed to have been made by the Bachwezi who had super natural powers.
The Ntunsi and Bigo Bya Mugenyi heritage sites have great archeological and historical values and are therefore worth visiting while on a cultural expedition in Uganda.
The King’s Palaces
Before the coming of colonialists, Uganda was divided into kingdoms led by kings whose powers were unquestioned. The major outstanding kingdoms in Uganda included the Bunyoro Kitara kingdom, Buganda kingdom, Ankole kingdom, Toro kingdom and Busoga kingdom. All the kings of the mentioned kingdoms had enormous palaces that acted as their homes as well as administrative centers. These palaces were built using local constructing materials of mud, dung, poles, reeds, fiber and thatch with great pieces of art made with great craftsmanship representing that particular tribe. The palaces still exist today and have many cultural items that can be of interest to the tourists interested in cultural tourism especially looking for facts about the Uganda kingdoms.
Uganda has various religions which all have great buildings constructed with impressive architecture. They include the Baha’i temple located in Kikaya hill with a dome and beautiful interior designs; the Baha’i temple also has gardens with many trees where one can relax and enjoy fresh air while on a visit to the temple. The Gaddafi mosque which is one of the biggest mosques in east Africa and a great symbol of the Muslim faith also has good architectural interior designs. For the Anglicans, there is the twin towered Namirembe cathedral located in Namirembe and for the Catholics there is the Rubaga cathedral located in Rubaga hill. Other religious centers include the Swaminariyan temple which is located in the city center opposite Shoprite and many other Hindu temples.
These pre-historical paintings of animals, people and many other pictorials were drawn on the Nyero rocks by unknown artistes. The paintings represent the way of life of the people in eastern Uganda showing good craftsmanship. The Nyero rock paintings can be found in Kumi and Soroti