Kampala City Tour by bus by the Eye Magazine
I was really excited when I found out that Kampala had “acquired” had a sightseeing bus that could take people on a tour of the city. I have been living in Kampala for a good number of years and I’d like to think that I’ve seen it all, but I haven’t … not by a long shot.
The bright red and yellow double-decker bus has an open rooftop, which allows you the opportunity to see the city in full view. The starting point for the city tour is BMK House next to the Africana Hotel in Kololo, and the last point is the Uganda National Museum. The team on board the bus for our city tour were Twaha the tour guide (an extremely knowledgeable and interesting guide), Sandra Kembabazi (Administrator Promote Uganda Safaris) and Edison, a really skilled bus driver, who all made me feel really welcome. The staff works together like a well-oiled machine to ensure that your experience is enjoyable and above all else, memorable. Twaha uses a microphone during the tour so that he can be heard above the hustle and bustle of the Kampala traffic.
THE NAMING OF THE 7 HILLS
Kampala Hill: This is the hill of Impalas. It got its name from having species of antelope known as Impalas.
Kololo Hill: Kololo gets its name from the 19th century Acholi Chief Awich from Northern Uganda, he, along with Kabalega of Bunyoro resisted British rule. He was arrested and brought to Kampala and incarcerated on top of Kololo Hill. Awich is alleged to have cried out in Luo, “An atye kany kololo”, which means “I am here alone.” Awich was lamenting over the fact that he had been left alone in the wilderness, miles away from home. His captors and the Baganda started calling the place the hill of Kololo, resulting in its name today.
Nakasero Hill: It got its name from the word basket, which is locally known as “akasero”. It comes from a story when Kabaka Mwanga ordered for the digging of the Kabaka’s Lake. Some people would use baskets to excavate the mud from that lake. In the evening after work, they would carry their baskets and rest on this hill. So the people would say “Agenze n’ akasero” literally meaning he has gone with a basket.
Mengo Hill: It got its name from the word “olubengo” known as grinding stone. This hill was known to have grinding stones that were mostly used by the people from the Mbogo Clan to grind herbs.
Namirembe Hill: It got its name from the word “emirembe” known as peace. It is on this hill that the King would go to settle conflicts among his people or with different clans.
Rubaga Hill: This hill got its name from the word “okubaga” literally meaning to plan. The Baganda generals would sit on this hill to plan wars against their enemies.
Makerere Hill: It got its name from a story when the King fell in love with a lady who used to live outside the palace. One night, the King left his palace to meet the lady and it dawned before he could return back to his palace. He then said, “Gano Makerere!” which literally means, “It’s Dawn!”
INFORMATION ON THE CITY TOUR SIGHTS:
1. THE UGANDA NATIONAL CULTURAL CENTRE
UNCC exists to preserve, promote and popularize Uganda’s cultural heritage locally and internationally, and to entertain and educate the public using theatre and film)
GET IN TOUCH: Uganda National Cultural Centre, 2-4 & 6 De Winton Road, Kampala.
Tel: (041) 4254567.
2. PARLIAMENT TO UGANDA
Open to the public, a visit to parliament is an interesting way to spend an hour or two. You can either tour the building, or see the government in action – parliament sits from 2.30pm Tuesday to Thursday and is conducted in English. You need to visit the public relations department (Room 114) to arrange a visit, and make a written request to see question time. Usually you can arrange a visit on the spot. You’ll need to bring an identification card and be decently dressed. In the main lobby look out for the huge wooden cultural map of Uganda featuring the country’s flora and fauna.
VISITING HOURS: 8.30 am – 4.30 pm Monday – Friday
GET IN TOUCH: Parliament Avenue, Kampala
3. INDEPENDENCE MONUMENT
The Independence Monument is printed at the back of Uganda’s currency notes. Uganda was colonized by Britain around 1890’s. Captain Frederick Lugard, an administrator of Imperial British East African Company (IBEAC), raised the Union Jack (British Flag) at a fort he established on Old Kampala hill (Fort Lugard), and declared Uganda a British protectorate. From that time, Uganda and her resources belonged to the British government. Indigenous people had little or no say about the future of their country. The 1962 Uganda’s independence was welcomed with happiness and joy. Songs of jubilation and celebration were heard in all corners of the country. Gregory Maloba put up an independence monument to signify the independent Uganda.
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).
5. KABAKA’S LAKE
This is the largest man-made lake in Uganda located in Ndeeba, Rubaga Division Kampala City, Uganda. The lake occupies an area of around 2 square km and is about 200 feet deep on an average. It was constructed by the 52 clans of Buganda from 1885 -1888 during the reign of Ssekabaka Mwanga 11. The plan of the king was to construct a channel wide enough for him to travel by boat to Lake Victoria for swimming and fishing and staying at another palace he had built at Mulungu Hill near Lake Victoria. The channel would also serve as an escape waterway in the event of armed conflict with the 6. British)
6. KABAKA’S ROYAL PALACE
Built in 1922 Mengo Palace is the former home of the king of Buganda, though it has remained empty since 1966 when Prime Minister Milton Obote ordered a dramatic attack to oust Kabaka Mutesa II (then president of Uganda). Led by the forces of Idi Amin, soldiers stormed the palace and, after several days of fighting, Mutesa was forced to flee and live in exile in the UK. The interior of the attractive palace remains off limits to tourists.
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
VISITING HOURS: 08:00 am – 5:30 pm
GET IN TOUCH: Lubiri Ring Road, Twekobe, Kampala
7. NANTAWETWA MONUMENT
Nantawetwa Junction honors His Majesty the King as He travels from His palace (Lubiri) to His office Bulange/ Parliament, He must pass through this roundabout with subjects on the sides.
Consequently, no one else beside the king is allowed to pass through the Nantawetwa. The roundabout had seen many structural adjustments till the recent long drum monument. It is located in the middle of the Royal Mile road.
8. BUGANDA PARLIAMENTARY BUILDING
A great place to learn about the history and culture of the Buganda Kingdom, guided tours take you inside the parliament building, providing interesting stories and details about the 56 different clans. Parliament is held twice a month on Monday mornings, though it is conducted in Lugandan.
Source: www.lonelyplanet.com/uganda/kampala/sights/architecture VISITING HOURS: Monday-Sunday 08:00am-5:00pm
GET IN TOUCH: Kabakanjagala Road, Kampala, Uganda.
9. ST MARY’S CATHEDRAL
Saint Mary’s Cathedral Rubaga, commonly referred to as Rubaga Cathedral, is the parent cathedral of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Kampala, the oldest Roman Catholic diocese in Uganda. It is the home church of the Archbishop of Kampala.
GET IN TOUCH: Mutesa Road, Lubaga Hill, Kampala, Uganda.
Mobile: +256 702 966630. FB: Rubaga Cathedral
10. NAMIREMBE CATHEDRAL
Saint Paul’s Cathedral Namirembe, commonly referred to as Namirembe Cathedral, is the oldest cathedral in Uganda. It serves as the provincial cathedral of the Church of Uganda and the diocesan cathedral for Namirembe Diocese, the first diocese to be founded in the Church of Uganda province, in 1890. Between 1919 and 1967, the Cathedral served as the provincial cathedral of the Church of Uganda, Anglican Communion. In the 1960s, the headquarters of the Church of Uganda moved to All Saints Church in Nakasero then moved back to Namirembe later.
11. FORT LUGARD
The Fort is located at Old Kampala Hill directly overlooking the City Center, Fort Lugard is of national importance and signifies the country’s colonial era under the rule of Captain Lugard as first Governor of the Protectorate. Frederick Lugard was a British soldier who arrived in Uganda in the 1890s and built his fort on top of the Kampala Hill.
The original fort was relocated to a different site on the hill in 2003, to accommodate the largest mosque in Uganda, with a seating capacity of 15,000 people, built with monetary assistance from Libya. The completed mosque was opened officially in June 2007
12. UGANDA NATIONAL MOSQUE (GADDAFI MOSQUE)
The Uganda National Mosque is a mosque located at Kampala Hill in the Old Kampala area of Kampala, Uganda. Completed in 2006, it seats up to 15,000 worshipers and can hold another 1,100 in the gallery, while the terrace will cater for another 3,500. Colonel Muammar Gaddafi of Libya commissioned the mosque as a gift to Uganda, and for the benefit of the Muslim population. Uganda has many mosques but this one is a skyscraper mosque.
The completed mosque was opened officially in June 2007 under the name Gaddafi National Mosque, and housed the head offices of the Uganda Muslim Supreme Council. It was renamed “Uganda National Mosque” in 2013 following the death of Colonel Gaddafi as the new Libyan administration was “reluctant to rehabilitate the mosque under the old name
13. KASUBI ROYAL TOMBS
Situated on Kasubi Hill within Kampala, the Kasubi Tombs site is an active religious place in the Buganda Kingdom. To the Baganda the Kabaka is the unquestioned symbol of spiritual, political, and social state of the Buganda nation. As the burial ground for the previous four Kabakas, therefore, the Kasubi Tombs is a place where the Kabaka and others in Buganda’s complex cultural hierarchy frequently carry out important centuries-old Ganda rituals. In 2001, the Kasubi Tombs were declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site
14. MAKERERE UNIVERSITY
Makerere University, Kampala MUK) is Uganda‘s largest and third-oldest institution of higher learning, first established as a technical school in 1922. In 1963, it became the University of East Africa, offering courses leading to general degrees from the University of London. It became an independent national university in 1970 when the University of East Africa was split into three independent universities: University of Nairobi (Kenya), University of Dar es Salaam (Tanzania), and Makerere University. Today, Makerere University is composed of nine colleges and one school offering programmes for about 36,000 undergraduates and 4,000 postgraduates).
15. UGANDA NATIONAL MUSEUM
The Uganda Museum is a museum in Kampala, Uganda, which displays and exhibits ethnological, natural-historical and traditional life collections of Uganda’s cultural heritage. The museum was founded in 1908 after George Wilson called for “all articles of interest” on Uganda to be procured. Also among the collections in the Uganda Museum are playable musical instruments, hunting equipment, weaponry, archaeology and entomology.
The museum started in a small Sikh Temple at Lugards Fort in Old Kampala Hill and turned 100 in 2008.
VISITING HOURS: Monday-Saturday 10:00am-6:00pm. Sunday 10:00am-3pm
GET IN TOUCH: 5 Kira Road, Kampala, Uganda. FB: Uganda-Museum
Promote Uganda Safaris who operate and manage the Kampala Sightseeing Bus (Tulambule!) also offer tailor-made tours for corporate companies, conferences, training institutions and other organisations. They have rates for East Africans, family packages, students & children and non East Africans.