Hello, my dear readers, I hope you now have an overview of this magnificent Kampala city, the capital of my dear motherland, given an insight we shared in our previous editorial. So now let’s embark on a Kampala city tour expedition as we explore the various landmarks that are found within this glorious city. For today let’s make a 1 day Kampala tour to Bulange Mengo.
This Kampala day tour takes us to Mengo hill which is located on geographical co-ordinates 0o30’95”N 32o55’85”E. Bulange –Mengo is the official seat of one of the oldest kingdom in the east and central Africa- the Buganda kingdom.
What is the Buganda Kingdom?
Buganda kingdom is one of the numerous Bantu speaking tribe which has existed in the interlacustrine region of east Africa for over 1000. The origins of this Kingdom are largely premised oral history as there is lack of historical facts to be anchored on to explain the real origins of this Kingdom, what can’t be disputed however is the fact that Buganda has existed for over 1000 years and during that time it over 50 kings but officially only 36 kings of these have been widely accepted as the official kings of Buganda. The Buganda kingdom is a highly organized monarchy that follows a centralized system of governance with the King at the top, followed by the prime minister or locally known Katikiro and he executes the day to day operations of the Kingdom. What makes this Kingdom unique in Africa, is the way its society is well structured following blood ties to make small social strata called “ebika” or clans and these resemble the biblical structures of the Israelites ie the 12 clans of Isaac. Today I will stop here about Buganda’s history as we’re here to talk about Bulange Mengo only.
Bulange Mengo is the political seat of the Buganda kingdom or let’s call it the Buganda parliament or the “Lukiiko” as it is commonly referred to in the Luganda dialect. Long before this Lukiiko, each king of Buganda would summon his chiefs to his palace to discuss issues concerning the kingdom and this meant each king would have his own Lukiiko wherever his palace was situated. All the Lukiikos before the 20th century were wattle building with a grass thatched roof just like all the other buildings that existed in Buganda back in time.
The first Lukiiko
The first Lukiiko to be built using bricks was constructed under the leadership of sir Apollo Kaggwa as the prime minister of Buganda in 1902 when he contracted an Indian named Alidina Visram. This Lukiiko was constructed near the Kabaka’s Lubiri palace and this was highly criticized by the royal kingdom subjects. As the kingdom grew, came the need for a much bigger Lukiiko to be constructed so as to house all the Kabaka’s delegates and a plan was hatched to construct a new Lukiiko on Mengo hill which lies directly opposite the Lubiri
The birth of Bulange Mengo
When the sir Edward Muteesa II ascended to the throne in 1936 on the 22nd November to precise when he only aged 15years old after the death of his father Kabaka Daudi Chwa. In 1953 as Uganda at large was agitating for independence, Kabaka Muteesa involved himself in demanding for independence and as a result, he was exiled to Scotland by the governor of Uganda Sir Andrew Cohen. As the saying goes, “every cloud has a silver lining”, this was so true in Kabaka Mutesa’s case because while in exile, he admired the architectural designs of one of the buildings there and he decided to buy its design which he was to use build his new Lukiiko upon his return to Buganda which eventually came to pass in 1955.
The construction of the new Lukiiko lasted 3 years from 1955-1958 at a cost of 5 million which was a huge lump sum of money back then and this cost was fully footed by the kingdom treasury. The main Lukiiko hall has got no upper floor because in the Baganda culture, no one dares to sit above the king and this is loosely translated as “kabaka tatuulwa ku mutwe”. Inside this Lukiiko hall is the kings’ official chair called “Namulondo” and it’s on this chair the king sits and administers his kingdom. Inside the foyer of Bulange Mengo are 50 Buganda clan totem portraits that have been prominently displayed. The newly constructed Lukiiko on Mengo hill gave birth to what is termed as the royal mile which is an avenue that connects the Lukiiko to the Lubiri that’s directly opposite the Lukiiko. The royal mile is also referred to as “Kabaka ajjagala” loosely translated as “the king loves me”. This road is called so because the king of Buganda uses it as he goes to the Lukiiko to discuss issues concerning their subjects. As of recent, the clans of Buganda have put sculptures of their totems on either side of this road in order to beautify it and also display all the 50 clans that make the Baganda people just like they are displayed inside Bulange Mengo. Note should be taken if you are interested in visiting this place, for ladies please wear either a knee-length skirt and a blouse that covers your chest properly or if you are to wear pants, please move with an extra plain cloth to cover yourself with when you enter the gates of Bulange.
You cant talk about Lubiri Mengo and don’t talk about Lubiri Mengo because the history of these two attractions are almost intertwined together here in our next episode we will look at Lubiri Mengo.
If you feel the urge to see the Bulange Mengo , you can have a Kampala city tour added on your Uganda wildlife safari or Uganda gorilla safari during your 1 day Kampala city tour you have an opportunity to visit several for the landmarks in Kampala a visit to the oldest tombs in east and central Africa Kasubi tombs, make a detour to the Namugongo martyrs shrine and listen to the religious history of this land, proceed to the oldest museum.
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