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Kasubi Tombs

Situated on Kasubi hill, within Kampala, Uganda, 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.

According to oral traditions, the first Kabaka of Buganda was Kintu. He is said to have come with his wife Nambi; whose hand he won by performing heroic deeds at the command of her father Ggulu; the god of the sky. Kabaka Kintu is said not to have died but to have disappeared into a forest at Magonga. At Kasubi and in all other royal tombs, there is an area behind a bark cloth (lubugo) curtain known as Kibira or forest. That is where certain secret ceremonies are performed. At the Kasubi Tombs the Kibira is the area where the real tombs of the Kabakas are; while in front of the curtain there are raised platforms corresponding to the position of each Kabaka’s tomb behind the curtain.

The first Kabaka to be buried at Kasubi was Muteesa I, who was the 35th King. The dates of the reigns of the Kabakas are only precisely known from Kabaka Suuna II, who ruled from 1836 to 1856.

4Historically, Baganda Kabakas have always built their palaces on strategic hills. This is intended to control the major roads to the palace. It also helps to find easy ways to escape in case of an invasion or a rebellion. When they died, the traditional practice was to bury each Kabaka at a separate site; and to establish a royal shrine to house his jawbone which was believed to contain his spirit at another site. These shrines were started by descendants of the Kabaka’s leading chiefs, his wives, his ritual half-sister, and by a spirit medium through which the dead Kabaka communicated with his successors. Many of these shrines are still maintained today.

The Kasubi tombs is one of the major tourist attractions that gets thouasands of tourists in a year.