History of The Kasubi Hill Tombs of the Buganda Kings

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The state of Uganda was created from a small territory during the late 19th century by the Bantu speaking Baganda people under their kabakas, or kings. The Buganda Tombs for the Kabakas at Kasubi were built with organic materials in a traditional style of

Kasubi Tombs

The Bantu speaking Baganda people created the state of Uganda from a small territory during the late 19th century, under their kabakas, or Buganda kings. The territory had little or no contact with the outside world until the middle of the 19th century, when Arab slavers penetrated the interior.

The first of the Buganda Kings was Kabaka Muteesa I, born in 1837 at the Batandabezaala Palace. He ascended the throne upon the death of his father in October 1856. He built himself a palace on the Kasubi Hill in 1881, and was buried there in a tomb when he died in 1884. Interestingly enough, he was the first of his line to be buried with his jawbone. Traditionally, the jawbone was placed in a shrine because it was believed to contain the spirit of the deceased. Three other kings were buried in the Kasubi Hill tombs. All three men were Kabaka Muteesa’s successors and all were unique in their own remarkable ways.

Muzibu Azaala Mpanga Building

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The Entrance to the Kasubi Hill Tombs

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The Buganda king Kabaka Muteesa I was known to play each religion, along with their colonial powers, against each other. His son Kabaka Mwanga II Mukasa took a more violent approach, however. He roasted Christian converts alive on a spit and survived a civil war against him by the Muslims and the Christians in the 1880’s. He finally died in exile in 1903. His son, Duadi Chwa II reigned for 36 years and his son Edward Muteesa II was disposed of in 1966 after Uganda had gained independence. Edward II died in London three years later, but his remains were brought back to the Kasubi tombs in 1971.

Laser Scan of Muzibu Azaala Mpanga

Source (Laser scan will be used for reconstruction of the Kasubi Hill Tombs)

There are four Buganda Kings, as well as several other royal family members buried in the Kasubi Hill Tombs, however small houses nearby were constructed to house the remains of the widows of the Kabakas.

The Kasubi Hill Tombs of the Buganda kings were built with organic materials in a traditional style of Ganda architecture and palace design, reflecting years of technical advancement. The domed construction and thatched circular building is said to be the largest of its kind. The Baganda people used reeds and "bark cloth", supported by wooden poles and reed fences with a reed gateway, to support the massive structure.

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Kept inside of the Kasubi Hill Tombs are several former kabaka's possessions including Muteesa I’s pet leopard, which is now stuffed, weapons and spears, fetish objects, and various musical instruments including drums. There is a curtained off area for royal ceremonies and consultations with the spirit world and the ancestors.

Today, the Kasubi Hill Tombs are a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Latest News: Unfortunately, a fire destroyed the Kasubi Hill Tombs on March 16, 2010.

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Lauren Axelrod

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