History of The Kasubi Hill Tombs of the Buganda Kings
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History of The Kasubi Hill Tombs of the Buganda Kings

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 Ganda architecture and palace design, reflecting years of technological advancement.

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


The Entrance to the Kasubi Hill Tombs


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.


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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Comments (13)

Very academic. He roasted Christian converts alive on a spit...That gets your attention.

what an interesting bio and history, thank you

@ William I know, right? I was a bit taken back by that at first myself.

Excellent pictures and a gripping narrative.

A brilliantly illuminating analysis. The range of your knowledge is amazing.


Bad news.

I was in Kampala this March, arriving on the day that the tombs burnt down. It was a national disaster and the country went into mourning. The good news is that no one was killed though. However, the ensuing riots resulted in the deaths of at least 6 people. Here's a link to the bbc story. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/8571719.stm

@Liz Wow, that is horrible news. Any word on them rebuilding it? Or is there any point?

Very interesting piece. Thank you for that.


Don't know Lauren. There was talk of it but the big obstacles will be money and politics. I don't know the details but I doubt it.

jo oliver
jo oliver

I always find it amazing, like the pyramids, that people of such limited means and education could construct such. Very interesting...as always.

A warfare tribe that existed not too long ago. The sacrifices are quite disturbing, but considering Uganda's history presently, it makes perfect sense how these tribes still engage. Phenomonal images and interesting piece of history, Lauren. Well written and amazing facts. Great article regarding part of Africa's history.

It's unfortunate those Kasubi Hill tombs got burned. But I believe there are still locals who can build something similar. Well, that will entail money and some haggling.