Omukama Kabaleega memorial breeds tourism ideas in Bunyoro

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Some artifacts inside a royal shrine at Mparo Royal Tombs premises in East Division, Hoima City.

The first official commemoration of the death of Omukama Cwa II Kabaleega of Bunyoro Kitara held on April 6, 2021, was an incubation pot of ideas to rebuild the kingdom socially and economically.

‘Omukama’ is a Runyoro/Rutooro word for ‘King’.

During the function held at Mparo Royal Tombs in Hoima city, the kingdom Premier, Andrew Kirungi Byakutaaga, revealed plans to modernise all royal tombs starting with Mparo where Omukama Kabaleega and Omukama Sir Tito Winyi were laid to rest.

Mr Byakutaaga said with Omukama Kabaleega’s pronounced history, Mparo royal tombs (Gasani) will attract numerous local, national and international tourists and boost the tourism industry in Bunyoro in particular and Uganda in general.

“This automatically brings in foreign exchange to the national economy where by the local people also benefit directly and indirectly. We must improve all our cultural sites starting with the royal tombs to avoid letting down the glory of Bunyoro Kitara Kingdom that Kabaleega died for”, he said.

The Prime Minister said that processing land titles was underway to safeguard all the cultural sites from encroachment.

Kazi-njema News reporter saw a lot of royal regalia inside the houses at the premises of the royal tombs all with touristic value including Omukama Kabaleega’s throne which survived the malicious looting of resources and artifacts of cultural value perpetrated by the British colonial soldiers and their Baganda allies.

There are also two shields and spears that Omukama Kabaleega used in defence against his enemies.

A monument has been erected at Mparo Royal Tombs entrance to mark the day Omukama Kabaleega met in September 1877an Ottoman physician of German Jewish origin explorer, Dr Emin Pasha born Eduard Carl Oscar Theodor Schnitzer.  

Mparo Gasani had been neglected in view of boosting tourism until it was given a facelift in July 2014 with financial support from Mr Matia Kasaija, the Uganda government Minister for Finance, Planning and Economic Development working with other well-wishers and his Chinese friends.

Mr Yolamu Nsamba, the Bunyoro Kitara Kingdom Royal Commission’s Vice Chairperson leads some guests to classified points at Mparo Royal Tombs premises during the commemoration of the death of Omukama Cwa II Kabaleega on April 6, 2021 in East Division, Hoima City.

The Uganda People’s Defence Force (UPDF) soldiers had renovated it in 1998.

President Yoweri Museveni also declared Kabaleega a national hero and honoured with a three -gun salute on June 9, 2009 in recognition of his role in championing the resistance against the British colonialists.

Mr YolamuNsamba, the vice chairperson of the Kingdom Royal Commission said Mparo plays a significant role in the history of the kingdom as it is where the life and times of the fallen king rotate.

Mr Nsamba told the guests at the function that when Dr Emin Pasha visited Kabaleega, they had a meeting at Mparo which by then was one of the prominent markets for goods and services in Africa.

“I wish archeologists in future will come and unearth this history for the entire world to know,” he said.

The Chief of Defense Forces (CDF) Gen David Muhoozi, in a speech read for him by Lt Gen Pecos Kutesa, the UPDF Head of Doctrine and army representative in parliament, said  Kabaleega’s history was their source of encouragement during the guerilla war that brought the National Resistance Movement (NRM) government to power.

He agrees that Kabaleega’s history remains important to use his name to promote tourism in Uganda.

Mr Isaac Kalembe, the Speaker (Omutalindwa) of the Bunyoro Kitara Kingdom Parliament (Rukurato) credited Omukama Kabaleega for fathering nationalism in Bunyoro nation which the current Banyoro need to emulate and promote their positive ways of culture.

During Kabaleega’s reign, batter trade, iron smelting, salt mining, medical research and military strength went to their peak before a systematic destruction of all that strength started during the anti-colonial struggles, said Mr Kalembe.

The Omutalindwa also revealed that the kingdom had constituted a team of scholars to piece up Kabaleega’s history and publish a comprehensive book.

Kabalega ruled Bunyoro from 1870 to 1899.

Born on June 18, 1853, he died on April 6, 1923 on his way back at Mpumude in present day Jinja district. He was returning home Seychelles Island after 23 years of exile that followed his capture by the British soldiers that ended his nine-year protracted rebellion.

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