Monday, May 10, 2010

Yes, a serious inquiry into the fire that gutted "Muzibu azala Mpanga" - Kasubi Tombs requires not only good funding, but an Impartial Commission

Residents look on helplessly as the tombs burn. Photo by Katherine Haywood
Monitor: Tuesday, March 16 2010 at 21:23
Kasubi Tombs, one of Uganda's historical monuments has gone up in flames, completely razing the building that houses the graves of four former kings of Buganda Kingdom.
The tombs, established in 1881 and declared a world heritage site by Unesco in 2001 started burning at about 8:30pm.
Hundreds of kingdom subjects have thronged the site, crying and screaming while others were seen prostrating in front of the embers.
The tombs are located about five kilometres from Kampala City in Kasubi, a Kampala suburb.

BBC News - Kasubi tombs on fire in pictures:

The Commission of Inquiry into the fire that gutted "Muzibu Azaala Mpanga" - Kasubi Tombs; in its terms of reference needs to find out among other things:
1. The implications of removing the current Kasubi market to a more remote location;
2. The communications to the Katikiiro's office which could be confidential but a possible time bomb;
3. The motive of Bukedde FM in rushing into the roles previously by CBS FM and yet get cold reception from Mengo administration; and it can be remembered that prior to the burning of Bajjabayira's bar at Kajjansi; Bukedde FM had just put up a banner publicizing the 'senga' teaching at the bar;
4. The motive and drive behind Major General Kahinda Otafiire's acid talk about Buganda;
5. The written Communications to Buganda Land Board and the possible implications;
6. The possible discontent among the members of cabinet in Buganda Government and its implications as there is no salary yet it is alleged that some earn through connection;
7. The roles of Rexba Company and how it may negatively impact on relations in Buganda and among business interests and those in mengo establishment;
8. Kabaka Mutebi's continued appointment of a Catholic as Katikiiro of Buganda which does not go well with some people given the historic ties between Buganda Kingdom and the British Monarchy;
9. The banyala development, and their wish to get mengo to its knees; an unfortunate development more so when we remember the roles of the Late Ssekabaka Mutesa II who was even a member of Kayunga FootBall Club when he still played football; a role which was meant to cement ties with the kingdom;
10. The role of "Bazzukulu Ba Buganda", and whether they are not used by opportunistic interests as can be remembered when the tombs caught fire.
If an impartial commission is put in place and well facilitated, chances are that some of the areas listed above could give clues to why the fire or help mitigate possible areas of conflict that can erupt and be more disastrous to Buganda establishment and Uganda.
William Kituuka

Kasubi Tombs fire puzzles security
By Henry Mukasa, Eddie Ssejjoba
and Brian Mayanja
GUNFIRE rocked Kasubi royal burial grounds as security fired to clear the way for President Yoweri Museveni to inspect the place.
Two people died from Mulago Hospital and five others were still in critical condition after the Military Police and the Presidential Guard Brigade (PGB) battled rowdy crowds that had blocked the route to the world heritage site at Kasubi.
According to sources at Mulago, the dead were both young men with bullet wounds.
Those admitted in critical condition were Ishmael Bugembe, Abdallahtif Ssentamu and Patrick Mwanje. All had bullet wounds. Others admitted with bullet wounds were Simon Birungi, 33, and Kaloli Sserwadda, 32, a resident of Namungoona.
The Media Centre executive director, Fred Opolot, said in a statement that three fire fighters were injured and are also admitted at Mulago. Opolot said windscreens of eight vehicles were shattered.
The Tuesday night fire, whose cause is not yet known, burnt the royal tombs, the final resting place of Buganda kingdom’s royalty. Security sources said it was not clear who or how the fire started. The tombs, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, were built in 1882.
Baganda loyalists converged at the tombs in the wee hours of yesterday and started cleaning up the site. The youth, the elderly, women and school children cleared the debris at the hitherto key national tourist site.
Several ornaments, medals, royal gifts and artifacts were destroyed in the inferno. Announcements were made on megaphone for workers to surrender any valuables they pick.
Lorries carried tanks of water to wash away the cinders and put out smouldering planks of timber. Several people began erecting the lubiri (traditional fence) using reeds brought in by loyal subjects.
The mood was sombre. Women wept, men sobbed, while the youth vented their anger through violent protests. Students were equally astounded by the level of destruction.
As a sign of mourning, Buganda’s blue-and-white flag flew at half-mast and a fireplace was stocked at the burnt-out entrance to the main tomb-house, Muzibu-Azaala-Mpanga.
Some Baganda wore bark cloth. Angry youth sneered at anybody who looked on with indifference. They barred those donning jackets or carrying guns from the royal site. At around 10:00am, word filtered through that Museveni would visit the site.
Thirty minutes later, Presidential Guard Brigade soldiers arrived and asked the adamant youth to remove a lorry and barricades at the entrance to the tombs but they refused. Sporadic gunfire then filled the air. People scampered to safety but quickly regrouped and took cover in the compound.
Prince David Wasajja, who was seated with several princesses, had to take cover. He was constantly on phone. When the shooting intensified, soldiers demanded that the crowd clears but many were adamant. The soldiers then started whipping anyone reluctant to leave, including those lying on the ground. During the melee, Wasajja surrounded by a small group left through the fence.
Four of Buganda’s kings; Muteesa I, Mwanga Basammula, Daudi Chwa and Sir Edward Muteesa II are buried at the Kasubi tombs. Muteesa II is the father of the reigning king, Ronald Muwenda Mutebi II.
The Kabaka, who arrived at 1:45pm with the Nabagereka, Sylivia Nagginda, plus his children Prince Jjunju and Princess Sangalyambogo, inspected the tombs. Prince Wasajja, Katikkiro JB Walusimbi, Buganda ministers and a large crowd received him.
On viewing the devastation, the king drew a white handkerchief to wipe away tears. The king’s public grief triggered off wails from people standing near him. He spent a few minutes standing motionless at the main entrance to the tombs, in which his father, Muteesa and grandfathers are buried.
He did not address his subjects, but waved at them. He also inspected other houses in the complex and greeted the resident princesses. The Kabaka left after about 30 minutes. His convoy was swarmed by a large crowd which walked along from Kasubi to Nakulabye. At Sir Apollo Kaggwa junction, the Police blocked the chanting loyalists from further escorting Mutebi.
Meanwhile, some politicians who were deemed pro-government got hostile reception from crowds at the tombs.
Lubaga division chairman Peter Ssematimba, who came in a yellow T-shirt was harassed and his spectacles broken in the process.
The tombs are in Rubaga division and yellow is the ruling NRM party colour.
Maama Fiina, a traditional healer, was beaten up by youth.

Kabaka cries as tragedy is linked to kingdom enemies - Source:
The historic tombs went up in flames on Tuesday night, engulfing the main building which housed the mausoleum of four former kabakas - Ssekabaka Muteesa I, Ssekabaka Basamul’ekkere Mwanga II, Ssekabaka Daudi Chwa II and Ssekabaka Edward Muteesa II.
Source: Daily Monitor:
Kabaka Ronald Muwenda Mutebi broke down in tears as he surveyed the ruins of Kasubi Tombs where his father and grandfather were buried.
The Kabaka on Wednesday visited the shell that once housed his forefather’s regalia among other cultural items at around 1.40pm amid ululations and cheers, as hundreds of his subjects swamped it screaming his name and singing the Buganda anthem.
He arrived minutes after President Museveni had visited the site.
After braving the emotional moment for about five minutes, Kabaka Mutebi later pulled out a white handkerchief and wiped away tears that were rolling down his face. This sent the mammoth crowd in a frenzy with some chanting anti-government slogans.
Together with Nabagereka Sylvia Nagginda, the Kabaka walked around the royal tombs for at least 10 minutes before joining other royal family members in a distant shrine about 100 metres from the royal cemetery.
The historic tombs went up in flames on Tuesday night, engulfing the main building which housed the mausoleum of four former kabakas - Ssekabaka Muteesa I, Ssekabaka Basamul’ekkere Mwanga II, Ssekabaka Daudi Chwa II and Ssekabaka Edward Muteesa II.
The grass-thatched hut was completely destroyed, leaving the skeletal brick wall and a few concrete pillars. The burial grounds, revered by the Baganda, are 128 years old.
He did not address the crowd but rather stuck to occasional waves as he toured the ruins for about 30 minutes. Thereafter, he entered his car which had to force its way through the masses.
The kingdom’s Information and Cabinet Affairs minister, Mr Charles Peter Mayiga said, the Kabaka’s breaking down is a clear sign of the prevailing situation in Buganda kingdom.
“It’s too sad that we have lost such valuable property as the kingdom. An independent investigation by the kingdom will be carried out,” Mr Mayiga said on Wednesday.
Mr Mayiga said the tombs are to be rebuilt.
“We had a meeting last night and came out with the resolution that the tombs will be restored. Of course there as certain things that can’t be replicated but we will do what we can. A technical team has been put up for that purpose and official communication to the public will soon be out.”
Restoration process
The same was echoed by Buganda’s Attorney General Apollo Makubuya who said they were determined to have the tombs back to their former glory.
“We have to restore our history,” he said. He however expressed dismay at the way the burning fire that engulfed the tombs was handled by the fire brigade.
“That fire started at 8pm but it took them ages to come here. And when they came they didn’t have enough water. Actually there was more tear gas and soldiers than water,” he said.
At Mengo, the seat of Buganda Kingdom, the main entrance remained half closed and flags were raised at half mast. Several offices remained closed as kingdom employees kept wondering who was behind the fire at the tombs.
Week of mourning
The kingdom premier [Katikkiro] Eng. John Baptist Walusimbi announced a week of mourning but linked the tombs destruction to the kingdom’s enemies.
“With deep sorrow, the kingdom informs the people of Buganda, Uganda and the rest of the world that people with ill motives set ablaze the museum housing the royal tombs of four deceased Kabakas of Buganda known as Muzibu Azaalampanga at Kasubi, in Kampala city,” Eng Walusimbi said at Mengo.
The Katikkiro also summoned the Lukiiko to convene on March 22 to forge the way forward.
Kasubi Market is one of the most thriving markets at the outskirts of Kampala but yesterday, it was rendered redundant as chaos engulfed the whole of Kasubi town. Running battles between the army and people at the Kasubi stage made it impossible for any kind of business to take place.

Mengo has no Government says Minister
Written by Edris Kiggundu
Sunday, 18 April 2010
This is likely to rub many Baganda the wrong way. The Minister of State for Internal Affairs, Matia Kasaija, believes Mengo should stop referring to itself as a government. He unwittingly told journalists, in the aftermath of the Kasubi Tombs inferno, that Mengo, the seat of Buganda Kingdom, is a cultural institution, period!
“Mengo could have known itself as a government but this is a practical joke, a mistake indeed,” Kasaija said.
In 2008, the controversial Minister of Tourism and Trade, Kahinda Otafiire, referred to Buganda as a non-governmental organisation (NGO), annoying many Baganda. Some Baganda revenged by blocking him from addressing mourners during the burial of Winnie Makumbi, the former chairperson of Rubaga Division.

Otafiire - Museveni to Blame for Buganda Mess
Mercy Nalugo, Yasiin Mugerwa & Sheila Naturinda
10 September 2009
Maj. Gen. Kahinda Otafiire yesterday added a new twist to the ongoing row between the central government and Buganda by blaming President Museveni for pushing for the restoration of traditional leaders.
"It is the dog that you tame which bites your leg," Gen. Otafiire said while giving reporters an insight of what he said took place during the 1992 High Command meeting in Gulu which opposed the restoration of traditional leaders.
Gen. Otafiire's comments were provoked by yesterday's walkout of the Buganda MPs from Parliament demanding an explanation from the government on whether the Kabaka would be allowed to visit his subjects in Kayunga or otherwise.
"We told him [Mr Museveni] not to return these obsolete institutions and he did not listen to us. He begged, he pleaded, he went on his knees and the army grudgingly accepted to return these things and they are now paying him in good currency," the Trade Minister told journalists.
Maj. Gen. Kahinda Otafiire
Gen. Otafiire is vehemently opposed to the restoration of the monarchy in Ankole; which has never benefited from the 1992 High Command waiver as well as the 1995 constitution which restored traditional institutions.


  1. We need to know who burnt the Kabak tombs. This was a magnificent building. I am not a Ugadan but I have visited the Kasubi loyal burial gounds for the Kabaka. People who do not not appreciate history or art are enemies of civilization.

    We are African and we should stop aping western life. We have our culture and we should preserve our cultures no matter what. Otafiire is a thin skin person who is intimiated by our culture. For Gods shake, the Baganda Kingdom has been in existence for over 100 years. What is there to fear. African leaders need to support their culture and stop being afraid of themselves. We do not want Idi Amin mentality in Uganda or anywhere in Africa.

  2. Kasubi Tombs, one of Uganda's historical monuments has gone up in flames, completely razing the building that houses the graves of four former kings of Buganda Kingdom. fire watch services

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