World Heritage Buganda Tombs in flames: fears of fresh riots engulf Kampala city

Kasubi tombs, a UNESCO World heritage site and burial place for four of Buganda Kings tonight (9:00 pm) Kampala time went up in flames. Daily Monitor reports  that there’s arson suspicion but not much about the cause is yet known.

Kasubi tombs on fire on Tuesday night March 16th. A New Vision photo

Police was deployed as masses started gathering and charging as rumours of arson engulfed the city. Last year a riot that saw Buganda King supporters against the security forces left around 21 people dead millions worth of properties destroyed.

CBS radio, a Kingdom owned radio is still closed after government accused it of inciting violence during last year’s riots.  This relationship between President Museveni’s government and Buganda Kingdom is far from rosy and this  has already given fertile ground for many to think there was some foulplay. Many people seem to expect riots to breakout at dawn. We only hope there will be a thorough investigation  into the burning of the tombs and that no people will lose their lives and property. This is crucial time for Buganda leadership too. The Kasubi tombs are equally a heritage for the country so i hope both sides deal with this issue with maximum restraint.

Xinhua reported that the police was not allowed to access the scene as the crowds gathered to throw stones at the police injuring one officer.

29 thoughts on “World Heritage Buganda Tombs in flames: fears of fresh riots engulf Kampala city

  1. We all empathise with all Ugandans and Buganda in particular. We may not be from Buganda Kingdom, but Kasubi Tombs were a heritage for us all. It is worth preserving, for genarations to come.

    I hope we shall look beyond our political differences and affiliations, and desist from drawing any conclusions before investigations are instituted and completed. Remember, truth is stranger that fiction and right now, our ears may be itching to hear fiction, or better put, conspracy theories.


  2. I would like to express my sadness on the news of fire at the Kasubi tombs yesterday evening. I join all the peace loving ugandans to mourn with the Kingdom of Buganda for the loss of this historic symbol of Buganda. Let this be a time of peaceful mourning as thourough investigations are carried out to bring to justice those responsible for this act.

    To the NRM government and its leadership, this is a time to moderate your anti buganda sentiments and to extend an olive branch to the King of Buganda as he mourns the descration of the resting place of his father and grandfathers.

    To the mengo leadership please do calm all the baganda to remain peaceful and to avoid acts which may trigger more bloodshed.
    Mathias Kulubya

  3. Hi Rosebell,

    I followed a link from a BBC News article about the suspected arson of the Buganda Kingdom tombs to your blog today. It is great to see that you are getting some well-deserved recognition from the international news media and that you continue to contribute your talents and skills to online journalism via your blog.

    I do hope that this latest incident does not lead to further violence between Uganda’s Buganda people and Museveni loyalists. The people of Uganda have enough problems and challenges to deal with at the moment without an additional crisis fueled by opportunists and extremists.

    Wishing you well and may you have success with your journalism career. I am very proud of you and your work online.

  4. for you to talk about opportunists is to take this issue lightly. This is deliberate plan by the museveni government, by the way which with out buganda’s help would have never captured power, to weaken the buganda kingdom. Its been gradual, the president has always supported the breakaways of the parts of the buganda kingdom, one of which sparked of the september riots last year. They have continuosly tried as much destroy this kingdom but it is not easy and they still are trying. For six months now they have imposed economic sanctions( by closing CBS radio, one of the kingdoms chief sources of revenue) on buganda. the government thought that the buganda kingdom will come out and take responsibility for the september riots as a condition for reoppening the radio station, the kingdom has not done that and am sure will not apologise because it is not at all responsible, the responsibility lies with the president who used his own army captain one Kimezze Baker to cause chaos in kayunga so his Royal Highness the King of buganda, sabassajja, magulunyondo, mpologoma, musota, kyukyu, nantakubirwa ssimu, Lukoma nantawetwa, Ronald Muwenda Mutebi II.
    Because of what the government has perceived as the kingdom remaining defiant on the apology, now they have decided to set on fire the royal tombs the core of Gganda Culture. i think this has gone too far and am telling you the battle line has been drawn now. had it not been that the only radio station in uganda is closed now, it would have been chaotic by now but we shall lie low, but the international community should know that uganda is a bomb waiting to explode… the government should know that they can not just wish away GGanda patriotism by torching our sacred places, one day the chance will come and alas for all those that are currently bragging with the power of the gun. We know who they are, easy to identify so when the time comes they will pay, even if it takes 50 years, we will take our revenge.
    Watch the events

  5. Hi thanks, for the breaking news;

    Look-the UNESCO-listed Kasubi tombs burning pits not only the Museveni government but also Baganda royalists themselves, we hear some Baganda who were oposed to this current Kabaka establishment could have set the facility a blaze.

    Kabaka’s bothers have cases in pending in court challenging Kabaka Ronald Mutebi, that he is not the legitimate king of Buganda.

    However we cant rule out the fact that government could have had a hand since Uganda is hit with a land bonanza, which rises doubts that Museveni leadership could have wanted some land for investment.

    Let there be an independent commision of inquiry otherwise Buganda has ceased to exsist any longer, her heritage and backborn is broken.

    No more Buganda, and no more culture for Baganda. But what puzzles me is that these Baganda have small gods how come they did not ditect this arsonist?

    Today cultural practitioner Maama Fina, aherbalist was denied entry by Baganda mourners saying “why have you been duping Buganda that our culture is protected, which spirits shall you use to heal poeple since our ancestors are burnt with their preserved belongings”, The Kabaka Mutebi came to the scene after Museveni was blocked.


      It is so sad that someone c’d think about this situation in that way , “some Baganda who were oposed to this current Kabaka establishment could have set the facility a blaze”???, “No more Buganda, and no more culture for Baganda. But what puzzles me is that these Baganda have small gods how come they did not ditect this arsonist?”????

      What has been lost never benefited Buganda alone but the country atlarge! It is one of the little we as Ugandans had pride in! It sounds like bitingoff a hand that feeds u! U sh’d be so ashamed!! Needless to mention, u shdn’t be talking abt issues u gt no idea about!

      And mark you, the tombs c’d be gone bt not the loyalty the people have in their king!

      Thanks Rosebell for the blog!


      1. TUGUMIZEMU,

        I don’t think we shd be wondering about ‘small gods’ and why they didn’t detect the arsonists if they are behind this. To me the fact that people don’t trust a government anymore sh’d be our focus. The fact that the first suspect is government then it tells you that the legitimacy if this regime is at stake.

  6. Thanks McKeith for the update,

    I would love to see a thorough investigation but whether out incapacitated police can do that amidst the rough relationship between government and Buganda, I don’t know. We are paying for having no separation between the regimes, parties and our justice structures.
    The fact that government officials can influence our police then we will never know whethere the reports we are given are not manupilated or not. I do not doubt that there’s capable women and men in the police but rather the conditions they work in make me doubt they can deliver me a thorough investigation.

  7. This a sad loss on so many levels. I believe the gov’t has everything to do with it. But that is just my opinion. Besides that anyway, there is never anything positive in trying to destroy a culture, tradition and history. I can see so many people in developed countries who admire what we destroy, what we consider backward, because it is this that defines us as a people and without it, we will be lost. It is just plain sad.

    If it is the government, i fear for the violence ahead. I really do.

  8. Dear Comrades,

    I have keenly read all to the last dot. This is such a serious issue. I received such shocking info when I was reading about the same prestigious cultural sites preparing my paper and getting ready to show the world the beautiful culture that Buganda, Uganda and Africa at large holds. I am deeply sadened by the level of escalation of such long standing conflict since1900 Agreement, 1966 Criss-date.

    As we assess the situation, think about the colonial Legacy that Post independence regimes inherited.Indeed the structural violence has deep roots that may not easily be solved even if we talk of setting up commissions of Inquiries to further waste tax payers money. We have lost patriotism and got engulfed in killing, hating, tomenting…each other while the rest of the world is keenly watching and laughing. Which way forward? God may also not know at ths moment. Our assessement of Somalia found out to be closer to a dead or failed state and the International community cares less, only AU forces by our poor Uganda & Burundi joking around there, no solution yet.

    So those believing in violence should think twice otherwise it reaps nothing but misery. I believe in having a culture of Peace though its hard to define in this case. We need to sit, forget our differences, see each other as human beings, dialogue, heal the wounds, reconcile and re-build afresh.This also needs Angel Gabriel to intervene I guess because many may not believe me.Its the only route we may take to save innocent blood that is being shed. The issue of Darfur is calming now, Nigeria is on fire.. what is wrong with us. Let us not be like the Bourbourn monarchy that “Learnt nothing and forgot nothing”. I do not cherish another Genocide, what I saw in Rwanda was enough for I lost almost all my OBs & OGs who run back that side from Uganda with the same spirit of violence trying to join fellow Hutu pals.

    Sorry Rosebell for oveloading your blog. I am deeply touched by the treasure we lost in this catastrophy.Let us hover be humane and move slowly to aportion blame.See now other innocent lives are gone..why? resistance yields nothing but tears.I am not a coward, but I strongly believe in handling issues humanely.

    For God and Uganda,

    International Peace Studies
    University for peace
    Costa Rica

  9. Moses,

    the question is do you think the investigation will bring you results? Unfortunately the past inquiries into many things haven’t yielded a thing so do you think this will be different? I am not aportioning blame but am very pessimistic.

    1. Rosebell,

      It is my humble opinion that notwithstanding the outcome of investigations, they nonetheless have to be conducted. Given the interference and adulteration of the scene of the fires, it is now next to impossible (but not entirely impossible) to retrieve evidence. Have we thought of the fact that the caretakers of the tombs always smoke the pipe, which is fired. What if it were an accident? What benefit would anybody get from torching the tombs? (motive/mens rea) If you thought really deep and wide, you would realise that the prime suspect according to comments herein had nothing to gain from it, but opportunists on either side, and especially in the Mengo institution had everything to gain from the escalation of the bad blood and violence.

      Rosebell, once more I will reiterate what I have stated, investigations are the ONLY way to go. Anything short of that would be frivolous, vexatious, premature and unwarranted.

      Rosebell, I believe that it would be preferable if you advised the contributors to your blog to desist from making direct threats either to individuals or any political party/setting. Then will we be free to articulate our concerns and opinions and forge a way forward —— or is this blog a political opposition blog/forum. I don’t think that this is an appropriate fora for fighting political battles. We thank you for availing us this privilege to share ideas.

  10. Rosebell
    thax for your efforts
    To me i dont KNOW what we really i need in Africa becouse if we start losing things like kasubi, though alot will be done i believe but stil we cant bring back things like i remember when i visted there some i saw a chair, a lamp from Qveen victoria the leopand etc. idont know what we can do to that beautiful country to be like others we have moved back 50 years if such acts can still happen.
    sad moment for the whole of AFRICA.

  11. comrades, what we have to understand is that whatever happens in this country has an effect to every person or his/her descendat. therefore i pitty those who wrong do hoping that very few indivisuals will suffer the consequences. for those of you u who believe in christianity know that any wrong doing has to be punished. long live uganda long live our country.

  12. A story is told of a father who suspected his son of having stolen his money. While punishing the child who insisted on his innocence, the child passed away due to the injuries sustained. In digging the grave, the wad of money was found in the ground where rats had carried it away and not the son. Feelings of the dad on discovering the money and the fact that he had falsely accused and caused the death of his son – your guess is as good as mine. This is a week of mourning in Buganda. Let us all pray for the restoration of the so evasive peace and tranquility. Accusations and insinuations are flying all over the place. The best tool now is reconciliation, and lets not let our hearts have the better of our judgment. Inquiries are underway and we have to patiently wait. The rule of law inter alia advocates that; “better to have one thousand guilty men released than have one innocent man convicted”. Let us therefore not hurry to judge and condemn lest we make the same mistake.

  13. Joe,

    Thank you for your contribution. You have raised credible points about the source of the fire and the possibilities. I don’t doubt that an accident could have been one of the posibilites but I would like to say in a situation where there are many disagreements the first suscipicion can be laid on those who are not on good terms with you.
    Note that this doesn’t mean that the suscipicion is correct or it is the absolute truth and that’s why there’s such a thing as wild allegations. Thats why when a crime is committed there’s a suspect and time and investigations will tell whether what/whom you picked on was the right situation or person.
    So in this case if the very people who lost most, for whatever reasons they had, distracted the government from doing its work of investigating the even the chances of reaching close to knowing the source become slim. And for people not to believe the investigator has something related to the past investigations to such problems.

    ON othere voices here Joe, Indeed sometimes i block comments that i believe are not respectful but for you to judge comments on whether they are anti-government or not that’s your choice and you are entitled to that. If you think my blog is an opposition (to who?) that’s your opinion and i don’t know what you call threats here.
    I would like you to know that for me this is the right forum to look at, agree or disagree with politics in my country.
    I find these discussions within a range of what I accept to be a respectful criticism and yes sometimes I allow some passion it’s up to you to disagree with those that are not with you in this forum.
    Thank you.

  14. Hi Rosebell,

    In the news, it is reported that a man (Joseph Musoke) owned up to the burning of the royal tombs. First, he voluntarily reported himself to Old Kampala Police station where the officers were apprehensive and later he was transferred to CID Headquarters for questioning.

    We are awaiting the outcome.

    This revelation brings a new dimension to the inquiries and also to the public’s earlier opinions. Interestingly, some witch doctors (who in Uganda preferred to be called traditional healers) from Buganda sub region had vowed to retire from their trade if the spirits do not reveal who burnt the tombs. Is this related in any way? Your guess is probably as goood as mine.

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