One day Joseph took the team on a tour of Kampala. It was a fascinating day – we heard a lot of the same bits of history from different perspectives and by the end of the day had a more complete understanding of Ugandan history, tribes, and current politics.
Our first stop was the national museum. We had a guide walk us through and teach us about the various exhibits. One of the things I found most interesting is that the people used to make cloth out of birch bark. Today in the craft markets, you can buy paintings on it.
We also went to the Kasubi Tombs. These are a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We sat for quite a while and learned about the four Buganda kings who are buried there. The Buganda tribe doesn’t believe their kings die… Rather they refer to them as having disappeared. The kings can also take any woman they like as their wife. Even if she is already married. So that would kinda suck (although they would see it as an honor). We learned about who studied in England and brought western ideas to Uganda. We also learned that any son except the oldest is eligible to be the next king. The current king can make a recommendation in his will, but a council of sorts makes the final decision. Also, there is still a president of Uganda who is elected. The king makes decisions for his tribe, but they are still under the laws of the country. Anyways, after all that, we went to the actual tombs to learn that they burned down a few years ago – so we actually saw a construction sight instead. That was a bit of a letdown.
We also went to the Mosque. It is the second largest mosque in Africa. There is a large Muslim population in Uganda – especially in Kampala. We learned a bit about Islam, but out of respect, we also needed to wear long skirts and cover our heads. After our tour, we had the chance to climb a tower and look out over the city. It was gorgeous.
Our next stop was the head building from the Buganda Kingdom, where the king meets with his people. We sat in the large meeting hall, and learned about how to properly address to king as either a male or female.
We went down the road and saw the presidential home, which is modeled after Buckingham Palace, but on a much smaller scale. While we were there, we also visited Ida Amin’s torture chambers. It was super eerie and especially disconcerting that this happened in such recent history.
We headed back to the house feeling exhausted from so much learning, but satisfied by all our learning. I wish I had learned this stuff about Ugandan culture last summer. It was super helpful to have this greater understanding.