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Kagulu Hill Housed Banyoro, Fathered Busoga

By Vision Reporter

Added 27th December 2002 03:00 AM

AFTER travelling 210km into the remote rural areas of Busoga, I reached Kagulu hill located north of Kamuli district. The hill is believed to be the first migration and settlement centre in the region.

AFTER travelling 210km into the remote rural areas of Busoga, I reached Kagulu hill located north of Kamuli district. The hill is believed to be the first migration and settlement centre in the region.

By Robert Kanusu
in Kamuli

AFTER travelling 210km into the remote rural areas of Busoga, I reached Kagulu hill located north of Kamuli district. The hill is believed to be the first migration and settlement centre in the region.
The journey to Kagulu hill was a great experience. The hill and the surrounding areas have a historical attachment to the formation of Busoga. The hill is now a focus of attention for tourists and researchers.
On top of the hill, one can view the beautiful waterfalls flowing from the top of the rocks, the ancient caves and Lake Kyoga at a confluence with river Nile.
That is the experience I had last month. We travelled by motorcycle from Kamuli town. We rode for 68km through tropical forests on a muddy murram road.
A carpet of fallen grass covered the ground. With over 10,000ft above sea level, Kagulu stood out majestically in the smouldering sun, like a princess. It is a rocky hill covered by shining peaks that kiss the sky when viewed from a distance.
I was only able to see a simple structure on the upper top that once was constructed to house the generators that powered the boosters for UTV, Radio Uganda and the land mark pole for Soroti flying school.
Kwagala, a Senior Four finalist who volunteered to be my guide, said it took three hours to move around the hill and two hours and and 30 minutes to reach the top. We passed through a tunnel in the rocks before accessing the open point believed to be the gate to the caves.
We reached a point where the passage was narrow and we wafted on through the hedges and the entangling elephant grass to get through.
By the time we reached the open end, we were sweating and panting like thirsty hunters’ dogs.
Aggrey Balidawa, one of the custodians of information in the area, said that Bunyoro’s kings sought sanctuary and spent their leisure time on Kagulu hill.
He said the caves were discovered around 1686 when Olimi was king of Bunyoro. The caves are the first settlement and migration centre in Busoga.
Balidawa said before the Banyoro intrusion, migrations had not yet started in Busoga. It was until the great Bunyoro-Kitara in quest for expansion led the way via Iyingo landing site on the shores of Lake Kyoga.
Since Buganda then had not got interest in territorial expansion, the Banyoro controlled a large area including Busoga, Bukedi and some parts of northern Uganda. (Information also recorded in Douglas W. Rebertson’s thesis: Soga land system).
It is said that Prince Mukama was among the first Bunyoro traditional rulers to conquer Busoga and to settle in the caves on Kagulu Hill.
Mukama had escaped from Bunyoro through Iyingo landing site in northern Busoga into the Kagulu caves where he sought sanctuary. Later, he returned to his kingdom after establishing his rule in Busoga.
Relics of some of his personal effects still exist on the hill. These include a boat at Iyingo cultural site and a copper short-stabbing spear.
“Other tools are inside caves, but people stopped entering there and the bush at the entrance has overgrown,” Balidawa said.
He also said there were some stone formations in form of a stool, which is said to have been the royal seat for the kings, and a well.
The hill is also the official cultural place where the Kyabazinga is crowned.
Many Bunyoro kings including Kabalega are said to have visited the hill regularly. Kabalega is said to have died at Mpumuire in Jinja on his way from Seychelles Island where the British imperialists deported him. He was travelling back to Bunyoro through the old routes.
Mukama had six children who later became the founders of Busoga communities, which became the five royal clans in Busoga from which the Kyabazinga is picked.
The sons include Zibondo (elder son) the chief of Bulamogi, Kitimbo and Gabula of Bugabula, Wakooli of Bukooli, Nkono of Bukono, Tabingwa of Luuka and Ngobi of Kigulu
The sons multiplied and had many descendants, who became the first settlers and rulers in Busoga with each controlling an autonomous chiefdom.
That explains why over 75% of the Basoga have their origins in Bunyoro and most families worships a small family god called Mukama. Both tribes also share some names and cultural norms.
Unfortunately all this history is slowly fading away. All that is remaining are memories of Basoga, the second largest tribe in Uganda.
However, Kagulu hill is also home to rare birds like the shoebill and wild birds. Baboons and crocodiles also graze freely on the top.
The extending peninsulas of Lake Kyoga attract this combination of wild life to Kagulu hill.
It is said that former president Idi Amin wanted to build a palace on top so that he could effectively communicate to his people across the Kyoga. This explains why he fought hard to build a communication centre on the hill in 1972.
Unfortunately, the booster for UTV and Radio Uganda that he had constructed were looted and vandalised in war and since then, no attempt has been made by the government to install it.
The former area Member of Parliament, Moses Kaizi, regretted the loss of the communication centre in the area and described the incident as “a very big loss.”
“That marked the end of Kamuli’s importance in communication and technology development.
However, Moses Dhizaala, a consultant with the ministry of Tourism, said Kagulu has been identified for animal sanctuary. He said this would boost tourism in Busoga region and increase on the country’s tourist attraction sites.
So, if you are a musoga and have never known your origin, it is high time you visited Kagulu hill.
Ends

Kagulu Hill Housed Banyoro, Fathered Busoga

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