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A Homage To Bukaleba, The First British Mission

By Vision Reporter

Added 27th September 2003 03:00 AM

After descending the terrain of the Southern Busoga forest reserve, a stone’s throw to the great Lake Victoria, I arrived at the 17th century defunct palace of chief Luba located on Bukaleba Hill in Bunya.

After descending the terrain of the Southern Busoga forest reserve, a stone’s throw to the great Lake Victoria, I arrived at the 17th century defunct palace of chief Luba located on Bukaleba Hill in Bunya.

By Robert Kanusu in Bunya
After descending the terrain of the Southern Busoga forest reserve, a stone’s throw to the great Lake Victoria, I arrived at the 17th century defunct palace of chief Luba located on Bukaleba Hill in Bunya.

This palace whose political and economic importance was killed by a number of factors, is a provocation of the lost Busoga and Uganda’s fading history.

It was the first missionary and British administrators centre in Uganda.

According to records, they were inspired by the recommendations by the first white explorers, John Speke and James Grant in 1862 and Henry Morton Stanley who visited Luba in 1875.

Unfortunately, most of the citizens especially the Basoga, remember so little about the heritage at this historical palace due to lack of written records and due to the death of the information custodians who would tell the history.

However, Samuel Wakitega Luba, a grandson of Chief Luba who was one of the great leaders of Busoga, has some oral history passed on to him by his ancestors.

On my homage to the first missionary destination, he shared with me the historical points of Luba’s fort that was built around between 17th century and abandoned at the end of the 19th century.

The palace that was once a prominent destination for whites due to the hospitality of the people and food security is all lost and no more.

There is nothing to show the lost glory of Luba’s kingdom except his crumbling grave, over growing pine forest and some pile of artistic stones that formed the fortress. Sugarcane plantations or wild shrubs have replaced all the well-trimmed roads and crop farms that inspired the early explorers to refer to it as the food basket of Uganda.

Wakitega said people stopped visiting the place long ago when it was declared a forest reserve. We spent a lot of time getting to Luba’s fort that is now located in the middle of the forest.

But once we reached there, we smelt the atmosphere of royalty and visions of the royal regalia before us.

The fort is well located and gives the panoramic view of the entire Luba’s world.

From here you can see the extending peninsulas of Lake Victoria, most of the landing site and the descending low lands intersecting with Madhvani’s sugar plantations.

Wakitega said Bukaleba was the first headquarters of Busoga Native Council formed by the 11 chiefs of Busoga in 1894 under the assistance of Grant, the first colonial district commissioner of Uganda.

Dr. Frank Nabwiso, ‘Busoga’s encyclopaedia,’ confirms that the first British administration headquarters were built at Bukaleba.

“There were a lot of things that happened from the former court of Chief Luba which include the historical Nubian mutiny among others,” Dr. Nabwiso said.

Bukaleba is also known for its role in the murder of the first European Bishop for Africa, J. James Hannignton in 1885 on the orders of Kabaka Mwanga of Buganda.
The Church Missionary Society missionaries had also built the first church and a theological seminary at Kigwisa in Bukaleba but later transferred it to Iganga.

Fr. Mathias Maganda added that the seminary was later taken to Katigondo in Buganda. However, what happened to this whiteman’s destination in the country, disorganised the future plans of the area and its impact left many dead.
Ends

A Homage To Bukaleba, The First British Mission

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