whenever one thinks of visiting Uganda, the first thing that comes to mind is the wildlife and mountain gorillas in particular. Cultural tours are last on the bucket list when tourists are making a decision about visiting Uganda. This shouldn’t be the case because Uganda has so much to offer beyond wildlife. Ugandans are one of the friendliest people on earth. They are accepting and easily get along with foreigners. One of the reasons for this is that the country’s ethnic groups have learnt to live in harmony with each other. This has made it easy for Ugandans to accept foreigners without any suspicions whatsoever. Uganda is also a country with a strong cultural heritage. This is demonstrated by the numerous cultural sites and tribes in the country. To be more specific, there are 65 tribes in Uganda including the Acholi, Alur, Bafumbira, Baganda, Bagishu, Bagwere, Bakiga, Bamba, Banyoro, Banyuli, Bateso, Batooro, Batwa, Jonam, Karimajong, Kumam, Langi, Lugbra, Madi, Jopadhola and Tepeth. Each group has its own unique language, cultural practices and norms. Most have a traditional King or chief as head. There was a time when these Kingdoms and Chiefdoms wielded so much power and influence that the presidents then decided to abolish them. It was only about 30 years ago that the president revived them. On a cultural tour, visitors have an opportunity to understand the culture of these indigenous groups by visiting a family or attending their cultural performances.
Some of the cultural sites in Uganda
The tombs are one of the main treasures of the Kingdom of Buganda and a leading tourism attraction in Uganda. The tombs are found six kilometers away from the city center in Kampala.
Kings Palace in Mengo and Parliament (Bulange)
The Lubiri or Mengo palace is one of the residents of the Kabaka (King) of Buganda. It has a striking colonial architecture and covers an area of four square miles. The palace was built in 1885 and is hence a great place to go if one is interested in learning more about the history of the Baganda.
The Uganda Museum
The Uganda museum was built to help preserve Uganda’s history. The museum is without doubt the best place to visit if one is interested in learning about Uganda’s history and cultural heritage.
The Kabaka’s Lake
This Lake is found close to the palace in Mengo on the outskirts of Kampala city. The Lake was created on the orders of Kabaka Mwanga II in 1880 to open an escape route through Lake Victoria in case of a civil war.
Namirembe and Rubaga Cathedral
Namirembe Cathedral is the most prominent cathedral for members of the Anglican faith in Uganda just as Rubaga is to Roman Catholics.
The Namugongo Martyr Shrine
The Namugongo Martyrs Shrine is one of the most visited religious sites in Africa. Each year on the 3rd of June, millions of pilgrim’s flock the shrine to commemorate the death of 25 Christians of both the Anglican and catholic denomination who refused to give up their faith even in the face of death.
The Ssezibwa falls are found in Mukono between the Kyagwe and Bugerere parishes. The waterfalls are an important cultural and spiritual site for the Baganda people and especially die-hard royalists. All Kings of Buganda have visited the Ssezibwa falls to seek for blessings from their ancestors.
Ndere Troupe Cultural Center
This center is found in Ntinda, a suburb in Kampala. Ndere is got from a Kiganda word “endere” which refers to a flute. The Ndere Troupe Cultural Center is arguably the best place to experience the culture of Uganda as a whole. Traditional performances of tribes from all over Uganda can be enjoyed here.
The Baha’i Temple in Uganda is the only one of its kind in Africa. It is very popular with both local and international tourists. The eye-catching temple is built on a large 30-hectare piece of land in Kikaya Hill (Kampala).
Igongo Cultural Centre
This is a privately owned cultural Centre found in Mbarara District along the highway to Kampala. The Centre is built on the grounds of the former palace of the King of Ankole. Mr. Tumusiime established this Centre to promote the culture of the people of Uganda and Africa as a whole.
Note: Not that all the cultural sites are listed here.